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For several weeks House Republican Leaders have stolen a play from Barack Obama’s playbook in the health care fight. Unfortunately, instead of using it against Democrats, they’ve used it against their fellow Republicans.
Remember when Barack Obama would say, “Republicans have no plan”? House Leaders are saying that about conservatives’ plans to rein in spending.
Well, just as Dr. Tom Price and other Republicans would hold up the Republicans’ health care plan in Barack Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address every time he said they had no plan, conservatives are holding up their plan to House leaders who, like Baghdad Bob, choose to ignore reality in favor of their propaganda.
Unfortunately for the House Republicans, Democrats are now admitting the conservative strategy is the one they fear the most.
Republican leadership is waging a civil war against conservatives over the budget, due to their visceral fear of a government shutdown. Their inexplicable fixation on the 1995 political paradigm has traumatized them from repeating the alleged mistakes of Newt Gingrich and the 104th congress. Such a one-dimensional focus should logically dictate that we attempt to replicate the successes of that era as well.
While the political liabilities of the ‘95 government shutdown are debatable, the political successes of welfare reform are incontrovertible. By 1996, Republicans, with the overwhelming support of the public, forced President Clinton to sign the most sweeping welfare reform act in decades.
Unfortunately, the Democrats gutted the most potent accountability mechanisms of the bill with the Obama stimulus in 2009. In addition, the ‘96 reform bill, imposing work requirements and spending caps, was only applied to 1 of 77 anti-poverty programs. RSC Chairman Jim Jordon has introduced The Welfare Reform Act of 2011 to address these issues.
Wisconsin’s fight against the public unions was yet another battle in the war to prevent government from remaining self-perpetuating; regardless of the outcome of those pesky things called elections. The victory Scott Walker won against the Wisconsin public employee unions has spawned similar efforts in Alabama, Idaho, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Nebraska, and Tennessee. James Shrek of National Review gives us an extraordinary look at how state public union reform is spreading like wildfire.
The biggest political story of 2011 is at the state level, where new Republican governors like Scott Walker and Rick Snyder have followed in the footsteps of Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie by seeking not only to cut short-term spending to address their states’ immediate budget crises while resisting tax hikes, but to attack the #1 source of their states’ long-term fiscal problems: excessive long-term commitments to pay and benefits for (mostly unionized) state and local public employees. Local Democrats in many states have responded with apoplexy, reflecting their political and financial dependence on those same unions. In other states, where the Democrats still hold the statehouses, they’ve had to swallow some spending cuts, but are nonetheless in denial – Jerry Brown in California has tried to close his budget gap with a 50/50 mix of spending cuts and tax hikes, Mark Dayton in Minnesota has pandered to the DailyKos crowd by proposing to double the state’s top income tax bracket, Connecticut’s Dan Malloy – elected by the slimmest of margins – blasted Walker’s collective bargaining reforms as “Un-American” and proposed a battery of tax hikes, and Maryland’s Martin O’Malley even went to the Corzine-esque extreme of giving the keynote speech at a union protest against his own budget, swearing to avoid “Midwestern oppression.”
But oddly, at least one newly-elected Democratic governor seems to have come to grips thus far with reality, and it’s maybe the unlikeliest of all: New York’s Andrew Cuomo.
You may have heard that there was an election in Ohio last year. Popular Governor Ted Strickland (D) was defeated in his re-election campaign by John Kasich (R), and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher (D) was crushed in the Senate race by former Bush advisor Rob Portman (R).
Senator Sherrod Brown (D) has sure noticed. He’s also noticed that gas prices are going up, and up, and up since Barack Obama took office, skyrocketing from under $2/gal to over $3.50/gal, an increase of about 75%.
So what does a Democrat (and Daily Kos darling) who has built a career by crusading against international trade do, when his career is on the line in 2012? Why, become a champion of trade, of course.