The November 8 elections were a resounding call for smaller, less-intrusive government. The Contract with America – advertised in TV Guide and scorned by Democrats from Bill Clinton on down – nationalized the issues and clarified the alternatives to a degree not seen since the 1980 presidential election.
Republican candidates across the board ran on a platform of reduced government spending, less regulation, and more individual liberty. The result was a landslide that promises to be a realigning or "watershed" election. Dick Gephardt has suddenly discovered the virtues of tax cuts, while the Clinton Administration is reportedly considering cutbacks in agriculture subsidies, the General Services Administration, and the Office of Personnel Management, as well as the departments of Energy, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.
The new Republican majority is, in short, defining the direction of public policy and, hence, the ground on which political compromises will be reached. The central debate now is not about whether to expand government's role in health care, job training, or whatever, but about how best to roll back the tax-and-spend regulatory Leviathan. Already we are seeing a new political phenomenon – the "me too" Democrat. All of this is evidence of a watershed election, though it's too soon to know for certain.
This much is clear: Republicans have never had a better opportunity to limit the federal government, and they must deliver on their promises in order to remain on top. CEl's advice: Be quick to kill what can be killed quickly, and leave hard targets for later. Momentum is critical; success will breed success.
The twelve cuts recommended in the following pages are by no means the only programs and regulations in the environmental and energy policy fields that should be eliminated. Indeed, there are strong arguments for dismantling the entire Department of Energy and eliminating much of the Department of Interior. These twelve recommendations should be seen as a starting point. CEI considers them "soft targets" – programs, agencies, and regulations that can and should be vaporized within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress.