Political Hay

Acting Like a Bunch of Christies

How the Republicans can lose by underestimating their strength.

By 10.7.09

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I know they don't know it yet. But the Democrat party is in a death spiral similar to the last days of the wooly mammoth during the Ice Age. Forget about 1994 and 1980. There is no precedent for what is coming.

The Democrats have two fundamental problems. One is the party leadership in Washington is all left-wing extremists like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, John Conyers, Howard Dean, and Charlie Rangel. A couple of these folks have nice personalities. They represent the views of about 7 to 10 percent of the American people. The average American has more in common with the average South Korean than with these extremists.

The second problem is gross policy failure. Conservatives have to recognize that the failures of the extremist policies Washington Democrats are now madly adopting become obvious only over the longer term, all the more so when the policies are phased in years into the future. But when the failures appear, they will produce ugly results cascading downward geometrically, with everything getting worse and worse faster and faster. By next year, the disasters will not be here yet, but enough Americans will see what's coming to produce the first political earthquake.

Eventually, the Democrats will panic and turn on Barack Obama. But that will not save them.

 

Fools Rush In

Last week, the EPA declared carbon dioxide a pollutant to be severely regulated under the Clean Air Act, even though CO2 is a naturally occurring substance in the atmosphere essential for the survival of life on the planet. Animals, including humans, breathe CO2 out, and plants must take in CO2 to grow. While CO2 in the atmosphere has increased during the industrial revolution, it is still at a very low level on an historical scale of thousands and millions of years.

The EPA and the ideologically rigid Barack Obama insist that CO2 emissions cause global warming. But the best science has now proven this doctrine false. Again, the definitive explanation of the falsity, indeed, even foolishness, of the theory of man-caused global warming is the 880 page treatise Climate Change Reconsidered published by the Heartland Institute. The scientists associated with Heartland and the Science and Environmental Policy Project (www.sepp.org) are as first rate as any on the planet (look it up), including those at the U.N., which seeks to use the issue to create global governing powers for itself.

There is no actual evidence of significant man-caused global warming. Global atmospheric temperatures are down over the last 11 years, and the decline is accelerating and likely to continue for another 10-20 years, at least. The temperature patterns for the entire 20th century did not follow CO2 emissions up, but fluctuated up and down consistent with ocean current temperature trends, and solar activity. In other words, natural causes. The case for global warming is entirely based on computer models made up by biased UN scientists, which have failed to predict temperature trends accurately.

But President Obama's EPA is rushing ahead with regulatory burdens not needing legislative approval that will raise energy costs on the U.S. economy by $2 trillion. It will mean higher costs for electricity, gasoline, coal, natural gas, home heating oil, and everything that is made and transported using energy. This will hit the U.S. economy while temperatures continue to decline.

A huge political problem for Democrats is that their rhetoric has been so contrary to the reality they are now imposing. President Obama keeps saying that his brave new world powered by windmills and floating on sunbeams will create a booming economy spawned by high paying green jobs. But high cost energy is not a foundation for job creation or an economic boom. Obama's fantasy was already tried by the socialists in Spain, and they lost many more jobs on net than the "green jobs" created, which turned out to be mostly temporary construction jobs building mostly useless, massive, concrete windmills, good primarily for killing birds.

The same problem of rhetoric v. reality can be found on health care. President Obama and Congressional Democrats have convinced themselves that they can finance their new entitlement in part by slashing Medicare, while denying they are making any Medicare cuts. Wait till seniors with Medicare Advantage plans find those plans going out of business because Obama's rigid leftist ideology opposes any private alternative to Medicare, contrary to the promise that if you like your plan you can keep it. 

While President Obama and Congressional Democrats promise their health overhaul schemes will reduce costs, the regulation imposed will cause health insurance premiums to soar. They and their literal media clowns continue to laugh off any notion that the health overhaul involves government rationing. But, once again, here are the death panels with power to ration and deny your care in Obamacare: the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness, the Health Choices Administration, the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, the Bureau of Health Information, the Institute of Medicine, the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, the National Priorities for Performance Improvement Office, the Center for Quality Improvement, the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, and the Independent Medicare Advisory Council. Last week, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) added an amendment to the Baucus bill making sure the Secretary of HHS has the power to define what is quality, cost-effective care for each medical condition, and to penalize doctors who don't follow the brilliant medical insights of the health bureaucracy.

 Congressional Democrats gleefully joined President Obama in passing a so-called stimulus bill with almost $1 trillion in wasteful giveaways, with the promise that it would stop unemployment from rising over 8%. Today, of course, unemployment is 9.8% and rising, levels not seen since Reagan buried the Democrats' Keynesian economics with his 25-year, free-market, supply-side boom. In the current misery of Obamanomics, when you count the underemployment of those stuck in part-time work who can't find full-time jobs, and those who have given up looking for work, the real unemployment rate is 17%.

The stimulus foolishness combined with President Obama's Democrat-passed budget produced the record shattering deficits and federal debt that is scaring even the Communist Chinese, not to mention the American people. Don't doubt that we are going into some natural cyclical recovery for the next few months with some growth. But unemployment will remain high and even rising, while any real growth will be accompanied by rising interest rates and even inflation. Expect another downturn in 2011, with the long-term return of 1970s stagflation, the natural result of President Obama's 1970s style economic policies. We know how well those worked politically for Jimmy Carter and his Congressional Democrats.

The morning the Iranians test their first nuclear weapon, perhaps with Obama's prized UN inspectors there to watch, will not be a good day politically for Democrats. Neither will the next day when the mullahs begin issuing nuclear ultimatums to Israel. Or the day Putin invades Ukraine, recognizing that Obama can and will do nothing. Or the day the Taliban returns to power in Afghanistan.

But the biggest problem for President Obama and the Democrats, absent another terrorist attack, will be the day they violate their campaign pledge with a tax increase on Americans earning less than $250,000 per year. There is already the individual mandate in the health care bills, enforced by the IRS and constitutionally justified under the power to tax, and the new tax on health insurance. Then there are the price increases under cap and trade and other global warming nonsense. Worst of all, on the horizon, right after the mid-terms, is the Washington establishment hue and cry for a new value added tax to counter unmanageable, exploding deficits and debt.

The emerging, defining characteristic of the Democrat Party is that it refuses to listen to the people. Its leaders already know everything, on health care, global warming, the economy, tax policy. Even the French royalty couldn't survive with this attitude.

No, there is only one thing that can save the Democrats: the Republicans.

 

Political Confusion

There are two wings of the Republican Party right now. One wing wants to give up on the Republicans and create a third party. The other wing, led by Sen. McCain, David Brooks, and David Frum, wants the Republicans to be the Democrat party. No one except me, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and a few smart pols, such as Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, wants what would really sweep all before it, a Reagan Republican Party.

John McCain was such an incompetent presidential candidate last year that he lost to an unelectably left-wing extremist, enabling a Far Left takeover of America. It is amazing that his campaign advisors like Steve Schmidt even have the gall to show their face in Republican circles after that miserable, brain dead performance, let alone lay a claim to party leadership. John McCain is not the head of the Republican Party. He is the great mistake of 2008, whose policy and political insights led the party to its worst defeat since 1932.

The problem and the opportunity now for Republicans is shown by the New Jersey Governor's race next month. New Jersey is on the road to becoming a failed state politically, sort of like Somalia, Afghanistan, and Michigan. The state features record taxes and spending, naturally accompanied by a declining, failing, economy, and widespread corruption. The incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine has presided over this developing failure for years, with no prospect or even hope of a new idea.

The Republican nominee Chris Christie has run a content-free campaign emphasizing that he is a Bruce Springsteen fan. So he has watched his lead shrink from 14 points down to 4. Republicans whine about a third party candidate, Chris Daggett, as a spoiler. But as the Wall Street Journal explains, "Mr. Daggett's appeal has grown because he's offering voters precisely what Mr. Christie isn't: a specific plan for controlling runaway taxes and spending."

Reagan faced a third party spoiler candidate in 1980. He swept the field in a landslide by offering a pragmatic conservatism solving problems through free market solutions that the public can understand and support, along with proven pragmatic traditional values. Chris Christie needs to prove now that he can do the same. It is his responsibility to win voters away from the third party candidate, not cry foul.

Christie and too many others underestimate the strength of Republicans and their practical ideas in the age of Obama. He should propose a specific plan to cut and then cap state property taxes, now averaging more than $7,000 per year, highest in the nation. He should ask Steve Forbes for an overnight dynamically scored income tax reform plan that would slash the absurd top rate of 11%. He should propose financing these by slowing the growth of state spending to the rate of population growth plus inflation. Republican state legislative candidates should stand with him in endorsing these ideas.

If Christie takes this advice, he will win in a landslide, and probably carry several Republicans to victory as well. If he doesn't, current trends suggest he will lose, and deservedly so. The race is already close enough for the Democrats to steal, as they did their 60-vote U.S. Senate majority. Republican victories in this fall's races in New Jersey and Virginia will start the panic of Congressional Democrats, and President Obama's power to dominate Washington will already be gone. But Christie is frittering away this crucial opportunity to save America with his brain dead campaign.

The Journal further explains the problem, "Even if Mr. Christie ekes out a win because Mr. Corzine is so unpopular, the Republican will arrive in Trenton with a mandate to do what he campaigned on -- nothing." Worse than that, if he governs like an establishment, McCain Republican, negotiating tax increase deals to "balance the budget," he will discredit the Republican Party, and encourage even more third party spoilers across the country.

 

Just What the Doctor Ordered

It is a matter of judgment as to when, but sometimes third party candidates and even spoilers are necessary to discipline a hopelessly wayward Republican Party. Also next month is a special election in New York to fill the seat of Republican Rep. John McHugh. Sneaking away with the Republican nomination for the seat, despite strong local opposition, is ultraliberal state Rep. Dede Scozzafava. She even has past ties to ACORN and the ultraleft Working Families Party. Her election would only help the Obama leftists, as the media heralds her as the new, modern Republican, and she votes for the Obama neo-socialist agenda.

Fortunately, the New York Conservative Party is running a true Reagan Republican, Doug Hoffman. The latest poll: Scozzafava 20.3%, Democrat Bill Owens 17.3%, and Hoffman 17.0%. Reagan Republicans, free market conservatives, tea party patriots, traditional values conservatives (Scozzafava is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage), nationwide, need to pour resources into this race. Seriously, I am like Paul Revere at Lexington and Concord here. A win by Hoffman would be a political jolt that would help conservatives in the Republican party nationwide.

Congressional Republicans underestimate the grassroots anger that will not tolerate support for President Obama's leftist agenda. Any Republican who votes for the Obama/Democrat health care takeover will be marked not just for a primary challenge, but, if necessary, for a third party spoiler with the express purpose of driving the apostate from office. If enough Senate Republicans vote for Obamacare in the end, then a national third party will be started, and the Republican Party will implode. At a minimum, don't be surprised if an Independent Conservative Party is started in Maine in the next few months.

The same goes for those Republicans who are sufficiently uninformed on the issue to vote for cap and trade. That is why Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) badly hurt his chances to win the open Illinois Senate seat next year by voting for the ridiculous, unjustifiable House cap and trade bill. Even environmentalists opposed the bill riddled with special interest loopholes. Though the bill would take us all the way back to 1907 by ultimately trying to reduce fossil fuel use by 83%, even radical environmentalists admit it would only slow temperature increases by an absurd 9/100ths of one degree. Conservatives in Illinois need to meet and coalesce around a true Reagan alternative to Kirk, who is running as a McCain poster boy.

 

Hang Together, or Hang Separately

The battle for the future of America is in the Republican Party. Conservatives, tea party patriots, taxpayer activists, even free market libertarians need to join the fight over whether we will have a Reagan Republican party, or a McCain Democrat party, or a dysfunctional party whose vote is hopelessly split by third party spoilers. The threat to our country is now more serious than ever. If we don't figure this out, we will lose our country, and the world will enter the New Dark Ages.

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About the Author
Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Senior Policy Advisor on Entitlements and Budget Policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.