Posts Tagged new jersey

A New ‘Team of Rivals’


Once again this week the field of contenders for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination continued to grow. There is great diversity in what is shaping up to be a historically large field of would-be presidents.  Diverse not just by gender, race and ethnicity, but collectively the candidates bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the contest.

A few years back the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin penned a book entitled Team of Rivals which went into great detail as to how President Abraham Lincoln brought those who competed against him during the nomination process into his cabinet.  President Lincoln was both secure enough in his own abilities, and wise enough to recognize his erstwhile opponents had talents the country sorely needed.

If Republicans reclaim the White House, the large field of contenders will give the new president a deep pool of qualified individuals from which to pick his, or her, cabinet.   Just for fun, let’s take a look at the Republican presidential contenders and see how they might fit into a new administration:

The big four cabinet posts are State, Defense, Treasury and Justice.  U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has emerged as one of the leading voices on foreign affairs making him well qualified to become the next Secretary of State.  Both the current Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton had competed for their party’s presidential nomination and served in the U.S. Senate prior to becoming the nation’s top diplomat, so Rubio would be following a well-worn path.

For Secretary of Defense U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham would be a perfect fit.  He, along with Senator John McCain, for a decade now have traveled extensively to the mid-east and other areas of global conflict.  He would be well positioned to begin restoring the confidence in America’s resolve which has been lost over the past six years.  And George Pataki, the former New York governor who led his state in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, would be an excellent fit for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Nobody on the campaign trail speaks as well or argues as effectively as the U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.  His passionate defense of conservative principles and strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution would make him an ideal candidate to become the next Attorney General of the United States.  And, who better to be Secretary of the Treasury than the man who has made an $8 billion personal fortune – The Donald, Donald Trump?

As we continue to build the ideal GOP presidential cabinet let’s put the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum in as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.   Santorum cares passionately for families and could walk in the innovative footsteps of another conservative icon, Jack Kemp, who proved that housing policy could be compassionate and realistic at the same time.  Along those lines, Dr. Ben Carson – a highly respected neurosurgeon, would be an ideal fit as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

For Secretary of the Interior, former Texas Governor Rick Perry would be ideal. Western states need an Interior secretary who will fight for their interests. Perry is steeped in the issues, a passionate and effective advocate for his causes, and as a westerner would be widely acceptable in that role.  Alternately, he would fit well as Secretary of Energy.

Conservatives would applaud the appointment of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as Secretary of Labor.  Walker has successfully battled the labor unions in Wisconsin and intrinsically understands how the nation’s current labor policy environment is hindering the economic recovery.  Pair him with Carly Fiorina as Commerce Secretary and they could put the nation’s economy back on the right track.

His support for Common Core standards aside, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was an innovator and strong supporter of school choice making him a good pick for Secretary of Education.  Ohio Governor John Kasich would be effective as White House Chief of Staff.  And, to really make liberal heads spin, let’s put Senator Rand Paul on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Finally let’s appoint New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as Secretary of Transportation.  Who better to rebuild our nation’s roads and bridges . . . OK, well, maybe not.

Those are my presidential cabinet picks.  Of course, one of these folks would have to end up as president, and another likely vice president, but the bottom line is the GOP has a wealth of talent which could be called into service if the party prevails in November of 2016.

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

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

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Policy Envy


By Lowman S. Henry

Conservative activists from across Penn’s Woods gathered recently for the annual Pennsylvania Leadership Conference. From the podium and through the hallways a common theme emerged. There is a palpable sense of disappointment – and growing anger – over the slow pace of Governor Tom Corbett and the Republican-controlled General Assembly toward enactment of the conservative agenda.

Activists are quick to credit the Governor and his legislative allies for last year’s state budget which held the line on both spending and taxes. Credit is also given for the fact this year’s proposed budget – and likely final budget – will follow suit. But those accomplishments are the only reason why conservative anger has not turned into outright hostility and rebellion.

Fueling disillusionment among the party’s base is the progress being made in other states. Conservatives have watched with envy as Indiana enacted a Right to Work law. Wisconsin – liberal Wisconsin – passed sweeping reforms that threw off the yoke of labor union repression that had bloated that state’s budget for decades. From Chris Christie’s war against the education establishment in New Jersey to policy victories in Virginia, Florida, Ohio and other states conservatives nationwide are enacting their agenda.

Here in Pennsylvania the conservative agenda is dead in the water. During the early months of the Corbett Administration we were told the budget came first, that other issues would be addressed after the budget was passed. The budget was passed nine months ago and the record of accomplishment since then is, well, dismal.

School choice was to be the crown jewel in this session’s legislative crown. But even a watered down version of school choice failed to pass the General Assembly. Ditto privatization of the state’s liquor stores. Efforts to protect the unborn via the Women’s Right to Know Act floundered and was pulled from the legislative agenda. Right to Work is mentioned in hushed tones and even a modest update to the state’s Prevailing Wage law remains bottled up in a House committee.

Pointing to policy victories in other states, conservatives are demanding to know why, with a Republican in the Governor’s Office and historic Republican majorities in the General Assembly more progress is not being made. Matthew Brouillette, President of the Commonwealth Foundation, has the answer. He correctly points out that the Republican/Democrat model does not apply in Pennsylvania. Rather the legislature is divided between the union party and the taxpayer party.

And the union party is winning. Last summer a number of contracts with state labor unions were up for renewal. Rather than take a stand to bring labor costs under control, the Corbett Administration simply caved into union demands. It bought labor peace, but that tranquility will come at a considerable price to taxpayers. In the state Senate, leadership has opposed liquor store privatization and other conservative initiatives. Simply put, the upper chamber has become a conservative policy graveyard. In the House, labor leaders recently lauded House Labor Committee Chairman Ron Miller (R-York) as “our man in Harrisburg.” Is it any wonder legislation aimed at curbing the excesses of organized labor is stuck in his committee?

Simply put while Republicans are the governing majority in Harrisburg conservatives and taxpayers remain in the minority. That is why the upcoming primary election is so important. It is no longer good enough to simply return Republicans to office because the alternative is worse. Primary elections are held for a reason. Primaries are where the battle for the heart and soul of the party is fought. Incumbent Republicans who take money from labor unions are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

With Pennsylvania’s primary election now just weeks away voters should take the time to find out whether their elected representative stands with the unions or with the taxpayers. If only a few incumbents lose because they sided with the special interests rather than the public interest, then the culture of state government will begin to change. And change must come soon. Because if it does not, that simmering conservative anger will boil over when the spotlight returns to state government in 2014.

(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.)

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