“AMBITIOUS AGENDA?” OR “TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE?”
Are they enough, though?
Bush – who vowed this week to take on “Mount Washington” (a.k.a. the federal government) – outlined a series of reforms he claimed would shrink the federal government, balance the budget and help achieve his ambitious goal of four percent annual economic growth (a level America hasn’t hit in a decade-and-a-half).
Specifically, Bush wants to cut the federal government’s work force by 10 percent, impose an immediate hiring freeze on new positions, pass a constitutional balanced budget amendment, restore the line-item veto to the president and impose a six-year ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists.
“We need to help politicians rediscover life outside of Washington,” Bush said. “Which – who knows? – might even be a pleasant surprise for them.”
Bush – whose father and brother previously served (disastrously) as president – also wants to implement merit-based pay and other market-based measures for his scaled down federal work force. And on the lobbying front, he wants to add stricter disclosure requirements on lawmakers who meet with those attempting to influence their votes.
Most controversially, he also proposed docking lawmakers’ pay in the event they miss votes.
National Journal described Bush’s reform package as “an ambitious agenda for reigning in the growth of the federal government.”
We wouldn’t go that far …
In fact we’d describe them as “too little, too late.”
Bush’s ten percent “reduction in force” and freeze on hiring is obviously the most significant of the proposals – but where’s the dollar amount on those savings? And what’s to stop him from spending any cash he saves on more ill-conceived global interventionism?
As for Bush’s six-year moratorium on lawmakers becoming lobbyists – why not make it a permanent ban?
Also, while this website no longer support term limits for elected officials, we do support term limits for legislative leadership posts and committees – emphatically so. Imposing such limit would constitute a real reform as opposed to Bush’s gimmicky “I’ll cut lawmakers salaries if they miss votes” idea.
We don’t disagree with him … that’s just style over substance, not the sort of “statesman” stuff we’ve been told to expect from Bush.
Don’t get us wrong: Bush is to be commended for offering up some solid proposals. Also, it bears noting we’re not opposed to any of his ideas being implemented – as passing them into law would result in a marked improvement over the status quo in Washington, D.C.
But is Bush going even remotely far enough? No.
On its whole Bush’s “reform” agenda seems less about actually taking on “Mount Washington” – and more about providing political cover against the “Insider” rap. No “Republican” candidate should be proposing half-measures at this critical juncture in America’s unraveling … least of all one named “Bush.”
Anyway, the suddenly anti-establishment “establishment” candidate will be releasing specific tax reform and spending proposals in the months to come, so hopefully he will add some bite to his bark.
He needs to …
Also, let’s hope Bush’s “reforms” serve as a jumping off point for other campaigns to propose more aggressive measures to rein in government growth, curtail D.C. corruption and achieve the economic growth Bush is seeking.