Republicans

Paul Ryan: “We would have fixed this fiscal mess by now” under Clinton

During an interview on Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggested that if Bill Clinton were president that the fiscal issues facing the United States could be worked out.

Ryan, who has served in Congress since 1999 and was the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, told David Gregory on Meet the Press that “if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles chief-of-staff at the White House, or President of the United States, I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now.” Ryan added, “That’s not the kind of presidency we’re dealing with right now.”

Noel Sheppard, who covered the story at Newsbusters, snarked, “one wonders if Ryan meant a Bill Clinton presidency or a Hillary Clinton presidency.” That aside, Ryan has a point that’s worth expounding upon.

Despite friction between then-President Clinton during the 1990s, Republicans in Congress were able to pass a balanced budget and enact welfare reform and pass capital gains tax cuts. While not all was perfect during these years as Republicans began their slide toward big government, a Democratic president and Republican-controlled legislature were able to reach a compromises that led to a largely prosperous era.

Where do we go from here?

So today is inauguaration day. For many in this country it is a grand and glorious day, but for many it is a stark reminder of the failures of the GOP establishment and the Romney campaign. If ever there was a presidential election that should have been won by the non-incumbent party, this was it. So what happened?

For starters, a weak candidate who ran a very weak campaign is usually a recipe for disaster. But more than that, I think the biggest failure was the refusal of the GOP establishment to to even tolerate, much less embrace, the liberty wing of the party. You can call this wing the “crazy Ron Paul people” or, as a lady in my county said, “these libertarians trying to take over our party.” This behavior was found at all levels - precinct, county, district, state, and national. A real shame considering that this was the one wing of the party that could have actually GOTV and created some excitement. But the GOP antics in Tampa made sure that wouldn’t happen.

What were they thinking? In such an electric and polarized environment, you’ve got to be inclusive as possible, not completely exclusive. It’s as if many GOPers had a death wish - making all of the wrong decisions at every, single turn. But…that’s all in the past - water under the bridge.

So where do we go from here? That depends on what you believe and what you think is truly helpful to the liberty movement. We all have our opinions on that. A method that I learned from my real estate days is the wall method. Throw it all against the wall and see what sticks, also known as the kitchen sink method.

Real Defense Budget Alternatives

With the “fiscal cliff” behind us, it’s important to remember that in less than two months, the Congress will be dealing with another manufactured crisis: The budget cuts of the 2011 Budget Control Act known as “sequestration.”  The Department of Defense will bear 41% of the prescribed cuts, eliminating an additional $492 billion over 10 years.  Although entitlement spending will also be on the table, the initial fight will be over cuts to the Defense budget.

A new study by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation concludes that the defense budget cuts cannot be taken without altering our overall defense strategy, and that “the department should modify defense strategy to fit the new resource constraints and prepare its course of action sooner rather than later.”

The authors highlight three alternative strategies, which anyone interested in this topic should read and consider.  An accompanying article by the authors states, “Reductions of the magnitude implied by sequestration—some $500 billion over the coming decade—cannot be accommodated without a re-examination of current defense strategy.”

Why Republicans have to evolve on social issues to win elections

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at the Cato Institute’s New Media Lunch on some of the issues facing the Republican Party after the 2012 election. The forum, focused exclusively on social issues, was appropriately headlined as “The Republican Problem.”

While Walter Olson went over gay marriage, Rob Kampia on marijuana policy, and Alex Nowrasteh on immigration, I tried to focus on how conservative activists and the conservative blogosphere are adjusting post-2012. With that, I wanted to mention some of what I briefly talked about yesterday in a post this morning.

In the days since the election, I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook reading comments from conservative activists and bloggers. They realize that they have a lot of work ahead of them and they can no longer afford to live in a bubble. They see that social issues — such as gay marriage, the war on drugs, and immigration — present a problem moving forward.

Activist organizations are looking for ways to build outreach to younger voters and minorities, though the immigration issue remains a tough challenge for conservatives, and many are realizing that the war on drugs has failed. Right on Crime, a conservative-backed initiative, has become somewhat popular as cash-strapped states look for ways to take some pressure off of their prision systems. While we as libertarians see this as a personal liberty issue, it’s an easier sell as an economic issue to our conservative friends.

Can the GOP ignore social conservatives?

For years it has been conventional wisdom that the GOP needs the votes of social conservatives to win elections.  Defined loosely, a “social conservative” is someone who has very traditional, restrictionist views on so-called “social issues” like abortion and same-sex marriage.  These voters are mostly white and evangelical Christians.  They support strong restrictions on abortion and oppose any recognition of gay couples.  In short, they are basically anti-libertarians.  As such, the moderate wing of the party has always them as a necessary but disliked coalition partner.

In recent years, though, the tide has started to turn against this strategy.  The portion of the electorate that votes strictly on social issues is shrinking.  Attitudes are changing on gay rights and, while the country tends to lean pro-life, it’s fairly clear that most voters are repulsed by the extreme views held by some pro-life polticians.  It’s clear, then, that the GOP can’t rely on anti-gay rhetoric and severe positions on abortion to win.

The call, then, naturally is coming from those who never even liked social conservatives to push this portion of the voting population to the wayside.  Some, like my colleague Jeremy Kolassa, argue that the GOP should entirely ignore social conservatives.  The thinking goes that moderating on abortion and gay rights will gather enough new votes to make it possible to live without hardline social cons.

Common Sense After a Close Election

“Now let’s pull up our socks, wipe our noses and get back in this fight.”

After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense.  I suggest we all take it to heart.

He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.

First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.

Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.

Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.

That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California.  But capitulation is not one of them.

Did The GOP Just Wake Up?

romney

The 2012 election was a crushing blow to conservatives and Republicans across the board. Although they held onto the House, they still had losses there, and totally failed to take the Senate, and had a fairly disastrous presidential election. Yet there appears to be some hope on the horizon, because already the GOP soul-searching has begun, and already I am seeing some encouraging signs.

So I do have to ask: Did you idiots just wake up and crawl out from under a rock in Oklahoma, or what?

We’ve been saying here for months at United Liberty—and for me personally, elsewhere before then—that if the GOP didn’t tone down the social conservatism and stop with the anti-gay messages and the anti-science messages (Paul Broun, anyone?) and for once in their lives genuinely embrace limited government, they were going to lose a generation. It took a shellacking in the polls this year to shake Republicans out their idiotic stupor.

Look at this tweet:

Listen to Representative Steve LaTourette from Ohio, who said it beautifully:

Rep. Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, had some strong language for his party on Thursday, saying that he wants Republicans “out of people’s bedrooms.”

Prime Time for Liberty Movement

Liberty Bell

How many of these post-mortem soundbites have you heard?

  • Where was the Tea Party this time?
  • All that campaigning from AFP and FreedomWorks wasn’t very effective.
  • Romney lost because people want free stuff.
  • Romney lost because people are uneducated.
  • Romney lost because of voter fraud.

I don’t know why Romney lost. I will leave that to smarter people than me to figure out. I will say, though, that there’s some truth in a couple of those sound bites and none in others.

The analyst in me says those things only matter to the extent we use that knowledge to win hearts and minds (and elections) in the next four years.

We have a golden opportunity right now in the conservative and libertarian movements. Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid for my financial future and the future of civil liberties (1st, 2nd, 4th Amendments for starters) after last night. But it’s the perfect time to regroup and define what I’m going to term the Liberty movement.

Liberty is a winning philosophy. It’s what America is built on. The current GOP loses because they’ve embraced judgmental social policies and haven’t differentiated themselves enough from the Dems on financial and big government-principles. A younger generation, the Paul Ryan generation of conservatives, holds a much more Liberty minded philosophy. It’s time for them to take over leadership positions on the right and start a massive education and outreach movement aimed at the 15 to 45-year-old demographic (and start a preschool and elementary school program too).

Where did Romney go wrong?

Mitt Romney has lost.  In a purely academic fashion, I can’t help but think about what the Republican Party will get out of last night’s results.  After all, there is bound to be some kind of “after action” examination of the Romney campaign, at least by pundits.

Much of the results of those examinations will be that Romney wasn’t “conservative enough.”  They figure that the problem wasn’t that he was a horrible candidate, but that he wasn’t far enough to the right.

This ignores the fact that more and more people are supporting issues like gay marriage and ending the War on Drugs.  This isn’t indicative of an evangelical conservative stance as many Republicans tend to think most Americans really have.  Instead, it seems to indicate a more libertarian stance on social issues.  Will the conservative pundits understand that?  It’s doubtful, but we will see.

Economics are another issue that played a major role in the election.  It’s also one that some conservatives think they should modify their position on if they want to win in 2016.  Romney talked a sort-of free market game, and it looks like it cost him because free markets scare a lot of people.  Now, he wasn’t as free market as he liked to think he was, but what he put out seemed to scare enough voters in battle ground states that those people opted not to vote for him.

Personally, I can’t help but believe that foreign policy cost him. Obama’s supporters weren’t likely to change their vote on that issue apparently, but the undecided voters may have swung his way had there been more difference than “drone strikes and kill ‘em all” that we’ve seen for the last four years.

The Election, Mitt Romney, and the Future of the Republican Party

It’s election day. We’re finally here. This grueling, seemingly non-stop campaign ends today. President Barack Obama made his last campaign stops yesterday. Mitt Romney hopes to pickup what undecided voters remain during visits to Ohio and Pennsylvania today.

Despite public polls showing a close race in swing states, though Obama has a slight advantage, Romney’s campaign says that their internal polls show him leading in Ohio and tied in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Writing at National Review yesterday, Jim Geraghty saw reason to hope that Romney will pull off a win tonight. And Aaron Blake surmised that the early voting numbers suggest that the race will be tight. However, Blake points out that “[i]n basically every state, Democrats’ early vote edge is between four and eight points less than it was in 2008.” That could mean trouble for Obama, especially in Colorado, Iowa, and Pennsylvania.

 
 


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