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Opinion

Opinion

Struggling economy favors conservatives

June 11, 2011

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— The Republicans swept November’s midterm election by making it highly ideological, a referendum on two years of hyper-liberalism — of arrogant, overreaching, intrusive government drowning in debt and running deficits of $1.5 trillion annually. It’s not complicated. To govern left in a center-right country where four out of five citizens are non-liberal is a prescription for electoral defeat.

Which suggested an obvious Republican strategy for 2012: Recapitulate 2010. Keep it ideological. Choose a presidential nominee who can best make the case.

But in the last few weeks, the landscape has changed. For two reasons: NY-26 and the May economic numbers.

Last month, Democrats turned the race for the 26th Congressional District of New York into a referendum on Medicare, and more specifically on the Paul Ryan plan for reforming it. The Republicans lost the seat — after having held it for more than four decades.

Problem was, their candidate was weak, defensive, unschooled and unskilled in dealing with the issue. Republicans have a year to cure that. If they can train their candidates to be just half as fluent as Ryan in defending their Medicare plan, they would be able to neutralize the issue.

But that in and of itself is a tactical victory for Democrats. Republicans are on the defensive. Democratic cynicism has worked. By deciding to do nothing about debt and entitlements, and instead to simply accuse Republicans of tossing granny off a cliff, they have given themselves an issue.

And more than just an issue. It gives President Obama the perfect opportunity to reposition himself to the center. After his midterm shellacking, he began the (ostensible) move: appointing moderates such as William Daley to high White House positions; making pro-business, anti-regulatory noises; even offering last month a token relaxation of his hard line against oil drilling.

Ostentatious but not very convincing. Now, however, the Obama pitch is stronger: Leftist? On the contrary, I bestride the center like a colossus, protecting Medicare from Republican right-wing social engineering. It’s not that the ideological case against Obama cannot be made. Obamacare with its individual mandate remains unpopular. The near-trillion-dollar stimulus remains an albatross. Even the failed attempt at cap-and-trade — government control of energy pricing — shows Obama’s determination to fundamentally transform America. And he is sure to try again to complete his coveted European-style social-democratic project if you give him four more years.

Medicare has nonetheless partially blunted that line of ideological attack. Yet, just as the Democrats were rejoicing in the fruits of their cynicism, in came the latest economic numbers. They were awful. Housing price declines were the worst since the 1930s. Unemployment rising again. Underemployment disastrously high. And as for chronic unemployment, the average time for finding a new job is now 40 weeks, the highest ever recorded. These numbers gravely undermine Obama’s story line that we’re in a recovery, just a bit slow and bumpy.

Suddenly, the election theme has changed. The Republican line in 2010 was: He’s a leftist. Now it is: He’s a failure. The issue is shifting from ideology to stewardship.

As in 1992, it’s the economy, with everything else a distant second. The economic numbers explain why Obama’s job approval has fallen, why the bin Laden bump disappeared so quickly, and why Mitt Romney is running even with the president. Romney is the candidate least able to carry the ideological attack against Obama — exhibit A of Obama’s hyper-liberalism is Obamacare, and Romney cannot rid himself of the similar plan he gave Massachusetts. But when it comes to being solid on economics, competent in business and highly experienced in governance, Romney is the prohibitive front-runner.

The changing nature of the campaign is also a boost for Tim Pawlenty, the successful two-term governor of a very liberal state, and possibly for another ex-governor, Jon Huntsman, depending on who he decides to run as.

Nonetheless, despite the changed conditions, I would still prefer to see the Republican challenger make 2012 a decisive choice between two distinct visions of government. We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation debate about the nature of the welfare state (entitlement versus safety net) and, indeed, of the social contract between citizen and state (e.g., whether Congress can mandate — compel — you to purchase whatever it wills). Let’s finish that debate. Start with Obama’s abysmal stewardship, root it in his out-of-touch social-democratic ideology, and win. That would create the strongest mandate for conservative governance since the Reagan era.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Liberty_One 3 years, 6 months ago

"arrogant, overreaching, intrusive government drowning in debt and running deficits"

This is change from the conservatives how exactly?

MyName 3 years, 6 months ago

The conservatives really do want to throw granny off a cliff. Which is why they had so much trouble defending their plan.

gkerr 3 years, 6 months ago

Liberty-One,

Point taken. Bush's team sadly followed suit with the 70 plus years of Keynesian excess in which tax and spend, tax-cut and spend, spend and spend some more were the unwavering themes of legislative action no matter who was elected.
All politicians no matter the party or ideology cannot help themselves from spending and expanding their power and in the process the level of entitlements and the size and "intrusive power of government". Democrats usually campaign openly on providing entitlement goods and services no matter the cost or debt incurred. Republicans usually campaign on either a "me too but not so much" agenda or claim tax cuts will force prosperity and somehow budget balance, but when faced with governing, Republicans spend and spend like their older brothers in the orders of graft and corruption. Gkerr

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

"Let’s finish that debate. Start with Obama’s abysmal stewardship, root it in his out-of-touch social-democratic ideology, and win."

I'll agree that it has been too often abysmal, but it's hardly been social-democratic.

But given the Republicans have no solutions for anyone who isn't a millionaire, they have to run against imaginary bogeymen.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

You're ignoring the fact that during the first two years of the Obama administration, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, so they really were in control. Heck, even then they could not pass a budget. I'm not saying this is all their fault, it's 50-50 in my opinion.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

If the choice is between destroying Medicare (the Ryan plan) and doing nothing, the latter is clearly the better plan.

Getaroom 3 years, 6 months ago

Once the LJW stops printing this bitter, pinched up FOX NEWS commentators view points that will be a fine day. I mean really he speaks as if Republicans have not had a strong misguided hand in the pie to get us where we are today. All the Obama hating in the world cannot account for the collective abuse of power in government to date. There is plenty of blame to go around party lines and guess who voted them in? Corporations are running this country folks and if you do not like it, wise up and see the obvious, we are already far down the path to a country that few "common" folks want to be in, but guess what - here we are. Who is responsible for that, Obama? NO! No, he is just the most recent among us to hold the position of Top Gun.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

The real hard, cold reality is that since the so-called Reagan Revolution, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth upwards towards the already wealthy.

Everything you want to claim as the magical cure towards all that ails us has already been done, and for the average person, things have gotten nothing but worse, while for the millionaires and billionaires, things couldn't be rosier.

And you want to do more of the same. If you expect a different result, that's a pretty good definition of insanity.

gkerr 3 years, 6 months ago

Getaroom,

Corporations are running the country and corporations are made up of citizens who want government to keep handing out the crack of public monies and laws that advantage their interests. Politicians of both parties keep the dope coming, year after year, century after century, millennia after millennia.

Remember corporations in America include all special interests perhaps some of which are particular favorites of yours. Are you a doctor, maybe the AMA speaks up for you, or if a lawyer the ABA, pipe fitter or railroader, or teacher then anyone of the thousands of Unions, guilds, and professional associations might be your champion. Perhaps you love animals and cherish PITA, or the Audobon society or Media Matters or NEA. Perhaps you awaken to the sad whine of NPR and want it's funding to continue or You are partial to public arts and do want governments ample dollars to pitch in so you don't have to contribute quite so much out of your own pocket? Perhaps, the plight of whales, polar bears and baby seals saddens you to no end and Green Peace needs more laws and money to satisfy their never ending agenda? Perhaps you are a retired person hoping to save a bit on insurance you buy from AARP subsidized by Federal Dollars and sweet heart deals enriching their higher ups in return for support for Obama Care passage? Remember AARP is indeed part of the dastardly United Health Care. Perhaps those poor pregnant ladies discomforted by an unwanted pregnancy and wanting cheap abortions subsidized by government, require you to work on their behalf to augment funding to planned parenthood? Perhaps 65% of the state budget going to education is simply not enough for your druthers, then corporations galore are their to support schools of education, administrators organizations, construction corporations specializing in School construction projects, Curriculum development corporations, school book publishers, Nd the like. Perhaps you work for Koch industries, or one of the 200 plus George Soros front corporations, yes by all means recognize that all these folks have their hands out and all politicians WELCOME their solicitations for legislative help and relief and the money that pours into their campaign war chests that ensure their reelection and continuation in seniority and power and perquisites of office which are monstrous large and generous and growing year by year. Gkerr

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

So what's your point? That it's everybody's fault but yours?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

For every financial crisis and mammoth losses of jobs,medical insurance coverage and some retirement plans we find conservatives:

  1. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion) http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers under Bush/Cheney http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. Bush and Henry Paulson blew the $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

There are several ways in which the Bush family played into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that were part of the Bush Jr. administration. Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush were all implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this is about one quarter of our national debt).

Between 1981 and 1989, when George Bush finally announced that there was a Savings and Loan Crisis to the world, the Reagan/Bush administration worked to cover up Savings and Loan problems by reducing the number and depth of examinations required of S&Ls as well as attacking political opponents who were sounding early alarms about the S&L industry. Industry insiders were aware of significant S&L problems as early 1986 that they felt would require a bailout. This information was kept from the media until after Bush had won the 1988 elections.

Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. The taxpayers had to pay back the remaining 4 million plus dollars.

Neil Bush was the most widely targeted member of the Bush family by the press in the S&L scandal. Neil became director of Silverado Savings and Loan at the age of 30 in 1985. Three years later the institution was belly up at a cost of $1.6 billion to tax payers to bail out.

Gene Wallace 3 years, 6 months ago

I've seen this post before! How often does it repeat now?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

The S&L scandal is by no means the only incident of questionable, and actually illegal, financial activity that the Bush family has been involved in. The line of questionable, illegal, and unethical businesses practices goes back at least to Prescott Bush Sr., George Bush Sr.’s father. Prescott Bush was a Senator from 1952 – 1963.

Previous to his time as a Senator Prescott was a banker and businessman. Prior to the American entry into WWII Prescott Bush was director of Union Banking Corporation. Union Banking Corporation helped to finance Hitler’s regime. The Concentration Camps of Nazi Germany were labor camps that the Nazis used to make products for their regime as well as for sale to raise money. Prescott profited directly from the Auschwitz labor camp.

In 1942, after Hitler declared war on America the United States government seized the Union Banking Corporation under the Trading with the Enemy Act as a front operation that was supporting the Nazis. Much of the profits from the operation were already pocketed by Prescott however, and $1.5 million was put in a trust fund for George Bush Sr.

For more on Prescott Bush's ties to the Nazis see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

Mike Ford 3 years, 6 months ago

the dumblicans are trying to do away with the fixes their last mess created....anyone remember harding coolidge hoover or any of the teapot dome scandals of the 1920's. the dumblicans are bent are destroying the federal government and letting the kochs and the other big businesses dictate our existence....why not ship all jobs elsewhere to fill their pockets....tom delay wanted no labor rules in the marianas islands a us possession in the pacific. only the gunnies the churchies and the rascists buy the smoke screen wrapped in patriotic bs. they allowed bonzo to do supply side bs in the 1980's and fund the contras and call ketchup a vegetable. I know I grew up during this clown and called bs as a teenager then. what a dumb country. H.L Mencken knew didn't he?

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 6 months ago

It's actually humorous to me that Krauthammer sees such a mandate for the GOP. If what he says is true, I'd like to know how we ended up with a Dem for president. Is it possible that what he writes is wishful thinking? People are waking up left and right (no pun intended) to just how disastrous the results are from the GOP midterm sweep. Republican governors across the country are violently dismantling their states, shaking moderates to their very core. In a very telling statement, a friend recently asked online just when "moderate" became the new left and just as much of an epithet for the left as "liberal".

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

Yes, his view is odd.

If in fact 4/5 are conservative, why don't we always have conservative presidents, etc.?

I think the thing he conveniently leaves out is that people may not self-identify as liberal, but their substantive policy preferences tend in that direction when asked, which just shows how well the hard right has done at demonizing the word "liberal".

pace 3 years, 6 months ago

The new tea party freshmen, doubling down on Bush policy and tax cuts, trying to black mail cuts to medicare, medicaid, eductiion cuts or they will let the global market trash our credit. They are willing to let the Ameican economy fail to gain power. They have not offered one bill to foster jobs and have offered bills to abet the banks foreclosing.

pace 3 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, try reading it aloud or have someone read it to you. Thanks for trying to contribute.

Katara 3 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

pace 3 years, 6 months ago

Sorry you didn't take my suggestion of having someone read it to you. I assume you just blithely typed your response. I will simplify my comment so you can follow. The tea party freshmen want to double down on Bush policy and Bush tax cuts. The tea party freshmen are trying to blackmail their fellow congressmen into also making cuts in medicare, medicare and and education or they will hold the debt limit bill up which will hurt our economy and our credit standing. You might ask for help in reading at your church or on the streets. Almost anyone could of helped you. If I meant the cuts in medicare or health were Bush's ideas, I would of referred to them as Bush's. I bet you are either tired or ready to fire off another false accusation. Gee.

pace 3 years, 6 months ago

So Lib, you are admitting you have no idea how to read. You are admitting you have no idea how to progress an argument nor how to face the fact you can't make good argument or even how to present argument or a counter point. You have made the commitment to being wrong, In fact you insist and persist on being wrong, Yes you were wrong and you can't seem to find your way around a comma. Thank you for demonstrating your abysmal reasoning and pitiful debate skills. You are confused about almost every thing you write and you feel ashamed that the best you got is petty lies.and pretensions of coy confusion and stupidity.. I am sorry you haven't more than this to offer in conversation. I am more sorry that actual space and time was taken in responding to your drivel

pace 3 years, 6 months ago

well, you are really nuts. Can't make it simple enough. You can lie about what I said and meant , I only care about what I actually say and mean. The tea parry freshmen are leading the country to economic ruin.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 6 months ago

I bet you have real conniptions over the meaning of "is."

jafs 3 years, 6 months ago

I read the initial post, and I took it to mean exactly what pace later clarified for you.

Don't know why you're getting in such a tizzy about this one.

pace 3 years, 6 months ago

I admit I was foolish, I should never of taken any post by lib as any thing but nonsense. I was foolish to feed a troll.

ferrislives 3 years, 6 months ago

It doesn't matter if the GOP or Dem's win; they'll both spend more of China's money so that we as a nation go further down the rabbit hole. Like Liberty_One says, we need someone real who understands that we cannot be the world's police anymore. We cannot continue to spend money everywhere except where it matters, especially when it puts us further under China's thumb. We're a spoiled nation that wants everyone else to take care of us while ignoring the consequences.

I recently talked with some baby boomer friends of mine, and all they care about is getting their entitlements. They really don't care about what happens to others after they're gone. Obviously they don't speak for everyone, but this kind of mentality is what got us where we are in the first place. If there is not a change of mindset soon, we'll go the way of Roman rule.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Charles Krauthammer will always stand with white collar crooks no matter what.

Such as:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

Charles Krauthammer will always stand with white collar crooks no matter what.

Such as:

Koch Pollution and resource fines

In 2010, Koch Industries was ranked 10th on the list of top US corporate air polluters, the “Toxic 100 Air Polluters,” by the Political Economic Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000186

======================= Speaker of the House John Boehner has affairs with Lisbeth Lyons and Leigh LaMora Let's all join together in calling for his resignation for cheating on his wife Deborah!

Continue reading on Examiner.com Scandal: John Boehner, Lisbeth Lyons affair - National Democrat | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/democrat-in-national/scandal-john-boehner-lisbeth-lyons-affair#ixzz1OiGfbcFs

======================= Michigan's new Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a fiercely contested bill giving unelected "emergency financial managers" unprecedented power to shred union contracts, privatize city services, and consolidate or dissolve local governments, all in the name of saving struggling cities and school districts. Think The Mackinac Center

BEWARE of The Mackinac Center But a review of tax records shows that the group's funders include the charitable foundations of the nation's largest corporations and a host of wealthy conservative and libertarian benefactors. Between 2002 and 2009, the Mackinac Center's donors included the:

Charles G. Koch Foundation ($69,151), founded by the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, who, with his brother, David, is a major backer of conservative causes

Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation ($80,000), the charity tied to the son of the co-founder of Amway, the multibillion-dollar direct marketing company

Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, established by the parents of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who serves as the foundation's vice president ($195,000)

Walton Family Foundation ($100,000), established by Wal-Mart money

Gov Rick Snyder and Gov Sam Brownback have too much like thinking in common

Flap Doodle 3 years, 6 months ago

You keep forgetting to credit all your sources, merrill. Plagiarism = dumb and irresponsible !!!!

Liberty275 3 years, 6 months ago

"A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears unto me, for now will I say unto you my word concerning the death of peoples.

A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."

It is a lie! Creators were they who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.

Destroyers, are they who lay snares for many, and call it the state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them."

F. Nietzsche

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