|Conservative Agenda for 2003|
|A new Republican majority in both Houses of Congress is gathering this month. It’s time to reaffirm some basic Republican principles and move ahead to achieve conservative goals in all three branches of government.
Principle #1. It’s time to terminate the era of federal judges legislating from the bench on social policy. The President should nominate and the Senate should confirm only judges who respect the U.S. Constitution as the source of their authority rather than their own political and social prejudices (e.g., against the Ten Commandments or the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag).
Conventional wisdom is predicting one and maybe two Supreme Court vacancies this spring, beginning with the Chief Justice’s likely retirement. Many other federal court vacancies are waiting to be filled because of the obstructionist tactics of the Daschle-Leahy Democrats in the previous Congress. The Daschle Democrats have given us advance warning of how they will play the race card by their assaults on Judge Charles Pickering and Senator Trent Lott. Republicans can’t possibly win if they merely play defense.
However, the hurdles to be jumped over in the Senate by Bush’s Supreme Court nominees aren’t only those placed by Democrats. Millions of Bush’s own supporters will abandon him if he replaces Chief Justice Rehnquist with a more liberal judge.
We hope that the newly elected Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist will deliver the helpful message that Bush’s success as President and his reelection in 2004 will depend more on whom he appoints to the Supreme Court than any other factor. Bush used the war against Iraq to trump Democrats in the 2002 congressional elections, but in 2004 whatever happens about the Iraq war will rank second to Supreme Court appointments. Although a newcomer to the game of hardball politics, Dr. Frist must realize how deeply this issue cuts. Bush was elected in 2000 and successful in campaigning for Republican Senate candidates in 2002 largely because of the judicial issue, and his constituency will leave him if he appoints another Justice Souter.
When it comes to Supreme Court nominees, conservatives will not be distracted when the Democrats play the race card again (as they will), nor by protestations of a need for ethnic diversity on the Supreme Court, nor by respect for the President’s personal friendships. Conservatives voted for Bush because he campaigned praising Justices Scalia and Thomas, and a lesser nomination would have seismic consequences.
Principle #2. Our government’s primary duty is to safeguard the independence and sovereignty of the United States of America. The Senate should reject all United Nations treaties because they create committees of busybody foreigners to monitor U.S. compliance, demanding that we change our laws and customs to conform to global dictates.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) would force us to adopt the radical feminist agenda from abortion to textbook language revision. Americans rejected the Equal Rights Amendment 20 years ago, and now the radical feminists are trying to implement their entire agenda by empowering CEDAW’s Article 17 monitoring committee of 23 feminist “experts.”
CEDAW, fortunately, languished for years in Senator Jesse Helms’ (R-NC) bottom drawer. As a result of pressure from Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 30, 2002 voted 12 to 7 to report out CEDAW. We hope the Republican Senate will never bring it to a floor vote.
All UN treaties set up compliance committees that invade our sovereignty in some area. We are counting on the Republican Senate to continue to reject the UN Global Warming Treaty (known as the Kyoto Protocol), which would force us to reduce our American standard of living by denying us the use of our own energy sources.
Still awaiting Senate action is the United Nations Treaty on the Rights of the Child, another terrible idea that comes out of the theory that the “village” (i.e., the government) should be responsible for raising children rather than their parents. This treaty, too, sets up a committee of so-called “experts” (Article 43) to enforce our compliance.
None of these UN treaties is a Republican initiative. CEDAW was signed by President Jimmy Carter, the Kyoto Protocol by Al Gore on behalf of Bill Clinton, and the treaty on the Rights of the Child by President Clinton. We urge President Bush to unsign all three UN treaties as he did to the Clinton-signed International Criminal Court Treaty.
President Bush stood up for national sovereignty and independence when he unsigned the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty by sending a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on May 6, 2002 informing him that “the United States has no legal obligation arising from its [Bill Clinton’s] signature on December 31, 2000.”
However, Americans are still at risk because the ICC (which started operations on July 1, 2002 after 60 nations ratified it) plans to assert its authority over all nations, regardless of ratification. To protect U.S. troops, a modified version of Senator Jesse Helms’ American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (S. 1610) was included in the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4775), which was signed by President Bush on August 2, 2002.
Despite pressure from our so-called friendly foreign governments, we expect President Bush to refuse to cooperate with the ICC (a global court that has no respect for American constitutional rights). Make sure your U.S. Senator is primed to reject all United Nations treaties.
Principle #3. The American people, especially middle-class families, are overtaxed. Congress should accelerate and make permanent the tax cuts voted in 2001. Congress should abolish the Alternative Minimum Tax. Congress should fulfill the Republican Platform promise to pass “legislation requiring a super-majority in both houses of Congress to raise taxes.”
Congress should remedy the ridiculous and deceitful current law that eliminates the death tax in 2010 but reinstates it at high levels in 2011 and imposes a brand new tax on the heirs of the deceased called “carryover basis.” We don’t want an epidemic of euthanasia in 2010.
Principle #4. The chief problem with our health care system and its rising costs is the pervasive practice of “third party payment”: i.e., the person receiving medical care has little or no control over how much is spent and for what purposes. We hope Congress will finally make some progress in allowing Americans to control their spending for their own medical care, as well as to save for their own future medical costs, much as we can save for our own retirement.
The only way to control costs is to restructure the system to allow individuals to make their own health-care decisions with their own money. The best price control occurs when individuals can shop around, and spend or withhold their own money as they did at retail stores this Christmas season.
The time is ripe for individuals to retake control of their own health care spending. Even Dan Rather’s CBS Evening News has featured the new breed of doctors who provide prompt and efficient medical care for cash, while refusing payments by any government or private insurance.
Congress should pass genuine, workable Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), which were the alternative promised by Republicans when they defeated Clinton’s attempt to inflict us with universal government health care in 1994. We must remove the crippling restraints imposed on personal MSAs, such as the artificial 50-employee limit for group plans that Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy inserted in the last major health care bill in 1996.
Since Dr. Bill Frist’s career in the real world is as a real M.D., we expect him to lead Congress into dealing with the health care issue. This is not a problem of Americans not getting necessary medical care (no one is turned away from the emergency room); it’s the problem of paying the ever-rising costs. The MSAs that Republicans have been advocating since 1994 are still the best remedy.
Principle #5. Terrorism is primarily a problem of dangerous aliens coming into America because government policy allows them to violate and evade current laws, and because many laws, regulations, and bureaucrats encourage open-borders policies.
The President, unfortunately, is out of sync with the American people on the border security issue. Bill Frist will be doing Bush a big political favor if he reports how the grassroots feel about our government’s failure to protect America from criminal aliens.
Frist should tell the President to forget about passing amnesty for illegal aliens, even if it’s disguised as 245(i). That unpopular idea can never shake Senator Robert Byrd’s label “sheer lunacy.” Frist should tell the President that the American people would rather U.S. troops were stationed on our own borders than on the borders of Yugoslavia.
Frist should tell the President that he is facing a public relations disaster when Americans start seeing uninspected Mexican trucks driven by non-English-speaking drivers rolling across our highways, and he had better figure out a way to avoid the backlash that will surely come.
Congress should repeal Ted Kennedy’s Diversity Visa Lottery immigrant program. Congress should deny visas to aliens from countries that sponsor terrorism, and order the State Department to terminate its ridiculous policy that mere advocacy of terrorism is not sufficient to deny a visa. Congress should put a moratorium on the numbers of immigrants admitted until the Immigration and Naturalization Service has an efficient system of finding and tracking the thousands of aliens the Justice Department wants to question about terrorism. The government should deport illegal aliens when caught.
Support of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 became a winning issue for President Bush and Republican candidates in November 2002 because the voters thought it would truly promote homeland security. Unfortunately, the law does nothing about immigration corruption or border loopholes.
Signed by President Bush on November 25, this law is the largest reorganization of government since World War II. The new Department combines 22 agencies and will have 170,000 employees and a budget of nearly $40 billion. The law puts the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) under an Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, and divides INS functions between the Bureau of Border Security to carry out the detention, removal, intelligence, investigations, inspections, and Border Patrol programs, and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to establish national immigration service policies and priorities.
Frist should tell the President that legislation to monitor law-abiding Americans (i.e., a national I.D. card, Trusted Traveler, and Total Information Awareness) is not going to pass, but that legislation to stop potential terrorists from entering our country would have easy sledding. Congress should refuse to fund all plans to develop a national database that would integrate existing public and private databases containing personal information on American citizens. We don’t want government monitoring our daily activities. We thank retiring Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) for inserting in the Homeland Security Act prohibitions against a national I.D. card and the implementation of the snoop-on-your-neighbor system called TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System).
America must make a choice: close our borders to people we suspect of intending to violate our laws or put all law-abiding U.S. citizens under suspicion and allow government to curtail our civil liberties.
Principle #6. Congress should pass many of the bills that the House passed in the last Congress, but which Tom Daschle refused to allow to come to a vote in the Senate. These bills include a ban on partial-birth abortion, a ban on human cloning, the Child Custody Protection Act, and the proper definition of abstinence education for eligibility for federal funding. Congress should move funding from Planned Parenthood to genuine abstinence programs, in line with promises in the 2000 Republican National Platform.
Principle #7. The continuation of self-government depends on honest elections and an informed electorate. Congress should repeal the 1975 law that requires states to provide foreign-language ballots, amend the Motor Voter Law to permit states more latitude in cleaning up registration lists, and abolish provisional voting which amounts to same-day registration and makes post-election manipulation too easy.
On February 5, 2001, a NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) panel ruled that the United States may not have a “blanket refusal” of Mexican trucks. But nothing in NAFTA or in that ruling requires us to allow entry into the United States of Mexican trucks that don’t meet U.S. truck standards.
Mexican trucks and their drivers do not measure up to U.S. safety or environmental standards, and our deteriorating highways can’t sustain the wear and tear meted out by an additional tens of thousands of heavier, environmentally dirtier trucks. Despite the upbeat press release issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT), no one can credibly assure us that our future experience with Mexican trucks will be very different from the past.
The Department of Transportation inspected only one percent of Mexican trucks in 2000 and put 35% of those out of service because of significant safety violations. No one knows how many illegal aliens and/or illegal drugs came into the United States in the 99% of trucks that were not inspected. The DOT says that border inspectors are being increased from 60 to 144. That small number cannot possibly inspect the current volume: 63,000 Mexican trucks making 4.3 million crossings at 27 sites in four border areas.
A mere safety inspection isn’t adequate; trucks should also submit to a cargo inspection. And of course, every driver and every truck should be required to show a driver’s license and a truck license at the border, just as every individual coming into our country must show a valid passport.
A 1996 General Accounting Office report concluded that 50% of Mexican vehicles attempting to cross the border are “in poor condition and do not meet any U.S. safety standards for trucks.” The “major differences” cited included: U.S. drivers are limited to ten hours of consecutive hours of service (whereas Mexican drivers typically drive up to 20 hours per day), U.S. drivers must maintain accurate logbooks while Mexican drivers don’t, Mexican trucks are allowed to carry 20% more cargo, and U.S. (but not Mexican) trucks since 1980 have been obligated to maintain front brakes.
The DOT press release states that Mexican drivers will now be limited to driving 10 hours per day. Does that mean ten hours after they arrive at the border, not counting the hours they previously drove in Mexico, and who will do the counting?
A 1998 DOT report focused on the shortage of border inspection facilities and personnel. A 1999 DOT report pointed out that the penalties imposed on Mexican trucks for violating U.S. laws are so weak that Mexican truck companies simply “consider the fines to be a cost of doing business.”
Where are the environmentalists when we need them? Studies show that Mexican trucks on average generate 150% more smog-forming nitrogen oxide and 200% more dangerous particulate matter than U.S. trucks.
The weight limit on U.S. trucks is 80,000 pounds, while Mexican trucks are allowed to carry 106,900 pounds. Research shows that heavier tractor-trailers have more severe crashes and cause more damage to U.S. roads and highways.
Another serious safety concern presented by the open-borders policy comes from hazardous materials being transported by untrained drivers, in vehicles in poor condition, and with improperly documented shipments. The U.S. and Mexico have different standards for hazardous material manifests.
The cheerful DOT press release about the new Bush policy describes the Mexican commercial driver’s license as “equivalent” to the U.S. commercial driver’s license (CDL). That is clearly untrue because there is no Mexican equivalent to the U.S. requirement (49 CFR section 391.11) that the CDL applicant “can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records.”
The English language requirement for driver’s and trucker’s licenses should be strictly enforced. The most tragic truck accident in Illinois history was directly caused by the Mexican driver’s inability to understand English.
Congress should mandate English as our official language and terminate all Bill Clinton’s plans to turn American into a bilingual nation.
But if Bush is so eager to have the right to fire government employees, why hasn’t he fired anyone for the many pre-9/11 and post 9/11 mistakes? The term mistakes is actually a euphemism for grievous lapses of duty or violations of the law, some of which were fatal.
Why hasn’t anybody been fired for releasing sniper suspect John Lee Malvo into the U.S. population even though the law mandated his deportation as one who entered our country illegally as a stowaway? Why hasn’t anybody been fired for changing Malvo’s status from the accurate designation given him by the U.S. Border Patrol?
Why wasn’t INS Director James Ziglar fired (instead of allowed to resign at his own timing) after his office admitted to writer Michelle Malkin that Malvo’s release “followed standard procedure,” and she cited numerous cases of criminal illegal aliens set free who then committed more crimes? Ziglar shouldn’t have been allowed to circle the wagons for 15 months after 9/11 and cover up the fatal results of bad policies.
Why is the government conducting an investigation of Border Patrol agent Keith Olson, the one who got Malvo’s fingerprints, which were the key to identifying him as one of the snipers who traveled the country on a killing rampage? Why, instead of going after the INS bureaucrats responsible for the Malvo mistake, is the government criticizing Border Patrol agent Daryl Schermerhorn for appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s television program and telling the truth that “it’s nothing new for the INS to release criminals on the streets and for them to commit murder”?
Why wasn’t anybody fired when INS mailed visas to two of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, on March 5, 2002, six months after they died in their attack on the World Trade Center? President Bush said he was “pretty hot” about that, but he wasn’t hot enough to fire anybody.
Why was the State Department official in charge of issuing visas, Mary Ryan, given a $15,000 “outstanding performance” award for the period that included 9/11? The General Accounting Office reported that 13 of the 19 hijackers were given visas without ever seeing a U.S. consular official, and independent experts said that at least 15 of the 19 hijackers should have been denied visas based on existing law.
Why hasn’t anybody been fired for granting visas, after 9/11, to 79 people whose names were on an FBI watch list? Why does the Bush Administration allow the State Department to maintain its ridiculous policy that a history of advocating terrorism is not sufficient to deny an alien a visa?
If it is true that INS is overwhelmed with massive numbers of immigrant applications, then homeland security demands that we put a moratorium on immigration until the INS catches up. Likewise for the numbers of visa applications at the State Department.
The FBI warning that Al Qaeda terrorists might be planning “spectacular attacks” inside the United States is the result of our government closing its eyes and waving the bad guys in. Is anyone in Washington really serious about homeland security?