Friday, September 28, 2007

Newt's New Contract With America: Lots of Liberal and Conservative Platitudes, and Some Good Ideas

After reading Newt Gingrich's latest "Winning the Future" email, I got the impression that he's been out of politics too long. Don't get me wrong; I like Mr. Gingrich. I'd gladly vote for him, if he were the Republican nominee. Of course, he hasn't even entered the race yet, amid much speculation. He's been testing the waters through his website, and the email newsletter. Online version at Human Events, linked here.

This week, he mentions the 13th anniversary of the "Contract With America." He also sets out what appears to be a "trial version" of a new "Contract." Here are his 10 points:

1. Levees shouldn't break, and the Corps of Engineers should be changed until it is reliable.

2. Bridges shouldn't fall, and our federal and state highway programs should be changed until we have reliable inspection and repair.

3. Students should learn, and the bureaucrats and bureaucracies that dominate failing educational systems should be changed every day until the students are learning.

4. The border should be protected for national security reasons, and it should be protected now.

5. English should be the official language of government, and first-generation Americans should be offered intensive English education.

6.Congress should control spending and spend within its budget, so we can get back to the balanced budgets we had when I left the speakership.

7. The death tax should be abolished permanently.

8. The capital gains tax should be abolished to increase the money in our retirement accounts and to help create jobs in America.

9. An energy strategy should be implemented to meet national security, environmental and economic goals and to eliminate the danger of foreign dictators who are manipulating us through our energy needs.

10. Americans should not be bogged down in long, indecisive campaigns: We need a strategy for defeating our enemies, defending our friends, winning the campaign in Iraq and bringing our troops home.

My first thought was "a little heavy on the platitudes, Newt," and it is. However, there are several unquestionably good ideas stated clearly (#'s 4,5,7, and 8). Of course, all of them sound like good, common sense things. It's just that the devil is always in the details. How, exactly, is he going to change all of these failed bureaucracies? And if he's not running, how are we going to accomplish this "change?"

He also has a list of principles for change, which had some more platitudes, such as "There should be a prize for breakthroughs in the environment and for highly fuel-efficient vehicles." A prize? Yay. Again, I did like some of his real proposals, even when couched in liberal (or conservative) rhetoric. Here are a few excerpts:

Social Security today is not facing up to the reality of people living longer, and it should be reformed to ensure it is stable and reliable and taken away from the politicians so the younger generation can rely on it. People should have the option to have a personal account in Social Security that they can invest to get a bigger retirement income. Any money left over in their personal Social Security account should belong to them, and they should be able to leave it to their family -- something they cannot do today.

The United States could reduce the carbon going into the atmosphere by 2,200,000,000 tons a year and be 15% better than the Kyoto standard if we simply produced the same percentage of electricity from nuclear power as France does today. There should be a strong effort to develop safe, reliable, 21st-Century models of nuclear plants which could be built quickly and reliably.

American history should be reemphasized in both K-12 and in college, and being able to pass a basic test in American history should be a part of both high school and all publicly funded college graduation requirements.

The McCain-Feingold Censorship Act is unconstitutional and is a big part of why we now have destructive two-year long campaigns, and it should be repealed and replaced with a simple system of reporting all contributions every night on the Internet so everyone can see where every candidate's support comes from.

I am behind these positions fully, and see his reasoning on several others that I didn't excerpt here. Whether Newt runs for president or not, I thank him for articulating a few issues that need to be included in the debate about who will be leading this nation after George W. Bush. Plus, I'm sure Mr. Gingrich has a strategy on effecting the changes he proposes. He's not going to reveal them now, which sounds like a political decision. Place your bets, people.

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