- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2009

DOWN ON REAGAN

“The Democratic idea bank of Robert & Robert says it’s safe to unload on Ronald Reagan,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

Robert Reich: ‘It is the boldest budget we have seen since the Reagan administration, and drives a nail in the coffin of Reaganomics. We can basically say goodbye to the philosophy espoused by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.’

Robert Shrum: ‘Obama is not only unwinding Reagan’s policies, he is offering a Rooseveltian paradigm that justifies government pragmatically.’

“Hmmm. Let us consider an alternative universe,” Mr. Henninger said.

“The stock market has been in a free-fall (with a bounce off a ledge [Wednesday]), dismantling the saved wealth of millions of individual Americans who must feel they are living through the exploding rubble of some Hollywood disaster movie.

“In reaction, Republicans, true to form, set sail for a deserted island to ponder a dispute between Rush Limbaugh and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. At issue: Who’s captain of the GOP Titanic.

“Someone said, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’ Why are the Republicans wasting it?

“If the Democrats are willing to bet the entire U.S. economy on a 1931 theory known as the Keynesian multiplier, surely Republicans can excavate and relearn the core idea handed down to them by Ronald Reagan. That idea was known as economic growth.

“Freed to choose between these two competing ideas, I’m guessing many voters would go for growth. All that’s needed is just one Republican who can explain this idea halfway as well as Ronald Reagan.”

BEATING UP RUSH

The White House’s attempt to make conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh the face of the GOP ended up being “counterproductive,” according to President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. But that doesn’t mean the Democrats have abandoned their plan to tie the king of talk radio to the Republican Party.

The Democratic National Committee sent out a “Send Rush A Message” broadside Thursday asking Democrats to come up with “a slogan in 10 words or less” that it will put on a billboard “where he can’t miss it - in his hometown of West Palm Beach, Fla.,” The Washington Times’ Don Lambro reports.

“To get America back on a path to prosperity, we’ll need to leave behind the failed partisan attack politics of the past,” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, the DNC’s new executive director - one day after the White House publicly abandoned it own attack plan. Two words at the bottom of the political missive spelled out its true purpose: “Please Donate.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) jumped into the act, too, saying Thursday that despite White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s attacks on Mr. Limbaugh and the Republicans, “President Obama has extended his hand to Republicans in a spirit of bipartisanship.”

“Thus far, they have preferred to kowtow to extremists like Limbaugh rather than accept the good-faith outreach of our president,” the DSCC said. The e-mailed message to party members asked them to sign a petition that “will be sent to Republican leaders, demanding they reject the disgraceful words of Rush Limbaugh” who said earlier this year that he hoped Mr. Obama’s tax-and-spend agenda fails.

And in a postscript, “Please click here to make a donation.”

STEELE’S ROLE

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele appears to have “an inflated idea of what his role as RNC Chairman is - and this misconception might interfere with his true task,” Jay Cost writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“What’s the purpose of the RNC? Is it to lead the Republican Party? No. The national committees are not leadership committees. …

“Is it to be the public face of the party? Again, no. The voting public is now larger than 130 million people. The RNC simply lacks the resources to communicate to a public this large. The chairman can appear on cable news talkers from here to eternity, but he’ll only ever reach a thin slice of the electorate. That’s not to say that the RNC does not have a public relations role - but it is secondary. By the same token, it is out of the committee’s scope to enlarge the party’s voting coalition,” Mr. Cost said.

“The purpose of the RNC is to assist Republican candidates in their quests for electoral victories. …

“So, I would suggest that the RNC chairman’s primary job is to raise and distribute cash.”

SOUR MOOD

“At least on Wall Street, the honeymoon is over for President Barack Obama,” Ben Steverman reports at www.businessweek.com.

“Polls still show the president has strong popularity among the general U.S. population, and Obama continues to command power in Congress. But among investors, fairly or unfairly, there is griping that the new Obama Administration is at least partly to blame for the recent slide in stocks. Since Nov. 4, Election Day, the broad Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is off about 25 percent, and since Jan. 20, when Obama took office, the ‘500’ is down 15 percent.

“It’s never easy to determine exactly why the stock market moves in a particular direction. Plenty of other factors have influenced stock prices since November. For example, the global economy has slowed further and the outlook for corporate profits has worsened.

“But Business Week interviewed a wide array of investment professionals, and many said the first six weeks of the Obama administration have soured their outlook on the stock market.”

JUST ASKING

“As we noted on a chart that ran on Tuesday’s op-ed page, the Dow industrial average has sold off 30 percent since Obama was elected. And as we noted in another chart a week earlier, it has tumbled 44 percent from mid-September, when the financial crisis came to a head and Obama moved ahead of McCain for good in the presidential race,” Investor’s Business Daily said Thursday in an editorial.

“We’d hardly call that ‘bobbing up and down.’ We’d call it a savage bear market in which investors obviously have yet to see anything constructive on the horizon. Bear markets usually last nine to 12 months; we’re in our 17th with no end in sight,” the newspaper said.

“Whether or not he takes the market’s action seriously, the president or someone on his team might ask why this is so, and why the downdraft has accelerated since he came on the scene.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or e-mail Greg Pierce


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