Jack Kingston’s American Renewal Project

Congressman Jack Kingston, who represent’s Georgia’s First CD and is vice-chairman of the House Republican Conference sent a letter out earlier today arguing that, “We need to get back to our basic priorities, to the issues that our constituents want us to address. We need priority-based leadership.”

Attached to this letter was an outline of something he terms the “American Renewal Project.”

1. Fiscal Accountability and Responsibility: keeping more money in the pockets of taxpayers and less in the Washington bureaucracy. Our plan for significant government reform will result in long-term real structural savings.
We achieve this by:

    ̢ۢ Appointing a special BRAC-type Commission which is independent of the political process and can recommend substantive savings;
    ̢ۢ An across-the-board savings plan;
    ̢ۢ Zero-based budgeting;
    ̢ۢ Sunset provisions for all new government programs;
    ̢ۢ Earmark reform.

2. A balanced immigration policy that secures the nation̢۪s borders and deters illegal immigration and criminal activity.

3. Strengthen America’s national and economic security by realizing America’s independence of Middle Eastern oil by 2015. America’s oil policy must strike a better balance for the 21st Century – strengthen supply, increase conservation and embrace fuel choice.

4. Congress should create a tax code that is simple, fair and honest. The annual burden of filing taxes, for American families and businesses, has become overwhelming. Thousands of man-hours are wasted navigating the country̢۪s arcane tax laws, which could otherwise be spent with the family.

5. Strengthen retirement security for current and future generations. Stop spending the Social Security surplus.

6. Reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy, cut red-tape, and make the federal government work smarter. The government model should be companies like Amazon.com, Google, UPS, American Express, Starbucks, and Verizon; not FEMA, the US Postal Service, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    ̢ۢ Renewed commitment to annual oversight included in the recently passed budget reform proposals. Saving money should be an everyday mission and not just something done when political pressure mounts.

7. Make health care more affordable, accessible, and patient-centered. Congress should consolidate the many related ideas that would help improve the nation̢۪s health care system including tort reform, medical technology reforms, association health plans, and deductibility of health costs.

8. Support the troops and continue to win the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress needs to have a unified national vision that can be understood and followed by our constituents. We need to insist that the DOD outlines what is ahead and what is expected to ensure that we can measure progress and get the troops home as soon as possible.

Some of this is platitude but much of it is genuine policy vision. The problem, as I’ve noted previously, is that this vision was mostly laid out in the 1994 campaign as the promised outcome of Republican governance. We’ve had a decade of Republican majorities in the House and except for a brief interruption caused by Jim Jeffords’ treachery, the Senate.

Why, suddenly, should we believe it’ll happen?

I’ve got a call and an e-mail into his office, from whence I got this communication. I’ll post the response if one is forthcoming.

Update: I got an e-mail response from his staff saying this was a “great question.” We’ve set up a telephone interview for tomorrow morning, which I’ll post on separately and link to here.

Update (1/25): See my Interview with Jack Kingston̢۪s Office.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Has Kingston said whom he supports for majority leader?

  2. floyd says:

    i’m from the government and i’m here to help you. the check is in the mail.i won’t c……….. anybody know what these are? [the world’s biggest lies!!]

  3. ken says:

    James, for the most part we have the government we want. The problem is that we don’t want to pay for it. Conservatives have long figured that they can accommodate these two desires by increasing the size of the government and just borrowing the money to pay for it. At some point the country’s ability to actually pay for all this borrowing will equal the conservatives unwillingness to do so.

    Taxes are the only constraint on the size of government. Once conservatives severed the relationship between what their constituents want and what they are willing to pay for they created a problem that gets only harder to solve the longer these borrow and spend conservatives govern the country.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Ken: I don’t disagree. While I think we can afford to borrow for things like defense spending and other investments in our security and infrastructure, the incentives are clearly there for politicians to have it both ways.

  5. ken says:

    James, would you then agree to call for a tax increase large enough to pay for all the government we want? Raise the taxes and you will soon discover just what kind of government services you can do without and what kind are essential.

  6. James Joyner says:

    ken: No, I would cut a lot of programs that are politically popular and also borrow for long term investments in infrastructure and defense. But, of course, politicians don’t have the luxury of governing by fiat.

  7. Herb says:

    Congressman Kingston has the right idea, but he forgot about the largest flubbed up program that Congress has passed, that is the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. The plan is a disaster that is just now beginning to affect people in the worst manner possible. This plan will, without doubt rise the cost of Medicare to the point that Medicare costs will rise to the point of forcing the coverage to diminish, while costing Billions of dollars. The only beneficiaries of the MDP are and will be the Drug Companies. The average Medicare recipient will suffer with a loss of benefits.

  8. floyd says:

    ken; are you being facetious, or are you twenty-something and don’t know the the history of the liberals in power?

  9. ken says:

    James, you are a coward. Of course those programs are popular. They are free!! Since they are free they will never be cut. Pay for them through taxes though and you will find out if they are as essential as they are popular.

    And yes, I do mean that you are a coward. People who say they would just ‘cut a lot of programs that are polically popular’ are just using tired old conservative rhetoric that is meaningless. Unless someone is willing to pay for it with taxes there is no true gauge of how to measure a programs popularity or anything else. Hell if it is free, who cares?

  10. ken says:

    Floyd, I bet I am old enough to be your grandfather. Here is a history lesson for you. When liberals proposed an expansion of government services it was paid for with revenue increases due to an expanding exonomy or if that was not enough then a tax increase would be called for.

    This provided the disipline necessary to make sure that mostly only those programs that the people where willing to pay for would get implemented.

    Conservatives severed this link between taxes and government service. We have been screwed ever since.

  11. floyd says:

    ken,only a couple of people, recorded in biblical text, ever got old enough to be my grandfather.[lol] h*ll i’m old enough to remember freedom. i’m old enough to know “BS” when i see it. and i’m old enough to know that giving money to a politcian[left or right] is like giving booze to an alcoholic.trust a kennedy to drive the beer truck or should we “speak easy” about joe and ted.

  12. jimbo says:

    Ken’s right, and I’m probably older than all of you. I agree totally that the best sort of government would be one in which every one who benefits from government pays for it. If you read your history you will find that revolutions in England, the US, and France because royal governments had to levy taxes to pay for dynastic wars and tried to do so without consulting the citizenry. When people refused to pay the taxes, the kings were gone. Starting with Reagan, (he seems to have followed Joyner’s advice and borrowed for increased defense spending) conservatives have discovered the politicians’ holy grail. Voters don’t care about deficits. They enjoy the benefits of “free” spending and tax cuts today, and will continue to reward politicians who provide it. Those who have to pay for it are not voting today. We need some kind of debt limit that is hard and fast, but it won’t happen. States have hard debt limits for the most part and they get around it by electing politicians who will send free money from Washington. The EuroZone has imposed a sort of debt limit on member countries. The big countries like France and Germany just ignore the limits because they don’t have the political will to cut agricultural support and generous benefits.

  13. Herb says:

    If Ken is old enough to be Floyd’s Grandfather and he is still preaching that Liberal propaganda, Then, It tells me that he has not learned one thing during all those years. I guess it is not in Kens genes to “Get Smart”.