Em­brac­ing Rea­gan’s legacy in the new cen­tury

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - JOHN CAMP­BELL

It’s been nearly 20 years since Ron­ald Rea­gan left the pres­i­dency. Yet, even peo­ple who don’t re­mem­ber his pres­i­dency (or his gov­er­nor­ship in Cal­i­for­nia) as I do, have pos­i­tive views of his legacy. Yes, he low­ered taxes and ended the Cold War. But we re­mem­ber him for even more than that. He stood un­wa­ver­ing by his prin­ci­ples, his per­sonal in­tegrity was never in ques­tion and he had that im­mutable op­ti­mism.

To­day, Congress has a record­low ap­proval rat­ing of 11 per­cent. Repub­li­cans lost the ma­jor­ity in part be­cause they spent too much, had eth­i­cal lapses and did not de­liver on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and other is­sues. The peo­ple put Democrats in charge, but those Democrats have dis­ap­pointed even more than Repub­li­cans.

Amer­i­cans are cry­ing out for lead­er­ship with prin­ci­ple, in­tegrity and courage. They want to be­lieve again in an op­ti­mistic vi­sion for Amer­ica’s fu­ture.

Rea­gan 21 is the project of a group of about 20 sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives to pro­vide that fresh, bold lead­er­ship. I, along with Repub­li­can Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Repub­li­can Reps. John Shadegg of Ari­zona, Jeb Hen­sar­ling of Texas, Paul Ryan of Wis­con­sin and Thomas Price of Ge­or­gia, founded Rea­gan 21 to give peo­ple some­thing to be­lieve in again.

Why name it Rea­gan 21? We want to ap­ply the en­dur­ing prin­ci­ples, in­tegrity and op­ti­mism of Ron­ald Rea­gan to 21st-cen­tury chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

We have taken strong, prin­ci­pled po­si­tions on a num­ber of is­sues. For ex­am­ple, we be­lieve that the ear­mark process should be elim­i­nated. Mr. Coburn has said that ear­marks are the “gate­way drug to over­spend­ing.” They are. But they are also the gate­way drug to cor­rup­tion in Congress, as we have seen with re­cent in­dict­ments and con­vic­tions. And we are likely to see more such in­dict­ments in the fu­ture. To lead by ex­am­ple, all mem­bers of Rea­gan 21 have agreed to re­quest no new ear­marks. The ear­mark process is the tool used by the spenders in both par­ties to ac­com­plish their goals of us­ing your money to cre­ate their power. And we have to stop them.

But we have many more thoughts on how to move Amer- ica to­ward more free­dom rather than the near-so­cial­ist vi­sion of many con­gres­sional Democrats:

The en­ti­tle­ments of So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care and Med­i­caid will eat up 100 per­cent of the taxes you pay within 30 years. They are on an un­sus­tain­able path. To save them, we must re­form them by al­low­ing more in­di­vid­ual con­trol and in­volve­ment. Leav­ing them alone will lead to their demise.

English should be the of­fi­cial lan­guage of this coun­try. And we should al­low lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cers to help en­force our im­mi­gra­tion laws. Add a sys­tem of uni­ver­sal em­ploy­ment ver­i­fi­ca­tion and we can en­force our im­mi­gra­tion laws while wel­com­ing le­gal im­mi­grants and stop­ping those who vi­o­late those laws.

We share a goal for all Amer­i­cans to have health care cov­er­age. But so­cial­ized medicine will only am­plify the in­ef­fi­cien­cies and care lapses of the cur­rent sys­tem. Health care should be pa­tient-cen­tered and not gov­ern­ment-cen­tered in the fu­ture. You should be able to con­trol your own de­ci­sions about your health care and not be taxed by gov­ern­ment to do it.

Fed­eral in­tru­sions into lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion, like No Child Left Be­hind, are not pro­duc­tive or help­ful. We do not sup­port fed­eral schools, to which the col­lec­tivist crowd is mov­ing. Ed­u­ca­tion is best served by be­ing closer to par­ents and kids and farther away from Wash­ing­ton con­trol.

We should move to­ward a fairer, flat­ter tax sys­tem based on con­sump­tion. We should limit the an­nual growth in fed­eral spend­ing to the growth rate in the econ­omy so that the gov­ern­ment does not in­ex­orably take more and more of your pay­check.

Rea­gan 21 is just be­gin­ning. There is lots more to do, more to say and more to pro­pose. You will hear about our progress in the months and years ahead.

None of us is Ron­ald Rea­gan. No one will be again. But we can use his ex­am­ple to in­spire a new gen­er­a­tion of con­ser­va­tives to lead Amer­ica to an even greater “city on the hill” to­mor­row.

Rep. John Camp­bell is a Repub­li­can from Cal­i­for­nia.

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