April 11, 2008
I am not quite sure what has gotten into Dick Armey these days, but he sure is grumpy. He opened fire this week on a proposal that we have floated calling upon the White House to establish a Family Czar to revive an initiative first undertaken by Ronald Reagan.
Armey not only misses the target on almost every point, his facts are wrong, including his claim that I endorsed a Republican presidential candidate that he opposed. I didnt endorse; my role at FRC is not to elect presidents, but to shape policy and that is exactly what we are proposing with the idea of a Family Czar.
Armey mistakenly claims we are calling for the creation of more government intrusion into the lives of Americas families. Like Mr. Armey, I have a legislative record that is solidly conservative, for limited and smaller government. I hold to my conservative credentials and our proposal reflects them. Mr. Armeys disregard for the importance of strong families is shocking. If we are willing to create issue-specific White House policy coordinators, some of whom the media has deemed czars, is it too much to ask the government to recognize the value of the family and our need to strengthen rather than usurp it?
Ronald Reagan understood the fact that America as a country could be no stronger than its families; that is why he had a quasi-family czar in domestic policy advisor Gary Bauer. That is why in 1987, by executive order 12606, President Reagan pushed the traditional family to the forefront in Washington by requiring government agencies to consider the impact their policies would have on families before issuing them. The measure was designed to block intrusive federal action and slow the growth of government. Among the orders strong provisions was a requirement that federal agencies ask whether a planned action helps the family perform its functions, or does it substitute governmental activity for the function?
When families prosper the nation prospers. Unfortunately, President Clinton rescinded the executive order when he took office. Efforts to pass the measure through Congress during Mr. Armeys watch were unsuccessful. Had it succeeded there is little doubt the gains of the Left would have been braked not accelerated.
Working off the language of President Reagans Executive Order 12606, I wrote and passed The Family Impact Statement legislation in my home state of Louisiana. I am convinced it will be a valuable tool in the hands of a true conservative like Governor Bobby Jindal, and I think it would be a good step for a White House committed to the traditional family unit. Calling on government to consider the impact of its proposals on the family, whether it is the strength of the marital commitment, the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, or the familys budget, is a conservative idea. But to give it life, the family must be given priority. Im not wedded to the term Family Czar, and the images it unintentionally evokes certainly give Mr. Armey a bone to pick, but he can rest assured we support solutions that push authority and financial resources back to the smallest government of all, the home.