Because of its first in the nation presidential precinct caucuses, Iowa is often at the center stage of American politics. Statewide candidates are frequently linked to presidential contenders, and this year will be no different. A crucial battle is now being waged between social conservatives and regular Republicans, and it will culminate in the June 8th gubernatorial primary. Continue reading
South Carolina Republicans have once again voted to censure their senior Senator. Charleston County Republicans voted to censure Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in November and today the same action was taken by the Lexington County GOP. Graham’s voting record has always been conservative. He is the leading proponent of the Patriot Act and has been in the forefront of the effort to challenge the new health care bill on constitutional grounds. The Senator has also crossed the aisle in search of compromises on a few high profile issues.
The GOP county meetings were angry at Senator Graham’s support of the October 2008 bank bailout legislation, as well as his backing of an immigration reform compromise. Both proposals were supported by former President George W. Bush.
The most vocal complaints were due to Graham’s work with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) on global warming, but the focal point for the South Carolinia lawmaker was promoting the construction of 100 new nuclear power plants. In a similar effort the Republican website Red State is actively supporting the primary opponent of conservative Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) because he was seeking a health care compromise.
An organization to “Impeach Joseph Cao” has also been formed. Rep. Cao (R-LA) was the only GOP lawmaker to vote for health care reform in the House. The organizers of the group want to remove Cao from his 65% Democratic district where he would obviously be replaced by a liberal Democrat. This outlook is not confined to the GOP. In 2006, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) nearly lost his seat because of his support for President Bush’s policies in Iraq.
With their huge majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats have not expressed a sincere interest in bipartisan compromise, but the legislative outlook is expected to change after the November elections. It is doubtful Republicans will capture control of either the House or Senate, but their ranks will increase. We have just begun the 2010 election year and my guess is that we will not see much compromise in the current highly partisan atmosphere.
My concern is what will happen next year. I believe Republicans would be wise to listen to the man who served as their Speaker of the House for 10 years. Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) says “We each have a responsibility to be passionate about our beliefs. That is healthy government. But we also have a responsibility to be civil, to be open-minded, and to be fair, to listen to one another, to work in good faith to find solutions to the challenges facing this nation.”
Another wise lawmaker is the late Rep. Sam Rayburn (D-TX) who served as House Speaker for 16 years. Rayburn addressed House Democrats in January of 1953 when Dwight Eisenhower was about to become President and said: “He’s an American hero elected in a democratic election and treading on new fields. He’ll need help. Remember that we are Americans first and Democrats second. We should be constructive in our criticism. Any jackass can kick over a barn door, but it takes a carpenter to build one.”
The U.S. Congress is far more polarized than the electorate and compromise has been difficult in recent years. It has been difficult to achieve a productive work environment and far too many lawmakers define success by the failure of the other side. The goal is often obtaining a headline which will be embarrassing to the other side.
The big procedural question for the GOP in January of 2011 will be selecting a proper legislative course. They will have to decide if they want to promote legislation which advances partisan goals or solves problems. My hope is that our lawmakers will focus on solving problems.
The 2010 election is still a year away, but the first filing deadline is in six weeks. Many things can change in 12 months but the campaign season begins with a bleak outlook for Democrats. President Obama’s approval rating has declined by a staggering 30%. The Cook Political Report, which is published by a Democrat, says a 30 seat Democratic House loss is possible.
The Republican Party has some weak and underfunded Senate candidates, but disapproval of the Pelosi/Reid agenda is so high that the GOP has now taken the lead in all of the battleground states: Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Connecticut, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri and Arkansas. Rudy Giuliani has a 56 to 33% lead in the New York governor’s race, and our prospects for state house in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa are excellent. It has been a long time since Republicans have run this well in the industrial Midwest.
The program the Democrats are pushing in Congress will only result in further setbacks for them. The enactment of the House passed versions of health care reform, cap and trade and additional stimulus spending will guarantee a massive defeat for the Democratic Party. We clearly warned them about the electoral implications of this liberal agenda.
Democrats can come back and President Obama can be re-elected but they have to make some abrupt changes. The stimulus spending program will result in at least $9 trillion in debt by 2019. They need to concentrate on deficit reduction and forget about the economy killing cap and trade bill. Their problems will grow significantly if the budget busting health care reform proposals are enacted.
Democrats are hiding the true costs of this bill, but Americans will realize a year from now that the legislation will do nothing to contain costs. It reduces the profitability of treating Medicare patients and providers will move away from this type of coverage. Raising capital gains taxes to pay for health care will damage our prospects for economic growth and job creation.
Democrats should listen to the wisdom of Robert Samuelson in today’s Washington Post: “Their sweeping overhaul of the health care system — which Congress is halfway toward enacting — would almost certainly make matters worse. It would create new, open-ended medical entitlements that threaten higher deficits and would do little to suppress surging health costs. The disconnect between what President Obama says and what he’s doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. The president, his advisers and allies have no trouble. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both.”
The best news for Democrats would be the defeat of Obamacare. If they go back to the drawing board they will find a Republican Party which is eager to work with them on real cost controls, sensible reforms and solutions to the problem of the uninsured.
My advice is similar to that of Bill Daley who was Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration. He was Chairman of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign and his brother is Mayor of Chicago. Bill Daley says it is essential for Democrats to steer a more moderate course. His message is backed up by reams of polling data. As the Democratic Party moves to the left the independent vote shifts rapidly to the Republican column. A real warning sign is that Obama’s approval rating among independents is now down to 41%.
“On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008. . . If anything, the Democrats’ salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center,” Daley says. He concludes “While it may be too late to avoid some losses in 2010, it is not too late to avoid the kind of rout that redraws the political map.”