Friday, February 07, 2014

Should Republicans fight big problems with “small ball”?

Ponnuru                     Levin
Scholars say Karl Marx brilliantly analyzed capitalism’s shortcomings, then invented a terrible fix (communism). That may be why conservative Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin’s lengthy National Review article dwells on problems, not solutions as it examines how Republicans can refocus on working class America.

Ponnuru and Levin want the GOP to realize that:
Voters are worried about stagnating wages, inadequate mobility out of poverty and through the middle class, weak growth, and the high costs of raising a family. [Therefore] conservatives must offer the public an agenda that addresses people’s actual concerns in a way that liberals, because of their ideology and their electoral coalition, will be hard pressed to do.
And Ponnuru-Levin call for:
a broad conservative agenda that would lift burdens off the shoulders of parents and workers, strengthen the market economy while making its benefits accessible to more Americans, and better enable the poor to rise. [It would] undermine the damaging perception that the Republican party is interested in helping only the rich and big business.
Perhaps because Ponnuru-Levin worry about bridging a split conservative movement, their agenda seems limited, cautious. They call for:
  • conservative solutions to [healthcare] problems involving the intelligent deployment of the same forces — competition, cost-conscious and empowered consumers — that spur innovation and improve value in other sectors of the economy. 
Obamacare is a big, not little, issue. Still, the Ponnuru-Levin solution is light on details, and impossible while Obama remains president.

The two also recommend:
  • reforms that create and expand alternatives to a traditional college education, open opportunities for people who follow these alternative routes, and in other ways put competitive pressure on colleges to restrain costs. 
  • tax relief for families. . . by creating and then expanding the child tax credit. 
Clinton (1996)
That’s it. Small stuff, but Bill Clinton turned around his fortunes in 1995-96 by emphasizing “triangulation” and “bite-sized achievements.” Are Ponnuru and Levin suggesting a Clinton-paved path? If so, they should tell us directly.

No comments: