American Principles In Action - How should Conservatives respond to President Obama's State of the Union attacks?
In a speech last week, Senator Chuck Schumer sent a strong message to Democrats across the country – start talking about declining wages, pinched family budgets, and the explosive cost of going to college:
“We must focus, this year, on four or five simple but compelling examples of where government can help the average family, like: raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable, renewing our commitment to revitalizing our national infrastructure, and ensuring equal pay for women.”
It looks as though President Obama got the message.
According to the Washington Post, “Democrats consider President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, a launching point for a year of sustained assault on Republicans over a populist economic agenda, part of an effort to focus more on bread-and-butter issues, including minimum wage, unemployment and access to college.”
How should Conservatives respond?
On the economy, Republicans need a new message.
The great temptation for the GOP is to go into reactionary defensive mode – to argue ‘not the minimum wage,’ for example. But on economic issues, as well as social issues, the best defense is a good offense.
Conservatives must respond to Obama’s and Schumer's challenge, by coming up with 4 or 5 ways in which electing the GOP will help the average struggling middle class family put food on the table, pay for college, and cope with the outrageous hit that Obamacare is taking on struggling families paychecks.
The GOP’s women, youth and Hispanic gap are not about social issues, as Maggie Gallagher, Rich Danker and I pointed out in our report, “Building a Winning GOP Coalition: The Lessons of 2012”.
When asked “will electing a Republican or Democrat will help the economy?,” women chose the Democrats 49% to 31%; young voters choose the Democrats 51% to 27%, and Hispanics preferred the Democrats by a whopping 57% to 21%.
Conservative and Republican leaders must use this opportunity to connect with average working families’ present economic suffering and concern about the declining standard of living, not just jobs. When we speak of rising government spending and debt, we have to connect those costs to voters' current experience of rising prices.
The greatest indictment of the Obama administration is that after 5 years in office, the only demographic group experiencing increases in the standard of living are people over the age of 65.
What do GOP leaders need to do?
Focus on the declining standard of living. The GOP needs to recognize that it’s not just jobs, and it’s not just minimum wage workers that are being affected – the sagging economy now is eating into the middle-class family budgets, big time.
Tie Obamacare to the shrinking paycheck of the average American worker and promise to protect young workers, who are prioritizing bread-and-butter and repaying college debt over expensive Obamacare plans.
Remove special protections for banks that prevent American workers from using bankruptcy laws, when they cannot afford to repay their tuition. Permit families to deduct at least the first 2 years of college tuition from their taxes. And laud the GOP Governor’s in Texas and Florida, who are challenging state schools to come up with $10,000 degree programs for high-demand majors.
Support a monetary reform commission and look at how Fed policy is causing families’ budgets to shrink.
Propose substantial tax protections for struggling middle-class families, by doubling the child tax credit for families with children under the age of 6.
As Margaret Thatcher taught us – first you win the argument then you win the election.
Conservatives need to win the argument over who can help rebuild the middle class in order to retake the Senate in 2014.
American Principles in Action