Commentary

Getting America Back on Track via the Transparency Train

The Transparency Train is rolling. The first beachhead was passage of the ‘google government’ bill last year by Dr. Coburn and, now, it appears that the sun will soon shine on earmarks. The next great Transparency Frontier will be reauthorization of government programs ââ?¬â?? or at least it should be. The “State Children’s Health Insurance Program” (SCHIP) has been in the news recently as those on the Hill look to reauthorize, while some even advocate to expand, the program. Providing government funded health care for the poorest children of America’s neediest families is a worthy social goal but, SCHIP has not been without controversy. In an April 24th Wall Street Journal article, it was reported that “some states are using the program to expand government-subsidized coverage well beyond kids ââ?¬â?? to children from wealthier families and even to adults”. Indeed, what was originally intended to help the poorest of the poor, the most needed is now being used to backdoor HillaryCare – inch-by-inch national health care insurance. Devon Herrick wrote in a recent Washington Times article, “SCHIP was designed to achieve one specific goal: insurance for children. That goal has been lost in the mad scramble to not lose federal money. SCHIP should be scaled back to fulfill its original intent, and we need to explore better options for achieving that intent. Throwing money at a problem has never worked.” Is there a Doctor in the house? Why, yes there is! Let’s apply a Back on Track Transparency analysis as might be prescribed by the Senate Doctor, Dr. Tom Coburn, to the SCHIP and other government programs: Rx- SCHIP (and the politicians that fund it) should require the comprehensive review of the SCHIP program, the consolidation of overlapping programs, and the elimination of ineffective aspects before considering continuation or expansion. Rx- SCHIP should reprioritize it funding and efforts toward providing health care for children in families with the greatest need before adding new or additional taxes on the American taxpayer. Rx- SCHIP should be subject to rigorous audits and review, and continued funding should be tied to measurable outcomes. Paging Congress, your prescription is ready!

Amanda Kathryn Hydro is the Director of Policy Development at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Hydro is a highly effective grassroots coalition operative with 13 years of experience under her belt. For years she worked within the Republican Party structure advancing freedom utilizing a free market approach. Hydro first became involved in politics in her home state of New Jersey. When she moved to Washington, DC, she served as the Administrator of the Precinct Data Department at the Republican National Committee. There she led a team who compiled and analyzed nationwide precinct data for the redistricting process, the Voter Vault, and various outside agencies. Hydro also worked in Minnesota to elect Republican candidates in 2002. All statewide candidates were successful that cycle except for one which earned her The Best Field Representative Award from the College Republican National Committee.

Afterwards, she was tapped to join Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and head-up the state coalitions operation which she did for two years. As ATR's State Coalitions Manager, Hydro set-up and organized state based center-right coalition meetings in over 40 states. These statewide coalition meetings regularly bring together representatives of market-oriented think tanks, activist groups, issue-oriented organizations, trade associations, CEO's, as well as sympathetic government officials for off-the-record discussions of current political and policy developments. The goal is to create flexible coalitions that can move swiftly to influence specific issues.

In addition, Amanda managed the State Legislative Advisory Project and worked with state legislators nationwide. Hydro was also the liaison between the state coalition meetings and the State Policy Network, the umbrella organization for the state based free market, pro-growth think tanks, of which, Reason is a member. Finally, she communicated with and developed international center-right coalition meetings as well.

In 2005, she was called on to head up the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) as the Executive Director. Hydro was responsible for all day to day operations of the national 527 and under her management the CRNC became one of the top five 527s on the right side of the aisle with 300,000+ members, chapters on over 2,500 college campuses, and a budget of $3MIL. She developed a national communications strategy for year-round press and comprehensive branding; created and customized their national website and was instrumental in building software specific to the CRNC's needs. Hydro also implemented monthly issue campaigns based on free market approaches providing talking points and action steps as well as revamped all aspects of training for staff and members. Additionally, she improved the resources available to members from updating Chapter Boxes filled with tools for effective recruitment to creating training videos to writing the text for a series of resource CDs. Hydro implemented the first Spring Field Program and operated the largest midterm election Field Program in CRNC history. Additionally, she had software developed to create a national job bank, designed and created an online store to provide CRNC branded materials to members and was instrumental in developing software for Operation Big Trunk which provides free websites to all Chapters and State Federations. She was also the administrator for the American members of the International Young Democrat Union, of which, the CRNC is a member.

Hydro was nominated and selected to participate in the Friedrich Naumann Foundation's Study Tour through Bonn, Berlin, and Dusseldorf, Germany for Young American Political Professionals in December of 2005; the theme was "After the Federal Elections in Germany: The New Governments' Challenges and Opportunities and the Impact on Transatlantic Relations." She was an active member of the study tour and continues to work with the Foundation. Hydro is also a member of the National Rifle Association, the National Italian American Foundation's Young Professional Council and The Philadelphia Society. She was recently recognized as a Campaigns and Elections Magazine's 2006 Rising Star and was the first recipient of the Amanda Hydro Award in 1999 which is now awarded annually to a young person in Somerset County, NJ for outstanding leadership and community service. She earned her BA in Politics from The Catholic University of America.