Yesterday, a USA Today/Gallup poll reported the lowest approval rating for President Bush to date – 29%. In November 2006, the Republican Party received a thorough pounding but now they are ready to put on their A-game.
In a brief speech yesterday in a standing room only auditorium at The Heritage Foundation, Republican Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) attempted to energize Republicans to start a revolution to overcome their current minority status on the basis of strong ideas.
“The need to govern became more important than the results of our work,” he remarked on why Republicans lost the House and Senate.
With a congressional approval rating lower than the President’s – at just 24% according to Real Clear Politics – it may be possible to gain momentum for a victory for 2008.
He outlined four general but bedrock strategies for overcoming the current lull in Republican power: controlling government spending, national defense, reducing reliance on foreign energy, and responsibly reforming our healthcare system.
The Senate immigration reform bill smothered much of the GOP’s support for top leadership. But a hard-fought victory to kill the proposal may have been the key to renewed support for those who stood true to party values.
Blunt first emphasized national security and defense in order to “renew, refocus, and rededicate.” He maintained that it is the first and primary duty of the federal government to protect American citizens – but the effort is top down.
“To fill in the gaps, we need a strong, coordinated effort from local governments,” Blunt said. He referenced the importance of local citizens in stopping the terrorist attacks in Picadilly Circus last month in London.
On expenses, he admitted that Republicans “could have done a better job” and noted that government spending has increased from $750 billion to $2.5 trillion in the last 50 years. He offered a “pay-go” system for the creation of new government programs so that when a new program is created, an existing one will end.
As it stands, many government programs stay in existence long after they are needed or proved ineffective. The “pay-go” program would ensure that faulty, tax-reaping programs are at least up for discussion and likely, weeded out and replaced with fresh ideas.
Blunt said that some “protect big government like their livelihoods depend on it,” but the fact of the matter is, “when the government pays the bills, the government makes the rules.”
Just like spending, a healthcare reform based on free market principles also reaps the most cost-effective and rewarding benefits for the majority. Blunt pointed out that the top three Democratic presidential candidates are all vying for different routes to universal healthcare – a policy that would abolish private insurance, increase taxes and eliminate many personal healthcare decisions. This is an important strategy difference that the Republican Party can rely on to convince voters they have their life, liberty and justice in the best interest.
“What a doctor gets paid is often based on some government formula,” said Blunt. “And they almost never get the price right.”
Refocusing the debate on personal choice and the free market on almost any political issue – including energy independence – is central to energizing GOP supporters. Before passing any energy policies, Blunt said he requires the question, “Will it increase our domestic energy supply and reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources?”
He said simply that energy independence requires energy, asserting there is “nothing wrong with buying things from people who don’t like you,” but we shouldn’t have to do so. He even claimed that a solid energy policy is an important part of a “sound homeland security policy.”