Thursday, October 23, 2014

Economy Still Matters

At NRO, I look at the decision by some Democrats to turn to economic populism as a last-ditch electoral defense.  Noting that many aspects of the president's record have actually undermined the working class, I suggest that Republicans need to make their own case for economic growth for the middle:
Despite all these obstacles, Democrats may be able to use populist messaging to push themselves over the finish line in a few close races. President Obama’s reelection campaign depended upon a combination of class warfare, withering personal attacks upon Governor Romney, and appeals to demographic polarization (such as the “war on women”). Some Democrats seem to hope that the White House’s 2012 playbook can be useful in 2014. Josh Kraushaar noted last week that some Democrats are turning with at least modest success to economic issues in places as disparate as Illinois, Massachusetts, and Georgia. This success should remind Republicans of the need for the GOP to offer its own message of economic advancement for the middle class.Luckily for many Republican candidates, pundits and politicians alike have taken a renewed interest in broad-based economic prosperity. Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, among others, have emphasized pro–middle-class messages and policies. The recent policy publication Room to Grow is full of market-oriented suggestions for improving the standing of the economic middle. Beyond debates about the minimum wage, Republicans can emphasize the importance of a vibrant economy, in which incomes of all types can grow. They could argue on behalf of a tax-reform agenda that has benefits for middle-income families. They could defend an energy policy that fuels economic growth and makes energy more affordable for consumers. In contrast to the prevailing doctrine of Too Big to Fail, Republicans could argue for reform that would create a more diffused and market-oriented financial system. In place of the White House’s anti-market and anti-worker immigration agenda, Republicans could argue for an immigration policy that affirms the dignity of all workers and increases economic opportunity for native-born Americans and immigrants alike (so GOPers would be better off not calling for a further increase in guest-worker programs). In addition to criticizing the shortcomings of the ACA, Republicans can lay out their proposals for making the health-care system more affordable and more efficient. Instead of pitting Americans against one another through class warfare, Republicans can defend broad-based economic opportunity, where Americans can work together for the enrichment of all.

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