An open letter to the gathering wave of new House Republicans:
In a turbulent campaign year, you are winning because you were honest with voters and you cut through the smog of media skepticism and Democrats’ acrimony. Those who win the trust of voters on election night will do so because you are the people in touch with America. I hope and expect that you will bring to Washington a perspective that’s been absent for too long, plus the determination to make it stick.
When you get here, there’s a fictional character that William Faulkner invented whom you’ll meet every day. He said, “Only thank God men have done learned how to forget quick what they ain’t brave enough to cure.” Lots of people here think like that.
They’re the ones who walk the yellow lines in the middle of the highway and will tell you it’s okay to accept 8 percent unemployment because it beats 10 percent. They will urge you to embrace tax hikes that are only moderately destructive. They will advise government spending that only grows twice as fast, and explain patiently that a deficit that swells by a trillion dollars is okay because, after all, it could be worse. It’s insidious, and I hope you will reject the philosophy that tells us to forget what we “ain’t brave enough to cure.” Now is no time to compromise with failure.
I’m sure the people of your district aren’t terribly different from those in mine. They tell me in the plainest possible way that they want less government and more freedom. What that means to me is lower taxes, a lot less waste, greater energy security, and enhanced worldwide competitiveness. By electing you, I think the people will be taking a big step at a crucial moment toward remaking their Congress into something that finally represents them and their neighbors.
We’ve had some modest success against very long odds in Democrat-dominated Congresses over the last four years. Radical cap-and-trade legislation was shelved because the more people heard about it, the more they disliked it. The objections to the vast new entitlements and health care mandates weren’t enough to stop ObamaCare altogether, but they did chase universal health care off the table. The fight has been uphill all the way, so I’m especially glad that because of the people of your districts, the cavalry is riding to the rescue.
With your help, the House will launch the new year by making it clear that we’re here to serve the people who work and pay taxes, and who expect us to deliver on our commitment to their agenda. Government runs on the money taken from their pockets, and I hope you agree with me that issue No. 1 should be sticking with the tax cuts so that working families are able to decide how to spend more of their own money.
Ending the president’s spending extravaganza in short order is a close second, and a fine place to start is through real entitlement reform. Entitlement spending amounts to $1.4 trillion and is now more than half the federal budget. Thanks to ObamaCare, entitlement programs are growing like crazy. They were costing each American taxpayer $7,698 a year even before the president decided that many more people needed a much larger share of other people’s earnings. I think the wage earners need some help, too, and that Washington can get along on a smaller share of their money. Those who believe in the sunrise also believe in the sunset, and it seems clear that the sun must set on some government spending.
The candidates I’ve talked with tell me that their successes so far prove how much Americans want real leadership, and that they’re fed up with liberal causes and with the sort of politics in which congressmen quietly trade freedom for bureaucracy one deal at a time.
When I look toward the 112th Congress, I see what the man who first brought me to Washington, Ronald Reagan, called “morning in America.” It can be that all over again if you reinvigorate our policymaking with an application of old values and new thinking.
Nearly every analyst in the country now says that the people are about to go to the polls and invest their trust in us. If they do decide to give us the chance, it will be because while Democrats were talking about the people, you were listening to the people. It’s not over until it’s over, but it sure looks like we Republicans are about to be afforded a unique opportunity to lead, and that’s because America wants you and me to succeed where the Democrats have failed.
Joe Barton, Texas
House Energy and Commerce Committee
Rep. Joe Barton represents Texas’ Sixth Congressional District. He is the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.