By Jonathan Allen
After a year in which many of their highest hopes were dashed, diminished or deferred, fiscal and social conservatives are compiling less ambitious legislative wish lists for 2006.
Republicans of all stripes looked at 2005, with expanded majorities in the House and Senate and President Bush just starting his second term, as a rare opportunity to win enactment of favored legislation.
But the new year is not seen that way at all. “The political reality is, generally speaking, that you have a tough time with big, ambitious ideas in an election year,” said former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the president of the anti-tax Club for Growth.
No prize was bigger, or ultimately more elusive, last year than Bush’s proposal to overhaul Social Security. But other desired, big-ticket legislative items, from a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to an extension of the 15 percent tax rate on capital gains and dividends, also fell short.
Projected entitlement cuts were trimmed, a tax-cut package was pushed into the new year, and a reformation of the tax code never made it out of the legislative starting gate.
Many interest groups have scaled back their 2006 dockets, although few admit it.