When Gridlock is Good


At both the state and national levels voters have opted to put into place divided government with Democrats in charge of the executive branch and Republicans holding large majorities in the legislative branch.  The differences between the two are stark and deeply ideological.  This leaves very little room for compromise and suggests a two-year period of gridlock lies ahead.

If so, it will reflect the will of the electorate.  The recent election was not about finding common ground, it was about changing course.   In the last six years voters nationally have twice elected Barack Obama to the presidency, while delivering one or both houses of the congress to Republicans.  Government, like the electorate, is deeply divided.  That is not a negative; it means our system of representative government is actually working and is reflective of the nation at-large.

Given the Leftward bias of the mainstream news media we can expect coverage over the next two years to be heavily slanted in favor of President Obama and incoming Governor Tom Wolf.  This despite the fact neither can claim a mandate. Barack Obama’s party has lost over 70 congressional seats during his terms of office.  He himself said his policies were on the ballot.  They were and voters soundly rejected them.  Governor-elect Wolf won the “anybody-but-Tom Corbett” election even while voters sent enhanced Republican majorities to each chamber of the General Assembly.

Executives get to set the agenda so both President Obama and Governor Wolf will push their respective policies – while congress and the state legislature reject them and offer their own paths forward.  This will inevitably give rise to a spate of headlines and editorials lamenting the “obstructionist” Republicans standing in the way of the Left’s version of progress.

But stand in the way is exactly what Republicans should do.  At the national level it would be a mistake to interpret the election results as voter desire for compromise.  The campaigns, especially for U.S. Senate seats, were clear, as was the voters’ rejection of the Obama agenda.  At the state level, polling revealed years ago the voters’ desire to replace Tom Corbett.  It didn’t matter who, or what issues the Democratic nominee ran on, voters were not going to re-elect the incumbent.

To effectively counter Democrats and their allies in the news media, Republicans are going to have to up their game.  GOP congressional leadership in recent years has been mediocre at best, inept and ineffective at its worse.  With majorities in both chambers the time has come for Republicans to put forth a proactive agenda to solving the nation’s problems, pass it, and put it on the president’s desk.  If the president opts to use his veto, so be it.  Republicans could then enter the 2016 election cycle having done their job and with a clear message to put before voters.

Meanwhile, back in Penn’s Woods, the gridlock which gripped state government during four years of total Republican control can only be expected to get worse.  To capture his party’s nomination Tom Wolf had to move far to the Left to eclipse such ultra-liberals as Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord.  This leaves him little room within which to maneuver.   Republicans increased their majorities in both the House and Senate; then elected new leadership in both chambers far more conservative than the ones they replaced.  Those legislators cannot give into the Wolf policy agenda without betraying the voters who elected them.

So what should Republicans do?  As saying goes: “Dance with the one who brought you.”  Stay true to the party’s principles. Resist the urge to compromise just to silence media critics. And, put forth workable pro-growth policy solutions to the problems that confront our state and nation.  The president and the governor may or may not go along, but passing the wrong policies just for the sake of passing something will long term do nothing to restore our state and nation.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

 

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Challenges Facing the New Governor


Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 22, 2014 – November 28, 2014

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  •  Eric Boehm has news headlines from http://www.PAIndependent.com
  • David Taylor from the PA Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch look at the old challenges facing the new governor with Gene Barr from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry and Neal Lesher from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why government gridlock can be good
What challenges will Governor Tom Wolfe face in his first term in office? Find out this week on Lincoln Radio Journal!

What challenges will Governor Tom Wolfe face in his first term in office? Find out this week on Lincoln Radio Journal!

This week on American Radio Journal:

  •  Lowman Henry talks with Robert Graboyes from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University about the current Obamacare open enrollment period
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind defeat of the Keystone KL pipeline
  • Eric Boehm and Rob Nikolewski have a Watchdog Radio Report on the impact of falling gasoline prices on state budgets
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on improving mental health care for children

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt


Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 15, 2014 – November 21, 2014

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAIndependent.com
  • Lowman Henry talks with veteran Al Bienstock about his recent visit to a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier
  • Eric Montarti and Frank Gamrat have an Allegheny Institute Report on finances of the state system of higher education
  • Anna McCauslin of Americans for Prosperity has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on policy priorities for state government

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Francis Rooney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See about dealing with radical Islam
  • Barney Keller of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind the GOP U.S. Senate win in Alaska
  • Eric Boehm and Jason Hart have a Watchdog Radio Report on labor union election spending
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal commentary on the anniversary of the fight for freedom in Poland

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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Tinkering with the System


Days before the November election I was listening to a radio talk show and the topic of discussion was a prominent Democrat who suggested that congressional terms should be made longer.  Specifically, he suggested having U.S. Senators serve for eight years rather than six and electing members of the U.S. House of Representatives to four year terms instead of two.

The reasoning behind suggesting such a change was to limit the number of opportunities voters have to impact the system to ensure more stability in the federal government.  Prompting the discussion was voter propensity to deal President Barack Obama mid-term electoral set-backs compromising his ability to enact his policy agenda.

Interestingly, when someone dislikes the verdict of the voters or an elected official misbehaves the search goes on for a systemic weakness to blame.  Inevitably, the “solution” to such non-existent problems is to remove from those rascally voters the ability to express their will through the electoral process.

Such is the case in Pennsylvania where recent episodes of elected officials behaving badly have prompted calls for systemic change that, in the end would erode the power of voters and diminish the ability of “We the People” to impact the composition of our own government.  Specifically, structural “reforms” that would enhance the power of elites to the detriment of grassroots voters include reducing the size of the state legislature and enacting the merit selection of judges.

The recent forced retirement of state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey for excessive use of the send button on his computer has re-energized the merit selection movement.  Presumably, a merit selection committee would have asked McCaffrey if he liked to forward along pornographic e-mails, he would have admitted such, and thus been eliminated from consideration.  Likewise the last justice to be impeached, Rolf Larson, would have admitted his addictions to the merit selection committee and informed them of his plan to use staff to acquire prescription drugs illegally.

It is folly to believe a merit selection committee would be error free in its choices.  The only sure outcome of merit selection is that the selectors and those who select the selectors would gain incredible influence over one-third of state government with no voter oversight or recourse.  True, voters are often ill informed when it comes to judicial candidates, but the same can be said for many other offices as well.

Reducing the size of the General Assembly is another “reform” that would diminish the impact of voters while giving leaders greater control.  A smaller legislature would mean larger districts.  Candidates must spend more to be elected in larger districts, thus the role of campaign cash would grow while the ability of less well financed candidates to compete through grassroots campaigning would be lessened.  Do we really want to make money in politics more important?

At the national level, lengthening the terms of congressmen and senators would severely curtail the ability of voters to express their will.  The framers of the U.S Constitution intended for the House to be volatile, representing the momentary views of the people.  Senators were granted six-years terms to be the “cooling saucer” of those who could take a longer term view.  It was and is a good compromise that has served our nation well.

The old saying that our system of government is the worst there is – except for all the others remains true.  Constitutions are written and systems are established so the framework of government is timeless and not whipsawed by the winds of current events.  Any system is only as good as the men and women who serve within it.  The key to better government lies not in changing the system, but in being more vigilant on whom we select to represent us.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

 

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Election Analysis


Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 8, 2014 – November 14, 2014

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from paindependent.com
  • David Taylor hosts a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion on the election results and what they mean with Matthew Brouillette from the Commonwealth Foundation and Kevin Shivers from the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on tinkering with the system

Election-Results

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Adam Smith of the Mercatus Center about regulatory challenges to new ride sharing companies
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the impact of the GOP take-over of the U.S. Senate
  • Eric Boehm and Matt Kittle have a Watchdog Radio Report on GOP pick-ups in gubernatorial races
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on why the time is now for comprehensive tax reform

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Tribune-Review’s Brad Bumsted Talks Supreme Court Scandal


Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 1, 2014 – November 7, 2014

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from paindependent.com
  • Lowman Henry talks with Brad Bumsted of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about scandal at the state Supreme Court
  • Joe Geiger of the First Nonprofit Foundation has James Jones from the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg in the Community Benefit spotlight
  • Beth Anne Mumford of Americans for Prosperity-PA has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on special treatment for labor unions

This week on American Radio Journal:

  •  Lowman Henry talks with Donald P. Nielson of the Discovery Institute about his new book Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the U.S. Senate races that will decide party control of the Senate
  • Eric Boehm is joined by Mark Lagerkvist of New Jersey Watchdog for a Watchdog Radio Report on the battle to gain public access to Governor Chris Christie’s travel expenses
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal commentary on one World War II veteran’s story

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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GOP Launches a New ‘War on Poverty’


In his 1964 State of the Union Address President Lyndon Johnson launched what became known as the “war on poverty” saying: “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it, and above all to prevent it.”

Like the war in Vietnam, which he simultaneously fought, Johnson lost the “war on poverty.”  In 1964 the U.S. Poverty rate stood at 17.3%, after a half century with spending totally in the trillions of dollars, that rate today is stuck at 15%.

The “war on poverty” has been lost because the central theme of Johnson’s address got subverted to the cause of big government.  Anti-poverty programs sought not to “relieve the symptom of poverty,” but rather to entrap poverty stricken families in a web of government dependency.  At that the “war” has been successful as, for example, a record 47 million U.S. households today receive food stamps.

Although President Johnson’s anti-poverty initiative failed in its stated goal, it has been a resounding political success for his party.  Under the guise of compassion, Democrats have been successful in creating an entire class of voters dependent on government.  As a result entitlement programs now make up an unsustainable percentage of the federal budget and are driving trillion dollar budget deficits.

Conversely, Republicans have been portrayed as modern day Scrooges who care more about the bottom line than about the needs of poor Americans.  While the negative fiscal impact of deficit spending is real, the GOP has enhanced this reputation by failing to provide realistic solutions to fighting poverty through the provision of human services.

That, however, is changing.

In what is shaping up as a major change in how Republican policy-makers deal with poverty and the confusing and inefficient labyrinth of human service programs designed to combat it, major initiatives are underway at both the state and national level to develop a new – and hopefully more effective – anti-poverty paradigm.

At the national level Congressman Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 Vice Presidential nominee, has spent years researching and developing hisExpanding Opportunities in America program. Ryan proposes reforms to the nation’s educational and social safety net programs.  He also wants a review and streamlining of the thousands of federal regulations that frequently are a roadblock to providing effective services.

Funding for human services trickle down to the state, and ultimately to the county level where many such programs are actually implemented.  So, in addition to federal bureaucracies a level of state administration gets overlaid on human service programs before the dollars actually get to the counties and nonprofit organizations providing service.

State Representative David Reed, who serves as Majority Policy Chairman, last year launched his Empowering Opportunities: Gateways out of Poverty Initiative.  Reed returns to Lyndon Johnson’s original promise saying: “With more than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians struggling in poverty today, our responsibility is to begin the discussion anew on the most effective and successful means of transitioning our citizens from a life of poverty to self-sustainability.”

Congressman Ryan and Representative Reed have thus laid the groundwork for a major change in the way our nation and state address dealing with persistent poverty.  But, bringing about such systemic change will not be easy.  Defenders of the status quo will predictably claim the proposals lack compassion, and some conservatives will balk at a continued major role for government in combating poverty.

After fifty years of failure it is crystal clear that what we have been doing simply hasn’t worked. Ryan and Reed are proposing a way forward that could begin the process of actually addressing the root causes of poverty in a way designed to lift people out of government dependency.  At this point we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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