Vice President Joe Biden, front runner for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016*, said yesterday that ‘[t]here was a clear sort of mandate about people coming much closer to our view about how to deal with tax policy.” This is nonsense of course, and everyone who can count knows it. Look at the margins in the key states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. Look at the popular vote. There is no realignment, just a loss after a rain delay killed our starter’s momentum.
But there is clearly a big conversation about to happen and a deal will be struck because whatever you think of politicians, they like their jobs, and a self-inflicted financial panic is not the way to keep their jobs. There are 23 Democrats and 12 Republican senators who have to wait a decent interval of two months and then begin campaigning for re-election. The Democrats esepcially know that they are not going to have the easy ride they did when George W. Bush was taking the fall for a panic and President Obama was a new and promising candidate as opposed to a Washington, D.C. warhorse. Those Democrats especially have to want to push right now for a big deal.
The GOP should be open to it as well, and much better prepared as a party to work through the details of a big pro-growth package. I argued a year ago and will argue again now that they parties ought to put immigration reform into the package while also stopping the reckless attack on the home mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction.
If the president misses his chance to be a truly historical figure and break the second term jinx, he needs a big deal and right away. Some of it –Social Security reform and Medicaid reform– is relatively easy. Medicare is not because Obamacare made the problem much worse. But still a lot could be done and quickly if he is serious about the center.
But there is no reason to believe he is serious about going to the center because all of his political allies are from the left and the far-left. They want huge tax hikes and more spending. The president is almost certainly going to push for neo-amnesty as the best political solution fo his dilemma of no agenda, no Congressional majority and no plan to reduce the deficit, and this is among the reasons why the GOP should get out ahead of the issue and outline a big idea on immigration to include as part of the big package.
Please, Mr. Speaker and Leader McConnell, do not begin the process by allowing the prospect of a reduction in the home mortgage deduction or the charitable deduction to be on the table. An overall limit on deductions or a sales tax or many other things are fine, but leave housing and church giving alone. These are the means to building social capital, and anyone who doubts the importance of social capital should read Arthur Brooks’ The Road to Freedom. The GOP cannot begin to re-establish its majority without strong affirmation of the value of home ownership and the world of private good works as opposed to public programs.
The GOP must also clearly demand that the Pentagon not undergo further cuts. It should begin by demanding an increase in fleet and Marine Corps size. The big money is in the entitlements and the tax reform, not in the Pentagon which has given, and given, and given at the office.
Bottom line: There is only going to be one big deal between the Speaker and Leader McConnell (who still has the votes to block anything in the Senate). The GOP needs to make this big deal the centerpiece of their argument about how the country ought to be run now and for decades to come. They will have to compromise on what is in the deal, but at the beginning of the process –right now– the Speaker and the Leader especially but also their senior colleagues like Eric Cantor and John Thune need to make clear what they will be fighting for.
Last point for this morning and the center of the show today: There is no vacation in the communication battle with an incumbent president. The Congressional GOP needs to get into the public space and make their case on spending, taxes, and immigration, right now.
And that doesn’t mean op-eds in the Wall Street Journal though those are fine. It means Fox News and talk radio. Rally the base and energize its legions. Don’t leave them to gnaw on each other’s legs. Mitt Romney was beaten by Sandy and the media-government-industrial complex. The Congressional GOP doesn’t have to apologize or back down –it won despite the storm. (Arguments that gerrymandering saved the GOP are nionsense. Gerrymandering in Illinois and eslewhere offset Republican gerrymandering, period.)
Looking forward to having Senators Marco Rubiuo and Ted Cruz lead our side on the immigration debate. (And speaking about the junior senator from Texas, he’s in very much the same position as Barack Obama in 2004 –a new star from a key GOP state arriving just after his party lost an agonizingly close election with a candidate from Massachusetts at the head of the ticket. His father was not born in the U.S. and he’s understood to be a brilliant lawyer and orator. Just saying.)
*Just kidding. Sort of. The Veep believes it.