On Nov. 4, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) narrowly outpolled challenger Jim Martin (D), 49% to 46%, triggering a runoff election held yesterday. This time around, Chambliss crushed Martin by a margin of 57% to 43%. Why the difference? The New York Times reports:
Many voters interviewed Tuesday said the balance of power in the Senate had been an important factor in their choice of a candidate. “If you can’t have a little back-and-forth arguing between the parties, then the party in power will make mistakes,” said Ron Zukowski, a computer expert in Atlanta who voted for Mr. Chambliss. “This was my chance to say no, and I said no.”
Clearly the American people want change built on common ground between liberals and conservatives, not a one-sided remaking of the United States. In the spirit of identifying that common ground, The Heritage Foundation begins a series of policy memos this week called Change We Believe In: Memos to President-elect Obama. The goal is to reach out to Obama on subjects where his words line up with our vision of how to solve critical issues facing America.
This is not the first time Heritage has undertaken such a project. Shortly after Bill Clinton won in 1992, Heritage issued 15 similar Memos to President-elect Bill Clinton on such subjects as creating jobs, reforming welfare, trimming bureaucracy, preserving military strength and expanding trade to spur growth. Heritage is proud of the cooperation that resulted from those memos and the policy victories they achieved in the form of the bipartisan welfare reform in 1996 and the passage of NAFTA in 1993.
Throughout his campaign, Obama made a concerted effort to appeal to conservative voters. He promised to “cut taxes for 95% of workers and their families,” expand the Army by 65,000 and the Marines by 27,000, and enact “a net spending cut” for the federal government. Lower taxes, a strong defense and shrinking the size of government. These are core conservative beliefs. We plan to make sure Obama follows through on his promises. As Heritage’s Kim Holmes points out, “During the campaign, President-elect Obama sometimes said different things on the same issue. We’ll put some of those apparent contradictions on the record and ask for clarification as needed, so the American people will understand where their new president stands.”
The first four memos to Obama urge him to:
- Clear up ambiguities in his position on missile defense and seek continued funding for a “dedicated and robust” system to protect America from ballistic missile attack.
- Craft health care reform that abides by popular principles of choice, affordability, stability and freedom from a standardized system imposed from Washington.
- Lower taxes for all Americans — cutting marginal income tax rates, reducing or eliminating capital gains taxes, killing the death tax — to promote fairness and economic growth.
- Convince Iran’s leaders that the economic, diplomatic and military costs of their nuclear program threaten their hold on power — but rule out a presidential meeting until Tehran agrees to a verifiable end to its nuclear bomb-making.
Future memos will be released regularly, leading up to Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20. They will address energy, education, border security, trade, entitlement spending, religion in the public square, civil and criminal justice reform, international organization reform, and relations with China, Russia and Pakistan. There is little chance we will agree on everything that comes out of the Obama administration, but where there is agreement, we look forward to working with him, and when Obama fails to live up to his promises we promise to hold him accountable.
- Defense Secretary Robert Gates signaled yesterday that Obama’s 16-month timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq is flexible.
- The Big Three’s taxpayer-funded bailout request has jumped from $25 billion to $34 billion.
- India accused a senior leader of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba of orchestrating last week’s terror attacks and demanded the Pakistani government turn him over and take action against the group.
- Obama promised the nation’s governors he’ll give federal money to help with their budgets.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become the target of a campaign by liberal supporters of same-sex marriage.