FreeCons urge lawmakers to focus on high-priority issues, not stunts
Is the American Dream alive and well? Freedom Conservatives are an optimistic group, for the most part, but we understand why so many of our fellow citizens are concerned about their country’s future.
We’ve been through a lot over the past decade and a half. The Great Recession. Urban riots. The COVID pandemic. Rampant inflation. Each crisis has tested the wisdom and courage of our elected leaders. Unfortunately, many politicians have manifestly failed the test.
FreeCons still believe that America’s best days can be ahead of us — but only if we demand better of the representatives we send to Washington and to our state capitals. Instead of wasting their time (and ours) with social-media stunts and political posturing, our elected leaders need to address the real and serious issues facing our country.
Here are three FreeCons unwilling to watch our lawmakers squander another year on missed opportunities and failed promises.
Donald Bryson is president and CEO of the John Locke Foundation, a state policy think tank based in North Carolina, and one of the original signatories of the Freedom Conservatism Statement of Principles.
Previously, he was the president and CEO of Civitas Institute and state director of Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina. A member of the American Enterprise Institute’s Leadership Network, Bryson has written for such media outlets as The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and the News & Observer.
“The Congressional Budget Office’s projection that publicly held debt could reach a record 181% of American economic activity by 2053 should set off alarm bells,” Bryson wrote. “The lack of a comprehensive, bipartisan strategy to tackle this issue is a testament to the negligence of both major political parties.”
The national government needs serious people to take on the issues of governing, he argued, not endless hearings that achieve nothing or endless lists of unaffordable programs.
“Ignoring the national debt crisis is not an option,” Bryson concluded. “The consequences of inaction are too severe to be ignored, and the time to address this critical issue is now, before the nation’s economic foundation crumbles beneath the weight of its debt.”
Casey Mattox is vice president for legal and judicial strategy at Americans for Prosperity, where he advocates for a legal system that respects the rule of law and protects individual liberty.
Before joining AFP, Casey’s legal career focused on defending the First Amendment rights of students, faculty, families, healthcare workers and religious organizations. He has litigated in 35 states and also testified three times before congressional committees.
In a recent New York Post op-ed, Mattox explained why so many lawmakers waste time touting trivial but colorful bills. “For a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” he wrote. “And for too many lawmakers, the solution for every problem — real or imagined — is a law that limits our freedom.”
Mattox, a FreeCon signatory, offered the example of state lawmakers in New York banning gas stoves and contemplating another bill to force Chick-Fil-A to open its restaurants on Sundays.
May angry citizens be able to use litigation to defend themselves against such legislative overreach? Perhaps, but Mattox proposed a more straightforward solution.
“Instead of putting the burden on judges, let’s do our part,” he wrote. “We did, after all, elect these people (at least the legislators we did elect, not the bureaucrats who sometimes act as though we did). And we can vote them out if we don’t like the pointless rules they’re making.
“Citizens don’t do the lawmakers, the courts, or the country any favor if we ask judges to babysit lawmakers (and we are, all of the time). Voters are the ones who should hold politicians accountable — not the court system.”
Dan Lips is Head of Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for American Innovation, where he manages the policy research team. Dan has well over two decades of experience working in public policy, including stints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He’s also a FreeCon signatory.
In a column for The Hill co-authored with Satya Thallam, Lips observed that the Trump and Biden administrations have pursued markedly different approaches to federal rulemaking. Because the executive branch has increasingly arrogated power to itself, changes in presidential administrations can produce wild swings in regulatory activity.
Conservatives have long advocated bills to give Congress greater power over the regulatory state, but sweeping reforms are unlikely to pass in the current political environment.
Given that constraint, Lips and Thallam recommend that lawmakers “pursue incremental and institutional reforms to improve the legislative branch’s ability to oversee regulations,” such as establishing a new Congressional Regulation Office or creating a regulatory review mission team within the General Accounting Office.
Dan Hannan is an author, teacher, and columnist who sat as a Conservative minister of the European Parliament for 21 years and currently serves on the UK Board of Trade. In his latest Washington Examiner column, Hannan reflected on a recent meeting of FreeCons he attended in Miami. “I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to find so many articulate, like-minded people,” he wrote, and “to be able to talk without any MAGA crybabies taking offense.”
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