According to the New York Times today, Rep. Boehner (R-OH) announced something called the “Pledge to America.” Sounds suspiciously like the “Contract with America,” but hey, why reinvent the wheel right? I mean, there’s 4 versions of Law & Order and a CSI for every major city, Americans aren’t into creativity simply familiarity and comfort. It’s 2010, but perish the thought that the minority party in Washington would attempt to get innovative, creative or fresh. Instead, they’re just going to repeat what the party did the last time they were faced with a youthful Democratic President entering his first mid-term election.
Don’t misunderstand my frustration. I’m thrilled that someone is finally talking seriously about the economy, jobs and our fiscal health. I’m just frustrated that the message is the same-old, same-old. I mean, this is the best they could do? How risk-adverse are Republicans?
Democrats are faced with growing anxiety about the economy, a Presidential administration who is somewhat under-achieving by their own accounts, falling approval ratings of Nancy Pelosi and a surge of anti-establishment voters. From a strategic perspective, a little independent thought and creativity might actually resonant with Tea Party voters AND independents. Imagine that tag team.
Boehner’s solution = slow federal spending, “bring down” taxes and spend more on defense.
Guh. We get it, you’re for lower taxes and smaller government (except in national defense).
Sidenote: I also found it interesting that the Obama Administration’s response was to mock the location of the event. Thanks. How about something about jobs, the economy or 21st century solutions to our problems?
What message would have been stronger? I think a message that it’s time to get serious about new job creation. How serious? Serious enough that a party is willing to abandon the tired mantra of “lower taxes = increased growth.” Is that true? Probably on some level. Certainly business, especially small businesses, with more money are just as likely as consumers to spend it on growing their business and trying to make more money. But lower taxes also throw a wrench into existing legislation. So much of federal spending is tied up in programs and laws that we cannot change. It’s money that is already being spent before the Government even receives it. Cutting taxes and implicating programs that need the money could have an equally destructive effect.
I am always on the lookout for messages and themes that show politicians are trying to adapt, improve and update strategies and laws to create new solutions or new results. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have all the information to hypothesize many answers. But many of these pledges appear to be either generic lower taxes/cut spending items or reactions to federal bailouts.
How about a targeted stimulus? Instead of infrastructure and construction projects or cutting TARP money (which Bush created and Congress passed), we could target small businesses with cheaper loans or tax-incentive programs. Cars for clunkers for small businesses. Incentivize the behavior you want.
What if we incentivized venture capitalists through tax breaks or in other ways to invest in new companies, new technologies, or specific industries like health care? Allowed companies to increase R&D either on their own or in partnerships with higher education and non-profit institutions? Like I said, I don’t have all the information and I don’t want to try to sound too smart without misspeaking on some topic or area of governing.
But instead of the party of “No” or the party of 1994, would anyone like to be the party of new ideas? I’d vote for new ideas. I’d vote for leveraging 21st century technology and data into problem-solving or at the very least, proposed solutions.
Maybe John Boehner doesn’t have all the answers, I’m not expecting him too. But he, and his party, should at least understand the problem.