If the GOP wants to win the next round of fiscal debates, maybe they should adopt some of Obama’s tactics

Marc A. Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post, urges the GOP to act more like its chief antagonist, President Obama.  First, the President put forward a questionable stimulus package (which all indicators seem to show, didn’t work).  He did so over a chorus of objections from the minority party.  But he held fast.  Next, the President pushed a massive (and arguably far too costly) health care reform.  At the time, the GOP (and America) was stoutly against

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Obamacare, and offered a high-profile rebuke of his planned policies by electing Scott Brown (in Massachusetts of all places).  What did he do?   He pushed it through anyway.  Eventually, he was rebuffed in 2010 when the house was taken over by the GOP in a history defeat which made 1994 seem mild.  No matter, President Obama pushed forward.  (Perhaps there’s something to that motto of his: “Forward.”)  Whether you agree with his principals or not, Obama sticks to them…come what may.  Marc Thiessen says that this pattern should be followed by the GOP in the looming budgetary fights:

Republicans should take a page from Obama’s playbook, do what they think is right, use all the leverage at their disposal and stop worrying about the electoral consequences. If they learn anything from Obama’s victories, it should be this: Voters reward conviction politicians who fight for what they believe in — even when they disagree with them. Pandering does not work.

The GOP’s next test comes in a few weeks time, when the deadline to raise the debt limit is reached. Democrats are gearing up to demand $1 trillion in new taxes as the price for any spending reductions. Republican leaders have said that they will not accept any more tax increases, [period — and that spending cuts are the price for a debt-limit increase.

Obama will be forgiven if he sees this as a bluff. Let’s hope he is wrong.

In the last debtlimit showdown, Republicans set an important benchmark with the “Boehner rule” — requiring at least one dollar in spending cuts for every dollar in debt limit increase. This is the absolute floor of what the GOP should demand. Unlike the fiscal-cliff standoff, Republicans hold all the leverage in the debt-limit fight — because Obama cannot allow the country to default. Republicans should emulate Obama and use their leverage without hesitation — demanding deep spending cuts and structural reforms to entitlements as the price for any increase in borrowing authority.

Make no mistake: If the roles were reversed, Obama would not hesitate to use the threat of default to break his political opposition. He didn’t flinch from using the threat of a recession to force Republicans to break their no-tax pledge. He didn’t hesitate to use arcane parliamentary strong-arm tactics to pass Obamacare. Obama uses every ounce of political power at his disposal to get what he wants. It’s admirable, really. He has core beliefs and is willing to put everything on the line for them.

It’s time that Republicans did the same. If the GOP wants a path out of the political wilderness, they should start acting more like the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Obama as the anti-Reagan

In his piece released today, Charles Krauthammer dissects the Obama presidency from a historical perspective.  In particular, he argues that Obama wanted to halt a political trajectory set into motion in the 1980s, in which President Reagan rejected the philosophical argument that government was the answer to our problems.  President Reagan argued the polar opposite, famously saying “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”  Krauthammer makes an interesting analysis on how past administrations will generally follow the arc of the previous president.  (I.e. Nixon expanding government reach after LBJ, and conversely, Bill Clinton echoing Reagan’s government view by declaring the era of “big government is over.”)

Obama’s intention has always been to re-normalize, to reverse ideological course, to be the anti-Reagan — the author of a new liberal ascendancy. Nor did he hide his ambition. In his February 2009 address to Congress he declared his intention to transform America. This was no abstraction. He would do it in three areas: health care, education and energy.

Think about that. Health care is one-sixth of the economy. Education is the future. And energy is the lifeblood of any advanced country — control pricing and production, and you’ve controlled the industrial economy.

Krauthammer then goes on to lay out why this election actually is the most important election of our lifetimes.  This election, according to Mr. Krauthammer, is a battle for the core of the American experiment:

An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state.

If Obama loses, however, his presidency becomes a historical parenthesis, a passing interlude of overreaching hyper-liberalism, rejected by a center-right country that is 80 percent nonliberal.

Should they summon the skill and dexterity, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code. Those achievements alone would mark a new trajectory — a return to what Reagan started three decades ago.

Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one’s life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract.