Friday, November 5, 2010

What I Want the House Republicans To Do

The House GOP received a mandate from the voters to try to bring America back on the right track, after Pelosi, Reid and Obama tried to derail it for the past 4 years. They're in a very delicate position, because if they don't deliver, the Republicans won't recapture the White House and the Senate in 2012. And if they stray again, they'll be back where they were a few months ago.

Now it's obvious that they won't succeed in passing any remedial legislation. Nothing would go past the Senate or past Obama's veto. The best thing right now is the gridlock - meaning no more damaging legislation is going to pass, and the uncertainty about the future may be gone. But the challenge for the GOP is to prove they're not the "party of no" and never were, and try to lead from the House. So here is what I'd like them to do (in approximate order):

1. As soon as the new Congress reconvenes, move to extend the Bush tax cuts all across the board, including middle class, job creators, capital gains and estate taxes. It's possible that some of these will be extended by the current Congress, but there should be no compromise and the House should move to extend all of them. If the Senate or Obama refuse it, they should clearly explain how raises those taxes will be damaging for our economy.

2. Repeal and replace the healthcare bill. Of course it has to be repealed, but if they do only that, it will fuel the calls for the GOP being the party of no. They must present an alternative bill, as short as possible, in a very clear format for the voters. It should include all the common sense proposals, like tort reform, reducing the mandates, allowing interstate purchase of insurance, provide the same tax deductions for individuals that employers have, replace Medicaid spending with vouchers and so on.

3. For any damaging, anti-business bill that would originate in the Senate, offer an alternative, free market bill in the House. They'll never be reconciled, but the voters will be able to see the two options and make a decision for themselves.

4. Before next fall, offer a viable budget with minimal deficits. We've heard the Pledge to America, Jack Ryan's alternative budget last year, now it's time to deliver in real terms. I think the 2012 GOP races will depend on the budget proposal. After years of escalating spending n their own watch, it's time for the Republicans to get back to fiscal conservatism - and offer a real solution.

It's not that hard. Of course, it's not easy, but that's their only job right now. As you know, I don't call myself a Republican, but a conservative, and I'll never hesitate to call them on every mistake!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Markets Celebrate the GOP Wins

Today, the Dow closed at 11,434 and the S&P 500 at 1,221, which are the highest closings since the summer 2008. That is, since before Lehman failed, since before TARP and all the stimuli. It tops a trend that started in September, when it became clear that the GOP will recapture the House and the only question remaining was by how much.

The reason is not only because of the huge Republican win, but because there is a legislative gridlock now. What has hampered the recovery the most, and prolonged this recession for longer than normal, is the huge uncertainty about the future. For 18 months, we didn't know what was gonna happen, what new anti-business bills we were gonna get. It was the healthcare bill, about which we discover more and more which every week passing. It was the question or whether we'll have a cap&trade bill, another financial regulations bill, card check, and on and on. Since Obama took office, any smart business didn't plan any new operations, growth, or hiring, because they weren't sure what's gonna hit them next. There's is no credit crunch, as only 9% of businesses recently polled said that getting credit is their main problem. American companies are sitting on a record $2 trillions in cash, which for now sits much better in protected securities than risk being taken over by new Government mandates, regulations or taxes.

But the takeover of the House, while the Democrats remain in control of the Senate and the White House, means we'll have two years of legislative gridlock. That means that no major bill has any chance of passing! It's exactly what we need, what the markets need, what businesses need: for the Government to stay of our lives. We've had many recessions in the past, and the shortest ones where the ones where the Government didn't do anything, and just let the economic cycle turn everything around. When the Government got involved the most, we got FDR's Great Depression, and Carter's double recession and inflation. We probably had the fastest recovery after the 1988 market crash when Reagan, to everybody's despair, did the right thing: nothing.

So now, we'll have legislative gridlock, and no more bills to squeeze our economy and businesses. It's time to finally start recovery, and the markets showed they're ready.

Why the GOP Should Be Grateful for the Tea Party

The most common lines I hear from establishment Republicans recently is that the Tea Party lost us the Senate seats in Nevada and Delaware. Looking back at September 2010, that could be partly true. The establishment picks that Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell beat in the primaries were much better positioned (at that time!) to beat the Democrat candidates.

What the GOP fails to see is what seats the Tea Party DID win for them!

You don't have to look that far back. Take the summer of 2009, barely 16 months ago. The Republicans had suffered devastating losses. The Democrats had just won a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a large majority in the House. The GOP was called "a disappearing species" or "a regional party". While a few House seats were expected to be gained in the midterms, there was a 0 chance of them winning back the House. With more Republican Senators up for re-election than Democrats, a few more losses in the Senate could've been predicted.

Then what happened around June/July 2009? The tea parties started. All of a sudden, the disillusioned Republican voters (many of them who skipped the 2008 elections) were becoming energized. People who never cared about local politics got involved. The wave was started. The first Republican wins appeared.

Now fast forward to the summer of 2010. 10-11 Democrat-held Senate seats wer ein play, while no Republican was vulnerable. Up to 90 Democrat-held House races became competitive (in a normal midterm election there are about 30-40). One year after the tea party got involved in Republican politics, we were EXPECTED to win back the House, and were having a remote chance of regaining the Senate as well.

So before blaming the tea party for losing Nevada and Delaware, you gotta thank the tea party for winning Massachussetts, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. And also thank the tea party for saving the Senate seats in Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri.

And a note to my local Republicans: Before blaming the tea party for "losing" the NJ-6 congressional race, you have to thank them for winning about 40-50 more House seats than we were expected to win before the tea party started.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Thoughts on the Midterm Election

I think it was a great night for Republicans. Not all our favorites won, but it was pretty big anyway. Look at the map on the right. We painted America red again. There are still some pockets of liberal resistance, but we'll take care of many of those in 2 years.

NJ Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll said it best: "
Essentially the only places you see blue are where they have tall buildings or hippies."

In the House we won about 64-65 seats. The Republicans haven't enjoyed such a large majority for almost 70 years. Now I know many of my friends are disappointed because Scott Sipprelle and Anna Little lost. But let's be realistic now: they were long shots anyway. If Republicans won ALL toss-up races, we would've got 90 seats. But neither NJ-6 nor NJ-12 were toss-ups. To win NJ-12 (Leaning Dem), we would've been in the 110-seats pick-up range. And if we won NJ-6 also (Likely Dem), we must've reached the 130-seats victory territory. But we won about half of the toss-up races, which is very good! Nancy Pelosi is no longer Speaker, and Alan Grayson is no longer in Congress! About 15 states switched to a Republican delegation majority, some of them who didn't have it since the 19th century.

We were hoping to get more seats in the Senate. We still got 6 or 7 and keep in mind that Democrats had very few incumbent seats to defend, 19 total, so we snatched one third of that from them. Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold and Arlen Specter are not Senators anymore. Neither would Obama be, since we won his seat also.

Probably the biggest disappointment of the night was Harry Reid's win. But there is a major upside to his win: Chuck "Schmucky" Schumer is not the Senate majority leader! That guy must be miserable, after spending the last 3 weeks in front of his mirror, pumping his fist and practicing his speech.