- - Thursday, May 19, 2022

“The economy, stupid.” That was the sign in the campaign headquarters of then-Gov. Bill Clinton in 1992. The incumbent president was perceived as being out of touch with the plight of many Americans. In contrast, the Clinton campaign focused on the economy and won. 

That phrase came to mind last week when the current Democratic president posted a tweet saying, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.” On Monday, the new White House press secretary was asked, “How does raising taxes on corporations reduce inflation?”

Karine Jean-Pierre’s lame response is worth repeating: “Look, you know, we have talked about — we have talked about this past year, about making sure that the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share. And that is important to do. And that is something that, you know, the president has been, you know, working on every day when we talk about inflation and lowering costs.”

“And so it’s very important that, you know, as we’re seeing costs rise, as we’re talking about how to, you know — you know, build an America that is safe, that’s equal for everyone, and doesn’t leave anyone behind, that is an important part of that as well.”

That weak response was followed by this obvious question: “But how does raising taxes on corporations lower the cost of gas, the cost of a used car, the cost of food for everyday Americans?”

Ms. Jean-Pierre’s response was just as bad as the first time: “So, look, I think we encourage those who have done very well — right? — especially those who care about climate change, to support a fairer tax — tax code that doesn’t change — that doesn’t charge manufacturers’ workers, cops, builders a higher percentage of their earnings; that the most fortunate people in our nation — and not let the — that stand in the way of reducing energy costs and fighting this existential problem, if you think about that as an example, and to support basic collective bargaining rights as well. Right? That’s also important.”

“But look, it is — you know, by not — if — without having a fairer tax code, which is what I’m talking about, then all — every — like manufacturing workers, cops — you know, it’s not fair for them to have to pay higher taxes than the folks … who are not paying taxes at all or barely have.”

Translation: They don’t have a clue of how to bring down inflation. But they are hoping they can distract you by blaming “wealthy corporations.” 

Inflation would likely be worse if they had their way. The federal government would have another $3.5 trillion to spend if the “Build Back Better” plan passed earlier this year. That would likely do even more to drive up inflation. Gas prices are already out-of-control while the cost of buying groceries continues to be a struggle for so many Americans. 

A reliable source, who covered the 2016 Clinton campaign, told me that Mr. Clinton tried to get them to speak to the economic woes of blue-collar workers. He learned that the leadership of the campaign basically told the former president what worked in the 1990s was old news and that they would stick to the theme “Better Together” and not being former President Donald Trump. We all know how well that worked for them. 

Voters are ready for a real change. Republican candidates need to remember, “the economy, stupid.” Don’t take the bait from the media or the left. Stay focused on issues that matter to working families and retirees. Be the party of the people. 

Conservatives should talk about things that will drive down the costs of gas, food and housing. Explain plans to stop waste, fraud and abuse in government. Promote ways of keeping more of our hard-earned money. Support parents who want to take back their children’s schools. Defend small businesses from over-regulation. 

Let the leftist coastal elites tell people to buy an electric vehicle that costs more than our first home. Let them defend sending baby formula to the border for people crossing illegally while shelves are empty in so many stores. Let them claim the answer to high prices is to raise taxes on the companies that make many of the products people need. Americans can see through this nonsense. 

When the radicals spent tens of millions against me during our recall election, we talked about how our reforms made life better for the people of Wisconsin. Thankfully, we acted soon enough that our reforms were a success and voters could see it themselves. We won with more votes in the recall than we had in the original election. 

In contrast, Mr. Biden’s defenders are hoping voters ignore reality and buy into the distractions. Americans need a real leader who can feel their pain — and do something productive about it. As they said 30 years ago, the economy, stupid. 

• Scott Walker is the president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019.

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