The Ripon Forum

Volume 43, No. 2

Spring 2009 Issue

In This Edition

By on December 2, 2015

Over the past 30 years, conservatives have successfully branded anyone who supports raising taxes as being a liberal.

Now, many on the right are trying to do the same with regard to government. In short, if a person supports a government program, that person is not just a liberal, but a socialist.

The result is that many Republicans have become hesitant to acknowledge one of the most basic obligations of elective office – mainly, that they are hired to run the government, not run away from it. It hasn’t always been this way, of course.

Lincoln created the Agriculture Department. Teddy Roosevelt regulated the railroads. Eisenhower poured 45,000 miles of concrete and built the nation’s interstate highway system. No one in his right mind would believe any of them were socialists. Then again, I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, so I don’t know what he thinks.

What I do know is that the Republican Party has got to come to grips with the role of government, and figure out an approach that recognizes the role it plays in people’s lives. A good place to start is by looking toward Indiana, where Governor Mitch Daniels has undertaken an ambitious plan to remake the structure of local governments in the Hoosier State.

As John Krauss of Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute explains in our lead essay, in pushing to make government smaller and smarter, Daniels is not driven by some Al Gore utopian fantasy that an efficient bureaucracy can cure all the world’s ills. Rather, he is driven by the very Republican notion that a more efficient government can save taxpayers money – in this case, savings in the form of lower property taxes.

And so, Daniels pushes on with his plan. It is an uphill fight, as you will read. But it is also one any Republican can — and should — support.

No look at government efficiency would be complete without an examination of the fuel that keeps the wheels of government turning – the budget. And for this, we feature essays by two of the best: Jim Bates, writing on the urgency of budget reform, and Steve Bell, writing about the perils of reconciliation in this supposedly “post-partisan” year.

As part of a new feature on “Making Government Work,” we’ve asked defense expert Winslow Wheeler to take a look at the Pentagon and, in 800 words or less, tell us how to make the Department function better. He not only accomplished this feat, but he did so with one word to spare – a model of efficiency, himself.

We kick things off, though, with a Q&A with the top ranking Republican woman in the House of Representatives, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who shares her thoughts on the future of the GOP and the year ahead on Capitol Hill.

We hope you enjoy this edition, and encourage you to write us at with any ideas or suggestions you may have.

Lou Zickar
The Ripon Forum

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