Tired of waiting, conservatives ride to Washington

While the policies of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid government have crystallized this sense of urgency in the minds of the American public, a Republican Party unmoored from its principles has been an active participant in our government’s move away from its constitutional purpose.

We saw then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter vote for a stimulus that added to our nation’s debt, but did little to stimulate the economy. Republican Senator Bob Bennett voted for TARP, which built upon the moral hazards of previous bailouts that set the groundwork for the financial crisis. Charlie Crist, another Republican-turned-Independent, embraced a job-killing cap-and-tax agenda.

Each of these establishment politicians were of the party of Reagan, but forgot his observation that “entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all of the economic growth in the United States.” Each of them was challenged by a candidate who stood on principle and ultimately defeated the business-as-usual arm of the Republican Party.

Now, the victors in this initial battle are coming to Washington to win the war. And win the war they must if they are to re-gain the trust of the American people and restore our nation.

It is time for our politicians to cast votes like statesmen. As Senator-elect Mike Lee put it, “the mandate from the voters is unequivocal: Do everything in your power to get this situation under control. Sometimes it is necessary to belly up to the bar and do what needs to get done.”

What does it mean to belly-up to the bar?

First and foremost, Washington must significantly rein in spending. In 2001, federal spending was just under $1.9 trillion per year. Now, just ten years later, that figure stands at nearly $3.5 trillion – an absurd $1.6 trillion increase. Government spending now accounts for one-fourth of our entire economy, whereas it should account for no more than one-fifth, the post-World War II average. We must act now if we want to rescue our children and grandchildren from crushing debts.

Earlier this fall, Republicans in Congress publicly committed to serious spending cuts. Both parties must immediately work to keep that pledge – and do more – to prove they are up to this historic challenge.

Second, Obamacare must be fully repealed. Any politician who fails to do everything in his power to achieve repeal will have ignored the mandate of the 2010 election.

The American people will hold those members accountable in 2012. If Senators want to filibuster repeal, that is their right just as it is our right to remember that in 2012. If President Obama wants to veto repeal, that is his right, just as it is our right to vote somebody into office who will not.

Third, American job-creators and workers cannot handle the Obama tax hikes. The threat of higher taxes is stifling job creation and continued uncertainty prevents businesses from making investment decisions that will allow them to prosper. After permanently extending the current tax rates, policymakers must work to simplify the complex code and create a pro-growth tax environment in America.

Finally, we need to change how Washington works. Part of what has been so offensive about Washington in recent years is the undemocratic manner in which legislation is forced upon the American people. Fancy rhetoric and symbolic votes are not sufficient. Congress must pass rules that make itself more accountable and ensure that public policy is created by our elected officials – not unelected bureaucrats.

Heritage Action for America stands ready to work with the politicians who are coming to Washington to deliver on their conservative mandate. If they’re committed to advancing conservative policies and regaining the trust of the American people, we are prepared to help. However, if they hesitate, Heritage Action will take the conservative case directly to their constituents. As we saw in 2010, whether through a primary or lost seat, the American people are ready for change in Washington and tired of waiting.

Mr. Needham is the chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America.