Politics

Politics

The Big Conundrum of Small Government

By 4.24.14

In Washington, it is never too early to discuss who will next reside in the White House. But the real question is not who; it's what he will do there. Could even a President Paul, Lee, or Cruz accomplish the dramatic downsizing of government that we need? How would he push a Tea Party agenda, given what I call the Big Conundrum?

The Big Conundrum is that those of us who believe in limited government abhor how much power has been appropriated to the executive branch. It would seem a type of hypocrisy to use those same powers to radically reduce the scope of government. But then, to foreswear the tools that were used to grow government is to adopt a self-defeating strategy. Is there a way to pursue an aggressive agenda as president, while leaving a legacy of reduced executive authority?   

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Politics

The Dems Went Down to Georgia…

By From the May 2014 issue

Georgia Democrats have never recovered from the 2002 election. That year, Republican Sonny Perdue, formerly one of the Democrats’ own, challenged Governor Roy Barnes. The Democrats, knowing the tide was finally turning against them, had used redistricting to carve up state and congressional legislative districts in advantageous ways. Georgia senate districts ran across the state. Representatives for the Georgia house were packed into multi-member districts. The 11th Congressional District was twisted up inside itself in such a fashion that a person could pole-vault from one side of it to another, crossing over a different congressional district. The 1st ran along the coast, halfway across the southern state line, then up I-75 to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins—nearly the geographic center of Georgia.

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Chattanooga Boohoo

By From the April 2014 issue

Union power is in terminal decline. In the 1950s 35 percent of American workers belonged to labor unions. This fell to 20.1 percent in 1983 and 11.3 percent in 2013. Between 1983 and 2013, union membership fell from 17.7 to 14.5 million while the population of the United States grew from 233.79 million to 316.99 million. New firms such as Microsoft and Google, and growing firms such as Wal-Mart and Apple, are not unionized. Old companies in old industries like General Motors are, though membership in the United Auto Workers has declined from 1.5 million in 1979 to 390,000 today. The ranks of the United Mine Workers of America have atrophied from nearly half a million in 1946 to 74,577 in 2013.

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A Jolly Good Strategy for the GOP

By 4.10.14

The GOP has lagged behind Democrats in strategy, focus, and effectiveness for much of the past six years. At almost every turn, it’s seemed Republicans could not come together and tell their story. 

That changed last month when Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink by two points in a closely contested special election for Florida's 13th Congressional District. The election was more than a good night; it was a turning of the tide. In Jolly’s victory, Republicans found an effective new strategy for the future that used—as the saying goes—something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

Something Old and Something New

The four-year-old Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has become political kryptonite. The strong dislike for the law has continued to drive down the president’s approval ratings. Obama made no campaign ads or visits to support Sink. However, while Sink’s mere affiliation with Obamacare hurt her chances, it was not the sole cause of her defeat.

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Six Giants

By From the March 2014 issue

The republican primary campaign for the presidential nomination in 2016 will be very different from the campaigns of 2008 and 2012. Thank goodness.In 2008 there were 21 televised debates and eventually 12 candidates on the national stage: Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Jim Gilmore, Rick Santorum, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Alan Keyes, Fred Thompson, and Tom Tancredo. The crowded debate stage provided each candidate little opportunity to introduce himself, and the topics debated were often chosen by establishment-left media. Newt Gingrich refused to join the fray, comparing his reticence with that of Charles de Gaulle during the Fourth Republic refusing to engage with lesser French politicians viewed as “pygmies.” 
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The Democrats’ New Copperheads

By 3.28.14

Colorado Senator Mark Udall didn’t get the memo (penned by Alex Sink, no doubt): Standing up for Obamacare isn’t exactly a winning strategy for Democrats in 2014. In an interview with Colorado Morning News (on 850 KOA in Denver, where my Saturday radio show airs), Senator Udall said that given the opportunity he would vote for Obamacare again. Likely Republican nominee Congressman Cory Gardner is already running an ad featuring the Udall interview, letting the incumbent’s words speak for themselves.

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A Constitutionalist in North Carolina

By 3.25.14

Senate candidate Greg Brannon will find a way to relate any subject back to the Constitution. Often he sounds just one step away from donning a powdered wig and dressing in colonial garb. Yet his passion to restore the federal government to its constitutional limits—abandoned by many Republicans after the 2010 elections—is the trademark of his campaign to represent the “sovereign state of North Carolina.”

“Looking at the Declaration of Independence and then the Bill of Rights,” Brannon told TAS in an interview, “we have to think, ‘How the heck did we become what we are today?’”

In a crowded field of eight Republicans targeting Democratic Senator Kay Hagan’s seat, there is no clear frontrunner for the May 6 primary, in which the leading candidate must seize 40 percent of the vote to prevent a July runoff. A March 20 poll conducted by SurveyUSA has Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s Speaker of the House, leading 28 percent to Brannon’s 15, and Heather Grant, running on a similar constitutional platform, with 11 percent. A March 9 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling has Tillis and Brannon tied.

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Facts and Factions

By 3.18.14

At a time when polls show public opinion turning against the Democrats, some Republicans seem to be turning against each other. Even with the prospect of being able to win control of the Senate in this fall’s elections, some Republicans are busy manufacturing ammunition for their own circular firing squad.

A Republican faction’s demonization of their own Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is a classic example. If you listen to some of those who consider themselves the only true conservatives, you would never guess that Senator McConnell received a lifetime 90 percent ranking by the American Conservative Union — and in one recent year had a 100 percent ranking.

Ann Coulter — whose conservative credentials nobody has ever challenged — points out in her column that Mitch McConnell has not only led the fight for conservative principles repeatedly, but has been to the right of Ted Cruz on immigration issues.

Someone once said that, in a war, truth is the first casualty. That seems to be the case for some in this internal war among Republicans. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.”

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Brave New Moral World

By From the January-February 2014 issue

It had to come. And, oh, boy, did it. The new president of the Southern Baptists’ social policy unit has dipped his oar into those troubled waters, seeming to signal a Baptist pullback from the culture wars. Or maybe not so much a pullback as a truce. Or if not a truce, then maybe a nicer way of talking about social questions. Or…whatever. 

The full-time prognosticators of political trends—a numerous bunch, based mostly on the East Coast, with jobs in, or constant access to, the media—never tire of asking how long before “social issues” and other out-of-date connections with 20th-century America strand Republicans in desuetude and despair. Can’t be much longer, can it? Abortion, gay rights, “the war on women”—how much of this cargo can a political vessel take on without heeling to starboard, then capsizing? 

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The Invulnerability of Government Spending

By 2.13.14

The latest budget battle in Washington has Democrats and Republicans once again at loggerheads. Democrats think Republicans should get nothing in return for another debt ceiling increase. Republicans think they should get less than nothing.

The House GOP leadership has longed to stop the gory budget showdowns of the past few years. That means giving up on further cuts and passing a clean debt ceiling increase; a cringeworthy proposal, but one that should have attained enough Democrat and establishment Republican support to pass the House. Instead, the GOP found a creative way to make it worse. Republicans attached a provision to the debt ceiling increase that would cancel $6 billion worth of savings from military pension reforms in the Ryan-Murray budget. This would be offset by an extension of sequestration on Medicare spending 10 years from now.

Senate Democrats initially balked, and introduced another bill that would have stricken the pension reforms without any offsets whatsoever. But as another snowstorm bore down on Washington, the Senate caved yesterday and approved the original House legislation.

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