Politics

HUMAN EVENTS Asks Congress: What Must GOP Do to Improve Prospects in 2006?

he day after last Tuesday’s elections, when Republicans lost gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor Amanda Carpenter asked Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives what the party needed to do to improve its prospects in next year’s mid-term elections.  At the time, the House was debating a bill, inspired by the conservative House Republican Study Committee, that would cut $54 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget.

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

REP. TOM DAVIS (R.-VA.):  I think we need to rein in spending and I’ll just keep it at that.  If you keep it simple you don’t get in trouble. 

 


 

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

REP. TOM FEENEY (R.-FLA):  Go back to our Reagan principles.  It’s more diverse than just one single item.  We’ve got to secure the border and show we’re serious about protecting economic and physical security on our borders and we’ve got to show we’re serious about restraining spending.  Those are our two biggest disappointments right now and if we can rectify those issues and show the people a recommitment to accountability, I think we’ll win and we’ll do fine.  But if we don’t go back to the traditional things that built this party I think we’re going to have real trouble in this off-year election. 

So, on the flip side what is the biggest mistake the Republican Party could make?

FEENEY:  I hope we have made the two biggest mistakes that we could possibly make.  I don’t know how it could get any worse than voting to add $8 trillion of unfunded entitlement obligations with Medicare.  That was a total disaster that will come back to haunt us for decades. And secondly, just discretionary spending, in general.   This increase of 37% in five years shows a lack of the accountability people expect from Republicans.  I think we can fix No.2 there.  I think one, two, three years of constraint of spending and doing the budget deficit-reduction bill this week will be two good positive steps. 

 


 

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R.-ARIZ.):  I think the most important issue Republicans can do in the short term and the long term regardless of elections is to maintain the foundational constitutional base of the country.  And that means making sure that we have people on the court that will read the Constitution as written.  And, of course, that should be reflected in the bills and the oaths that we make here too.  It’s probably sort of an esoteric statement, but I truly believe that if we stick to the foundations of protecting life, liberty and property of the citizens in this country we will not only serve the people will, but it will also serve us well politically. 

Okay.  So what could be the biggest mistake they could make as a group?

FRANKS:   That we could make as a group?

Like not being accountable, or not getting the budget cuts in if you could name an issue there.

FRANKS: Related to economics?

Sure.

FRANKS:  I think when you say accountability that’s an important one.  I believe that the budget deficit and the attending debt could threaten the country in a way no mortal enemy has ever been able to do so far and I believe we need to prevent future tax increases and maintain spending discipline in order to see this budget come into balance, because unless we can repeal the laws of mathematics it could be the central theme in America’s economic obituary eventually.

 


 

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

REP. JEFF FLAKE (R.-ARIZ):  Cut spending.  Act like Republicans again.  We’ve been spending like drunken sailors for far too long and it’s going to come back to haunt us. 

Okay, so on the other side, what’s the biggest mistake Republicans could make?  not cutting spending?

FLAKE:  Yeah. Just continue the status quo and assume that the voters are going to be all right with it.  They’re not and we know that.  You’ve got to, if voters want bigger government sooner or later they’re going to go back to the genuine article and that’s the Democrats.  Try as we might, and we’ve tried awful hard, we can’t spend as much as they want to.  And so, if we want to give the voters a choice we’ve got to act like Republicans again. 

 


 

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?  If you could name an issue.

REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R.-N.C.): [laughing] You’re demanding!

Okay, maybe you can name two things.

MCHENRY:  We need a serious reduction in spending and to get back to our conservative principles. 

What would be the biggest mistake Republicans could make?

MCHENRY:  Not having a fight for the Supreme Court nominee.  We need to have this fight. We need to have a fight for this. 

Great. 

MCHENRY: That’s all?

See? I’m not that demanding.

MCHENRY:  Okay, here you need to talk to my friend here, from Georgia. John, this is HUMAN EVENTS.  Talk to him, he’s a conservative.

 


 

Do you have a second?

REP. JOHN LINDER (R.-GA.): Sure!  How are you?

Very good.  Now, what is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

LINDER:  Seal the border.

What would be the biggest mistake?

LINDER:  Not cutting spending.

 


 

Sir, how essential is passing this plan [budget reconciliation] to improving Republican prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

REP. JIM NUSSLE (R.-IOWA):  We have work to do.

 


 

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

REP. DEBORAH PRYCE (R.-OHIO):  Pass this budget bill.

Right. What might be the biggest mistake?

PRYCE: Not passing it. 

 


 

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?

REP. GEORGE RADANOVICH (R.CALIF.):  Have a vision, articulate the vision and have our agenda all under the umbrella of that vision. 

Now, is there a particular issue like spending, or terror—

RADANOVICH:  Oh, the three biggest issues are the war on terror, properly understood, immigration and spending. 

So on the flip side, what is the biggest mistake the Republican Party could make?

RADANOVICH:  Not having a vision, playing defense, responding to the Democrats instead of putting forward our own and believing we can keep our majority with smart campaigning and raising money.  Those things are necessary ingredients but we have to reestablish the idea that the power of persuasion, the contest of ideas is what really sustains us. 

So, what kind of components are going to have to come together to make that vision happen within the party?

RADANOVICH:  Oh, all we have to do is sit down and realize what it is we need to do.  And what I mean by that is we need to step back from the urgency of the moment, the issue of the day, and in a very real sense give the American people an idea of what an idea of what our grand strategy or vision is.  The first George Bush once talked about the difficulty he had with the vision thing and that’s why he wasn’t reelected.  We could lose the majority if we don’t handle the vision thing properly.  We’ve proved in the past that we can do it but we’ve gotten just a little bit off message. 

 


 

What is the single most important thing Republicans can do to improve their prospects in next year’s mid-term elections?  If you could narrow it down to an issue.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R.-COLO.):  Highlight the Democrats.  They are the best thing we have going for us right now, the Democrats, I mean.  I wish I could think of a better issue, but I can’t right now.  I just know this:  That I take solace in the fact if anybody actually looks at the Democrats they’re going to say, “Oh, my God, we can’t do that!”


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