It is unclear which part of Obama’s liberal agenda he will push first, but one thing is clear: if we aren’t united around ONE conservative alternative to each of his proposals, we will get run over. McCain’s awful campaign proved that opposition without an alternative will always lose. (Outside of McCain’s inner circle, I’m not sure anyone ever doubted it.)
In order for the entire GOP caucus to unite around specific alternative proposals to Obama’s, we have to start planning what they will be NOW. A small benefit of already having our leadership in place is we are capable of doing this.
In my opinion we can’t filibuster or influence every Obama/Reid/Pelosi proposal so we will have to choose our battles wisely. The top 4 issues where I think we can fight back with conservative ideas and win are, IMMIGRATION, HEALTHCARE REFORM, TAXES, and ENERGY.
Immigration and healthcare are the two most important issues (outside of judges), because if we fail to block them the changes will be permanent. Immigration will be the easiest issue to get grassroots support for because we have already seen it happen. Unfortunately it may be the most difficult of the 4 to actually block because of the votes we lost in the Senate and because their is serious division on what type of alternative we should propose. (My guess is McCain will try to screw us on this one and keep his promise to work with Obama.)
The two main camps within our ranks (not including the pro-amnesty rejects) will consist of those who want to pursue an attrition through enforcement strategy (Tom Tancredo), and those who want to secure the border and then legalize the illegals who are here.
It will be impossible to stop the liberal plan without being united around an alternative plan, and it will be very difficult to unite around a plan when we disagree so much within our ranks. (On the bright side, of the 4 issues I am most concerned about this will be the easiest to bring some moderate Dems to our side.)
Even though it means a compromise in what I think is best (attrition the enforcement), our only real chance to exert any influence on this issue is to take the position of securing the border first and then legalizing those who are here. I my view that means our alternative plan to the Obama amnesty proposal would include certain benchmarks that have to be met and verified before the process towards legalization can start. This includes a fence, a large increase in the border patrol and a secure national ID card for immigrant workers. The key is making sure the verification can’t be bypassed.
Other important things to include are, a program for future immigration that rewards the skilled and educated as opposed to chain migration, and a huge modernization of INS to streamline the process in the future and to enable accurate tracking of guest workers and temporary visas to ensure they leave when their time is up.
Also, we need to at least attempt to sell this to Hispanics. If we can’t narrow the gap among Hispanics we are going to be a permanent minority.
Healthcare reform should be an easy issue for us to block Obama’s liberal plan, but in order to do so we will have to actually go out and sell our plan (thanks for screwing that one up McCain). We are already united around the basic principles of what our proposal should include (basically identical to McCain’s plan) so that part is easy compared to immigration. Also, a huge advantage that we have on healthcare is the fact that the insurance industry will oppose the enactment of Obama’s plan. Unfortunately many large employers (including the Big Three auto manufacturers) will support his plan as a way to cut costs.
McCain did such a poor job defending free-market healthcare that I think we will have to do more than repackage it in order to gain credibility with voters. The best and easiest solution is to adopt the American Medical Association’s plan and ally ourselves with them. Even though voters don’t trust Republicans on healthcare, they certainly trust their doctors. By proposing to enact the AMA plan, we will be able ensure free-market healthcare at least gets a fair hearing.
Here is the AMA plan.
(Since I am going to graduate from medical school in 6 months this is a huge issue for me. I don’t want to rely on government bureaucracy for my income.)
Obama’s plan has varied so much, that it is impossible to predict what he will propose with regard to taxes. That shouldn’t stop us from preparing and proposing an alternative plan. Their are tons of good ideas about what tax reform should look like, but I think we should keep it simple and we should target the middle class. Even though cutting corporate tax rates is a great idea and would arguably do the most good for average Americans, it has no chance of passing and it isn’t a great issue politically.
I think the plan should be a hybrid of some of the ideas proposed over the campaign season.
1 – Increase the child tax credit to $1500-2000 per child
2 – Cut capital gains to 0% on people earning less than $200,000 (Romney’s idea)
3 – Create an optional flat tax (preferably opt-out) with 3 brackets 7%, 15% and 25%
That’s it. Of course the plan will likely include some other small things (ending the alternative minimum tax, etc) but these three points should be all we talk about.
This issue will probably consist mostly of preventing Cap and Trade or some other type of carbon tax. I don’t see us actually getting our proposal through, but we should have a simple, specific plan anyway.
Our plan should include “Drill here, Drill now” and sell it with numbers by pointing out how much gas prices would be lowered and how much money it would keep in the US as opposed to going to Iran, Russia, Venezuela, etc. It also should always be talked about as merely a bridge to future cleaner energy, which is the next part.
The plan should include goals for more nuclear power, as well as development of clean coal, natural gas and battery-powered cars. This part of the plan should ideally be left open since we don’t yet know what will be the best new, sustainable, clean energy source.
What are your issues and what is your plan?
We need to get this going as soon as possible in order to present an united opposition. We also need to determine who our spokemen will be for each issue. Finally, we need to prepare our opposition to other liberal policies that might be enacted: card check, fairness doctrine, etc.