The day after President Obama was elected, I told advocates of the principles of limited government not to despair; as Obama would make the best case for the cause in decades. More (but not nearly enough) people are becoming very attuned to economic policy, but that tends to happen when one in ten people are out of work and the grave threat of our debt exceeding GDP is now a mathematical certainty. Too bad it had to get to this point.
Last night’s elections were historic. Washington has a lot of energetic new faces who have vowed to restore fiscal sanity. I extend major congratulations to Rand Paul of Kentucky, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida and Nikki Haley of South Carolina. And now for the buzz kill…
History serves an important purpose. If we wish to know where we are going, let’s remember where we’ve been. Once upon a time, it was 1994. A much younger, naïve and idealistic “me” enjoyed the left-wing media drowning in their tears over the election results. For the first time in four decades, Republicans won control over both houses of Congress and had a commanding gubernatorial majority. Who can forget the disenchanted faces of Peter Jennings and Cokie Roberts? Let’s take a twenty minute journey back to 1994…
ABC News Election Coverage - Part 1
It will be interesting to see if Obama’s speech today will mirror former President Clinton’s. Clinton took some of the blame for the defeat, but quickly noted that the results were not a vote against policies. People were simply fed up with the process and feuding in Washington. My money is on Obama repeating most of the tenants of this speech verbatim, along with a reminder for people to continue to be patient with “hope and change.” (Anyone recognize Fox’s Britt Hume reporting in the video?)
The results of 1994 about mirrored last night’s results, as several of the same states had GOP gains.
ABC News Election Coverage - Part 2
This video is worth the watch, as we see a newly elected George W. Bush as Governor of Texas, who ironically asked the federal government to “leave Texas alone.” Too bad he didn’t subscribe to that position as President. Cokie Roberts was quick to point out her opposition to a balanced budget amendment, as she wondered if newly elected GOP governors would give up the siphon of federal funds. Fair and balanced journalism at its best!
Before we warp back to the present, who could forget Rush Limbaugh’s television show?
The Day After: “Thanks for the Memories”
I certainly won’t miss Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, or any of the other “comrades” who were sent packing last night, but now it’s time to get serious …
History has indeed repeated itself. Unfortunately, it is very likely that the ugly part of this history will repeat – the reality that the GOP will fail to deliver just as it did in 1994. Remember the Contract with America? Look at the empty promises for yourselves. Who would have thought at the time that the 104th Congress would have helped Bill Clinton and prominent Democrats devise an asset bubble that would bring the economy to its knees in 2008? Mr. Newt Gingrich was hired as a top consultant to Freddie Mac. Don’t believe me? Allow me to put you on the path.
I referred to myself as being idealistic and naïve in 1994; however, in my shameful defense, at least the 1994 Republicans had a better selling product. The current GOP Pledge is very weak and full of holes, as I pointed out in my recent column. This is largely due to the fact that the establishment leadership survived the brunt of last night’s attack. In 1994, Democratic Speaker of the House, Tom Foley, actually lost his seat. At the time, 134 years passed since a sitting Speaker had lost their seat in an election. However, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (thanks to Sharron Angle shifting the focus OFF the economy) will still be alive and well in Congress although the larger problem lies with establishment Republicans.
John Boehner will presumably take Pelosi’s place as Speaker of the House. However, how can the public be confident in a man to be fiscally responsible whose voting record reeks of fiscal irresponsibility? Let us not forget Boehner’s overwhelming support for the bailouts and TARP.
I believe Boehner’s drunken, emotional speech last night will give Saturday Night Live plenty of much needed comedic material; but the following speech is no laughing matter for those deeply concerned about the country’s economic woes.
Boehner’s Bailout Rally Cry
There he was in 2008 begging for support on the bailout bill - an “imperfect product” by his own admission. Rather than dazzle his listeners with economic know how (which is obviously absent) he suggests that a “mud sandwich” will save the economy. He really believed he put “America first” by pledging support for this bill. Am I supposed to be excited about his recent promotion and confident that he will put the country on the right fiscal path? Give me a break.
Hopefully, the history I have provided here will jog the memories of those who were dancing in the streets last night looking just as foolish as the “Obamabots” did in 2008. Some inroads have been made, but we need to see a lot more before I’ll be sipping champagne. While I’m excited about the victorious candidates I mentioned earlier; at the same time, I’m deeply concerned that their efforts will either be blocked by the establishment or they will BECOME the establishment. However, if these dedicated folks follow the current path of New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, it will be possible for America to be put back on the path to prosperity. Christie has shown it can be done, even in the most impossible areas. Their success will give way to more like-minded candidates in 2012, but their task will not be easy.
If the GOP is to gain any kind of steam, then their members need the political courage to have an adult conversation of the following nature with the American public. It begins with a revelation that the entitlement days are over, which includes but is not limited to the following:
• Raising the retirement age for social security as well as introducing private investment options
• Discontinue extending unemployment benefits, as it RAISES hiring costs
• Eliminate thousands of government jobs and modify government employee retirement plans to emulate a defined contribution plan
• Require federal and state governments to balance their budgets
• Enact REAL healthcare reform, which goes far beyond the repeal of Obamacare. Americans need to be told that insurance as access to healthcare is severely flawed and is directly responsible for costs spiraling out of control. Reducing the role of insurance companies through high-deductible plans along with tort reform are the places to begin.
• Eliminate the current severely progressive income tax in favor of the Fair Tax. The days of punishing success, innovation and investment need to come to an end.
Who can honestly say that they are confident in the GOP to bring forth this message? Most of these measures are not even listed in their “Pledge.” Who will have to political guts to tell people out of work that their unemployment benefits are being cut off, that they need to pay for their OWN healthcare and work LONGER before they receive any social security benefits? (Anyone follow France’s news lately?) Who has the economic knowledge to ward off the predictable leftist backlash, when they chant their tired, silly rants such as “tax cuts for the wealthy,” and “people will die in the street?”
Do people know and fully understand what needs to be done? Will all who claim that they want the size of government shrunk and entitlements reformed continue to hold this view if it affects them personally? Can the government worker, who voted to eliminate their own job, really understand that their skills can be better used in the private sector; or will they regret their vote? Does the CPA understand that there is more to life than the tax code if they lose their job explaining the tax code to people? How about all of you in the financial sector who are making a fine living off of complex, job inhibiting government regulations – are you ready for a different job description? There are a vast number of people who have relied on big government to make their living, many of whom don’t even realize this reality. Are we ready for REAL change, or do we get scared when this change affects us directly? Are we as a country done eroding our liberties by running to the government for safety in uncertain times; and worse, RELYING on the government to provide economic prosperity? The latter is something the government will NEVER be able to do, as the opposite occurs in each instance it tries. Yet it doesn’t stop elected officials from talking about how they will “create” jobs with their magic wand.
When I am convinced that most of the country will answer “yes,” without a shadow of a doubt, to the aforementioned questions, then I’ll have something to celebrate. More people have begun to open their eyes, as I predicted in 2008, but we are not yet there as a society. Until then, I’m afraid that the efforts of our new, energetic faces will not be enough to overthrow the status quo. The voices of our select few will be overshadowed by the words “work together,” “compromise,” “avoid gridlock” – the very words that got Republicans in so much trouble the last time around. I’m afraid the GOP still doesn’t get it and perhaps never will…
ICYMI: Jeffrey Ostler, The Lakotas and the Black Hills - At Amazon, Jeffrey Ostler, *The Lakotas and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground*.
53 minutes ago