Dear President Bush,
You have taken the helm of the ship of state, which only recently came through a tough and contentious election. We are grateful for the statesmanship and integrity you showed throughout the campaign and its aftermath. During the campaign you said you were a uniter, not a divider, and you have proven it to the American people. Now it is time to get down to work on the agenda items that were at the center of your campaign.
The very close election of last year, for both congressional seats and the presidency, means that your ability to affect real change on key issues will depend upon your ability to forge a bipartisan consensus. Based on your record of bipartisan coalition-building in Texas, we know that you will reach out across the aisle to build the majorities needed to tackle the tough issues your Administration will face.
We call your attention to several issues – where bipartisan support already exists – that we hope will be at the top of your agenda in the months to come.
The situation in the Middle East is of grave concern to us as Jewish Republicans. The U.S.-Israel strategic alliance is the key to American interests in the region. It is vital that we signal to our friends and adversaries in the region that our alliance with Israel is strong and that we are truly committed to ensuring Israel’s security. We can do this by changing three policies your predecessor pursued.
First: immediately begin steps to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The bipartisan legislation mandating that move passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress in 1995. President Clinton used his waiver power to delay the move year after year. It is time to break ground on that U.S.-owned plot of land in West Jerusalem and signal that we support Jerusalem remaining the undivided capital of Israel.
Second: make clear that the U.S. will not hold Israel to any timetable, nor force Israel to make any concessions in the peace process. Israel must make its own decisions about how fast and how far to go in this process. As Israel’s chief ally, we must support the decisions that Israel makes to defend herself and her citizens, not weaken her by raising Palestinian expectations that American pressure will bend Israel to greater concessions.
Third: unlike the previous administration, the U.S. under the Bush administration must not interfere in any way in the upcoming Israeli elections. We are the world’s only superpower and one of our strategic goals in the world is to encourage and nurture democracy. It would be detrimental to American interests and to Israel’s future for us to unduly influence the free election process in Israel.
On domestic issues, several important agenda items also already hold bipartisan support.
We urge you to continue to make education your top domestic priority. Now is the time to move forward programs that increase parental choice in education, including charter schools and some form of vouchers. Your proposals to enforce high standards for teachers, curricula, and students; make schools accountable to the communities they serve; reward schools that work; and change schools that do not are all elements of education reform that we should now begin to implement.
You campaigned on the promise of a prescription drug benefit for seniors that could be implemented very quickly. Medicare recipients should have a choice of private insurance plans that offer more benefits than the current Medicare program. All seniors should receive help in paying for prescription drugs and should have protection against catastrophic medical expenses over $6,000 a year. Millions of seniors urgently need these benefits.
In the same vein, Social Security reform cannot wait. Younger workers should be allowed to put a small percentage of their Social Security taxes into private investments. Private investments have a much greater rate of return than Social Security benefits. Private retirement accounts provide real savings that retirees can pass on to their children and that build the economy as national savings grow. Of course, benefits to current and soon-to-be retirees should be protected.
Mr. President, you campaigned on a set of proposals that will have far-reaching benefits to every American. We look forward to working with you in seeing those proposals become reality. We wish you great success as we move forward together.
Republican Jewish Coalition