Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stand & Deliver

WSJ editorial writer Kimberly Strassel published the first of many capstone opinions dissecting Republicans election year woes. Strassel compares the immediate election year futures of the Republicans in Florida and Ohio; Florida is set to retain and build on their state level majorities and hold the Governor’s mansion, while Ohio’s GOP is sinking fast and deep. Strassel’s key point in this comparison:

Their respective failure and success is not ideological: Messrs. Blackwell [Ohio] and Crist [Florida] are both running on the same agenda of tax cuts, fiscal responsibility and broad government reform. This, instead, is a story of the state parties behind them. In Florida, Republicans have spent the past eight years keeping their promises to voters; in Ohio the GOP forgot what "promise" meant somewhere in the '90s. The tale of these two GOPs offers broader lessons for congressional Republicans, who are facing a rout this fall. ...

Where are Iowa Republicans on this promise keepers continuum? My guess, somewhere in the middle: Iowa Republicans have done a good job attempting to rein in Vilsack and his spend happy habits. They’re always tough in negotiations pulling down some great victories for taxpayers and reaching out to deliver positive changes on education and health care policy by working with a Democratic governor; essentially, Iowa Republicans have spent eight long years avoiding gridlock and balancing budgets without tax increases.

Iowa Republicans missed moving up a couple spots on the line by not understanding how style translates outside the Dome. Iowans are flyover people and we know it, so we don’t need politicians to remind us in dress, manner & tastes that we’re flyover people. Somehow, even with solid tax policy and aggressive budgetering, it’s hard to get past the superficial stuff when it serves to create disconnect with voters.

I imagine in these last three weeks Iowa Republicans are losing the suits and focusing on meeting Iowans one door at a time and trying their very best to get voters to focus on policy. It’s possible that with a renewed focus on the importance of keeping the state’s fiscal house in some order, Republicans will have a reasonable election. But Iowa Republicans must convince enough voters that it’s a bad idea handing the taxpayers’ money over to free spending Iowa Democrats. To start, Republicans may want to highlight opinion pieces like this one out of Sunday's Iowa City Press Citizen:

Next month, Iowa City councilors will be asking the area's state legislators to focus on several areas, including advocating for increased funding to the Iowa State Housing trust to help cities provide affordable housing; helping cities maintain control over local cable franchises; allowing cities to increase their hotel/motel tax; giving cities the power to impose stricter smoking bans than the state's; letting cities tax condominiums at the same rate as apartments; eliminating the tax break for pickup trucks licenses; allowing cities to charge a percentage of gross revenue as a part of franchise agreements with companies. Most of these priorities revolve around the city councilors asking for more local control. In each of these cases, the expanded power for the city seems worth it.

How many tax increases did you count in this paragraph? I counted four.

There's a profound difference between the two national parties, but you'd never know it given the incapacity of the president to a) synthesize facts and express them in a compelling fashion; b) rein in the simple corruption that is Washington "lobbying" (rent-seeking politicians and their colleagues on K Street); c) provide coherent justification for imposing imperial culture wars on the Federal apparatus; d) smile and cut a federal agency budget once in a decade.

The difference is that -- as demonstrated by Reagan and re-iterated by Bush -- if the government lets primary producers keep more of their money, instead of seizing (taxing) it, the economy (and federal tax revenues) surges. How can this economy and the policies that sustain it not be Issue 1 for Republicans? Dunno.


1. More consecutive double digit quarterly increases in S&P 500 earnings than seen since 1951.

2. Taxation as a percentage of GDP: still higher than Clinton's (who is coddling "the rich"?)

3. GDP has grown more (marginal increase) since 2001 than the ENTIRE economy of China.

4. Unemployment of college grads at 2%. Unemployment broadly: so low that worker shortages drive massive illegal and legal immigration.

5. The federal deficit as a percentage of GDP, organized (average) by decade: lowest since ... since ... shoot, it's the lowest ever.

There's no accounting for taste, and apparently, with Republicans, none for success, either. I think we inhabit the healthiest economy of the 20th century, perhaps in the country's history. Which period outperforms this one? When have middle class rates of taxation been lower, since 1950? What developed nation nails 4% annual increases in GDP, year-in, year-out?

In the Thos. Edsall (the ex-WashPost writer who says "sure, my colleagues are somewhere between 15-1 and 25-1 partisan democrats") world of MSM, however, we inhabit a "stagnant", "wealth-divided", "globally unfair" world that creates systemic "insecurity".

Well, life presents its insecurities. I think one of the largest is that felt by traditional elites who see their influence over our institutions on the wane. These elites struggle to pay for their children's private educations, can't fathom the second house on Nantucket, live in less fashionable parts of town -- while the grubby capitalists buy jet-shares. It was not so, in 1955. This insecurity penetrates our public discussions, and the Republicans are not smart enough to summarize reality, in rebuttal. But it truly is an emerging ownership, entrepreneurial society -- that is, if the data matter.
Manville-fugging bingo!!!

Why can't we present this message? We need to locate new mediums and a clearly more aggresive yet positive message.

I am so frustrated I could scream, and like the host I frequently experience ennui`.
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