By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Fri Mar 22, 2013, 04:47 PM EDT
The problem with the deficit as an issue is that people care about economic growth more, and the problem with spending cuts is that people like them more in the abstract than in reality.
At times, "we have a $16 trillion debt" seems the sum total of the party's argumentation. When party leaders say that they have to become the party of growth again, the policy they invariably advance to that end ... is reducing the $16 trillion debt.
This necessary, but hardly sufficient message is almost all we hear from Republicans in Congress, where their majority in the House gives them responsibility without decisive influence. The House Republicans mainly have blocking power. Woe to the republic if they didn't. But if you block things, you're easily labeled an obstructionist, and wouldn't you know it, people don't like obstructionists.
Their only hope to deflect the nation from its profligate budgetary path is confrontations coinciding with key fiscal inflection points, like the deadline for the sequester. They always ride into these fights badly outgunned.
The John McCain ad dubbing Barack Obama as the biggest celebrity in the world back in 2008 was accurate. What Republicans didn't consider is that being a celebrity is a priceless asset in contemporary America. Two hundred and thirty members of the House don't have a chance against a president, let alone a celebrity-president.
This won't change soon. It is too early to have a presidential candidate or even a presidential field, so the GOP lacks a head and therefore a unified voice.
Of course, it wasn't long ago that Democrats seemed to be in dire straits. The party agonized over appealing to "values voters" after 2004. Little did they know that eight years later, they would run a successful re-election campaign on limitless abortion and free contraception. The Bush-era Democrats benefited from serial Republican debacles, from Jack Abramoff to the financial crisis.
Events will again take a hand, as they always do. And since last fall's election, top Republicans from Bobby Jindal to Marco Rubio have been talking about a more bread-and-butter economic agenda. Fleshing that out, though, is a longer-term proposition. In the meantime, Republicans should prepare themselves for more discontent.
(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate
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