The Senate’s passage this week of a $15 billion “jobs” bill ratified President Obama’s oft-stated commitment to “jobs, jobs, jobs” as the focus of his party’s 2010 agenda. This despite the fact that the bulk of his time in office has been spent trying to take over large parts of the American economy, such as health care, rather than saving or creating jobs.
And with many economists forecasting a sluggish economy through year’s end, it is understandable that Republicans are willing to allow Obama’s stated mantra to be the issue on which their electoral fortunes hinge.
But the Republican critique should be about more than just the economy. Highlighting the incumbent party’s jobs-killing, growth-stifling agenda is surely necessary.
Still, if despite the administration’s policies, the economy recovers even slightly before November, it could help Democrats at the ballot box. Republicans therefore must develop a broad critique that highlights all of the ways in which the Democrats have failed.
The liberals setting the Democratic agenda have created a target-rich environment for their critics. It’s up to Republican candidates and conservative commentators to take advantage of it.
Most Republicans believe the weak economy will persist through November. That view has been reinforced recently with reports that consumer confidence and housing construction are at historic lows. To make matters worse, the FDIC reported this week that more than 700 banks are at risk of failing. That’s a 16-year high.
But you don’t have to be a wild-eyed optimist to believe that the economy may start to recover by October. Why? Because of the hard work, imagination and courage of the American people. In spite of Obama’s failed socialist economic policies, millions of Americans still get up every day and invest, work harder, start new businesses, come up with great ideas and do what they have always done to get the country moving done.
If the economy does improve, it will be because of that entrepreneurial spirit, not because of the Democrats’ economic policies. Most Americans know that massive government spending, increased taxes, a devalued currency, and fake jobs and stimulus bills are anything but a recipe for growth.
But we also know that the Obama administration and its media allies would shamelessly and relentlessly exploit any good news as “signs of progress” and as only the first inklings of the “Obama miracle” to come.
As a foreshadowing of a possible Democratic strategy this fall, when the unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to 9.7 percent in January, from 10 percent in December, Obama repeatedly stated that “already we are seeing signs of recovery.” Citing data showing that the economy grew 5.7 percent in the last three months of 2009, the president said, “this turnaround is the biggest in nearly three decades, and it didn’t happen by accident…[but] because of some of the steps that we took.”
We know that the few signs of hope can be attributed more to private sector financing and the resiliency of American small business than to any jobs bill or the so-called stimulus. But it will be Obama’s triumphal rhetoric that will make the nightly news. Obama will get credit even though his so-called jobs bills and spending freezes are meager when compared to the trillions he is spending to remake the American economy.
Of course as Republicans and conservatives, we will not hope against an economic recovery. Liberal Democrats, who all but cheered our struggles in Iraq during the Bush administration, are the ones who enjoy rooting against America when it suits their political purposes—not us.
Instead it means that Republicans must inform voters how Democratic policies are making the recovery harder rather than helping. Even more, it means Republicans must expand their critique against Obama and the Democrats beyond their disastrous economic policies.
Republicans must stress to voters not only that ObamaCare would add to our mounting deficit and constitute a government take-over of nearly 20 percent of the economy. It would also force all taxpayers to pay for abortions and compel medical professionals to participate in abortions, a development that would likely push thousands of pro-life physicians and nurses out of the field.
Republicans must underscore how, despite their campaign promises of unprecedented transparency and accountability, the Democrats’ time in power has been defined by back room deals and an explosion of radical czars, accountable to no one but the president.
Barack Obama came to the presidency promising to change “the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology.”
But the president has not lived up to that promise. He has ended the space shuttle program and embraced anti-science positions on global warming and stem cell research. And by appointing political hacks to science-related posts in his administration, Obama has politicized science perhaps more than any previous president. And so far he has gotten away with it.
Polls show that Obama’s handling of terrorism is the only issue on which he is getting positive reviews from the public. That’s bizarre given the administration’s botching of the Christmas Day attack, its determination to try terrorists in civilian courts instead of in military tribunals and its attempts to close GITMO with no plan for where to move detainees.
The American economy is the most resilient in the world. When it recovers, Democrats’ poll numbers will not rise even one percentage point so long as Republicans have sufficiently explained how the incumbent party is impeding, not encouraging, economic growth.
And they will not rise so long as Republicans expand their critique of Obama and the Democrats. It’s about more than just the economy, stupid. It’s about a record that in virtually every respect has been defined by over-reach, incompetence and broken promises.