The State of the GOP

I hear a lot of complaining about the Republican Party these days. I share their frustration. How could it come to this? As the fourth year of the Obama era begins the state of the union is shaky at best. In 2008 an inexperienced leftist who donned a centrist disguise beat a weak opponent partly because the electorate was in such a state of shock that they were willing to ignore myriad red flags. I refer to his ultra-liberal voting record, murky background, radical friends and shady political pals. A lapdog media wasn’t interested in doing any vetting — opting instead to just cheer-lead.

The recent State of the Union was full of the same old stuff: congratulating himself for perceived accomplishments and complaining about Republican obstructionism. It’s pure trash and he knows it – but he’s betting that the American electorate will swallow it once again.
Anyone curious enough to look beyond the pliant press would have found that Obama’s speech was in many instances a word-for-word rehash of his previous “SOTU’s” here:

LINK

Further analysis shows his tax claims to be demonstrably false, here:
LINK

With evidence like that this election should be easy right? Obama is a now known quantity and the mask has been ripped off the entire Democrat Party. They marched in lockstep to shove Obamacare down our throats, bypassing an honest legislative process and ignoring the will of the people, including those in uber-liberal Massachusetts who voted for Scott Brown on that issue alone. They have reclaimed the crown as the biggest spenders – quickly eclipsing the Republicans of the previous era. Annual deficits are now running $1.5 TRILLION and we have nothing to show for it.

We should be planning our election night parties – and yet…

It is a mess. Many are fearful that we’re paving the way for Obama to be re-elected. From a very large field full of flawed candidates we’re left with a clueless Mitt Romney fending off desperate attacks from a flailing Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party seems to be doing the Democrats’ dirty work for them. We’re told by self-proclaimed experts that Romney is the only “electable” candidate and yet the guy has no track record of winning. The one time he did he passed a government-run health care bill that paved the way for the mess we’re trying to get repealed.

While Newt’s failures as Speaker of the House have been misrepresented – and his major victories diminished – Mitt is mostly given a free pass. Santorum is the non-Romney of the month but he is a lightweight punching out of his weight class. Ron Paul is given exactly the attention he deserves: credit for his criticism of our dangerous fiscal / monetary policy and scorn for his dangerously naïve foreign policy. Has anyone noticed that he is attracting the youth vote?

But how did the Republican Party let this happen? Well, let’s think about it for a minute. Who is the Republican Party? It’s the candidates who run as Republicans and the people who vote for them. It’s the current crop of elected officials who still self-identify with the party and caucus with them. Let’s not forget the Murkowskis of the world who are only Republican when it’s convenient, or the traders like Jeffords and Specter who changed teams. It is also the RNC – but they really only get involved AFTER the primaries, funneling money where it is most needed in closely fought general elections.

The candidates are a reflection of what we as voters demand. For too long we settled for mushy compromising centrists like Bush and McCain who did nothing to curtail spending or the rampant encroachments on our freedoms. I am not letting the Republicans in Congress off the hook. Spending bills start there. We have a President – not a king. Obama is clearly irritated by that. But the Republicans have not stood united as a party and held their ground. They should have been there all along saying. “We simply cannot afford this level of spending. We can’t defend our country and fund out-of-control entitlement programs. We cannot suspend the laws of economics to give houses to those who cannot afford mortgage payments. We will destroy our economy if we do.”

Nope. They reached across the aisle and danced around the third rails of politics and took the easy way out. McCain was one of them and Newt Gingrich was too. Romney pretends to “Mr. Private Sector” but he didn’t trust it to deal with the health care industry. It is no wonder attacks on him have stuck.

So the Tea Party was born. They are more loosely organized than the GOP. They do not have the big money yet. They only have a few true believers in office now; young leaders like Marco Rubio. Old phonies like Newt are merely pretenders trying to harness their energy. But the Tea Party activists at least have clear principles: smaller, efficient government; low, flat taxes; balanced budgets: strong foreign policy; free markets.

The debates are a disgrace. Who agreed to this? The RNC? This was a blown opportunity to clarify what the GOP platform is to be. We should be discerning not just where the candidates are different but where they agree. Liberal TV commentators should not be involved. Their slanted, “gotcha” questions waste precious time and give the Democrats advantages they should not be granted. Who lets the other team into the huddle?

Who are the party “leaders” who convinced Chris Christie and Paul Ryan not to run? Why didn’t those candidates seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? If Romney wins and does well, he is odds-on to run again and make it an 8 year wait for GOP contenders. Then maybe the pendulum swings left again. If Romney wins and lacks the will to make the bold moves we won’t get the recovery we need. Voters will tire and be susceptible to more “hope and change”. There are lots of ways that it adds up to a 12 year wait for these rising stars. This is their best chance and our best chance.

Now we are in a primary cycle where the voters are unanimous in their support for “none of the above” Not Romney and not the non-Romneys either. I think a brokered election would be thrilling and historic — but wait – the GOP wants to screw that up too. Their idea of a “White Knight” late-entry candidate?

Jeb Bush. (Crickets)

Are they tone deaf? Sure, I know all about Jeb. He’s the smartest Bush. That is beyond irrelevant. This country is not in the mood for another Bush while still suffering from a great deal of the fallout from the financial crisis that began during his brother’s term. Sorry Jeb.

I am still optimistic. True change does not happen quickly in a world still suffering from an epidemic of incumbency. Only we can impose the term limits that are so desperately needed.

They say we get the government we deserve. I am sure I am not the only one who feels I deserve better than this. I work, pay taxes, get informed, get involved and then vote.

There is a battle for the soul of the GOP. There is a call for return to core principles as opposed to watered-down liberalism or “compassionate conservatism”. The Democrats are in a state of denial about theirs. Obama is being attacked from the left for not doing enough. Incredible. “Moderate” Democrats don’t seem bothered that their party has been taken over by de facto socialists.

The silver lining in this mess is that at least Republican voters are showing that they care about character as this search for the non-Romney goes on. Democrats were too eager to embrace scripted charisma in an empty suit. We can do better. We will. Hopefully soon.

Pat Duggan

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Romney Spins, Others Whiff

The GOP debates continue to disappoint on all levels.  The formats, the hosts, the questions and the sound bite speeches deprive us of the opportunity to discuss the important issues facing this country as we approach the one-year-to-go mark in the campaign.

They all seem to forget that they’re running for POTUS – not king.  Gimmicks like Herman Cain’s “999” have zero chance of getting through Congress. The candidates need to offer simpler frameworks as a basis for a continuing conversation that will lead to real legislation. Insist on simplifying the tax code so we can all fill out our own returns in less than an hour.  With the FairTax there are no more returns and no more IRS.  That said, the attacks on Cain’s “999” plan were shameful, straw-man arguments.  Mr. Cain anticipated this but did a poor job of pointing out that his opponents were attacking distorted versions of his plan.  He should know better.  This is the history of the FairTax he has supported for years.  As for the other candidates, they have a choice: They either don’t understand the concept of replacing federal income taxes with consumption taxes (in which case they are too stupid to be dog catcher – let alone POTUS), or they are lying. Either way, Herman Cain missed a chance to expose his opponents’ unwillingness to honestly debate.

As for Romney and his health care disaster, why won’t any of the candidates make this key point:  Government has no constitutional right to interfere in the health care or insurance markets at any level, state or federal.

The only thing that is going to bring lower costs is free markets and open competition.  The notion that you are going to suspend the laws of economics and mandate pricing or participation is asinine.  Let the liberals continue to make that mistake.  The GOP needs to take the lead in clarifying the issues.  Health care is the all-encompassing term for the goods and services provided by people who dedicate their lives to it. It’s their career.  It’s a business.  Profits are how those people are paid.  The notion that 1/6th of our economy should function differently is ridiculous.  The profit motive has been the motivating factor that has brought all the developments of modern medicine.  The so-called “rich”, that are so maligned by the left, have paid top dollar for early access to expensive, experimental drugs and procedures. This is a crucial stage in the process that later brings us all the affordable, refined versions.

Health insurance is a risk management tool.  We all need to stop using the terms health care and health insurance as if they are the same thing. The national audience that these debates bring is the perfect opportunity.

Mitt Romney’s unending attempts to split hairs here are despicable.  His role as Governor in bringing about “Massacare” shows a serious and disqualifying lack of judgment and basic economic understanding.  His ongoing effort to obfuscate the issue belies a lack of ethics.

When you add all this to his history of flip flopping and pandering it is clear that Mitt Romney is not a conservative and a poor choice to lead the GOP now or ever.

It is a sad state of affairs that this is the group battling for the GOP nomination.  It is even more telling that every single one of them would make a better President than Obama.

Patrick Duggan

Published in: on October 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm  Comments (2)  

Debate the Bigger Issue

Instead of playing a game of political chicken with Obama, the Republican leadership should grab the high ground and focus everyone’s attention on the big picture. Everyone knows the debt ceiling must be raised. The question is not whether it will peak at 15 or 16 trillion dollars-the cold reality is that it will be a much higher number. The GOP should not get trapped into negotiating around such a puny issue. They need to move the focus on the bigger, more important concerns. The health of the economy and the debt rating hinge on Washington’s ability to change the trajectory of government spending and the debt it generates. Under Obama, spending as a share of GDP has jumped 25% while revenues have dropped, as they always do, due to the deep recession. Current debt is virtually irrelevant when compared to the unfunded entitlement liabilities that exceed $100 TRILLION.

The only way to solve this problem, which was decades in the making, is with a long-term plan that will transcend the 2 year election cycle. The GOP needs to reject the static scoring that puts a price tag on lower tax rates. The Laffer curve demonstrates that the presumed correlations do not exist. Alan Reynolds recently authored a piece in the Wall Street Journal accompanied by a chart showing income tax revenue as a share of GDP as the top marginal rate was lowered from 91% to 28%. Revenues rose as a raw number and a percentage. (More on that here: LINK)

The silver lining in the current economic cloud is that the Democrats with their super majorities were able to give their economic theories a thorough test. The failure is also thorough and evident. The so-called “stimulus” was neither targeted nor temporary. The Democrats are trying to use it as a new baseline for budgeting. The crown for the party of big spending is properly placed once again. The GOP needs to claim victory and move on. The 2010 mid-term elections are their mandate.

This is our moment. We must seize it. Promises have been made for decades that can never be kept. The age of unfunded liabilities is over. True entitlement reform must include a transition to private accounts so that congress can never again spend what should have been in the mythical trust fund. Our health care is our responsibility. It is not a right-it is a basic necessity, just like food and housing-other areas where government meddling wreaks havoc. Insurance is a risk management tool that adds a layer of bureaucracy and the associated costs. It should be used sparingly, and will be, once it is untangled from the insane tax code.

A vibrant, growing economy can eventually dwarf the debt figures and then we can pay it off entirely. A rational energy policy focused on domestic drilling and proven technologies must replace the “green” fantasy. Real jobs will produce real revenue and help slay the inflation dragon that has already brought us $4 gas. Gains in national security are achieved as well. This message, this vision, can clarify the ongoing debate and serve as a national platform for the 2012 elections.

Pat Duggan

Republican Primary Update

In a recent 24 hour span we eliminated 3 potential GOP primary candidates.

First Mike Huckabee announced he was not running (as predicted here).

Next Donald Trump not only announced he was not running, (predicted by everyone paying attention), he was deprived of the chance to boost ratings for the finale of the unwatchable train-wreck: Celebrity Apprentice.

Lastly Newt Gingrich imploded on Meet the Press in a fashion that exceeded the expectations of even those of us who knew he’d blow it eventually. I just thought he’d liven things up for more than a day. Charles Krauthammer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have already declared his candidacy dead, strangled in the crib.

These are all welcome developments. It has been nauseating to watch the left gloat as they charge that the Republican party is in disarray and leaderless. Lost on them is the irony that they are stuck with their own deeply-flawed candidate in Barack Obama. David Axelrod was able to fool the majority of swing voters last time around that Obama was a brilliant, pragmatic centrist. He didn’t fool us and now the gullible ones are angry at having been bamboozled. Those that ignored his spotty record of voting “present”, and his long-running relationships with Rev. Wright, unrepentant terrorist William Ayers and countless others on the radical left will now be confronted with his failed presidency.

The Republican campaign is already established. We are hosting tryouts for the leading role. The mission is agreed upon: Repeal Obamacare, cut spending and reverse the trajectory of an increasingly intrusive government.

Next up? Mitch Daniels-or as some are calling him: Myth Daniels. He has baggage like most of the others. His wife is not supportive of his candidacy and in the past has been unsupportive of Mitch as well. She divorced him for another man leaving behind four young daughters. Oops. He was Bush’s budget director for “No Child Left Behind”, the prescription drug entitlement and an increase in spending and deficits. He has voiced support for a VAT tax and is a global warming Kool-Aid drinker. That’s all I need to know. Find more here: LINK

So where does that leave us? I don’t know if Michele Bachmann will run. It’s all about money and as much as I like her I don’t know if I’d consider her a good investment. Herman Cain will officially announce this Saturday, May 21st, and I’m assuming he’s in. That’s great. Herman is a breath of fresh air, scoring high marks in the first debate. He debunked the myth of Washington “experience” with the punch line, “How’s that working out for you”?

I don’t need to rehash the long-shot status of Ron Paul or Gary Johnson. I’ll simply say that their controversial views on some issues, lead voters to dismiss their very sensible solutions on other issues, as radical.

The hoped for candidacies of Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio remain unlikely. A late entry by a white knight is fun to consider but for now we need to focus on the reality.

Sarah Palin is not running. She is merely dragging out that announcement for as long as she can. I disagree that she will play a role as “kingmaker”. She is irrelevant.  Her time in the spotlight is soon to end. We’ll have an exciting race to watch and she won’t be a part of it. Even Fox news will be faced with diminishing returns for the money they pay her.

Romney is mortally wounded. He is not taking the necessary steps to save his candidacy. It will be a slow, painful and expensive death.

That leaves us again with Tim Pawlenty. The liberal media is literally ignoring him. What does that tell us? When they conduct polls they still throw in Palin and others who are not running. They are trying to obfuscate the situation. But take a look at “Intrade”, the online betting site. Pawlenty is number two right behind Romney. LINK

Now that the clowns are dropping out Pawlenty is going to get a serious look. He has fewer problems than the rest. That just might be enough. For the last minute potential heroes the question they should be asking themselves now is: Can Pawlenty win and will I feel confident supporting him-or do I need to jump in?

Pat Duggan

Published in: on May 17, 2011 at 11:37 am  Comments (4)  

Animal House of Representatives

It is essential that the Republican Party attract the youth vote that was so instrumental in electing Barack Obama. They need to shed their image as old and stodgy. ” Conservative” is not how young people see themselves.

The younger generation has a huge stake in all this. They are being victimized by the entitlement structures from social security to Obamacare and the out-of-control debt situation. To get, and hold, their attention a “New GOP” will need to make politics fun. A tough task perhaps-and yet Jonah Goldberg compares Nancy Pelosi to Bluto from “Animal House” in his latest column, here:

LINK

 

Pat Duggan

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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