by Brian Fahy & Garrett Fahy
In the successful and influential book “Getting to Yes,” the authors provide strategies for reaching mutually acceptable agreements in all kinds of conflicts. In the hit movie series “Austin Powers,” Dr. Evil rejects his son’s outlandish schemes for world domination with the question, “how about no, Scott?”
Going into 2014, the GOP finds itself in the somewhat surprising but fortunate position of leading in the generic polling for the midterm congressional elections after having spent 2013 simply saying no to president Obama’s more outlandish proposals for political domination.
To recap, in 2013 the GOP rejected emotionally appealing but unwise gun control legislation and immigration reform, blocked the president’s court-packing scheme at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, shut down the federal government in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, and deadlocked Congress while investigating the administration’s numerous scandals.
Similarly, the GOP also stood athwart the administration’s efforts to change the law on climate change, EPA regulations, and universal preschool through administrative fiat, yelling stop with some success. Most recently, the GOP has led the effort to tighten the successful Iranian sanctions foolishly loosened by the president.
“How about no” was the guiding maxim on Capitol Hill and by some measures, the 2013 congress was one of the least “productive” in recent history. The Washington press corps assumed this “obstruction” would hurt the GOP’s standing with voters who allegedly want Washington to “work” (for liberal ends). As usual, the Washington wisdom is wrong.
According to the most recent polling, getting to no is paying dividends for the Republican brand: CNN has the GOP leading the generic congressional ballot by 5 points; 55 percent of voters intend to vote for candidates that oppose the president; and only 34 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act.
Gallup has found that 54 percent of Americans disapprove of the president, and majorities consistently oppose the president’s handling of the economy, healthcare, and believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. Most ominously for the president, a Harvard University poll in early December found that 52 percent of 18-24 year olds, a core Obama constituency, would vote to remove the president from office.
If 2013 offered the GOP the chance to say “how about no” to Democratic proposals on gun control, immigration amnesty, socialized medicine and climate change, what does 2014 offer?
In light of the White House’s recent hiring of Clinton administration official and lefty think tanker John Podesta, and the recent court packing of the D.C. Circuit in the wake of the filibuster’s demise, congressional Republicans and candidates can expect much of the same in 2014: more rehashing of contentious issues and more legislating by executive diktat.
On energy and the climate, the first hearings on the president’s climate agenda will begin on January 16, the Keystone XL pipeline proposal still looms large, and in June, the EPA is expected to issue final standards governing power plants. Red state Democratic senators, especially those in energy producing states, up for re-election will be hard pressed to support a presidential climate agenda built on shoddy science and guaranteed to gut jobs.
On gun control, the White House is attempting to accomplish by executive fiat in 2014 what it could not accomplish by legislation in 2013, namely stricter gun control regulations: it is currently reviewing gun control regulations concerning “stolen” or “missing weapons” drafted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Red state Democrats up for re-election should be required to weigh in on this attempted end run around the Congress. They should also be reminded of what happens to legislators, like those recently given the boot in Colorado, who trample the Second Amendment in the name of European style gun restrictions.
On immigration, the White House is sure to press a comprehensive amnesty proposal in 2014 for two reasons: to create a wedge issue for the 2014 midterm elections; and to shore up the president’s support among Hispanics. Gallup notes that the president’s approval among Hispanics fell from 75 percent in December of 2012 to 52 percent in November of 2013. This is even after the president’s 2012 “deferred action” directive granted de facto amnesty to millions of young illegal residents. The president’s precipitous fall may explain the recent announcement by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that deportations were down 10 percent in 2013.
On Obamacare, the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act promises to make 2014 just as chaotic as 2013 because the president has demonstrated that he and his people are totally incompetent: Enrollment deadlines were set and then delayed; fines were threatened and then suspended; health plans were outlawed and then permitted; mandates were imposed and then lifted, and every week the website crashes. Pretty soon “Obamacare for Dummies” will by necessity be a New York Times bestseller, subject to revision every two weeks.
Additionally, the myriad legal challenges to Obamacare are making headway. Just last week, two federal judges in Pennsylvania ruled that Obamacare’s contraception mandate is unconstitutional. One judge ruled that Geneva College, a Reformed Presbyterian college, does not have to offer contraception coverage in its employee health plans. Another judge granted a permanent injunction against enforcement of the contraception mandate for the Roman Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has reported that injunctions have been issued against the law in six different cases brought by nonprofit plaintiffs. Thus, while Obamacare as a whole remains deeply unpopular, elements of it may be unconstitutional, guaranteeing that it will remain politically potent and politically toxic in 2014.
Look for the GOP in 2014 to remain the party of no, especially on Obamacare. “Getting to no” in 2010 presaged the Tea Party rise and the Democratic electoral wipeout. “Getting to no” in 2014 may be the GOP’s best chance of getting to yes with America’s voters in November.