White House Chief of Staff and partisan hit-man-in-chief Rahm Emanuel wouldn’t know a real idea if was served up to him on a fish platter.
On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Emanuel had this to say about President Barack Obama’s critics on the right: “When you're the party of no, when you're the party of never, when you're the party of no new ideas, that's not constructive…. The challenge will be: Will the Republicans come to the table with constructive ideas?”
Emanuel, a foul-mouthed would-be tough guy best known for having sent a decomposing 30-inch fish to a pollster he didn’t like, clearly doesn’t even want to pay attention – because conservatives have been pushing innovative ideas for just about every issue of national importance.
To show just how readily available those ideas are, here’s a list that I am literally writing off the top of my head, without even doing a shred of new research, much less needing to search high and low as if conservative ideas are difficult to find.
Start with health care, reforms of which Obama repeatedly and falsely claims will solve most of the nation’s budget problems.
First, pilot projects for Health Savings Accounts are working like a charm. Conservatives want to expand them; Obama says no.
Second, Arizona’s U.S. Rep. John Shadegg proposes allowing consumers to buy health insurance across state lines. Why should the citizens of some states be stuck with higher insurance bills because of costly mandates imposed by their state governments? If they want cheaper insurance from another state, they should be allowed to buy it – and the citizens of that other state should have the right to shop in the state with the costly mandates if the mandates make the whole package seem more attractive.
Third, health insurance should no longer be funneled through employers as a matter of government policy; instead, tax credits should go directly to the consumer.
For a small but significant reform of how the entire government operates – and one which surely would save oodles of taxpayer money – Shadegg again is the idea man, annually proposing that all federal legislation carry a clause identifying which part of the Constitution allows the federal government to carry out the bill’s activity.
On entitlements, Rep. Paul Ryan last year wrote a well-received column for the Wall Street Journal. One of his best ideas was to allow Medicaid to be turned, by consumer choice, into a tax-credit option rather than a bureaucratically controlled one.
On taxes, conservative columnist Deroy Murdock is one of the lead popularizers of an alternative tax filing system: Taxpayers would have the choice between trying to “game” today’s complicated system or, instead, use a single postcard to send in a fixed percentage of their incomes with no deductions. Of course, it is Emanuel’s allies who long have fought against flatter, simpler taxes.
For more accessible energy, House Minority Leader John Boehner advocates the “all of the above” plan of allowing widescale domestic production of oil and gas while also promoting newer forms of energy. Instead, the Obama administration repeatedly has been shackling domestic production.
On the budget, the answers are out there: An absolute two-year moratorium on porky earmarks combined with a commission to completely revamp (and severely limit) earmarks going forward. Add that to an absolute freeze, for one year, on the total amount of domestic discretionary spending (with some shifting around in budget sub-categories allowed). Plus, again, look to Rep. Ryan for a host of other suggestions.
Conservatives also would push major regulatory reforms, and undo some of the horrendous mistakes of the Pelosi Congress such as the hyperactive anti-lead laws which have caused libraries to take children’s books off the shelves, forced thrift shops to close, and harmed charitable fund drives nationwide.
And all that is just a start – again, off the top of my head. If there were space in this column, I similarly could cite innovative suggestions on immigration, on education, on legal-system reform, and on other issues. But to all these ideas, it is Emanuel and Obama and their allies who say “no, never.”
The fish rots from the head down.
Quin Hillyer is associate editorial page editor for The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at email@example.com.