Feb 5, 2010
The GOP After Massachussetts
Scott Brown’s historic win in Massachusetts scrambles the political picture for both parties. For Democrats, it means they will have far more difficulty turning their momentary supermajority into a permanently larger federal establishment. For the GOP, it gives them a toehold on power in Washington, a seat at the policy table and an even greater opportunity to make real gains in the 2010 midterm elections.
The GOP needs to move on five main things right now.
First, the Republican Party needs to do everything possible to defeat “Obamacare.” More than anything, this was the signature issue that gave rocket fuel to the Brown campaign. The public was not buying the witch’s brew of higher taxes, Medicare cuts and higher insurance premiums. The special deals for the drug companies, the unions and Nebraska were icing on the cake. Republicans must pull out all of the stops to scuttle this bill.
Second, after the bill is defeated, Republicans should seek to engage the administration on true reform of the system that focuses on cost containment. Measures for discussion must include tort reform, enhanced health savings accounts, and creating more vibrant markets and competition for individuals to purchase their own health plans. Democrats may want to have something to showcase to the voters prior to the next election on the president’s signature issue.
Third, move to limit the uncertainty that surrounds business decisions by the private sector. How can firms possibly make decisions about expansion and new hiring if they have no idea on future costs of labor, energy and health care? A good start would be a pledge to defeat so called “Card Check” legislation that expands the power of the Unions and any global warming initiative that significantly increases energy prices.
Fourth, engage the administration on real job creation measures. The recovery IS underway, but unemployment is still at 10% and it shows no sign of decreasing anytime soon. Part of the solution is to remove uncertainty in the marketplace for businesses and a second step is to create tax incentives for businesses to expand payrolls. Past stimulus bills focused on temporary government jobs, not creation of permanent private sector jobs. Republicans must become champions of job creation measures. The perfect vehicle for such a campaign is next year’s budget and the preservation of the tax cuts enacted by the Bush Administration in 2001.
Fifth, step up efforts to recruit the best candidates to challenge Democrats, everywhere. If Massachusetts can be won, so can every other state including: Wisconsin, Oregon and Maryland where the Party is still seeking top challengers. Strong Republican candidates are also needed in a number of congressional districts that were won by President Bush and John McCain in the last two presidential elections. The Brown success in Massachusetts, along with the campaigns of Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia, conclusively demonstrate the public’s anxiety over trillion dollar-spending bills, ever-higher taxes and massive federal deficits. The core GOP “small government” message has more appeal than ever.
Democrats still control the White House and retain overwhelming domination of the Congress. It will be fascinating to see if they continue to move left, or like Bill Clinton learn from their mistakes and moderate their outsized ambitions to expand government. But it is unlikely in the extreme that they will take the measures necessary to create jobs and hold down spending. Tax cuts and smaller government are not part of their DNA.
That leaves the GOP to offer a real contrast and choice to Americans who are dissatisfied with the status quo. That, after all, is the role of the loyal opposition.