The Conservative Future in the House

While blame is being slung around for the anticipated GOP slaughter in November, there is one group within the Republican minority in the House that has been espousing a return to the last way of governing that delivered a majority to the GOP: conservatism. That group would be the Republican Study Committee, a caucus that many hoped would take over after the 2006 election debacle.

Carl Hulse has an interesting article in this morning's New York Times that describes the group's latest prescription for GOP recovery, House Conservatives to Offer Ideas for G.O.P. Message. The RSC is poised to release a seven point proposal that it wants Republicans in the House to embrace as their message to retake the majority.

Some of the ideas from the conservatives have been circulating for months, including an immediate moratorium on seeking money for the pet home-state projects known as earmarks. But other Republicans have rejected that idea, arguing it is a chief responsibility of representatives to win federal aid for local initiatives.

A draft of the conservative agenda calls for the endorsement of a constitutional amendment to prohibit federal spending from growing faster than the economy except in times of war or national emergency. The plan seeks support for an income tax overhaul that would provide a simplified flat tax and allow people to choose between it and the current system.

The conservative proposal seeks tax credits for buying health insurance, more domestic energy production and a streamlined terrorist surveillance program. The draft also said that House Republicans should extend existing welfare work requirements to food stamps and housing assistance "so that those who are not old, young or disabled are either working in the private sector or serving in their community."

A quick note on the bias (or ignorance) that Hulse injects into the story regarding "earmarks". No conservative that I know of is against "federal aid to local initiatives". It's just that conservatives, and even people like John McCain, want to see them go through the normal appropriations process, where spending initiatives can be thoroughly vetted and debated. Earmarking is a secretive way of avoiding such vetting, sliding in pork-barrel spending and questionable payoffs secretly and literally in the middle of the night, away from the public's eyes. That's how you end up with fiscal embarrassments such as the "bridge to nowhere" - and a lost majority.

The rest of the proposals, as reported by Hulse, seem to be the groundwork for a "back to the future" for the GOP. It's a good idea, it's worked every time it's been tried, it's been the only way that the GOP has won majorities in recent history - and the current (and most recent past) GOP leadership has rejected such a return to conservatism at every turn.

How has that worked out for them?