Policy Documents

Freedom Rising: 7 Big Ideas for Congress

edited by Eli Lehrer –
February 1, 2011

In November 2010, voters around the United States demanded change in Washington. For the third time in as many election cycles, Americans kicked out people in power and replaced them with new, often untested elected leaders.

Two months later, in January 2011, many men and women came to Washington having campaigned on promises to limit government spending or eliminate government programs. Many efforts in this direction are wise and necessary. But newly elected members of Congress also must remember that government is uniquely capable of doing certain things, and that citizens expect the government to accomplish certain goals.

With this in mind, The Heartland Institute has put together a booklet with some ideas for the new Congress. Our "Seven Big Ideas" booklet offers a positive, freedom- oriented agenda that would empower individuals, improve lives, and help the government run more efficiently. To decide on the ideas, we set three criteria. To quote from the booklet's introduction:

  • "First, the idea had to be reasonably new and not just something Congress already had debated in the same form...None has received a floor vote in either house of Congress or played a key role in any major party platform.
  • "Second, the idea had to be realistic, something Congress could pass and the president sign into law during 2011 or 2012.
  • "Third, the idea had to be a positive move in the direction of smaller government. Anybody who desires smaller government should be perturbed by the growth of government under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. While many government programs may need to be scaled back or eliminated over the next few decades, in this guide we do not propose any wholesale program eliminations."

Good public policy comes from good ideas. This guide, we believe, provides a group of them.