Good News Lost in the Shuffle

Curbing Washington spending and raising the Social Security earnings limit are some of the measures of progress

Call them silent victories.

With little coverage from the news media and less recognition from the public, the 104th Congress has brought more change to the way government is run in Washington than at any time in the last half century.

Unfortunately, this good news seems to have gotten lost among all the speculation about who's up or down in the polls or who is doing a better job playing politics.

So do not be surprised if you have not heard about the following:

*We have cut Washington spending. We are actually spending less this year - some $23 billion less - than in 1995 on Washington programs for which Congress must annually approve money.

Keep in mind that President Clinton wanted to increase money for these programs by $7 billion, so Congress in reality forced the president to accept funding that is $30 billion below what he requested.

*We have made Congress live under the same laws that apply to the rest of America. Over the years, Congress has exempted itself from the laws it passes, meaning it has not been required to abide by the safety, employment, or environmental practices it prescribed for the rest of the country. With passage of the Shays Act, we have made sure that Congress is no longer above the laws it passes.

*We have freed farmers from depression-era Washington controls. When Congress passed the new farm bill this year, it gave farmers the ability to choose the crops they wished to plant, rather than have Washington bureaucrats make the decisions for them.

In deregulating America's farmers we have reversed 60 years of outdated and cumbersome Washington policy, and put the agriculture industry on the road toward operating on a free-market basis.

*We have raised the Social Security earnings limit. Senior citizens age 65 to 69 will be able to earn more without losing their Social Security benefits. Over the next seven years, the earnings limit will be raised from the current $11,520 to $30,000, benefiting almost 1 million senior citizens.

In short, we have brought more change to Washington than at any time since the New Deal - change that is just now beginning to be felt but that will affect America for decades to come.

This good news has in many instances not been reported as news. The media too often get caught up in trying to judge who "won" or "lost"; the reporting of what our actions mean to everyday Americans becomes secondary.

Nevertheless, we are committed to the continued advancement of policies that return power, money, and influence to Americans in their neighborhoods and communities.

Not because we expect glowing headlines or editorial praise (although we would not object), but because when it comes to the future of our country, we know that doing the right thing is the right thing to do. Even if you never hear about it.

* John R. Kasich (R) of Ohio is chairman of the House Budget Committee.

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