Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A nation adrift. A Republican lifeline?

Republican guru Karl Rove, excoriated by the left because of his effectiveness, has the facts to back his argument when he writes:
voters don't believe the president's claims that the economy is thriving. Even people with jobs feel apprehensive. Paychecks are flat, growth anemic, and people are worried about their children's prospects. Mr. Obama had a 38% approval on handling the economy in the Sept. 9 Fox News poll. In the Sept. 7 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 67% believe America is on the wrong track.
Old figures? The latest (10/14) Fox News poll records the same 38% approval of Obama’s handling of the economy, and there hasn’t been an NBC/Journal poll since Sept. 7.

Stanford economics professor Michael Boskin, George H.W. Bush’s chairman of the council of economic advisers, is optimistic about America’s future, pointing out that
the U.S. has many strengths: the best higher-education system in the world; a highly productive workforce; the deepest, most liquid capital markets; the most dynamic and innovative companies, as witnessed in the “fracking” revolution and booming U.S. oil and gas industry; and, despite recent demagoguery, a diverse population supportive of earned success.
Of course, Boskin adds that these advantages “are not immutable.”
as has happened with our K-12 education, anticompetitive forces and poor policy can throw sand in the gears of these great contributors to American success. President John F. Kennedy, whose economic strategy emphasized tax cuts and trade liberalization, opined that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” That was overstated. But it lifts by far the most boats and leaves by far the fewest stranded or sunk.
That is why President Obama promoting redistribution at the expense of growth is a tragic mistake, for the nation and especially for those hoping to climb the economic ladder.
Boskin believes our highest priority is to remove obstacles to growth and to re-incentivize “the supply side of the economy.” He wants to phase in stronger budget controls, especially entitlement reform, and to lower tax rates across the board.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been trying these classic G.O.P. “a rising tide lifts all boats” policies, with decidedly mixed results. A sympathetic Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, in writing about Brownback’s difficulties, tells us that
Most of the blowback Gov. Brownback has received for his tax cuts has come from big-spending Republicans who preferred the status quo and have resisted the party's reform wave. Mr. Brownback rolled them during the tax fight, and their revenge now has been to unite with Democrats to cause him political mischief.
Brownback seems to have discovered the price you pay when you go after the GOP’s “spend to hang on” wing. But on the other hand, conservative Jay Cost in the Weekly Standard believes that
Republicans . . . could start by adopting the perspective of families that make about $65,000 per year. These people’s economic situation is uncertain, and they pay a goodly portion of their income to the IRS—. . .through Social Security and Medicare taxes, which flow into the federal government’s general revenues. . . Economic security for this group primarily means lowering the cost of education, health care, and energy.
So instead of talking about tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy, about easing regulations on business, and about entitlement reforms that lower social security benefits, Republicans must (I said “must”) show how government raises the cost of education, health care, and energy for people making $65,000 a year, and how Republicans--by increasing competition and reducing regulation--will make education, health care, and energy more affordable for ordinary people.

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