House Republicans Should Call an Emergency, Members-Only Conference
Faced with these election results, the House Republicans should hold an emergency members-only meeting. At the meeting, they should pose this stark choice: Real change or certain defeat.
If a majority of the House Republicans vote for real change, they should instruct Republican Leader John Boehner and his team to come back with a new plan by the Wednesday before the Memorial Day recess. This plan should involve real change in legislative, communications, and campaign strategy and involve immediate, real action, including a complete overhaul of the Congressional Campaign Committee. The House Republican Conference would then vote for the plan or insist on its revision.
If a majority of the House Republicans are opposed to acting then the minority who are activists should establish a parallel organization dedicated to real change. This group should focus its energies on creating the changes necessary to survive despite a conference with a minority mindset that accepts defeat rather than fights for real change (which is what we had when I entered Congress in 1978).
Nine Acts of Real Change That Could Restore the GOP Brand
Here are nine acts of real change that would begin to rebuild the American people's confidence that Republicans share their values, understand their worries, and are prepared to act instead of just talk. The Republicans in Congress could get a start on all nine this week if they had the will to do so.
Repeal the gas tax for the summer, and pay for the repeal by cutting domestic discretionary spending so that the transportation infrastructure trust fund would not be hurt. At a time when, according to The Hill newspaper, Senator Clinton is asking for $2.3billion in earmarks, it should be possible for Republicans to establish a "government spending versus your pocketbook" fight over cutting the gas tax that would resonate with most Americans. Lower taxes and less government spending should be a battle cry most taxpayers and all conservatives could rally behind.
Redirect the oil being put into the national petroleum reserve onto the open market. That oil would lower the price of gasoline an extra 5 to 6 cents per gallon, and its sale would lower the deficit.
Introduce a "more energy at lower cost with less environmental damage and greater national security bill" as a replacement for the Warner-Lieberman "tax and trade" bill which is coming to the floor of the Senate in the next few weeks (see my newsletter next week for an outline of a solid pro-economy, pro-national security, pro-environment energy bill). When the American people realize how much the current energy prices are actually a "politicians' energy crisis" they will demand real change in our policies.
Establish an earmark moratorium for one year and pledge to uphold the presidential veto of bills with earmarks through the end of 2009. The American people are fed up with politicians spending their money. They currently believe both parties are equally bad. This is a real opportunity to show the difference.
Overhaul the census and cut its budget radically. The recent announcement that the Census Bureau could not build an effective hand-held computer for $1.3 billion and is turning instead to 600,000 temporary workers to do a paper and pencil census in 2010 is an opportunity to slash its budget, shrink its bureaucracy, and turn to entrepreneurial internet-based companies to build an information-age census. This is an absurdity that cries out for bold, decisive reform (see my YouTube video "FedEx versus federal bureaucracy" for an example of what I mean).
Implement a space-based, GPS-style air traffic control system. The problems of the Federal Aviation Administration are symptoms of a union-dominated bureaucracy resisting change. If we implemented a space-based GPS-style air traffic system we would get 40% more air travel with one-half the bureaucrats. The union has stopped 200,000,000 passengers from enjoying more reliable air travel to protect 7,000 obsolete jobs. This real change would allow the millions of frustrated travelers to have champions in congress trying to help them get places better, safer, faster.
Declare English the official language of government. This real change is supported by 87% of the American people including a majority of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Latinos. It is an issue of national unity that brings Americans together in a red, white, and blue majority.
Protect the workers' right to a secret ballot. The vast majority (around 81%) of Americans believe that American workers have a right to have a secret ballot election before they are forced to join a union. Last year the House Democrats passed a bill that would strip American workers of the secret ballot. A new bill should be introduced reaffirming that right, and it should be brought up again and again until marginal Democrats are forced to vote with the American people against the union power structure.
Remind Americans that judges matter. Senate Republicans should mount an ongoing fight (including a filibuster of other activities if necessary) to get the American people to realize that liberals want to block all current judicial appointments in order to maximize the number of left wing radical judges they can appoint if they win the White House. This issue has three advantages. It reminds people that judges matter and that a leftwing radical Supreme Court would be bad for the values of most (70 to 90 percent, depending on the issue) Americans. It shows the Democrats are not engaged in fair play. It arouses the activism of those who have been disappointed by Republicans and have forgotten how bad a liberal Democratic Presidency would be.
What Is at Stake
No Republicans should kid themselves. It's time to face up to a stark choice.
Without change we could face a catastrophic election this fall.
Without change the Republican Party in the House could revert to the permanent minority status it had from 1930 to 1994.
Without change, the majorities of Americans who support the Republican principle of smaller, more efficient, smarter and fairer government will be in for a rude awakening.
It's time for real change to avoid a real disaster.
Newt's right, and I've been saying this since 06 on leadership. They should have apppointed a leader to lead the GOP house. John Shadegg and Mike Pence would have been much better choices.
Bush is no leader. That's not an attack, but a fact. He goes in his direction and damn the torpedos. That's not leadership. It's better than being a follower, but it doesn't always work, and rarely works if you can not communicate an effective plan - and the latter is Bush's biggest weakness. Right or wrong, he gets the blame for all the problems out there. He can be a part of the solution in the next six months with a veto pen, or he can be a problem. I think he wants to retire, and that can be a problem here.
I thought putting Boehner and Blunt back in charge was a big mistake in 06 since he was establishment. I told you so. The big government establishment was not working, is not working, and will not be working. Screw K Street. Screw the establishment money being everything. Screw Washington DC values and strategy. It's drying up anyway, because nobody wants to fall off the cliff. So what do you do when the truck is driving off the cliff. You don't panic. You don't keep driving in that direction giving up. You turn the damn thing around and go into a different direction. That's not happening right now. I told you so in 06 that without a change, we lose big again and replace big government with gigantic government statism. Beltwayitis is a fatal disease in politics. The GOP has split control - 1 out of three branches. They are acting like they have no control, and too many in the general public think they have control because of Bush. That's a horrific combination. Perception is reality, and they need to start leading and acting like they are in the majority, since center-right limited government conservative values are the view of the majority of the population. They got 6 months to impliment a good plan..But..but but...the committees won't bring it up for a vote. Then Bush needs to veto everything or the senate needs to fillibuster until it does. He needs to admit some bad decisions were made, and come through with this plan, as do the house minority, as do the biggest jokers of all which is the senate.
McCain gets on my nerves at times, but he's carved himself a niche as an independent thinker. That may just save the White House in 08. It won't do a damn thing downticket. I've never believed in coattails unless there is a 15 point win. Reagan had them. Bush I didn't. Clinton didn't. Bush II didn't in 2000. Bush II sort-of-did in the senate with a geography advantage since Daschle went national and forgot where he came from. Wins in Missouri, South Dakota, and the two Carolinas aren't really coattails in that sense.
Go back to the 1994 strategy. It worked for a reason. The economy was shaky. Clinton lost his signature policy. The country was in the wrong direction. Government was getting bigger. Scandal after scandal was going on. Sound familiar?
If the GOP put me in charge of strategy and message, I'll cut our senate losses at least in half (I have us down 6 there), and the house would be close to even or even a couple of gains. I'd even do this at a discount compared to what the DC consultants charge. Even better, Tom Cole needs to have Newt Gingrich run the NRCC.
Now back to my real work.