By Ronald Glenn
Georgia Congressman Tom Price’s Open Letter to Conservatives by, posted here at America’s Right last week, presents a fascinating future for the Republican Party, a party facing the forced reconstruction of its platform at a period in American history which has been repeatedly compared to the economic crises of 1932, the year Franklin Roosevelt was elected president.
Between 1932 and 1940, Roosevelt and the Democratic Party transformed America into a social welfare state. Simply put, the American government made it public policy to provide for those deemed incapable of taking care of themselves, as well as passing regulations deemed necessary for the preservation of the American financial system. Those in need included the elderly, widows, and orphans, and financial reforms included banking and stock market regulations. American society, at that time, would not allow victims of time and circumstance to die in the streets, nor would it allow “improper” stock manipulations. Since that time, for over eighty years, America has debated who and/or what fits into the social welfare state, culminating in the vast expansion of government under Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.
When the Republican Party has its debate over old values and new ideas as Tom Price suggests, it must begin the debate with the following five issues and reach a consensus on their relationship with, and ultimate destiny within, the modern social welfare state:
America has never defined whether healthcare is a right or a commodity — in other words, is the right to medical care guaranteed to every American because they are an American, or is healthcare simply an item one can purchase?
This question was not resolved in the debates during the 2008 campaign, and with the rising age of baby boomers, it may be the defining economic issue of the next twenty years. Without question, though, healthcare will be the largest domestic government expenditure under the current circumstances, and could decide how America manages its budgets for the next generation. This is the example of how far-reaching a decision can be when a service is changed over from private to public.
The debate must also include mental health care as well, particularly since the medicine prescribed most often in America is anti-depressants. As it stands, too, four years of Democratic leadership could push the usage of anti-depressants to new heights.
[Eight years, and I don't know about you, but I might need an I.V. drip -- Jeff]
In the face of the state budget collapses throughout America, it is extremely possible that the federal government will nationalize the public school system. Think of it. Every fifth grade history book in America will be the same in every public school, and will be chosen by an agency in Washington D.C. A few years ago, there was talk that America would use the voucher system. The teachers union would likely be for nationalization, and would have the government printing presses to support them.
Traditional conservatives always claimed education was up to the individual states — heck, President Reagan wanted to shutter the Department of Education. That view, the application of Jeffersonian principles to our schools, has been seriously eroded and could vanish unless fought for. Therefore, in this time when the party is seeing a resurgence, where the Democrats in power will likely screw up, the Republicans need a coherent education platform for private and public schools throughout America. I suggest the least amount of government involvement.
The takeover is far from over. Treasury Secretary [and tax cheat extraordinaire] Timothy Geithner will likely ask, today, for hundreds of billions of dollars MORE–that’s on top of TARP and the so-called “stimulus” package–for troubled asset relief. The Republican Party needs to honestly evaluate this bailout mentality, as it is their “baby” with President Bush as midwife, but the GOP must also be willing to take an honest look at the Federal Reserve System as a whole.
America’s current economic condition has all the earmarks of a nation that has been run by bankers instead of economists. The banking system is already on the way to being nationalized, a move which, unless the Republican party attempts to halt it, will likely have public support from the same people who elected a president on empty rhetoric and rock-star packaging.
Here, the question the Republican party must answer: Is the government willing to guarantee savings and still keep the system private, but regulated?
If you wish to read more on the Federal Reserve, read Ron Paul’s opinions.
If you think government employees do not fit into the social welfare state as issue, think again.
Over the last thirty years, private sector labor unions and pensions have all but vanished, but both have been protected for those in government. What will happen if the government pension system goes broke? Answer: The government will tax the private sector to fix it.
The Republicans must be willing to speak out on this issue, even though the Democrats will portray this as a “working class issue” and argue to anyone who will listen that the Republican elite simply is insensitive or does not understand. Perhaps they can take a page from the platform for the Constitution Party, which already says an elected congressman should not accept a government pension. Tell that to Barney Frank.
This will require a little explanation. Many economists, including conservatives, have laid much of the blame for our economic troubles on the Iraq War. The war was financed by debt, compounding the difficulties already being experienced by the over-indulgent American economy. The left, of course, argues that every dollar spent on war should be better spent on schools or medicine.
[. . . or pot, or tubas, or cat toys, or STD prevention, or vacuum cleaners for the homeless, or yarn, or sashimi research, or braille steering wheel controls in automobiles. -- Jeff]
The point is that, unlike in our history, when the American people were forced to cut back or step up or ship out, America fought–and is continuing to fight–a war without domestic sacrifice. The Republican party must decide if it will simply defend what happened under Bush, or forge a new strategy to fight where fighting is necessary while taking the economic ramifications into account. War is part of the social welfare state if it is blamed for diversion of funds that should be spent elsewhere — Obama will inevitably argue he is doing the best he can with a situation he inherited.
If all of these issues are not addressed in an intelligent and informed manner they will be stolen by the Democrats in the name of saving America. Of course, these are conceptual arguments which need further detail, but I think it is fair to say that America has seen enough of the new administration over the last three weeks to see the necessity of putting up a fight concerning what lies ahead for the next four or eight years.
Ronald Glenn has worked in real estate and law for more than twenty years. He now works in Philadelphia, and lives outside the city with his wife. Ron has been writing for America’s Right since January 2009.