Entries Tagged as 'Republican Party'

The Cost of the Tea Party

David Frum November 30th, 2011 at 8:47 am 79 Comments

Here’s some interesting data from Pew.

Americans turning against the “tea party” (however they understand the “tea party” to mean) is not exactly a new story, but here it continues to accelerate.

More surprising: the tea party seems to be contaminating the larger Republican brand.

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Gingrich Passes a Very Low Bar

November 29th, 2011 at 7:54 pm 68 Comments

Newt Gingrich has a voluminous history of misdeeds as a public figure. But since he is now emerging as the consensus alternative to Mitt Romney, sickness we should pause to appreciate how he is succeeding where others have failed in auditioning for that role.

I write this not as a Newt Gingrich fan, view but in grudging admission that despite the mistakes he has made, mind his opponents have done worse.

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Signs of Hope, Part 4

November 28th, 2011 at 1:42 pm 48 Comments

FrumForum is on the lookout for Signs of Hope that the conservative movement is moving towards intellectual openness. Today’s entry comes in the form of a new Facebook group: Republicans for Responsible Reform.

The group was started by friends of the site D.R. Tucker and Michael Stafford. Tucker and Stafford have taken a lead in calls for Republicans to reform and they have started the group to connect like-minded Republicans together.

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Where’s My Party?

David Frum November 20th, 2011 at 7:08 pm 170 Comments

Last month, New York magazine challenged me to answer the question: Why are the other Republicans so mad at you? What’s the argument about–and how’s it going?

They allowed me generous space for an answer, which you can read here.

Who Burned the GOP Brand?

David Frum October 27th, 2011 at 8:50 am 107 Comments

Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza describe a new CBS/NYT poll:

The poll also asked which class voters thought the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress favored. While people were pretty evenly split on whether the administration favors the middle class, find the rich or the poor, cure they were all but unanimous about which class the Republicans favor; 69 percent said Republicans in Congress favor the rich, healing while just 9 percent said the middle class and 2 percent said the poor.

Voters say the darndest things!

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Clear it with Rush

David Frum July 25th, 2011 at 3:29 pm 37 Comments

I heard Rush Limbaugh talk in his first hour today about the details of the Boehner plan. I was in the car returning from the gym, and I just assumed I’d missed the release of the plan earlier.

But no. Limbaugh indeed got the scoop.

It’s worth noting that for all the conservative obsession with the dreaded Mainstream Media, it is really the Republican party that is far more in thrall to its pet media organizations. A Democratic plan proposal can survive the disapproval of the New York Times. But Rush Limbaugh has veto power over the GOP as now constituted.

It’s incredible, it’s self-defeating, it’s absurd … but it’s the way it is.

“I Knew Ronald Reagan: You’re No Reagan, Newt”

June 23rd, 2011 at 1:34 pm 61 Comments

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich this week attempted to compare his troubled campaign’s recent upheavals to those experienced by Ronald Reagan at the launch of his ultimately successful 1980 White House bid — a claim dismissed out of hand by a former senior Reagan staffer.

In recent days the former House Speaker’s top aides and fundraisers have abandoned him.  He has lost all six of his paid staff in Iowa — along with some in South Carolina and other key states.

Along with that, former Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue dropped out as Gingrich national campaign co-chair to join Tim Pawlenty’s bid for the White House.

Gingrich reacted by noting Reagan’s campaign had 13 aides quit before the 1980 New Hampshire primary but he still went on to win that first-in-the-nation — and the general election.

“If I had to choose Reaganomics or 13 staffers quitting, I think for the average working American Reaganomics was a much better deal,” Gingrich said.

The only problem is that former history professor Gingrich may be shading the facts. Former Reagan campaign staffer Richard V. Allen — and later National Security Adviser — dismissed the comparison as inaccurate. Comparing the two campaigns is “a very long stretch, indeed,” he told FrumForum.

Reagan fired his campaign manager, John Sears, on the day of his New Hampshire primary victory.  On this decision, Allen says it “was a warranted, well-planned, and exquisitely executed action by Governor Reagan and those around him.”

One decided to make strategic cuts to his campaign team, while the other is having his crew trickle out from beneath him. In the words of Allen, “There is a difference between being fired and quitting in despair and disgust.”

This brief summary of Reagan’s initial 1980 teething problems underscores the superficiality of any comparisons between the two campaigns. With Reagan, the staff shake-up amounted to the candidate assuming more control of his campaign — while Team Gingrich seems to be in its death throes.

The former Speaker’s campaign is estimated to be about one million dollars in debt — and struggling to raise funds. At this point for Reagan in 1979, his campaign had already raised $1.4 million.

GOP’s Debt Cutting Pipe Dream

June 7th, 2011 at 12:20 am 9 Comments

Words are like bullets; once fired they cannot be recalled.  As any range master will tell you, buy viagra be careful of the ricochet.

One hundred and three House Republicans have sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor outlining the conditions under which they “might” vote to increase the federal debt ceiling.

These conditions are:

(1) cut spending immediately in order to cut the projected FY2012 deficit in half;

(2) enact statutory, illness enforceable spending caps that cut future spending down to 18 per cent of Gross Domestic Product;

(3) House and Senate passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that includes a spending cap of 18 percent of GDP and “a high hurdle” for tax increases.

The letter, ram-rodded by Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, contends that cutting the projected deficit in half in the coming fiscal year would require “only” spending cuts of $380 billion.

Signatories of the letter must make at least three assumptions.

First, the letter makes a nice press release for back home consumption, where very few voters will question the numbers.

Second, that when the right numbers emerge, the public will be sufficiently confused and stop paying attention.

Third, that when many of these signatories do vote for a debt ceiling increase, without the conditions they stipulate, all prior words on the subject will suddenly disappear from existence and voters will have forgotten what the 103 demanded.

We need to be clear here.  Congress will pass an increase in the federal debt ceiling.  It will do it with maximum confusion, unnecessary verbiage, and in such a manner that has the greatest possibility of spooking credit markets throughout the world.

Here’s a “green eyeshade” look at the letter.

The 103 signers believe that cutting next year’s deficit in half will require only $380 billion in cuts from projected spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  They are right only if they also endorse full expiration of most of the Bush tax cuts, expansion of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and full implementation of cuts to doctors who have Medicare patients.

Yet, in all likelihood, all 103 are on record urging full continuation of the Bush tax cuts, keeping the AMT from expanding, and making sure that the cuts to Medicare doctors don’t occur.  So those103 representatives have signed a letter that implicitly endorses what they have publicly repudiated, or they weren’t really paying attention to the little details of budgeting.  Those little details loom large.

So, what is the real number?  How much would it take to cut the FY2012 deficit in half, taking into account the very positions that the 103 have previously endorsed?

The CBO produces what it calls “an alternative baseline.”  This baseline incorporates an important matter—political reality.  Using this baseline, which assumes that politicians will continue the majority of the Bush tax cuts, will truncate the AMT’s reach, and will reject cutting doctors’ Medicare compensation, as well as other reasonable assumptions based on past behavior, the CBO gets this deficit number:  $1.12 trillion, or roughly 7.1% of anticipated GDP.  Now, half of $1.12 trillion is $556 billion, not the $386 the 103 say would achieve the goal of cutting the deficit in half.

Yes, this is getting boring.  Pure boredom with all these numbers accounts for why the public finds itself completely confused about the true federal budget situation.

But, hang with me for just a moment more. Here are the numbers for spending as a percentage of GDP.

Medicare and Medicaid = 5.0%

Social Security and related = 4.9%

Defense appropriations = 4.5%

Domestic appropriations = 4.2%

Other mandatory = 3.2%

Interest = 1.7%

That adds up to 23.5 percent of GDP.  The 103 letter signers want 18%.  So, they have a menu of where they could cut just by looking at the numbers above.

Medicare has already been poisoned politically and is unlikely to suffer much cutting over these next 18 months.  Social Security and related programs (disability insurance) have been declared out of bounds by both sides.  House Republicans leaders have expressed real concern about defense cuts while the nation is embroiled in three, undeclared conflicts.  The category “other mandatory” includes such things as veterans’ compensation and retirement, other federal retirement obligations, farm subsidies, and federal workers’ health benefits.

That leaves domestic appropriations as fair game in everybody’s view.  Do you see how easy this is?  Just eliminate all domestic appropriated accounts and you get down to about 19% of GDP.  Take a little here and a little there and you can get to 18% of GDP.

Of the 435 Members of the House, you can safely estimate that not 75 would vote for elimination of all domestic programs.

So, the debt increase is going to pass, spending as a percentage of GDP will be far above 18%, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution remains very problematic, and the FY2012 deficit will be well above $1 trillion.

What about all those fine words in the letter to Speaker Boehner?  Sometime next fall, perhaps as early as late summer, many Republicans now in the House will find themselves confronted by 30 second ads outlining what kinds of cuts, and how many layoffs of workers, their 18% of GDP will yield in their districts.

Watch out for the ricochet.

Is GOP’s Default Talk Slowing Recovery?

David Frum June 6th, 2011 at 2:16 pm 44 Comments

Michael Barone is one of the smartest and most even-tempered observers in Washington.

In today’s D.C. Examiner he offers his answer to the important question, why is the economy so weak?

He blames the Obama administration both for bad public and – maybe even more – for dangerous political posturing.

On April 13, Barack Obama delivered a ballyhooed speech at George Washington University. The man who conservatives as well as liberal pundits told us was a combination of Edmund Burke and Reinhold Niebuhr was widely expected to present a serious plan to address the budget deficits and entitlement spending.

Instead, the man who can call on talented career professionals at the Office of Management and Budget to produce detailed blueprints gave us something in the nature of a few numbers scrawled on a paper napkin.

The man depicted as pragmatic and free of ideological cant indulged in cheap political rhetoric, accusing Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who was in the audience, of pushing old ladies in wheelchairs down the hill and starving autistic children.

The signal was clear. Obama had already ignored his own deficit reduction commission in preparing his annual budget, which was later rejected 97-0 in the Senate. Now he was signaling that the time for governing was over and that he was entering campaign mode 19 months before the November 2012 election.

People took notice, especially those people who decide whether to hire or not. Goldman Sachs’ Current Activity Indicator stood at 4.2 percent in March. In April — in the middle of which came Obama’s GW speech — it was 1.6 percent. For May, it is 1.0 percent.

“That is a major drop in no time at all,” wrote Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal.

After April 13, Obama Democrats went into campaign mode. They staged a poll-driven Senate vote to increase taxes on oil companies.

They launched a Mediscare campaign against Ryan’s budget resolution that all but four House Republicans had voted for. That seemed to pay off with a special election victory in the New York 26th congressional district.

The message to job creators was clear. Hire at your own risk. Higher taxes, more burdensome regulation and crony capitalism may be here for some time to come.

Personally, I’m not very convinced of the “business confidence” theory of the weak recovery.

I would myself lay much more emphasis on economic factors like: (i) the continuing destruction of American consumer wealth as housing prices deflate; (ii) the burden of rising oil prices; (iii) the collective decision of American consumers to increase their saving by 6 points of personal income – a laudable decision, but one that subtracts a lot of demand from the economy.

But if I were a believer in the business confidence theory, here’s the counter-question I’d put to Michael Barone:

Which is more likely to subtract from business confidence: a lame speech by the president – or a highly credible and sustained threat by the majority party in the House of Representatives to force a default on the debts, contracts, and other obligations of the United States?

GOP Fringe Plays Into Obama’s Strategy

David Frum June 6th, 2011 at 11:53 am 61 Comments

The weak economy gives the GOP a good chance to win in 2012. Unfortunately, as I discuss in my latest column for CNN.com, the GOP’s fringe is taking attention away from Obama’s dismal economic record.

As Texas Sen. Phil Gramm phrased it on the campaign trail in 1996 to a struggling Republican House challenger, “There are only two issues when running against an incumbent. Her record, and I’m not a kook.”

So the Republican playbook for 2012 should follow a simple plan:

1) Focus on the president’s record.

2) Do not allow the militant wing of the party to bind the whole party to election-losing issues.

3) Keep the kooks off the main stage.

And yet this simple plan is proving surprisingly hard to execute.

Look at the issues the House GOP has decided to showcase this summer:

A) A budget plan that would gradually withdraw Medicare coverage from everyone younger than 55, to the point where the Congressional Budget Office estimates that senior citizens will be paying two-thirds of their health coverage out of pocket by 2030.

B) A threat to force a default on the obligations of the United States by August unless the president yields on point A.

In other words, Republicans are in danger of violating point 2 of the incumbent-defeating plan.

Meanwhile, the conservative entertainment complex seems bent on trashing point 3. So far this year, Fox News and talk radio have pushed Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann as top-tier presidential candidates. Now they are trying the same for Herman Cain, while lovingly publicizing Sarah Palin’s donation-seeking bus tour.

Yes the American media always loves a freak show. But a political party does not have to cooperate. …

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