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1988 USA Today Op/Ed: “Iron Triangle” Rules Washington


President Reagan has correctly updated and refined the way Washington works” an “Iron Triangle”  of power and money interests perpetuate a big government run with red ink. He derided the coalition of left-wing congressman, special interest groups, and liberal elements of the media this week as usurpers of our democratic institutions.

The Iron Triangle formula once included a separate category for the bureaucracy, but that’s now easily lumped with Congress. After all, as Reagan noted, even the Supreme Soviet has more turnover than the House

Administrations come and go, but a high-flying Congress and its faceless partners in the bowels of government keep spending up and efficiency down, In 1987 alone, 535 Capitol Hill politicians managed to mail more than 494 million newsletters, press releases, and other puff pieces without paying a penny in postage. We taxpayers pay for that and zillions of other perks.

The partisan media also contribute to skewering the balance of power. According to The Media Elite, a survey of 240 top print and electronic media people revealed that 54% placed themselves on the political left, 90% advocate abortion on demand, 80% never voted for a Republican presidential candidate, 56% believes the USA regularly exploits Third World nations. Do those numbers correspond with any poll of middle class thinking in, say, the last 10 years?

President-elect Bush has already tangled with the Iron Triangle. A few days ago, a coalition of environmentalists “representing millions of Americans” (as described by the friends among the media elite) came calling for, you guessed it, more government and more of the taxpayer’s money.

The good news is that the Iron Triangle can be broken, according to the just-released Heritage Foundation study, Mandate for Leadership III. A balanced budget amendment, a presidential line item veto to cut pork barrel spending, and other specific recommendations would put the liberal political leaders on notice.

Such actions  will take a strong President — even stronger than Ronald Reagan. He knew the theory, but George Bush must make that reality.

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