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The 'Contract' Is a Betrayal of America : The party elites' pseudo-conservatism refutes the will of the rank and file.

November 20, 1994|LLEWELLYN H. ROCKWELL JR. | Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala

The electoral revolution of 1994 is being betrayed by the old-line Republican leadership, including Newt Gingrich. Since Bloody Tuesday, he has attempted to smother the ideas of the radical rank-and-file of the GOP. From the budget to foreign policy, the Republican elites now stand to the left of their own party and the American electorate as well.

* Spending-- Instead of cutting the budget, the Republican elites are pushing for a panoply of institutional changes that are more symbol than substance. A balanced-budget amendment, for example, is unenforceable. Even if heeded, it is more likely to lead to tax increases than spending cuts. And it won't come into effect for many years. How about actually balancing the budget instead?

* Taxing-- The "contract with America" calls for a capital-gains tax cut, but it will strangle the mortgage-interest deduction to pay for it. And it says nothing about income taxes, which are a main source of middle-class anger. The GOP cried mutiny when President Bush raised taxes. Why not start by rolling back Republican tax increases?

* Welfare-- The "contract" proposal--two-year limits, cuts in cash subsidies, group homes, workfare--isn't much different from Clinton's phony reform, and it would actually raise spending. According to the polls, two-thirds of Americans think the government shouldn't even give welfare. Can't the Republicans cut any of this $500 billion-per-year industry?

Let's say we had the chance to abolish whole segments of the welfare state tomorrow. Would the GOP leadership go along? The Proposition 187 debate provides a clue. The national Republican Establishment--from Jack Kemp to William Kristol--was on the wrong side. And in league with the left, Republicans labeled their traditional constituency nativist, racist and xenophobic.

* Social Security-- In an asinine attempt to be more leftist than thou, Gingrich blasted the Democrats for wanting to cut Social Security, a view bolstered by the "contract's" call to repeal "taxes" (actually welfare benefit decreases for the well-to-do) on the program.

The GOP should implement a buyout system to privatize Social Security. To defend the present system--and Republicans did during the election--is prima facie evidence of betrayal.

* Trade-- One of many bipartisan conspiracies is the attempt to have government manage trade. That is the essence of the GATT agreement, which even creates a new global agency called the World Trade Organization to do it. Gingrich has called for the lame-duck Congress to do Clinton a favor and pass the agreement. If the Republicans can't stand up to liberals on globally managed trade, they won't be independent anywhere else.

* Foreign Policy-- The President's foreign-policy obsessions have made the Democrats the chief defenders of U.S. empire. Rather than criticize this, the Republican leadership is outflanking him on the left by calling for globaloney. The "contract," absurdly, even advocates higher military spending.

A notable exception is Jesse Helms, who has criticized U.S. involvement in the United Nations and NATO. He may even take aim at foreign aid. But the times also call for a complete defunding of the IMF, the World Bank and the Export-Import Bank. The rallying cry is simple: Keep U.S. tax dollars in the United States.

* Crime-- So far, the GOP's contribution to the crime issue has been to build more federal prisons and federalize more crimes. These big-government "solutions" only reinforce a primary cause of rising crime: the federal courts' disempowerment of local police.

The federal government can't do anything right, and that includes stopping crime. That's why the Constitution left that matter to the states and localities. The GOP should bring back decentralism, and not use voters' anger about crime to build up the nation-state.

* Omissions-- The "contract's" rhetoric soars, but its content falls flat. It doesn't call for the elimination of a single program or agency. Republicans can thank Clinton's gun control and affirmative action for their margin of victory, but they haven't proposed doing anything about them. The GOP is even avoiding obvious reforms like repealing agricultural price supports and allowing private mail delivery.

Despite his ambitions, Gingrich only represents one district in Georgia. He doesn't speak for the new GOP radicals set to storm Washington in January. If they have their way, the only "contract with America" will be the enumerated powers of the U.S. Constitution.

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