A brief glimmer of sanity among Congressional Republicans has been
followed, almost immediately, by a return to the more traditional
Last week, every single Republican in the House of Representatives voted
against the Obama administration's "stimulus" package which had
stimulated an orgy of runaway spending by Congressional Democrats on
everything from sports arenas to sexually transmitted diseases.
This was a rare smart move by the Republicans. If the Republicans had
gone along, pursuing the will o' the wisp of "bipartisanship," then if
the stimulus had by some miracle succeeded, it would have been a bill
for which Democrats would claim credit at the next election.
|FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER|
Every weekday NewsAndOpinion.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.
On the other hand, if the stimulus failed which seems far more
likely then it would be called a "bipartisan" bill, meaning that the
Democrats would pay no price at the next election for a colossal
Since President Bush started the "stimulus package" game, this was also
an opportunity for Congressional Republicans to cut themselves loose
from the political baggage of the Bush administration's unpopularity.
Within 24 hours, however, Republicans in the Senate came out with a plan
to have the government fix mortgage interest rates at four percent and
use taxpayers' money to cover the losses that lenders would otherwise
It is painfully obvious that government intervention in the housing
markets over the past several years has been at the heart of the boom
and bust that has led to a huge economic downturn.
It was not the market, but the government, that pushed for abandoning
traditional standards for making mortgage loans. That was what got both
borrowers and lenders way out on a limb and set off economic shock
waves when the limb broke.
The last time the Republicans pushed for price controls was during the
Nixon administration. It was very popular in the short run. But, in the
long run, even Nixon admitted in his memoirs that it was bad for the
Price controls have been tried and failed, in countries around the
world, going all the way back to ancient Rome and Babylon. Moreover,
politicians intervening in the economy is the hallmark of Democrats.
What principle separates the Republicans from the Democrats? If they are
just Tweedledee and Tweedledum, then elections come down to personality
and rhetoric. If that happens, you can bet the rent money on the
Those considered to be the smart money among Republicans have been
saying for some time that the party has to become more "inclusive" and
jettison "outmoded" principles of the Reagan era. But no one has to pass
an IQ test to be considered part of the smart money.
Looking at the track record, rather than the rhetoric, the smart money
doesn't look nearly as smart.
When have the Republicans won big? When they stood for something and
told the people what that something was.
Ronald Reagan was the classic example. But another example would be the
stunning Republican victories in the 1994 Congressional elections, which
put them in control of the House of Representatives for the first time
in 40 years.
Articulating the message of Newt Gingrich's "contract for America" was a
key to that historic victory.
Too many Republicans seem to think that being "inclusive" means selling
out your principles to try to attract votes. It never seems to occur to
them that you can attract a wider range of voters by explaining your
principles in a way that more people understand.
That is precisely what Reagan did and what Gingrich did in 1994. Most
Americans' principles are closer to those of the Republicans than to
those of the Democrats.
It is the only advantage the Republicans have. The Democrats have the
media, the unions, the environmental extremists and the tort lawyers on
their side. Why should Republicans throw away their one advantage by
becoming imitation Democrats?