GOP Should Sign On to Daniels’ Social Truce

October 14th, 2010 at 8:12 am | 16 Comments |

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Earlier this year, The Weekly Standard reported Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels as opining that the next president will “have to call a truce on the so-called social issues,” given the nation’s pressing fiscal issues. When questioned further, Daniels said that we face a “genuine national emergency” in regard to the federal budget and “maybe [social issues] could be set aside for a while. But this doesn’t mean anybody abandons their position at all. Everybody just stands down for a little while, while we try to save the republic.”

Daniels’ comments generated a torrent of criticism from social conservatives, but he refused to back down. “It wasn’t something I just blurted out,” he remarked on his call for a possible social truce. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.” His words are made all the more striking given the fact that he is a strong social conservative. The first article by the Standard points out that Daniels is pro-life, serves as an elder at the Indianapolis Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, which he has attended for 50 years, and helped found a “Christ-centered” school which he claims “is the most important thing I’ve ever been involved in.” The devout Daniels previously stated that “atheism leads to brutality.”

Nor is Daniels alone in his sentiments. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was elected despite largely avoiding social issues, has kept a laser-like focus on fiscal issues while in office and become a national conservative hero partly because of it. What is more, he has specifically called for Republicans to “rebrand themselves credibly with the candidates they run, and what they espouse, as the person who will keep an eye on the cash register, who will rein in the spending and the debt.” When pressed on the social truce idea at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored discussion, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour replied, “I think what Mitch said is very similar to what I have responded to today”:

The voters have on their mind the economy, jobs, spending, debt and taxes and good campaigns are about the issues that are on the peoples’ minds.”… “I’ll put my bonafides up against anybody as a social conservative,” he added, noting that as governor, Mississippi was voted the safest state in the country for an unborn child. “But that ain’t going to change anybody’s vote this year because people are concerned about jobs, the economy, growth and taxes…you are using up valuable time and resources that can be used to talk to people about what they care about.

Socially conservative congressman Mike Pence, however, could not disagree more. “To those who say we should focus on fiscal issues, instead of the right to life, I say ‘what is more fiscally responsible than rolling back this administration’s effort to expand funding for abortion at home and abroad?’” he said in Iowa earlier this month. “What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?”

The congressman may or may not know, however, that federal domestic funding for abortion in the next fiscal year will be at most $327.4 million, with an additional $700 million for international family planning programs. When combined with the $349.6 million in government funding received by Planned Parenthood in fiscal year 2007-2008, the total federal expenditure (even disregarding the fact that the Planned Parenthood figure includes money from state and local governments) on abortion constitutes just 0.00036% of the roughly $3.8 trillion that will make up the 2011 U.S. federal budget. The collective figure also pales in comparison to America’s other economic ills: an umemployment rate that has remained above 9.4% since May 2009 and a national debt estimated at $13.63 trillion as of this writing.

To answer Congressman Pence’s questions, while the amount of government funding for abortion is deplorable, it would be far more fiscally responsible to focus on repealing parts of this year’s massive healthcare reform legislation, whose price tag may exceed $1 trillion over the next ten years. It would be far more fiscally responsible to work to ensure that there are no additional stimulus packages akin to 2009’s wasteful $787 billion plan. It would be far, far, far more fiscally responsible to focus on reducing the size of government in a meaningful, substantial way, growing our economy, and paying off some of our horrendous collective debt.

Governors Barbour, Christie, and Daniels: bring on the social truce!

Recent Posts by Clifton Yin

16 Comments so far ↓

  • Carney

    So does this “truce” mean a time out on abortions, that no helpless innocent babies get aborted for the duration, so we can all focus on the economy?

    Will this “truce” mean the gay-rights movement immediately drops all lawsuits seeking to force unwilling legislative bodies to enact “gay marriage” laws? Will it mean that the gay-rights movement will leave our military alone?

    No, of course not. Therefore this “truce” simply means unilateral disarmament and surrender; social conservatives being told to give up and allow leftists to run unchecked to smash institutions and traditions we deeply cherish, to destroy helpless innocent unborn human beings, to radically redefine basic standards of behavior for our society, to poison our children and grandchildren against our values using our tax dollars, to continue to aggressively attack, attack, attack, to force through their agenda in full.

    Not much of a truce, then. No thanks.

  • CD-Host

    I’m a social liberal but I have to agree with Carney. What would a truce mean?

    Lets take an example Carney didn’t mention. The not religious category in American life (atheist, agnostic, none, don’t know, don’t care) is growing by far the most rapidly in the USA. Their recruitment is way up, their intergenerational retention which used to be 30% is now over 70%. The net effect is they are generating several million people a year hostile to religion in America. You have a broad base of social conservatives who hold that atheist and agnostics are fundamentally immoral. The very definition of morality is religious. Of course this group tilts young because it is growing.

    How do you avoid conflict as the Not Religious group starts running for office openly identifying themselves? How does the Republican party avoid taking a position? Does American crossroads give millions of dollars to a an atheist Republican to defeat an Evangelical Democrat which makes Crossroads essentially secular or does it, it refuse too which means the Republican party is going to practice institutional religious discrimination.

    Of course…. what makes the Republican party popular is social issues. Without social issues on the table Democrats would be looking at 70 Senate seats.

  • Alesandrial

    I agree with CD on his conclusion. If you take the social issues out of the GOP all you are left with is a dead, empty husk.

  • sinz54

    CD-Host: Of course…. what makes the Republican party popular is social issues. Without social issues on the table Democrats would be looking at 70 Senate seats.
    Not any more.

    The GOP’s best weapon now is: Obama.
    His left-wing policies on economics, NOT social issues, are about to be rejected in the upcoming election.

    Obama is doing such a great job of discrediting the Left, that another Left Democrat won’t be elected President for another 20 years.

    The Tea Party movement isn’t about social issues. It’s about federal spending, the national debt, and the gradual loss of economic freedom under a left-wing regime. (Who cares about abortion when we’ve got such a long period of 9.6% unemployment under a supposedly LIBERAL president?) And they have destroyed the Obama administration, utterly stopped it cold.

    You would have been right, maybe 10 years ago. Back then, the GOP depended mostly on the social conservatives in Get Out the Vote (GOTV) drives.

    But not this year. Now we’ve got the Tea Party.
    And the social conservatives can go back to being just one component of a coalition that is mostly focused on economic issues.

    You left-wingers are finished. Your hoped-for “liberal realignment” is dead.

  • CD-Host

    The GOP’s best weapon now is: Obama.
    His left-wing policies on economics, NOT social issues, are about to be rejected in the upcoming election.

    Not really. If you look at the statistics the population wants a more left wing approach. For example opposition to Obamacare is 2:1 in the direction it wasn’t liberal enough. People still blame Bush for the recession they just blame Obama / democrats for failing to pass the right sorts of measures. The voting population is pretty diverse.

    And they have destroyed the Obama administration, utterly stopped it cold.

    January 29, 2009: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-2
    February 4, 2009: Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, Pub.L. 111-3
    February 17, 2009: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-5
    March 11, 2009: Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-8
    March 30, 2009: Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-11
    April 21, 2009: Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, Pub.L. 111-13
    May 20, 2009: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-22
    May 22, 2009: Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-23
    May 22, 2009: Credit CARD Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-24
    June 22, 2009: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, as Division A of Pub.L. 111-31
    June 24, 2009: Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, including the Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash for Clunkers) Pub.L. 111-32
    October 28, 2009: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, including the Matthew Shepard Act, Pub.L. 111-84
    November 6, 2009: Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, Pub.L. 111-92
    February 12, 2010: Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, as Title I of Pub.L. 111-139
    March 4, 2010: Travel Promotion Act of 2009, as Section 9 of Pub.L. 111-145
    March 18, 2010: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, Pub.L. 111-147
    March 23, 2010: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub.L. 111-148
    March 30, 2010: Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, including the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, Pub.L. 111-152
    May 5, 2010: Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, Pub.L. 111-163
    July 1, 2010: Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, Pub.L. 111-195
    July 21, 2010: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub.L. 111-203
    August 10, 2010: SPEECH Act of 2010, Pub.L. 111-223

    I like the Tea Party. I think there is a possibility of a populist party genuinely changing America and healing our very broken economic system. But lets not pretend that this party has a majority just from the right. Right wing economics is unpopular:

    Socially liberal / Economic Conservative – 0%
    Socially moderate / Economic Conservative – 15%
    Socially Conservative / Economic Conservative – 5%

    Economic liberals are 45.5% of the US. You want a populist party you are going to need to pick up left wing populists too.

  • easton

    I agree with Carney too, should Republicans roll over and act like Democrats just to troll for a few votes? Even if I disagree with these people at least they stand up for their principles.

    Sinz: You left-wingers are finished.

    What left-wingers? You are aware this is Frumforum, not Mother Jones.
    Yeah, and Rove created the permanent Republican majority. Yee Gods, how about if you actually wait until the election is over, if they win less than expected does that mean the Republicans are over? Of course not. We are and will continue to be close to a 50-50 nation. Long term though the Demographics look bad for Republicans but that is a while off.

    And you are aware of how high unemployment was under Reagan during his first mid-terms. Democrats picked up a bunch of seats (and remember, they already had a big majority already), did you think Reagan discredited Republicanism and that the party was over.

    Try not to be such a tool.

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Nice. “Stand down?” When the Supreme Court fabricated a shadowy lie of an argument to throw out state abortion statutes and the Federal Government subtly funds abortions here and abroad? Stand down he says!?!

    Let’s have the Government stand down — kick it out of the abortion business! Overrule the laughable Roe v. Wade decision. Now that’s a winning proposition and one that all conservatives can support.

    Stand down . . . it’s like the little man from Indiana feels he is the big daddy of the country.

  • Nanotek

    nanny government conservatives — from China to Iran to the US — have had their day in the sun but that sun is setting as the world wide web dissolves their grip on other people’s lives

  • Clifton Yin

    Thanks for reading.

    To be clear, neither I nor Governor Daniels (as I see it) advocate throwing away our social values. We merely feel the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression warrants a temporary focus on fiscal issues. I think creating jobs, reducing the size of government, lowering taxes, cutting away at the deficit, etc. are actions that Republicans of all stripes can agree are imperative. Furthermore, I think most rational Republicans can agree that Congressman Pence’s call-to-arms on reducing federal funding for abortion is not the height of fiscal responsibility, but rather a sideshow for him to earn support for a potential presidential run and would make the smallest of dents on our bloated budget even if successful.

  • CD-Host

    Clifton –

    Thanks for responding. But you aren’t really addressing the core point. Without the social issues you lack anywhere near a majority in favor of, “reducing the size of government, lowering taxes, cutting away at the deficit”. If you election is purely on economic grounds then the solution to the recession is increasing the size of government, exploding the deficit through large scale stimulus and then running either
    a) a low interest rate high tax economy to gradually pay down the debt
    b) high interest rate high inflation high tax economy to kill the debt quickly

    Republican economic policies are unpopular. Just remember 2/3rds of people opposed to Obamacare are opposed because they think it didn’t go nearly far enough.

  • Carney

    I’m fine with emphasizing issues in accordance with the public mood. But publicly declared, one-sided “truces” are unnecessary and unwise.

  • Clifton Yin

    Hi CD-Host,

    I think if a devout Christian like Governor Daniels can believe that fiscal issues should take precedence over social issues right now, then there are potentially many others like him who feel the same way. You make an excellent point, however, about the tough choices we face in getting out of the recession. I do think tax cuts and stimulus spending should absolutely be matched with spending cuts. Republicans need to start having that debate and think seriously about our goals if/when we take back Congress. Congressman Paul Ryan has been taking some flak for what some people see as his draconian “Roadmap for America’s Future,” but at least he has been thoughtful enough to actually put a plan on paper.

  • CD-Host

    Hi Clifton –

    I agree there are many other that feel the same way. Every Democratic strategists for one. I love Paul Ryan’s plan too. But the reason Republicans need to spend so much time on social wedge issues is because their majority (or even substantial minority) collapses without them.

    Using Pew numbers:

    economic liberals 45.5%
    economic moderates 35.5%
    economic conservatives 20%

    What saves us is social issues:
    cons/mod/lib is 43/39/19

    The Democrats want every election to be about economics and the Republicans want every election to be about abortion for very good reasons. The question is are you willing to help implement a Democratic plan? I guess I don’t understand what the social truce is supposed to accomplish.

  • mikewaz

    CD-Host, out of curiosity, where can I find the survey with the numbers you’re using?

  • TJ Parker

    LOL. Stasis of a social truce is the only way social conservatives can *win*. Not a chance, until DOMA falls.