Whether or not the GOP wins the U.S. Senate, several Republican contenders for the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body hope to promote some rather unique proposals. Republicans are running on such ideas as repealing Obamacare, curbing federal spending, and making permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Those are all fine concepts, but several candidates have gone beyond the old perennials to promote good, less-familiar ideas.
• Among others, California’s Carly Fiorina highlights two particularly intriguing proposals.
First, she recommends something called “Jobs for Americans Zones.” In these specific geographic areas, federal tax benefits would be coupled with relief from state and local regulations. This would create conditions designed to lure manufacturing jobs back to America that have fled for more appealing economic climates. These incentives would include:
• A 10-year tax holiday for facilities repatriated from overseas
• A five-year tax holiday for start-ups and expansions
• State and local permitting and land use assistance
• State and local holidays from local uncompetitive regulations (e.g., higher labor costs from uncompetitive work rules)
“Carly believes we must compete and fight for every single job,” says campaign press secretary Andrea Saul. “That means both creating jobs at home and bringing jobs back from overseas. She believes we should ensure that the incentives we offer for high-skill and manufacturing jobs are competitive with what foreign governments offer.”
Second, Fiorina advocates something she calls “Letting Americans Pay Down the Debt.” In short, taxpayers could steer part of their levies to curbing America’s $13 trillion in deep-red ink. As Saul explains, Fiorina “understands that, in order to put Americans back to work, get small enterprises back in business, and boost economic growth beyond just 2 or 3 percent, we must reduce the stress that record-high federal spending places on our economy. To do that, among many other ideas, she has proposed that Congress give taxpayers the opportunity to designate 0 to 10 percent of their federal tax liability towards debt reduction.”
• Connecticut’s Linda McMahon spotlights congressional pay. She would slash legislative salaries to match the U.S. median income. If McMahon prevailed, congressional pay would plunge from $174,000 to $44,389.
“If Members of Congress want their own salaries to rise, they will need to support policies that will help boost incomes for average Americans,” McMahon spokesman Shawn McCoy elaborates. “Career politicians will probably do their best to block such a proposal, so it might be easier to push for capping Congressional salary until median income catches up.”
Harmonizing congressional and rank-and-file salaries will pry Congress from the bubble of relative affluence that isolates them from their constituents. Members of this Congress might better understand this economy’s thoroughgoing flaccidity if they struggled as hard to pay their bills as do the Americans they represent.
“I won’t take a dime in salary,” says McMahon. “Career politicians run for the U.S. Senate for the perks and the money. I’m not interested in the perks, and I won’t let taxpayers pay me more than a million dollars over six years while Connecticut families are hurting.”
McMahon also says she will limit her own time on Capitol Hill. “I’ll serve only two terms. Period,” she declares. “If you can’t work through an agenda in 12 years, you don’t have an agenda. You have a career.”
• Florida’s Marco Rubio is a one-man think tank. He has unveiled “10 Simple Ways to Lower Health Care Costs,” “12 Simple Ways to Improve Education,” and “23 Simple Ways to Create Jobs.” Among his “12 Simple Ways to Cut Spending,” these look especially tantalizing:
• Reduce the Size of the Federal Bureaucracy. To get spending under control, we must cut the size of the government workforce. To begin, we should freeze federal civilian workforce pay for one year and bring the pay scale back in line with market rates. In addition, we should reduce its size to 2008 levels. To accomplish this without disrupting critical government services, we should implement a policy of only hiring just one civilian employee for every two who leave government.
• Freeze Federal Non-Defense, Non-Veterans Spending at 2008 Levels. We should freeze non-defense and non-veterans discretionary spending at pre-Obama levels. In addition, we actually should enforce our goals to cut spending and reduce the deficit by making automatic cuts if politicians won’t. This could save hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years.
• Automatic Sunset of Government Programs. We need to end the permanent lease on life that government programs are given. Too often, Congress creates a spending program, increases its funding, and never looks back to see if it is actually working. We should mandate that all discretionary spending programs end every 10 years after the Census, unless Congress specifically votes to continue them.
Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos says that the Automatic Sunset already brightens the Sunshine State. “It’s an idea that’s been at work in the Florida legislature and helps make sure programs are regularly evaluated and properly debated, not passed once and allowed to live on forever.”
Democrats constantly accuse Republicans of brain death. “The other side just is not presenting a serious idea of how to balance our budgets and put us on a stable fiscal footing,” President Obama complained to voters in Richmond, Va., on September 29.
In fact, GOP congressional challengers and incumbents are bursting with worthy ideas for repairing America. Some are wise, albeit oft-repeated. Others are novel and merit further attention.
Whether leftists like Obama and his Democratic pals on Capitol Hill will listen to such proposals is another matter entirely. After Tuesday’s vote, those ideas may become too powerful to ignore.
— Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University