Massachusetts voters embraced limited government, fiscal discipline, lighter taxes and tougher treatment of terrorists. Republicans should enjoy this moment and thank Brown for reminding the GOP of how to run a winning campaign.
Once the high fives and hoisting of beer glasses have abated, however, congressional Republicans should develop a coherent legislative agenda and promote it throughout this election year. If President Obama and other stunned Democrats help Republicans implement these objectives, splendid. But if they cling to big-government "solutions," Republicans should use this policy-shopping list like a latter-day Contract with America, which helped Congressional Republicans capture the House in 1994.
Let's call this 21st Century document Agenda 21. It should include these items:
n Health care: Brown's win seems to kill ObamaCare as we know it. Instead, Republicans should coalesce around patient-centered reforms, including voluntary, universal, tax-preferred Health Savings Accounts. Americans should be free to buy health insurance across state lines, which will boost competition and cut costs. Uninsured citizens ineligible for private or public assistance should receive Health Stamps. Like Food Stamps, such an affluence-tested subsidy would help them choose and purchase basic, private coverage, with government furnishing money, not micromanagement. Medical-malpractice reform also would reduce needless and expensive diagnoses and treatments designed to combat lawyers rather than diseases.
n No more Mr. Nice Guy on terrorism: America's Islamofascist enemies should be barred from civilian courts. Cancel the planned Manhattan trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his fellow al-Qaida mass murderers. Guantanamo should remain open until al-Qaida is crushed like a quail egg beneath a steamroller. Enhanced interrogation - including water boarding - must remain in America's anti-terrorism arsenal. The Nigerian crotch bomber, who nearly exploded a passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day, should experience this policy firsthand.
n Fiscal discipline. Massachusetts voters gagged at Team Obama's relentless outlays and this fiscal year's $1.4 trillion federal deficit. Republicans should fight for a two-year freeze in overall federal expenditures. Republican legislators should cut federal civilian salaries, including their own, by 10 percent. The GOP also should declare a policy of zero tolerance on earmarks.
n Tax relief: According to Americans for Tax Reform, Washington Democrats have enacted or proposed about $2.1 trillion in tax hikes since President Obama's inauguration. During a severe economic slump, these include $858.45 billion in taxes that would hit families earning less than $250,000, breaking Obama's solemn promise.
The GOP should offer a dramatic alternative: An optional flat income tax, ideally at 15 percent, would let Americans file their tax returns on a simple postcard. Taxpayers who like loopholes and deductions could keep them under today's U.S. Tax Code. The Death Tax, reduced to 0 percent this year, should stay dead forever. To boost competitiveness and growth, America's 39.1 percent combined federal and state corporate tax should be below 26.3 percent, the OECD average. Also, let companies write off their capital investments immediately.
n Innovation: The Tax-free Patent Act would let any new U.S. Patent recipient produce and market as many such patented items as possible, free of federal tax for 10 years. This would unleash a stampede of innovation, unforeseen goods and services, and jobs, jobs, jobs.
n School choice: Obama and Congressional Democrats last year threw Washington's low-income black kids under the school bus with the teachers' unions at the wheel. Republicans should restore D.C.'s school voucher program with all deliberate speed.
Republicans should introduce these measures in Congress throughout the year and invite nervous Democrats to join them.
If they do, America will prosper. If not, Republicans will meet Democrats at the polls on November 2 and let voters choose between these two competing visions.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service.