How should Republicans respond to Obamanomics? Because of the breathtaking speed and size of the new president’s proposals, critics have yet to coalesce around any clear, single narrative. This is a problem, since six different responses to Obamanomics are almost the same as no response at all. Worse, Republicans have tended to fall back on old, time-tested framings that sound, well, old.
Republicans say: The stimulus package/new budget expansion is “pork”; it contains something called “earmarks,” they tell the American people. It is “wasteful” government spending that drives up an abstraction called the “deficit.” Barack Obama, we fear, is engaged in “class warfare,” which is fundamentally “unfair” given that, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blurted out, 1 percent of the taxpayers pay 50 percent or more of the taxes.
All true enough, I suppose.
But Obamaheads chuckle as they listen to these responses. They understand that Americans are not an ideological people - no more than 20 to 30 percent of Americans respond viscerally to this kind of rhetoric. For too many economic conservatives, living in a bubble, the electoral problem of the GOP is social conservatives - those funny Americans who care about abortion and marriage and God in public schools. Obamaheads, by trying to downplay social issues and highlight economic ones, show they understand it is the conservative position on things like the minimum wage that, however economically correct, are politically problematic.
These are not your mama’s liberals. Sure, the Obama administration may not understand how to stimulate economic growth, conserve the family, protect religious expression or even defend the nation militarily (that remains to be seen), but they understand domestic power and its uses far more than the Reagan revolutionaries ever did.
The first trillion of your children’s money the Obama White House spent was dedicated primarily to paying back Democratic interest groups - to getting all the people who organized voters to support Democrats on the security of the public dole: teachers unions, labor unions, ACORN. (What did social conservatives ever get for 30 years of support for the GOP that is remotely equivalent to just the first round of hard-left cash payouts now taking place?)
Let me predict: The second round of Obamaism will be about finding new ways to delegitimize and silence opposition to the Democrats’ new governing coalition, whether it’s threatening conscience protections around abortion or gay marriage, shrinking talk radio, or a “cap and trade” carbon tax that - as Europe’s experience shows - does nothing to reduce carbon emissions but does mean that every business executive is now a supplicant to Washington.
The Obamaheads, with their eyes wide open, are using a national crisis as an excuse to achieve other political goals: With eyes wide open, they are raising the art of lying to a whole new, rich level.
For the price of Mr. Obama’s first $2 trillion in spending, every man, woman and child in America could be clutching a check for roughly $6,000 - that’s $24,000 for a family of four - enough to pay for out-of-pocket health-care needs, to fund a small business venture or to make the down payment on a home.
All that has gone, instead, to feed Mr. Obama’s beast - his “peops,” the troops who got him elected - rather than for a real stimulus package.
Think back to last October when George W. Bush championed the first deeply unpopular bailout on the grounds it was needed to stave off economic collapse. Economic collapse happened anyway. Trillions of dollars later, how can Mr. Obama blame anyone but himself if his plan fails?
Put it this way: If I’m going to face a deep recession anyway, I would prefer to do it with $6,000 of borrowed government money in my own pockets rather than ACORN’s.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist.