(Robert Romano) – In his latest generic ballot question, Rasmussen Reports show Republicans holding a substantial 44 to 35 percent lead over Democrats for the 2010 Congressional elections. In fact, the poll shows that Republicans have led consistently since June 28th, 2009, just two days after the House passed its onerous legislation capping carbon emissions and taxing energy consumption.
That week was marked by an intense call-in and write-in campaign by the American people against the takeover of the energy industry, urged on talk radio hosts such as Mark Levin who called for what he dubbed a “Levin Surge.” It worked; the American people practically shut down the Capitol switchboard that week, and the bill only passed by a slim 219 to 212 margin.
The Senate has hardly done anything with the bill, which insiders and even proponents such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) consider to be dead.
It was in this context that the debate over ObamaCare was picking up in earnest, leading to the ill-fated August recess and angry town halls where Congressional Democrats were confronted by their constituents, who intensely opposed the national takeover of health care.
Deadline after deadline was breached as Democrats fought amongst themselves, shut Republicans out of any meaningful negotiations, and finally passed on party-line votes the takeover in November and December in both houses.
And those votes promptly cost Democrats the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia — and then the Massachusetts Senate seat.
It should be noted that the same intensity by the American people pervades to date, and could turn into a true groundswell if Democrats invoke reconciliation — effectively eliminating the filibuster and the two-party system — to ram the bill down the throats of an unwilling American public. In Rasmussen’s latest poll on the question, 56 percent remain opposed to the health takeover. And a full 61 percent wish that Congress would simply start over.
Instead, of course, today kicks off Barack Obama’s much ballyhooed, six hour health takeover “summit,” where once again, Obama will attempt to coerce and cajole Congressional Republican support for his plan. This will fail. It may prove the narrative that Republicans are against his agenda, but nothing more will come out of it.
The American people have good reasons for opposing this takeover. Republicans are certain to point out that it will cost $2.5 trillion from 2014-2023, ration care away from seniors, increase the costs of premiums, decrease quality, and put even more pressure on the nation’s debt, which will top 100 percent of GDP as soon as next year.
They are also certain to point out that the “negotiations” are nothing more than a theater of the absurd. If Democrats truly do intend on invoking reconciliation, they do not need any Republican support. Without the filibuster threat, Republicans lack any leverage on this or any other issue facing the nation. Eliminating it create de facto one-party rule. A true tyranny of the tone-deaf majority.
Beyond the meaningless summit, the new generic Congressional poll means that Republicans have some substantial political capital. By merely standing against and slowing down these government takeovers of health care and energy, Republicans have won the support of political Independents and a good swath of the tea party movement.
But, the GOP faces peril after a likely 2010 win, if it fails to outline an aggressive platform meant to cope with the legitimate concerns of the American people. Republicans need to be preparing the American people for the necessary, painful cuts that are to come.
Specifically, Republicans should be presenting a balanced budget, a plan for paying off the gargantuan national debt, reforming entitlements, and implementing permanent tax relief. They need to outline two broad principles that they will oppose: 1) printing money to finance government spending and borrowing; 2) tax increases to pay for government spending and paying down the debt.
They need to make abundantly clear that they will only support balancing the budget by cutting spending. Unfortunately, as the New York Times’ Paul Krugman rightly points out, Republicans have yet to comprehensively lay out such an agenda. Noting that the beast is starving, he writes, “It should be time, then, for conservatives to explain which parts of the beast they want to cut.”
On the other hand, Krugman is wrong to blame tax cuts of the 1980’s and 2000’s for the soaring national debt. As reported by the Congressional Budget Office, revenues have soared from $517.1 billion in 1980 to a peak of $2.568 trillion in 2007 in spite of the tax cuts, and chiefly because of the economic growth they produced. In 2009, they sank to a more modest $2.104 trillion in the wake of the recession.
Nonetheless, there is no need to raise taxes to balance the budget when the budget deficit is a projected $1.556 trillion. It is an annual shortfall that will only rise should ObamaCare be enacted, an entitlement expansion that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.
Krugman makes another correct point: “Since [Republicans] are adamantly opposed to reducing the deficit with tax increases, they would have to explain what spending they want to cut.” He is right. But, if he believes that is some sort of masterful trap, he is wrong.
The American people do want cuts because they know that they are necessary. They rightly see the sovereign debt crisis spreading from Greece. They see the writing on the wall. They understand that all roads lead to Rome, and that in this case, all those unfulfilled debt obligation dominoes are falling towards Washington.
They want Washington to deal with it before it becomes a crisis that ruins the nation’s full faith and credit, saddling the American people with hyperinflation, soaring interest rates, and economic desolation.
Republicans should not shy away from this debate when the winds are at their back. Otherwise, they will make the same mistake Barack Obama made in 2008, when he never outlined in specific detail his takeovers of the health care and energy industry.
Obama never prepared the American people for his Big Government agenda. Republicans, on the other hand, have an opportunity to prepare the American people for their limited government agenda, as ALG News has previously reported. If they do so with courage and specifically address these concerns, they have political support when the painful cuts begin. And they could rightly argue that they campaigned on it.
The alternative is to ride out the political opposition to Obama without addressing the legitimate concerns of the American people. If they choose to do nothing, they will assuredly find their current lead in the Congressional ballot evaporate rather quickly in 2011 and 2012, when they stand for re-election.
The support the American people now give them will come to naught, just as it did in 2006 when the voters turned on a Do-Nothing GOP majority that turned out to be a fraud.
(Mr. Romano is Senior Editor of ALG News)