Obama dismisses GOP ‘Pledge’ as echo of disaster

Obama dismisses GOP ‘Pledge’ as echo of disaster

President Barack Obama says Republicans’ plan to slash taxes and cut spending if the GOP retakes the House in November is no more than “an echo of a disastrous decade we can’t afford to relive.”

Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to skewer House Republicans over the “Pledge to America” they unveiled this week. It also promised to cut down on government regulation, repeal Obama’s health care law and end his stimulus program.

“The Republicans who want to take over Congress offered their own ideas the other day. Many were the very same policies that led to the economic crisis in the first place, which isn’t surprising, since many of their leaders were among the architects of that failed policy,” Obama said.

“It is grounded in same worn-out philosophy: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests; and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself. That’s not a prescription for a better future.”

Republicans used their own radio address to defend the plan.

“The new agenda embodies Americans’ rejection of the notion that we can simply tax, borrow and spend our way to prosperity,” said one of its authors, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy. “It offers a new way forward that hasn’t been tried in Washington _ an approach focused on cutting spending _ which is sadly a new idea for a Congress accustomed to always accelerating it.”

The GOP plan was short on specifics but showed a stark contrast between the philosophies of the two parties weeks ahead of midterm elections where Republicans are forecast to make big gains and potentially win back the House.

Perhaps the biggest difference was on taxes, where Republicans want to extend all of George W. Bush’s income tax cuts permanently _ at a cost of some $4 trillion over 10 years.

Democrats are proposing to keep the rates where they are for individuals making up to $200,000 and for families earning up to $250,000 _ but to hit wealthier individuals and some small businesses with tax hikes in January. Their plan would cost $3 trillion.

Now, though, it’s not clear there will be a final vote in Congress on either approach before November’s elections.

___

Online:

Obama address: http://www.whitehouse.gov

GOP address: http://www.youtube.com/RepublicanConference

Getting the GOP Back in the Game

Getting the GOP Back in the Game

Posted By Jennifer Rubin On December 3, 2008 @ 12:00 am In . Feature 01, . Positioning, Elections 2008, Money, Politics, US News | 12 Comments

Republicans took a beating on Election Day.

[1] They lost the White House and more than twenty House seats. They came within a whisker of seeing the Democrats achieve a filibuster-proof majority of sixty seats in the Senate – rescued only yesterday by the victory of Sen. Saxby Chambliss in the Georgia run-off election.

They have some work ahead of them which will set their course for the next couple of years and determine whether they can emerge from the political wilderness.

First, they must choose a party chairman from a [2] flock of candidates. None of the candidates has a sterling record and each presents considerable liabilities. But some are more problematic than others. Katon Dawson has been a successful state party chairman in South Carolina but his twelve-year membership in [3] an all-white country club would be a public relations nightmare for a party already struggling with minorities. Some are already sending up warning flares. A national committeewoman who is supportive of Dawson [4] concedes, “I think there are some members of the committee who would find it intolerable.” And to boot, the club has also excluded Jews, although it did extend an “honorary membership” in the 1980s to the commander at [5] Fort Jackson, Maj. Gen. Robert Solomon. Just what the party needs: a chairman who belonged to a club with a “whites only” deed which snubbed Jews and blacks.

Alternatively, the RNC may look to Michael Steele, a charismatic and effective spokesman but light on a record of organizational success. Then there are John Yob and Saul Anuzis, who hail from Michigan, where the Republican Party has fallen off the map, despite the opportunity to make headway against tax-and-spend liberal Democrats in the midst of a recession. And Chip Saltzman, former chair of the Arkansas state party, may be too inexperienced on the national stage and too closely identified with a potential 2012 contender, Mike Huckabee. The latter liability hobbles Jim Greer, who leads the Florida party and is allied with Charlie Crist, although Greer alone seems to have a track record of outreach and electoral success — skills the party badly needs.

In short, the RNC must choose wisely. The watchword here may be: choose the candidate least likely to embarrass Republicans.

The real action for Republicans will be in Washington, where four immediate challenges confront Republicans. Greatly reduced in numbers, they nevertheless have the opportunity to revive the base and improve their image with voters.

The most immediate issue is the auto bailout. Democrats will be pressing for billions more in taxpayer money for an industry that has failed to make needed reforms — or cars people want to buy — and has to date not demonstrated the capacity to align its cost structure with non-union domestic auto producers. Republicans would do well to hold firm and stand up for taxpayers, whose salaries and benefit packages pale in comparison to those of the auto workers. One [6] economics professor put it in context:

A recent study by Mark J. Perry, professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan-Flint, shows that the hourly compensation cost, including benefits, for the Big Three automakers in Detroit for 2007-2008 is $73.20 per hour, compared with $48 at Toyota.

In goods-producing industries in the United States, reports Perry, the average hourly compensation cost, including benefits, is $31.59. For management and professional employees in the U.S., the average hourly cost, with benefits, is $47.57. For all workers, the average hourly wage/benefit cost is $28.48 per hour.

Asks Perry: “Should U.S. taxpayers really be providing billions of dollars to bailout companies (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) that compensate their workers 52.5 percent more than the market (Toyota wages and benefits), 54 percent more than management and professional workers, 132 percent more than the average manufacturing wage, and 157 percent more than the average compensation of all American workers?”

Republicans can begin to regain their reputation as guardians of the taxpayers and smart stewards of the economy by following Nancy Reagan’s advice: just say no.

Next up for the Republicans is the sure-to-be-massive Democratic stimulus plan. Based on the faulty memory that the New Deal lifted us out of the Great Depression, the Democratic spending plan will hike the deficit up over a trillion dollars. There are a couple of glaring problems.

First, it’s a game plan that [7] hasn’t worked in the past. As [8] Larry Kudlow put it, “government cannot spend our way into prosperity.”

Second, China’s economy may be grinding to a halt and no longer be the financier for American debt. That means the [6] gravy train may come to an end:

The total national debt, the accumulation of all the annual federal deficits over the nation’s entire history, stood at $5.7 trillion on the day that George W. Bush took office. We’re almost double that now, adding nearly as much red ink in eight years as the nation accumulated in the previous two centuries. And that’s not counting the snowballing trillions in corporate bailouts, already at more than $7 trillion. That’s $23,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Also uncounted in the aforementioned debt numbers are the trillions the government has collected and owes in the Social Security and Medicare “trust funds.” The government doesn’t have a dime of that money. It’s all been spent for things like that needless $500 million tunnel under the Allegheny. Unfortunately, the whole thing collapses if China doesn’t keep lending us the money.

So once again it is up to the Republicans to be the fiscal grown-ups. They would do well to focus the public on these unpleasant realities and to offer an alternative of pro-growth policies beginning with a program of domestic energy development and significant tax cuts to promote investment and job expansion. [9] Republican Minority Leader John Boehner has begun to suggest just such an approach.

Likewise, Governors Rick Perry and Mark Sanford sounded the alarm in an [10] op-ed — warning about the rising mountain of debt and cautioning against a “bailout mentality”:

To an unprecedented degree, government is currently picking winners and losers in the private marketplace, and throwing good money after bad. A prudent investor takes money from low-yield investments and puts them in those that yield better returns. Recent government intervention is doing the opposite — taking capital generated from productive activities and throwing it at enterprises that in many cases need to reorganize their business model.

Their solution: “improving ’soil conditions’ for businesses by cutting taxes, reforming our legal system, and our workers’ compensation system. We’d humbly suggest that Congress take a page from those playbooks by focusing on targeted tax relief paid for by cutting spending, not by borrowing.”

Next up on the agenda for Republicans are two political fights, ones they should welcome.

Senator Norm Coleman appears to have eked out a narrow win in Minnesota, leading with over 300 votes and more than 90% of the ballots recounted. Nevertheless, his opponent Al Franken is [11] threatening to go to the Senate, where the Democrats could vote to seat him, despite his electoral loss, on the notion that absentee ballots rejected by the state canvassing board should have be tallied. Republicans should pull out all the stops and shut down the Senate if needed to preserve the right of Minnesota voters to decide, however narrowly, their senator. This is a fight which Republicans should welcome and which would expose the other side as anti-democratic thugs.

The other political fight deserving of their energies is the nomination of Eric Holder. [12] We, along with [13] others, have recounted his [14] problematic role in not only the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich but of the FALN terrorists — not to mention the Elian Gonzales affair. Republicans need look no further than liberal columnist [15] Richard Cohen for their rationale for opposing Holder:

As noted, any person is entitled to make a mistake. But no one is entitled to be attorney general. That’s a post that ought to be reserved for a lawyer who appreciates that while he reports to the president, he serves the people. This dual obligation was beyond the ken of George W. Bush’s attorney general once removed, Alberto Gonzales, whose idea of telling truth to power came down to saying “Yes, sir. Yes, sir.” On Guantanamo, domestic spying, and Bush’s “l’État c’est moi” view of the presidency, Gonzales was a cipher, and the damage of his tenure still needs to be repaired.

Holder was involved, passively or not, in just the sort of inside-the-Beltway influence peddling that Barack Obama was elected to end. He is not one of Obama’s loathed lobbyists; he was merely their instrument — a good man, certainly, who just as certainly did a bad thing. Maybe he deserves an administration job, just not the one he’s getting.

Even if they are not successful, it does Republicans good to stand up for the rule of law — rather than rule by cronies — and force the Democrats to defend one of the worst players from the Clinton era.

All of this should be plenty to occupy Republicans’ time. It is not easy, but it is essential to find competent leaders, defend sound economic principles, and engage in some hand-to-hand political combat. These are the first and altogether necessary steps back from political oblivion. If they demur from these fights their political troubles will only worsen.

Election ’08 Backgrounder

  

Financial Crisis | Iraq | Defense | Background & Character | Judges & Courts | Energy

 

FINANCIAL CRISIS

Quick Facts:

  • Democrats created the mortgage crisis by forcing banks to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them.
  • In 2006, McCain sponsored a bill to fix the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Barney Frank and other Democrats successfully opposed it.
  • Obama was one of the highest recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donations in Congress.

Related Editorials

 

IRAQ


Quick Facts:

  • When the U.S. was on the verge of losing in Iraq, McCain chose to stand and fight.  Obama chose retreat.
  • Even after the surge succeeded, Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran he would still oppose it if he had the chance to do it all over again.

Related Editorials

 

DEFENSE

Quick Facts:

  • Obama has promised to significantly cut defense spending, including saying “I will slow our development of future combat systems.”
  • John McCain has vowed: “We must continue to deploy a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, robust missile defenses and superior conventional forces that are capable of defending the United States and our allies.”

Related Editorials

Obama Video: Watch Now

 

 

BACKGROUND & CHARACTER

Quick Facts:

  • Obama voted “present” 135 times as a state senator, and according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “gained a reputation for skipping tough votes.”
  • McCain has taken stances unpopular with his own party and/or the public on controversial issues, including immigration, campaign finance reform, judicial nominations, the Iraq War and more.

Related Editorials

 

 

JUDGES & COURTS


Quick Facts:

  • In a 2001 interview, Obama said he regretted that the Supreme Court “didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.”
  • In the same interview, Obama criticized the Supreme Court because it “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.”
  • Obama has focused on empathy, rather than legal reasoning and restraint, as his basis for appointing judges, saying, “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy…to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.”
  • McCain opposes judicial activism, saying, “my nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power.”

Related Editorials

Obama 2001 Interview: Listen Now

 

ENERGY


Quick Facts:

  • McCain has proposed building 45 new nuclear plants by 2030 and is in favor of drilling in sectors of the Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Obama has refused to take a stand, saying only “we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix” and he will “look at” drilling offshore.

Related Editorials

»
McCain: The Energy Candidate

» McCain On Nukes: Yes We Can
» Breaking The Back Of High Oil

 

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McCain, GOP unleash anti-Obama plan

McCain, GOP unleash anti-Obama plan
By: Jonathan Martin
June 27, 2008 12:58 AM EST

Republicans might have a reason to smile: John McCain and his allies seem to have finally settled on a way to draw a stark contrast with Barack Obama.

After weeks of criticism from Republicans about the leisurely pace at which they seemed to be preparing for the general election, McCain’s campaign has apparently settled on a highly personal campaign theme that aims to differentiate McCain and Obama on both character and issues.

The strategy: Paint Obama as conventional politician who always takes the safe and easy political road, then amplify the distinction by framing McCain as a patriot, somebody who has put sacrifice above self.

It’s seemingly an effort by McCain to remind voters of his Vietnam-era heroism and compelling life story while touching on key issues to avoid running purely on biography. The message also is designed to underline McCain’s unique record of service to his country without touching on subterranean questions about Obama’s patriotism.

Whether it will work — or if the famously improvisational McCain will even stick to it — is an open question.

But it is finally clear that McCain and many of his allies — including Karl Rove and Mitt Romney — are finally working in unison to push one message, and push it aggressively.

In a memo sent to reporters Thursday morning headlined, “Country First Vs. Self-Serving Partisanship,” McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt traces an unbroken line from the physical courage McCain demonstrated in the Hanoi Hilton to the political bravery his supporters say he demonstrated on Capitol Hill.

“When John McCain was offered early release as a prisoner of war, he refused, subjecting himself to torture rather than give a propaganda victory to his captors,” Schmidt writes. “Is it any wonder that during the Republican primary, John McCain was working with Democrats and talking about the need for comprehensive immigration reform?”

Obama, Schmidt contends, has never picked the harder right over the easier wrong.

“In his time on the national stage, he has consistently put his party and his self-interest first,” he writes, citing energy and Iraq as two issues where Obama is constrained by the base of his own party.

Schmidt also seeks to use the same self-interest frame to bruise Obama for his decision to reverse course on taking public funding to finance his campaign and for not being willing to engage McCain in multiple town hall meetings.

The Obama campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There is also an element of triangulation in the new theme, a recognition that McCain needs to set him apart from a toxic Republican administration and the political status quo.

To this end, Schmidt seeks to rebut the consistent Democratic effort to fuse McCain and President Bush by suggesting that it’s not just Bush but Washington that is broken.

The country’s political challenges aren’t due to “a Republican administration that has disappointed many or a Democratic Congress that cannot take action on the challenges facing our nation,” Schmidt writes. “The problem is that politicians in Washington are working for their own self-interest or that of their party.”

 

 

Schmidt, who is taking on a broader portfolio in the campaign and has returned from the trail to work at headquarters full time, developed the theme, according to campaign sources, and it has been quickly accepted as the new line.

McCain, who rarely discusses what is perhaps the most compelling element of his biography, used the new language twice on Tuesday to bring up his refusal to take early release in Vietnam.

“When I was offered a chance to go home early from prison camp in Vietnam, I put my country first,” McCain said on a conference call Tuesday night with independent and Democratic voters in South Florida. “And I’ve been doing that ever since.”

He said much the same later that night at a fundraiser in Newport Beach, Calif.

Also picking up the theme Thursday were Rove and Romney.

Rove used his regular perch on the Wall Street Journal opinion page to openly press the patriotism issue. “In a contest over who is willing to put principle above personal ambition and self-interest, John McCain, a war hero and a former POW, wins hands down,” Rove wrote.

In a clear sign of the desire of McCain’s campaign to drive this message, Romney, who has emerged as one of McCain’s most frequent and on-message surrogates, appeared on three television morning shows to make the case.

“He has consistently voted with his party on the most partisan issues and put his party and personal interests ahead of those of the nation,” Romney said of Obama on CNN’s “American Morning.” “I think [he’s] been unable during his career at any time to reach across the aisle, find compromise, find ways to get things done other than simply toeing the party line.”

Another GOP Maalox moment