Chicago, Illinois November 26, 2012 – Steve Forbes has some advice for the GOP even as the White House spin doctors issued a dire warning today: the automatic federal tax increases set for next year could hurt the rest of the holiday shopping season and would curb consumer spending by $200 billion in 2013.
Liberal translation: Those ‘Grinchy’ Republicans could ruin Christmas.
It’s a calculated holiday spin that prays on an uninformed public that has been beaten up by a bad economy and consistently high unemployment.
But as low-ball as it is, this is President Obama’s media game and it has been effective.
President Obama is aggressively positioning himself on the fiscal cliff debate and feeble-minded Republicans, dizzied by the disastrous election results, are running scared.
There have always been Republican leaders with a political posture problem: Conservatives have long complained about politicians like Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and their left-leaning tilt.
This weekend, McCain, Graham, and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) joined the growing list of flip-flopping party members who said they are willing to vote for tax increases as part of a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” in January – effectively breaking their anti-tax pledge with Grover Norquist.
But some GOP insiders are questioning the merits of this strategy.
“I think the Republicans have to say in terms of dealing with the President that, yes, the President won re-election but 230 plus House members won re-election on the premise of not having tax increases and not bringing in Obamacare,” said Steve Forbes on FOX this weekend.
“What the Republicans should do is say, ‘You [President Obama] have been in office now for four years; you’ve won re-election. Put a specific proposal on the table like Paul Ryan did more than two years ago and tell us how you are going to deal with these issues. You’re supposed to be the leader. Why must the Republicans always give concessions in advance instead of the White House coming forward? The Republicans should call on him [President Obama] to put something realistic on the table instead of the junk he’s put on so far.”
Forbes is right: The President won re-election and the Democrats increased their control in the U.S. Senate by a margin of 55 to 45 seats. The political ball is, as they say, in their government-owned court.
Yet Republican leaders already seem ready to negotiate on their most basic principles.
Even after the Republican landslide of 2010, President Obama didn’t backtrack from Obamacare, which was wildly unpopular at the time. He was even more emboldened on his message of class warfare, which he used to make the case for more expansive government.
During the 2012 election, Obama never once accepted blame for running up a $16 trillion debt or for failing to create jobs, keeping 23 million Americans unemployed.
And yes, Obama won re-election with 61.8 million votes to 58.6 million votes for Mitt Romney. But are GOP leaders so willing to abandon 58.6 million voters?
Forbes agrees that this is not the time for the Republican Party to moderate its message.
“The reason you have a party is for principles and the policies that result from those principles; so you figure out about persuasion and the reaching out to people and getting the message across,” said Forbes at a recent appearance for the Heartland Institute in Chicago. “It’s one reason why I co-authored the book, ‘Freedom Manifesto: Why Free Markets are Moral and Government Isn’t’ to make that point that freedom is the way to go.”
So Forbes isn’t blaming the message of free markets and economic opportunity for Republican losses in 2012; he believes it’s a matter of marketing those ideas in a way that inspires people and brings voters in.
“We didn’t get out the kind of pro-growth Reaganistic optimistic message [in this election],” said Forbes. “It’s one thing to criticize the president for his poor performance. But, as Reagan showed in 1980 when he ran against Jimmy Carter in a poor economy, you also have to have that positive alternative. Reagan did with a message of sweeping tax cuts, rebuilding our military, deregulation and the like. People felt this was a positive way to go for
Good advice from Steve Forbes – maybe the Republicans should take it.
Here are a few highlights of Steve Forbes’ speech to the Heartland Institute in
FORBES: So setbacks, they happen and the thing to recognize is whether its entrepreneurship or politics, it never goes in a straight line. Government since the great depression has occupied the high moral ground. Even when they [government] are shown to be inefficient, even corrupt, the answer is, well, their hearts are in the right place. They mean well. Commerce, as it is always portrayed, delivers you the material goods but it’s based on greed and its corrupt, baser instincts of nature. The blunt truth is that commerce and philanthropy are two sides of the same coin. They are not polar opposites.
FORBES: Regan knew running against Carter in 1980, the economy was, in some ways, in worse condition that it was today. He wasn’t just content to run against the false and the miserable record of the incumbent. He also had a positive alternative. A positive agenda, whether it was a massive tax cut, deregulation, or rebuilding
FORBES: He did something unusual. He said, “Why don’t we take over companies that are in trouble or starting up, and in effect, eat our own cookie. Apply our advice on a managerial level - not just buy, and hope it turns out. Let’s put in a CEO and say: Give us a weekly, monthly, or quarterly report. Let’s now really get into the innards of the thing and see if what we are cooking up really works. And the fantastic returns - they saved a lot of companies. A lot of companies were saved and revived and a lot of small companies were made bigger, powerful and mighty. Saving companies, creating new industries and new jobs: It’s a great success story. Did anyone have any appreciation of it? Not at all.
William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. He is a native from
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