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Wanted: real Republican ideas

Ever since the Democrats completely took over Washington, the Republicans have been groping for ways to be a substantive counterweight to the progressive agenda being pushed by President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. And they've had a devil of a time. Their latest effort is dubbed "Commitment to America." For the sake of the republic, I hope they succeed this time.

One-party rule in government isn't inherently bad. But it can be a nightmare for the party in power and the people it governs when the opposition party is weak and bereft of substantive ideas to serve as a credible counterbalance. Without a worthy sparing partner, the majority runs the risk of growing complacent and heedless of alternative solutions and ideas that could lead to better outcomes for the people. The Republican Party today is not that worthy sparing partner.

House Minority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) "National Council for a New America" held such promise when it was announced a year ago. “The National Council for a New America will engage with and empower the American people to develop innovative solutions that meet the serious challenges confronting our country," Cantor said in the press release heralding the group's formation. "It is the right time to begin a thoughtful conversation about the future of this country.”

That effort was officially suspended yesterday.

This is hardly surprising since all the hopeful talk about "engag[ing] in a conversation with America that seeks to remove ideological filters, addresses the realities we are confronting, and speaks to the challenges our citizens are facing" gave way rather quickly to "No!" It's only visible effort was a rather awkward town hall meeting at an Arlington pizza joint.

Enter the Tea Party movement last month (April 15 to be exact) with its "Contract from America." Ryan Hecker came up with 10-point plan by soliciting ideas from people on the Internet and then having them vote on which ideas should be included. The No. 1 edict is "Protect the Constitution." No. 2 is "Reject Cap & Trade." No. 7 is "Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care." No. 9 is "Stop the Pork." In short, it's all over the place. Perhaps that's why the GOP leadership prefers to say nice things about it rather than sign the pledge to follow it.

This is where the "Commitment" comes in. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was picked by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to lead this effort, and he's using the same method Hecker did for the Contract from America. Of course, I thought this was a not-so-subtle attempt by the GOP to co-opt the Tea Party effort. One minute of research pulled me off the grassy knoll a little bit. McCarthy is just going back to his roots. He employed this Internet method when putting together the Republican Party's platform in 2008. but that didn't stop me from asking McCarthy's spokesman if they were out to big foot the Tea Party. "We love what the Tea Party Patriots produced, but we're not looking to co-opt them," Brendan Buck told me. "We're looking to walk amongst them and ensure their ideas are a part of this project."

I pray that all of the ideas that become a part of the "Commitment" are good ones that are light on the GOP talking points and heavy on substance. I want the Republicans to give the Democrats a real run for their money on solutions to the problems facing the country. A real debate over real ideas is good for both parties. And, ultimately, it's good for the American people.

By Jonathan Capehart  | May 7, 2010; 6:12 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

"That effort was officially suspended yesterday."

You omit that the effort was suspended largely because party boss Rush Limbaugh said it was not needed. The force behind the GOP is perfectly clear. As long as that force is an unelected, homophobic, sexist, racist windbag, the GOP will NOT be a worthy party.

Posted by: CardFan | May 7, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I sat down and read congressmen Ryan's bill on health care. In fact, he did present an alternative to the proposal that was actually passed. Unfortunately, no one wanted to take a good look at what was in this proposal. Therefore, no one wanted to acknowledge that on this issue the Republicans did offer an alternative. In these circumstances, it is only partly true to say that they are a party of no. In the sense that they opposed the bill that was passed they were the party of no. In the sense that they did not provide an alternative they are not the party of no. Unfortunately, the Post and other newspapers did not consider the Ryan proposal and the democratic leadership in congress did not seriously consider the Ryan proposal. My point is that the Republicans are trying to offer concrete proposals but they are not getting any publicity and until they get publicity they will not be debated in the public sphere. Who know maybe just maybe they do have something of substance to offer.

Posted by: jeffreed | May 7, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Over the years I've become convinced that republicans don't actually want the pressure of governance - much like ms palin, they want the job, the perks, the glory, but effective leadership and governance - that's work!

Their ideology landed us in a near disasterous economic situation, and they stood back and stomped their feet with their hands in the air. No solutions, no ideas, and no cooperation.

Lately I've heard repeatedly that the government - congress - Obama - is trying to do too much. Too much? Have our standards really fallen so low that one piece of legislature a year is productive enough? Effective governance can multitask and correct the problematic issues facing us all. Reagan was wrong - government isn't the problem - bad governance is.

You can hope Mr. Capeheart, but I fear you'll be disappointed.

Posted by: JilliB | May 7, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I want the Republicans to give the Democrats a real run for their money on solutions to the problems facing the country.

==========================================

The hell you do, Capehart. Republicans like Congressman Ryan have given ideas on health care and other issues that are either ignored by the MSM or are derided before given a proper hearing.

You may be sincere in wanting good ideas and for the GOP to be competitive, but I simply don't believe you.

Posted by: bbface21 | May 7, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Over the years I've become convinced that republicans don't actually want the pressure of governance"

It's not about "pressure". Conservatives are, by definition, reluctant to tinker with government just because they can. Liberals (or Progressives, if you prefer) are like a kid in a candy store when given the power.

Indeed, "no" is a very legitimate policy position in certain instances. Isn't that the stance Progressives take on the new AZ immigration law? They aren't proposing an alternative, they're just saying get rid of the law.

Posted by: NNevada | May 7, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

jeffreed,
Capehart, and the rest of us, are looking for realistic alternatives.

Ryan's alternative was only good for people who make a lot of money, for people who probably already have access to decent health care.

Other Republican and Tea Bag alternatives recently: To shrink government, get rid of the department of education, department of energy, IRS, and EPA. Again, privatize social security so it is influenced by the market.

To take care of immigration, catch all illegal immigrants and ship them back to their country of origin. Stop all immigration. Put sharpshooters on the border.

To take care of terrorism, threaten all nations that if someone from their country attacks ours, we will nuke them. Strip suspected terrorists of their US citizenship. Don't use the law to handle terrorism suspects. Allow suspected terrorists to purchase firearms.

Posted by: pathfinder12 | May 7, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

there are so many serious problems with the republicans, the biggest being that they will not listen to outside voices.
they think going further right and being more radical and hard core will win them elections.
they will not accept that they are driving away people.
Most people are tired of republicans as they are now. They are shallow and only repeat silly talking points and empty rhetoric rather then engage in substance and real debates.
they remind me of the democrats in the 1970s and they are heading towards a arid period like the democrats had to go through before they modernized.

Posted by: vwcat | May 7, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats are ruling with absolute power and the associated corruption that despotic rule entails.

Of course it's the Republicans' fault. They are not strong enough to stop it.

I wonder, is it sunny in Capehartland today?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | May 7, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Duhr, party of No, Rush Limbaugh, bunch of rascists. I'm a liberal and 100% certified non-rascist. I love socialism. What's happening in Greece and Europe won't happen here. They're liberals too, but our liberals are so much smarter. Full steam ahead with the gravy train. Screw the border security.

Posted by: peterg73 | May 7, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The GOP might have a bit more credibility if they were actively talking and interactively showing some interest in compromising even a little with the democrats.
The occasional moves by Lindsay Graham or Scott Brown or Olympia Snowe, etc. are characterized so quickly as apostasy by the true believers that any neutral observer has to wonder if there's a rational thought left in the heart of the Republican Party, or if such open mindedness can even be allowed...
And all those Senate holds on nominations - they look so peevish and immature.
What ever happened to simple and honest governance?

Posted by: thanksforfish | May 7, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

The Obama/Reid/Pelosi administration has been so inept, incompetent, and downright anti-American that Republicans really do not have to waste any good ideas to defeat that socialist regime.

Maybe they will come up with something after the Democrats are crushed in November.

Like maybe enforcing our immigration laws, to the letter and with every resource available. Like repealing the ObamaCare stink-bomb. Good stuff like that.

Posted by: battleground51 | May 7, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I am sure Mr. Ryan and other Republicans had credible ideas on health care that are/were worth considering during the passage of the ACA. However, the entire existence of the Republican party appears devoted only to stopping to the Democrats b/c the Repubs don't initiate any legislation of their own. They simply react, mostly negatively, to what is being proposed. They don't want to legislate anything. And, we have lots of things to fix. The most common thing I hear from neocons is "let's go back to the old ways." No way man. Let's move forward and take the reins in innovative ways.

The Tea Party "Contract from America" is not a contract at all. It provides absolutely no new ideas on how to improve the system. Item #1 is to "Protect the Constitution." Wow. Brilliant. That's a good plan for paying down a trillion in debt. Pretty basic American apple pie stuff. Sure we all want no taxes and great services. Duh! We all want to fix the deficit too. Absolutely. I don't want to leave a debit legacy to my children. But, there must be a viable plan to do it. We need both more revenue and further cuts to programs. Just cutting taxes as a solution to government's problems is way over simplified.

I don't want hear about some group's rants or political agenda. I want to hear about innovative and bona fide solutions and let's get on with making the fixes.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | May 7, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I hate to point out that (1) even Republicans do not pay attention to Ryan; (2) The Republicnas have yet to put forth a proposal that they guarantee they wil vote FOR.

It's nice to argue that they have mproposals, but even the Republicans will not assure us that they will vote FOR Republicans' proposals!

That is why they are the party of NO!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | May 7, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan, the repubs are combing the globe for someone with fresh ideas for you, you know like hope, and change, etc so that you can get excited about a person- because hey, that's working out great huh?
Governing is not about rock stars. Repubs (in theory)want LESS control of you- it's a good thing!!
And please, not another article about this- you are in control of everything right now!! Enjoy your time - it won't last long.

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | May 8, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

The problem is the toxic combo of lobbyists and think tanks. Very little comes out that benefits the public.

Posted by: Puller58 | May 8, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Ryan's plan was in the media, however it was quickly determined the plan would leave less people insured rather than allowing most to have access to insurance. Which, BTW, is not "Socialism" anyway if you actually know what the word means.
The Tea Party supports the GOP but the GOP supports taking away a person's civil rights if accused (not convicted) of terrorism. That's blatantly un-American/un-Constitutional. They want smaller government but the GOP under Reagan and later Bush created the largest governments in the history of mankind. Do we REALLY want to go back to that??? Why on EARTH?
The Democrat's proposed illegal immigration plan was recently polled as having 85% support. They aren't ignoring the border, they're finding solid pro-American solutions rather than Republican Police State tactics (as in Arizona).
Recent polls show Americans trending towards Democrats again which will continue as the economy continues to recover and Americans see the GOP was lying about Health Care Reform. Things are looking grim for the GOP come November. There will be no "crushing" but instead just a normal reshuffling as in any midterm.

Posted by: Deliphus | May 8, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but "stop this," "defund that" or "repeal that other thing" are not ideas, they are another way of saying "no."
I agree with the writer who said Republicans don't actually want to govern. They want to privatize government functions to the benefit of their wealthy friends (see Halliburton); they want to cut taxes to the benefit of those same friends; they want to fly around on Air Force One and make speeches on carrier decks (see "Mission Accomplished") and they want to drop bombs all over the place to prop up libidos I prefer not to contemplate (see "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran") but making government work...nah, that's for the little people.
The fact that the Republican Party reliably gets about a fourth of the country to go along with their cockamamie ideas, no matter what they are (see unregulating Wall Street) is the most stunning indictment of our education system I know of.

Posted by: kstack | May 8, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, but the GOP has no new ideas.

This week's GOP response to the financial reform is the same old tune. The talking points were the same -- too much government intrusion, government takeover banks, too much regulation, etc. And of course the scare tactics came into play. According to Sen Shelby, Corker and others, the Dems plan will allow a consumer protection agency to invade your privacy and see all your financial transactions, scare tactics, same as with health care bill just without the histrionics, for now.

That is not leadership. Those are not ideas. It's the same old garbage repackaged for this bill. Too bad for America because we can use new and forward thinking ideas. Both parties are offering little in this regard.

Posted by: TRivers | May 8, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

jeffreed wrote:
sat down and read congressmen Ryan's bill on health care. In fact, he did present an alternative to the proposal that was actually passed. Unfortunately, no one wanted to take a good look at what was in this proposal. Therefore, no one wanted to acknowledge that on this issue the Republicans did offer an alternative.
----------------------------
We looked at the proposal and found it wanting. It Covered only 3 Million people, raised National Debt and removed the Insurance Tax Deduction for Businesses providing Insurance to their workers and make them pay every dime or lose coverage.

It's incentive was to encourage Businesses to stop paying for Employees Healthcare Insurance. Businesses could voluntarily Pay for Insurance but the money would be Taxed.

Posted by: ddoiron1 | May 8, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

We had a 10 year run of Republican ideas,they don't work. The problem with the Democrats is their ideas are only slightly better. Both parties are overly influenced by a small group of well heeled contributors whose narrow interests run contrary to the well being of the nation.

Posted by: dijetlo | May 8, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Check out this paragraph from Capehart:

"One-party rule in government isn't inherently bad. But it can be a nightmare for the party in power and the people it governs when the opposition party is weak and bereft of substantive ideas to serve as a credible counterbalance. Without a worthy sparing partner, the majority runs the risk of growing complacent and heedless of alternative solutions and ideas that could lead to better outcomes for the people. The Republican Party today is not that worthy sparing partner."
----------------------------------------
Ignoring the spelling and grammar issues in the latter half, just look at those first two sentences.

If the Democrats' ideas and policies were the way to lead this country to the level of success of which it is capable, then who needs a second party? Complacency and alternative solutions would not exist nor be needed.

The REAL problem for the ruling party is that their clothes come off and they stand naked before us all. Mistakes they make cannot be blamed on others, though they stubbornly try hard to do so. Their failures cannot be hidden behind rhetoric or smoke and mirrors. And America sees it all.

Not a worthy sparring partner? No ideas, Capehart? No ideas that liberals would ever consider, that is true. But conservatives have been serving up ideas for months. Among them...

Spending must be cut.

Entitlements must be reigned in.

Government must be downsized.

These represent heresy to the Democrats, but we have no other choice. Just look at Greece and those European socialist nations that are right behind them.

This is why Democrats will lose in November and Obama who refuses to see reason (unlike Clinton who did) will be a one-term president, and will go down as one of the worst presidents in our history. Right alongside James Earl Carter.

Posted by: bryanmcoleman | May 8, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

The Obamabots do not allow any questioning of their policies. If you dare to question them you are called all kinds of vile names. You will just accept their decisions and shut your mouth for " THE ONE" has spoken. He has already proven that he knows how to govern and our economy is glowing and we are loved all over the world..See what all that hope and change did !!! Now sit back and let them take over everything because they know everything. They conned you into voting them into office didnt they ? You must be so proud of yourselves now....

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | May 8, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

SpaRRing!

Posted by: ex-pat | May 8, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

JungleJim

That is scary but fairly accurate.

Posted by: onehanded | May 8, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

A good Idea. The GOP should suggest to Obama a Single Payer System.
The GOP should suggest a tarrif on all goods made in China.
The GOP should suggest to Obama, remove us from Nafta.
The GOP should suggest to Obama that a thirty percent tax on Corporate Profits on goods made in China

Posted by: umt123 | May 8, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Wanted: Real Journalists, the WP is starving for ONE.

Posted by: jblast2000 | May 8, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

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