GOP should support one of its own, confirm Hagel

I am a Republican who supports Chuck Hagel. Those words do not seem to be uttered very often by others in my party — but they should be. Ronald Reagan once said, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor.” Well, I think it is time the GOP adjusts that maxim; to me, someone who agrees 51 percent of the time ought to be a friend and an ally, and Hagel more than meets that requirement.

Over the past few months, Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of Defense, has been smeared and attacked by those from his own party — and why? Not because he is actually undeserving or unqualified for the position, but because he criticized some of the party’s stances in the past. After the results of the 2012 election, now is not the time to be pushing people out of the Republican Party.

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Was Hagel a perfect Republican? Of course not; practically nobody votes the “party line” 100 percent of the time, and that is a good thing. Politicians should vote in the manner that they feel is right, rather than how their party leaders want them to. But while Hagel is not a perfect Republican, he is also not a liberal, evidenced by an 84 percent lifetime Senate voting rating from the American Conservative Union.

Where he disagrees with the party is on certain defense issues — or rather, where he disagreed. Hagel was a strong critic of the war in Iraq, and while that was a hot issue in 2006, America’s activities in Iraq are largely over. It does not matter who was right or wrong about the troop surge, and whether anybody was right or wrong will not be determined for decades, when the ramifications of the war are truly analyzed by historians.

He also thinks the Defense Department budget is bloated. Well, I have news for you: it is bloated! And less than two years ago, most Republicans in Congress agreed with this, passing the Budget Control Act of 2011, which implemented automatic sequestration to the defense budget. Since then, most Republicans have gotten cold feet about reining in defense spending, and now oppose those cuts, saying they would be dangerous to our national security. Well, Hagel has never come out in support of across-the-board defense cuts; he thinks we should cut where cuts can be appropriately made. That seems to match up with what most Republicans believe, but somehow the same congressmen who passed the “dangerous” sequestration bill are now accusing him of wanting to gut military spending.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has recently announced he would place a hold on Hagel’s confirmation until President Obama releases more information about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya last year. While that information is certainly important, it has nothing to do with Hagel’s confirmation, and a nomination for a Cabinet position as important as Defense secretary should not be held hostage as part of a political chess game.

Hagel might not be a cookie-cutter Republican, but he is certainly not the liberal monster that his opponents make him out to be. It is time the Republican Party stands behind one of its own and comes out in full support of Hagel’s confirmation.

From Nathan Inks, Lincoln Park, Mich.

Modernize our tax laws with a territorial system

As our nation continues to battle high unemployment and a growing deficit, one immediate way to help put America back on its feet is to modernize our international tax laws. The current patchwork of laws fails to reflect the dynamic global marketplace in which U.S. companies do business, resulting in significant harm to our economy, workforce and overall global competitiveness. We urge President Obama to update our antiquated tax laws and transition to a modernized Territorial 2.0 Tax System (“Roundtable chief: Obama might back move to territorial taxation,” Jan. 31). 

A territorial tax system, with clear provisions that prevent tax abuse and base erosion, has become the international standard for taxing overseas corporate profits while encouraging economic growth domestically. Transitioning to a modernized Territorial 2.0 Tax System would level the playing field for America against its foreign competitors and allow U.S.-headquartered companies to sell more goods and services around the world. 

In addition, these reforms would unlock $1.7 trillion in foreign profits enabling U.S. companies to fully invest that capital back into their American operations in the form of research and development, workforce training and better benefit packages.

Without permanent reforms to our international tax laws, profits earned overseas will remain locked out, unavailable for American investment, and U.S. companies will remain at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace. We hope the president can look beyond party politics and the status quo and enact meaningful, lasting reforms to our nation’s broken tax system. It’s time to give America back its competitive edge and make it the best place in the world to invest and do business again. 

From Lawson Bader, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.