Sunday, August 29, 2010

Getting Off On The Wrong Foot

I am concerned. It looks like the Republicans are going to win the House, which is a good thing. But winning power is only half the battle. The other half is what you do with it, once you get it. For months now, I’ve been saying that the Republicans were starting to get it. But I am concerned that they are about to blow it.

For some time now, I’ve been pointing out that the Democrats are staring at an historic loss in November. Although the MSM is openly talking about the Democrats losing 30-40 seats, and more knowledgeable people are suggesting closer to 70, the evidence is there for something in excess of 100 seats. Even now, more evidence is pouring in, such as the quiet announcement this weekend by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that they are about to cut off a large number of “under-performing candidates,” i.e. guys who look like they’re going to lose.

At the same time, I’ve been pointing out instances where the Republicans are getting it. They stood unified against almost everything Obama tried. Representatives like Paul Ryan have been doing some heavy thinking of conservative ideas. Senators like Jim DeMint have been doing some heavy funding of conservative candidates (much to the establishment’s chagrin). Bright, shiny new candidates like Christie in New Jersey and McConnell in Virginia have been showing how conservative ideas can be put in place despite the objections of the entrenched entitlement brigade. And even the MSM is starting to talk about moderate conservatives like Mitch Daniels as “attractive alternatives" to Obama -- so sayeth The Economist twice now.

So what’s the problem?

Well, as I’ve said before, the Republicans need a platform, and not some weirdo 1,000 page platform that caters to every fringe interest group in the party or that promises “conservatism” as defined by K Street along with neoconservative international nation building. What they need to promise is ultra simple: cancel Obama’s brand of soft-socialism, cronyism, and rule by unaccountable czars. Replace it with genuine free market reforms, genuine stimulus, a massive trimming of the federal government and its privileges and perks, deep spending cuts to control the deficit, entitlement reform, and repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

And if you want the top three to put into a sales pitch, (1) slash payroll taxes to encourage hiring and to make work more valuable for American workers, (2) repeal and replace ObamaCare with a system that lifts burdensome regulations, wipes out state-insurance monopolies, frees doctors to manage their own businesses, improves medical oversight, and gives patients incentives to cut their own costs, and (3) slash federal spending by cutting salaries, ending bailouts, canceling the porkulus, and cutting spending across the board to 2007 levels.

That’s what they should be promising. But here’s what is coming out of the mouths of several prominent Republicans. . .

“Woo boy, we is gonna hold hearings!”

Hearings into where the stimulus money went (i.e. which Obama cronies got the money). Hearings into the handling of GM. Hearings into Obama’s Afghanistan policy. Hearings into Jobgate (i.e. the offers to Sestak and Romanoff). Hearings into a dozen other matters the public doesn't remember. Said one staffer, they are salivating at the “opportunity of making ‘the most transparent administration in history’ respond to subpoenas.”

There is one word that comes to mind when I hear this and it rhymes with truck. Have these ignorant fools learned nothing? The public wants the nation’s problems solved. They want a government that sits quietly in the background minding its own darn business until it is needed to solve a national crisis. They do not want political show trials and chest-pounding hearings where Congressmen get all bent out of shape over issues we already know all about and about which we made up our minds a long time ago. Wow, the unions benefited from the bails outs? You don't say?! You mean Obama may have made an illegal job offer to Joe Sestak? You're kidding! Tell me more.

I know many of you don’t like Obama and would like to see him dragged through the mud and every one of his warts exposed for the public, just as the Democrats did to Bush and Reagan. But let me assure you, this will not hurt him, it will hurt our side. It always does.

Did Bill Clinton lie under oath? Certainly. Does anyone care? The public certainly doesn’t, his popularity soared after those hearings. Indeed, all the Republicans achieved was making him into the victim and making themselves come across as a party composed of petty morality police and hypocrites. Did Reagan break the law during Iran-Contra? Sure. Did anyone care? No. The public liked the fact Reagan was fighting the bad guys. His popularity soared. All those hearings did was make Oliver North into a hero and make the Democrats look like vindictive anti-American scum.

Our history is littered with attempts by one party to use the Congress to expose the President of the other party as the boogeyman. It’s never reflected well on the party that started the witch hunt. The public just doesn’t care. They want results, not grandstanding.

And right now is certainly not the time to try this garbage again. When you see Tea Party people show up at rallies, they aren’t demanding hearings. You don’t see signs that say “Send out the Subpoenas!” There are no rallies demanding that the Republicans expose Obama -- Obama exposed himself! We know what he is and we want him stopped. We want the wasteful spending he’s lavishing on his friends stopped. We want spending cut, power curtailed, and freedom restored. We don’t want show trials and mock outrage as grandstanding Congressmen pretend to discover what we all already know.

Obama came into office with the power to make the Democrats into a permanent majority party, and he blew it with his crony neo-socialism. The Republicans now have the chance to seize the initiative and cement themselves as the new permanent majority party. But if they go down the road of political theater, of investigations and weak referrals to special prosecutors, rather than boldly standing up and declaring a new day in America. . . a day of free market capitalism and an end to abusive government power, then they can hang it up right now.

Fight the battle for the future, don't try to score points with wonks about the past.


Individualist said...

As much as I despise Obama's tactics it is his policies that I worry about most.

We are on the brink of a financial meltdown in our country. One that is the meltdown of our government not certain sectors of our economy. They blunt truth is that Republicans if they are to do any good will have to enact some very unpopular choices in Washington. They will have to make real cuts into the entitlement monster that is placing us onee trillion more in debt every year.

I don't know if it can be done but if we don't the rest of the world is going to do it for us by devaluing our currency and our bonds. The minute they try this the libs will be in full backlash mode.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, You're right, the Republicans will need to do some very unpopular things. But right now they are about to be handed a golden opportunity. Obama has driven the country to the point of bankruptcy, so much so that people are turning out en mass at rallies. In that sort of environment, people are willing to accept things they wouldn't normally accept to fix the situation.

BUT, the fix needs to make (common) sense, and it needs to be done fairly. If you start playing games with it, or you treat it like politics as usual, then the voters will turn on you.

If the Republicans do this right, then they can set the country right again AND win the support of the public. The liberals will whine and protest, but they will lose -- just as they've lost in places like Spain where deep budget cuts and pay cuts for union-government workers have been implemented.

But if the Republicans start playing games and spend their energy playing political gotcha, then the public will turn on them.

That's why I'm concerned to hear that the Republicans are talking about looking into pointless garbage like the Sestak thing and that they're planning to waste so much time on show-trials and hearings. They need to hammer home policy corrections.

LL said...

I don't know how many hard-core Republicans there are. If politicians define the Republican base as people who voted for McCain in the last Presidential Cycle, I think they're missing the boat.

Politicians always spout "programs" and those programs seem to have a dismal win-loss record. More than not, they fail, cost VAST amounts of national treasure and either cause more problems than they were supposed to solve or have a semi-sinister porkbarrel basis.

Americans are wary of politicians, now more than ever before in my lifetime.

There was a backlash against Republicans two years ago and now the Democrats are about to get the same treatment.

The Republicans have to hold the moral high ground and to (at the same time) work to bail us out of the mess we're in or we'll devolve into a very dangerous place.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I agree wholeheartedly. I don't want to see the banana republic show trials that the Democrats are so good at. We have things to get done, and the Democrats are their own worst enemies anyway. Repealing Obamacare (or crippling it) is far more important than finding out who was responsible. Who cares? We know it's not us, and a fish rots from the head down, so the public can figure that out without hearings. We need to roll back taxes, roll back spending, and get jobs going in the private sector. The Democrats can't and won't do that, but either can we if we're busy holding hearings.

Instead of looking like vengeful children shouting "they did it first," we need to can the talk about hearings and get the government doing what it's supposed to be doing--clearing the decks for business and employment. Firing half the federal workforce wouldn't be a bad idea either, but we'll have to wait on that.

Tennessee Jed said...

I absolutely do not disagree. We should have a mini-platform and it should be commissioned by the RNC. I think your article should be sent to the RNC as well as the office of the Republican Congressional leadership.

Still, there will be no veto proof congress so until the white house is reclaimed, probably the main thing we can do is 1) stop further liberal legislation 2) position ourselves for what we will do if we gain a fillibuster congress and the white house. That is where the platform comes in.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I agree about holding the moral high ground. Right now the public wants politicians who genuinely try to fix the problems that have been accumulating in Washington and that are now threatening our country. To do that means focusing on the problems and finding solutions.

I fear that all the talk about hearings (and especially the topics of those hearings) means that the Republicans are planning to play the payback game rather than come up with a "program" to save our country. That's troubling -- especially when combined with their continuing failure to outline what they want to do. How can you get a mandate if you won't tell voters what you want to do if elected?

In terms of the word "program," I'm just using that in the short hand sense. You've seen the policies I would put in place, i.e. the Price Program. I don't believe in hiding behind vague slogans and undefined programs. I believe in laying out exactly what I would do. If you can't do that, then you don't deserve to be elected.

And you're right about what happens to "programs," because those usually involve nothing more than creating new entitlements and spending plans.

AndrewPrice said...

Well said Lawhawk. This does sound like vindictive children playing the blame game. When I first heard this, I said, "oh no, please don't do this." And everyone I've mentioned this to -- some very irrational right-wing folks (self-described "foaming at the mouth" types) -- said the same thing. The general response has been exactly what you just said -- we know what went wrong, now fix it, don't hold hearings to try to play the blame game, just fix it.

I think of it this way. If two employees are given a project and the first one screws up badly, it doesn't help anyone to have the second employee put their energy in blaming the employee who screwed up. How does that fix the situation? It doesn't. It's unseemly, distracting, and unprofessional. It's also useless to my business. What will impress me is if the second guy fixes the problem.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed! I wish they would do this. Seriously, this isn't rocket science, this is simply looking at human nature. At a time of crisis, people don't want blame games and they don't want irrelevancies. They want a clear solution. So what you need to do is lay out your solution, promise to follow through (avoid all the extraneous promises and distractions) and then work hard to deliver on those promises.

As you note, the delivery will be the hard part at the moment. But we can at least cut off funding for all of Obama's programs and we can draw a clear distinction between what we are trying to achieve and what Obama is trying to do in stopping our ideas. That sets us up nicely for 2012 to sweep the Senate, the House and the White House and then fix this matter and set the country right.

darski said...

I think they should first announce that all government salaries will be reduced to match current/similar Private sector salaries. That would save a fortune right there and be a popular move with the public.

My first choice would be to slash the budget for every department in half and let the bureaucrats decide where the money is cut. I'd pay real money to be a fly on that wall.

AndrewPrice said...

darkski, The problem goes a little deeper than that because of the way funding works. Also, I think you can do better by attacking specific programs. Just defund the bad ones and keep the good ones.

As for salaries and the such, I wouldn't even mention 50% because that's too easy for the other side to show as being unreasonable and turn against you -- then you get nothing. I would aim for a 15% across the board cut in pay plus a 10% reduction in staff, plus I would cut out the COLA -- which usually account for about half the annual pay raise.

I would also increase the rules for privatization under a program called A-76, to privatize most government jobs other than contract management.

But even all of that won't make a huge dent in what Obama has done. Instead, they should cut out the rest of the stimulus, kill the TARP and TALP, and sell GM and the bank warrants we are currently holding. Then you need to hit the entitlements -- that means raising the retirement age, means testing payments, and increasing co-pays.

StanH said...

Passionate article Andrew! When I read, “What they need to promise is ultra simple:…” and you went into your short concise plan of action, I almost stood up and clapped.

But, the truth of the matter is - politics is theater for the masses. Despite what their respective platforms say, or what comes out of their mouths, they seldom follow the map once in power.

As far as hearings, they’re gonna do them. That’s act III, in the con that is Washington DC. And if there is a political party that can pull defeat out of the jaws, it’s the Republican party…out team, …sheesh!

Capsule portrayal of your article: “Look you stupid SOBs get your sh#t together, now.” It’s so obvious even a child could see, which makes me think, …the Washington Republicans agree with the Dems, deep down inside?

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I like your shortened version of the article -- could have saved me a bunch of time! LOL! And I like to hear people clapping! :-)

To a degree, I think this is about theater. They think they can score points by exposing the Democrats. But that's a total misread of the electorate. I think this is what happens when you live inside the beltway too long. They say something like "we should have hearings" and all the little staffers get so excited and they mistake that for what the country thinks.

It's frustrating because this is so obvious to anyone who doesn't have Hill staffers licking their rear ends 24/7/365.

I'm hoping that the fresh blood from the Tea Party/Republicans (like Rand and Angle1) brings them a more common sense fresh perspective.

Joel Farnham said...

What I don't want to see is the return of witch trials. Search for the evil in men.

I do want Nancy to return the plane. I want Barny Frank to answer for his lies about Fannie and Freddie. Other than that, I want Conservative Policies to be put into place and shown to be the winning style it is.

Tam said...

Did you see Invictus? The line Morgan Freeman as Mandela used that I think embodies a true post-racial leader was when he was talking to an all black group assembled to discuss disbanding and changing the national rugby team to represent the repressed black population. He said "if we take away this thing that is so important to them, we will become exactly what they feared." Instead of playing the gotcha/payback/we won-deal-with-it game, he ACTUALLY moved on from the hideous past and united the people. I wish...I wish. I know that Mandelas are rare, but I just wish someone would come forward and act like a REAL leader!

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I agree entirely. They do need to cut out the perks and I think holding hearings on something like Fannie and Freddie is perfectly valid before eliminating them or reforming them. But I don't want to see hearings held on every possible political scandal. That not only looks vindictive, but it's also distracting.

Their first and last job should be putting in place conservative policies. That should keep them more than busy enough.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, That's an excellent point! I have a great deal of respect for Mandela because he did put the past behind them and in the process cut off a racial civil war.

Reagan actually did the same thing about Vietnam. There were people who wanted Reagan to conduct a witch hunt to get the people in DOD and the military ranks who lost the war and then have them purged. But Reagan knew that would only be destructive at a time when what the country needed was a positive president with a plan to move us forward to the shiny city on the hill... not the angry mud patch of recriminations.

It's the same thing here. Right now people want a stirring leader with a positive vision of American. And you can't be that if your plan involves witch hunts and political grandstanding.

CrispyRice said...

Great article! I keep waiting for an announcement of our "core beliefs" or some such thing. Something quick and easy (and conservative!) for the Republicans to run on. But then I look at the calendar and think, OMG, the election is practically here. WHEN are they going to come out with something??

Because you're right, Andrew. Let's get in and start holding hearings and the Republicans will be (rightfully) hated more than the Dems are now. Ugh ugh ugh.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I keep waiting for that too. Leaders lead, they don't hide and wait for others to fail.

And if hearings is all they're offering, then they seriously should disband as a party.

Ed said...

Just great. Once again, the Republicans show just how stupid they can be.

Individualist said...


I went to see the Duvall movie Get Low yesterday. I liked it but people might find it a little slow paced. It was interesting anyways.

In the previews I almost threw something at the screen when they showed a documentary called "Inside Job" narrate by Matt Daaa MON. It showed a group of Democrats yelling at Walstreet executives and purported to expose how Walstreet caused the meltdown. They had the gall to show Barney Frank. I thought I was going to be sick.

There is one thing I would like and they could do this without pointing fingers. That would be to have hearings on the failure of Fannae Mae and Freddie Mac so that the truth of who is responsible is brought to light.

I know this is dangerous as you say and it would blow up if they start a blame game but we need to do something to keep liberals from perpetuating the lie that Walstreet was behind what he government was responsible for. The simple fact is whether the mortgages were bundled or not they were still going to fail. Whatever Walstreet did was not going to matter.

I don't know. I agree with you and maybe a hearing is not the vehicle to use. Maybe they can do something else. What would you suggest?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That does seem to be what they're trying to do.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, I am in favor of Fannie and Freddie hearings because I think both institutions need to be reformed or wiped out and I think a record needs to be made before that can be done.

But I don't see any political benefit here because the public doesn't pay attention of finance matters.

So I would go at these hearings from the perspective of finding out what they've done wrong, where they've failed and how to fix them. Hopefully, that would expose all the Democratic policies and dirty connection as a byproduct of the reform hearings. IF the hearings then catch fire with the public, then dig further. If not, then just use the hearings to create good policy.

But one thing they should not do is to go into these with the idea of dragging Democrats through the mud.

Regarding Damon, by the way, he's a turd.

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