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Centrist GOPers Push Pragmatism, Not Wedge Issues

Since the November elections, a great deal of attention has been paid to the reality that President Bush enters his second term with a Republican Congress. As Republicans we could not be more pleased that the American people have given our vision of governing this historic opportunity, but we must be more dedicated than ever to achieving real progress. With control comes a responsibility to govern.

Because we are the more centrist members of our party, critics and the media often look to us for signs of party division. They want to see an inner struggle, and Democrats gleefully wait to see if we can “hold it together” or provide enough of a wedge to allow them to exert themselves into the majority again. This is not what we stand for. We stand for pragmatic solutions to some of the most challenging issues our nation faces.

Bush has the solid support of centrist Republicans. The nation needs his bold agenda for strengthening our national defense and providing sound fiscal policy to be secure, both in personal and economic stability. And the moderate members of our party are no less committed to these ideals than our president. The Republican Main Street Partnership, with membership including 52 House Members, 12 Senators and five governors, will work with our president, our Republican leadership and Democrats to forward legislation that addresses some of the real needs of the American people.

We will also focus on some priorities that require immediate action.

A revised federal stem-cell research policy tops our domestic agenda. This important research holds the promise of cures and treatments for millions of Americans nationwide who suffer from our most chronic diseases, including type-1 diabetes, nerve and muscular disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, cancer and other ailments.

The state of our fiscal affairs is another important domestic issue on which RMSP will focus. As fiscal conservatives, we share the belief that a strong economy is well served by tax cuts when there is ample revenue to pay for them. But we must have a balance between revenue and spending. Debt is what motivates people to go to work every day to pay their bills. But just as it is wrong for average citizens to incur debt they cannot handle, the government must take steps to ensure that we do not leave a legacy of debt for our children and grandchildren. Our goal is to return to the days of a balanced budget.

Tort reform is another important domestic issue that must be addressed. The backlog of frivolous lawsuits is staggering. The current practice by lawyers of lumping thousands of plaintiffs into one massive class action where the injured party receives non-monetary compensation and trial lawyers collect fees is outrageous. The threat of medical malpractice lawsuits is changing medicine — the costs of health care are growing exponentially. Plus, the cost of doing business has increased so drastically that in many areas, doctors are closing up shop because they can’t afford malpractice costs.

Finally, asbestos-related litigation is an unacceptable detriment to the well-being of companies and jobs, forcing more than 70 companies into bankruptcy resulting in the loss of 60,000 jobs. This is unacceptable, and RMSP will push hard for an acceptable compromise to end this job-killing litigation and ensure that the truly injured and sick patients can seek redress and be compensated, not the lawyers.

Our nation is desperately in need of a sound national energy policy. It is shameful that we, as the most technologically advanced nation in the world, have not adopted a comprehensive plan to address our energy. It is critical that we decrease our dependence on foreign oil and promote the use of alternative fuel sources. Not only is this an environmental concern, but a national security concern as well. Our future and the futures of our children depend on it.

Main Street Republicans will explore every option to find pragmatic solutions to the problems Americans face, working with our president and fellow Members to represent the people as we were elected to do.

Reps. Mike Castle (R-Del.), Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) and Charles Bass (R-N.H.) are elected officers of the Republican Main Street Partnership.

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