The Senate filibuster deal was a good start. It showed both sides can work together if they are threatened with the prospect of a chamber frozen in impotence. But compromise remains a dirty word among many conservatives and libertarians in Congress who would rather accomplish nothing than find a way to achieve something. They are not only wasting their own time and our money, they are standing in the way of conservative or libertarian achievements.
House Republicans have spent 15 percent of their time, that is 89 hours, and run up $55 million voting more than 40 times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, even though it is the law of the land, the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of repeal would be $1.3 trillion over the next nine years. So much for demanding “consistently, a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility.”
R.A. Butler, three-time acting prime minister of Britain, described politics as “the art of the possible.” Congressmen and senators who entered politics to achieve something — yet find themselves kicking their heels, because their Tea Party colleagues prefer to pass nothing to demonstrate their dislike of government in general — might take Butler’s definition to heart. There are many conservative policies that could be put into effect if they were only to pick the right ones and be prepared, as are the Gang of Eight in the Senate, to work across the aisle.
One thing Washington is not short of is well-funded and luxuriously appointed conservative think tanks manned by researchers handsomely paid by rich donors. They sometimes turn out interesting, original, and thought-provoking papers and it seems churlish if not downright rude for Republican lawmakers to ignore their labors. To save them time, and in a genuine spirit of cooperation and helpfulness, here is a far from exhaustive list of 20 measures proposed by conservative thinkers that might easily find allies among fiscally conservative Democrats or libertarian-minded liberal Democrats and thus a majority in Congress.
I agree with some parts of some of these ideas; I disagree with others. They are not my notions, nor have I tested the claims made by their advocates. I have picked them because they provide a political middle ground where compromises and deals might be made. To discover more about how these policies might be put into practice, I have linked to the respective policy papers.