Advertisement
Politics

Blind Faith in Republicans

Most Americans think a GOP Congress would be better at running the economy, but few can tell you just what that means.

Voters have high hopes for Republicans. By every indication, they plan to send a lot more of them to the next Congress, maybe even enough to take control of the House of Representatives.

It’s not hard to understand why voters are unhappy with President Obama and his Democratic Congress. They’re tired of waiting for the economy to improve. They want a real recovery, with real jobs and pay raises, and they’re unhappy about the rapid growth of government and a corresponding escalation of the deficit. They believe the national debt is out of control. And they blame Obama for most of that.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Republicans have been fueling that anger but so far have been relatively shy about offering alternatives. They promise to change that by offering a policy plan in September, after a monthlong recess they’ll use to listen to voters and craft ideas. A lot is riding on that plan -- at least in terms of voter hopes.

A recent poll by the Benenson Strategy Group shows just how much. The survey, conducted for Third Way, a moderate think tank, found that voters are counting on the GOP to come up with fresh ideas. Almost two-thirds said they expect Republicans to promote “a new economic agenda that is different” from former President Bush’s agenda. And that’s what they want. By 49% to 34%, they said if the choice is between Obama’s economic agenda and Bush’s, they prefer Obama. They don’t want to go back to the old ways.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

So far, though, a return to the Bush era is exactly what Republicans have offered. As the expiration of the Bush tax cuts draws near, several GOP leaders have gone on record saying they want them all extended, and they insist there is no need to find offsetting savings to avoid exploding the deficit. Republicans have long argued that tax cuts grow the economy and pay for themselves, though the numbers don’t show that. The first round of Bush tax cuts came in 2001, and the 2002 deficit rose to 1.2% of GDP (from a surplus in 2000). The second round of tax cuts came in 2003, and the 2004 deficit rose to 3.5% of GDP. There were other factors involved -- notably higher spending for the war against terrorism and a recession, and Republicans say the deficit would have been worse without the tax cuts. But that argument -- that it would have been worse otherwise -- is the same one they dismiss when Obama uses it to defend the 2009 stimulus, which incidentally included more than $300 billion in tax cuts.

Advertisement - Article continues below

There are things that Republicans can usefully propose. A more pro-business policy that removes the uncertainty would help a lot, though businesses probably need to expect more regulation as long as Obama is president. A revamping of the tax code is sorely needed, but it has to be something other than cuts and more cuts. A resolve to work with the debt commission’s whole package of ideas, including tax hikes and entitlement cuts, is a necessity. More than anything, a real plan to create jobs is needed.

Still, even if Republicans take back the House, delivering on their goals won’t be easy -- not with Democrats controlling the Senate and White House. It will take bipartisan cooperation, which has not exactly been plentiful. Two years of complete gridlock may satisfy those Obama critics who just want to stop him in his tracks, but by itself, it won’t get the nation any closer to a more stable and prosperous economy.

Advertisement

Most Popular

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?
tax brackets

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?

The IRS unveiled the 2020 tax brackets, and it's never too early to start planning to minimize your future tax bill.
June 20, 2020
Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year
tax law

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year

Americans are facing a long list of tax changes for the 2020 tax year...and it's never too early to start thinking about next year's return.
June 22, 2020
10 Tax Breaks for the Middle Class
tax deductions

10 Tax Breaks for the Middle Class

Tax breaks aren't just for the rich. There are plenty of them that are only available to middle- and low-income Americans.
June 30, 2020

Recommended

Travel Planning in the Time of Coronavirus
Travel

Travel Planning in the Time of Coronavirus

Insurance may not cover canceled vacations, but airlines and hotels may be flexible.
June 11, 2020
13 Things That May Soon Disappear Forever (The Pandemic Edition)
business

13 Things That May Soon Disappear Forever (The Pandemic Edition)

Emerging technologies (and now the COVID-19 pandemic) are putting an end to these familiar items and practices.
June 9, 2020
Don't Let the Drama Surrounding PPP Distract You from Running Your Business
business

Don't Let the Drama Surrounding PPP Distract You from Running Your Business

If you're so wrapped up in worry about your Paycheck Protection Program loan not being forgiven, think about the worst-case scenario. It might not be …
June 5, 2020
Another Epidemic to Worry About: Identity Theft
business

Another Epidemic to Worry About: Identity Theft

Fraud losses grew in 2019 and are likely to increase in 2020.
June 5, 2020