Republicans currently enjoy a 50 percent to 43 percent advantage over Democrats among registered voters, the highest yet in Gallup’s weekly tracking of the 2010 midterm elections. But a Republican victory in November will mean nothing if it means more GOP business-as-usual.
That is why it is critically important for congressional Republicans to put forward a concrete agenda before the election as an alternative to that of big-spending congressional Democrats. Instead, Republicans appear satisfied to fall back on a one-plank platform: “We’re not the Democrats.”
That won’t cut it because, as pollster Scott Rasmussen recently told The Wall Street Journal, the GOP will benefit from voters’ desire to oust the party in power, but “75 percent of Republicans say their representatives in Congress are out of touch with the party base. Should they win big this November, they will have to move quickly to prove they’ve learned lessons from the Bush years.”
Those Bush years too often displayed little difference between Republicans and Democrats in Washington. Much of the vast expansion of the federal government by Democrats was previewed by the Bush-led Republicans. Obamacare’s overreach? Don’t forget the Republicans entitlement-expanding and budget-busting Medicare Part D.
In fact, Republicans have been off the reservation since long before Bush ever entered office. The 1994 Republican Revolution marked the first time in more than 40 years that Republicans held a congressional majority. They won while pledging specific policy goals in their Contract with America, including term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and welfare reform.
Some significant progress was made but in a few years the revolution was all but abandoned. The Cato Institute’s Ed Crane recently noted that the “combined budgets of the 95 major programs that the Contract with America promised to eliminate … increased by 13 percent.”
Today, most Americans are ready as never before to shrink government and stop the spending madness. This presents the GOP with an opportunity it didn’t have in 1994, an electorate exhausted by Washington politicians and their doubletalk.
But the GOP so far seems unwilling to lay out specifics about how it plans to respond to what Americans are saying if they restore the party to majority status in the House and/or Senate. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., boasts of the Republican “YouCut” website that solicits ideas from voters but that effort barely rises above window dressing. Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., “Roadmap to Economic
Recovery” is a serious program for entitlement reform, yet the party leadership has not embraced it.
Similarly, the Heritage Foundation has compiled 128 policy recommendations across 23 major policy areas for shrinking government and making it work better. The Examiner will be offering a number of ideas on this page in coming days as well. Republican leaders risk squandering an historic opportunity by ignoring such recommendations. The voters are waiting.