Representative could be solid, independent voice

Freedom Newspapers

If political and security conditions are met in Iraq in the next few months, such as a written constitution, America could see lower troop levels as early as next year, predicted Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who serves on the International Relations and Science committees.

By the end of next year, “I think we will have troop reductions to a point … of air support and advisers and special forces teams,” he said, speaking to the editorial board of the Orange County Register, one of our sister newspapers with Freedom Communications.

He believes that the Iraqi people, buoyed by recent elections and steps toward democratization, will work ever more diligently against the insurgents and that the true power of their support has yet to become apparent.

He’s more sanguine about Iraq and democratization in the Middle East than we are, given security concerns and recent events, such as the alarming number of Iraqi citizens killed in recent weeks by insurgents.

On other topics, Rep. Rohrabacher believes the ongoing discussion about Social Security is the opening phase of a long-term campaign that will gradually lead to substantial reform. He gives President Bush a great deal of credit for starting the national debate, especially one that began with a fundamental proposal regarding personal responsibility, ownership and private accounts, not simply financial fixes. Whether anything is accomplished during the president’s term in office is anybody’s guess.

The congressman voted against the No Child Left Behind act, fearing it would serve as an excuse for the federal government to increase its influence over local schools. He says some of the complaints he is hearing from school board members and educators validate many of his concerns.

He also is increasingly concerned about the pace of spending increases during the Bush presidency. He acknowledges that congressional Republicans, who took control of the House with the Contract with America in 1994, have squandered some opportunities.

“Back then we were talking about zeroing out the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other agencies. Now we have a Republican president increasing their budgets and most Republicans going along. It sometimes feels surreal,” he said.

In his ninth term, Rep. Rohrabacher doesn’t speak as often on the floor as he used to, but concentrates on a few projects he believes are important. Among them is a bill to establish a National Endowment for Space and Aeronautics that would not do research itself but work with researchers and industry people to establish technology goals and offer prizes to those who achieved them. This less politicized and bureaucratic approach would give taxpayers more bang for their bucks, he believes.

We agree, but note that the same thing could be done in the private sector, and some private organizations are already offering prize money.

Rep. Rohrabacher sees illegal immigration as a sleeper issue — “It’s a hot topic at every town hall” — and will be a defining issue of the 2008 presidential election. He believes the Real ID legislation just passed could help to control it. We think the law will intrude on the privacy of ordinary Americans while doing little or nothing to reduce illegal immigration.

We hope Rep. Rohrabacher, a solid conservative, will become more outspoken and independent, especially on spending issues, as the Bush presidency winds down.