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erowe1
04-15-2010, 10:38 AM
http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100415/NEWS/4150349


GOP Senate candidate offers prescription for U.S. budget pain
Hostettler insists on spending less, sticking to conservative principles.



By Kevin Leininger
of The News-Sentinel
When John Hostettler peers into his crystal ball, this is what he sees:

One way or another, our out-of-control federal government is going to be tamed.

“It can happen the easier way or the very hard way. But it has to happen,” the Republican U.S. Senate candidate said during an hour-long interview Wednesday. “We're either going to get back to defending the Constitution or it will all come crashing down.”

Hostettler, who entered Congress representing the Evansville area in 1994 promising to set things right through the “Contract with America,” knows the GOP has promised to deliver on its conservative principles before – and usually failed to deliver. The difference this year, he said, is Americans realize the country is in many ways living on borrowed time.

Borrowed money, too – which is why even the communists in China are worried about America's soaring debts and descent into socialism. “They want us to be good capitalists and buy their products,” said Hostettler, who left Congress after losing a re-election bid in 2006 and is fighting former Sen. Dan Coats and three others to get back.

This column isn't an endorsement of Hostettler. It is, however, an endorsement of some of his principles – starting with the notion that members of Congress should do what they believe is constitutionally right, not merely what's politically expedient.

He demonstrated that independence in 2002 when he was one of six House Republicans to vote against the invasion of Iraq because he believed that country posed no imminent threat to the U.S. That war – never declared under powers granted Congress by the Constitution – has helped to dangerously weaken America's military, Hostettler said.

And even though he ultimately voted against one of the pillars of the Contract with America – a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget – Hostettler said a balanced budget is essential and can be achieved within six years if Congress limits taxes while slashing spending, even on so-called “entitlements” on which millions of Americans depend.

“Social Security is in a deficit this year,” he said, predicting that Americans may initially object to deep spending cuts but will gradually understand and accept their necessity.

Is Hostettler willing to face that backlash? He already has. In 1996, when congressional Republicans tried to limit spending by refusing to increase the national debt, Hostettler was one of just 17 Republicans who voted against a bill supported by House Speaker Newt Gingrich that ended a short-lived government shutdown.

That's a tactic Hostettler said he remains willing to employ. He also thinks Republicans – if they regain control of Congress next year – should refuse to authorize funding for the new health-care reform legislation and other expensive and possibly unconstitutional programs.

Does shutting down Washington or refusing to fund health care sound Draconian to you? If so, you've been numbed into submission by the sheer insanity of the status quo, in which actions that would have seemed impossible or even criminal just a few years ago are today considered routine.

Hostettler, you'll notice, didn't say there's an easy way out of the mess we've created for ourselves – only an easier way. Some discomfort is inevitable, and will only get worse the longer it is delayed.

More than once Hostettler told me, “I can only do what I can do.” Even the best-intended and constitutionally grounded legislator is nearly powerless without a lot of help. But individual lawmakers can and should be expected to govern according to their stated principles, just as individual voters should ask not only what is good for me, but what is best for us, now and far into the future.

And if both ends of the political equation do their jobs, change will come – with as little pain as possible.

Not exactly an inspiring campaign slogan. But it sure beats the alternative.