John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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How Do You Run Against This?

Posted on March 23, 2010
The Democrats and their allies are feverishly trying to spin their health care victory as a victory for their political fortunes.  Stan Greenberg, in the New York Times, says, “Democrats today could easily be at the beginning of a hopeful six-month period, starting with the signing of the health care legislation that will further raise the public profile of the president and the Democratic Congress.”  Mike Barnicle, on Morning Joe, asked Joe Scarborough, after ticking off the law’s many giveaways, “Joe, how do you run against this?”

The answer is simple.  You run against everything that has happened thus far.

You run against the trillion dollars of tax increases, especially the tax increases on the health insurance of hard-working union people.  You run against the premium increases that will hit most Americans who have health insurance.  You run against the elimination of the Medicare Advantage program.  You run against the individual mandate. And you run against the complete government takeover of the student loan industry.  If you or your kid need a loan to pay the exhorbinant college tuition prices, you now only have one choice:  the federal government.   So, if you can’t get a student loan, you know who to blame:  The Democrats.

And this is all part of a bigger narrative.

You run against a federal government that is out of control.  You run against a government that spent a trillion dollars we don’t have (and had to borrow from the Chinese) to pay for a million jobs that don’t yet exist.  You run against a President who took over our nation’s biggest car company and then fired its CEO.  You run against an Administration that pushed the Congress to take over the energy sector, and when that failed, has embarked on a strategy to regulate that industry to death.  You run against an Administration that hired a special “paymaster” who now tells the private sector how much it can pay its executives.

You run against an Administration that is making plans to take over the banking industry.  And while that industry is not that popular with the American people, it is still more popular than the Congress.

You run against an Administration that has embarked on such a spending spree that we are now at risk of losing our AAA bond rating.

You run against a Speaker who goes to extraordinary lengths to jam unpopular legislation down the throats of the American people, even floating the idea of having the House not vote on a law that will bankrupt this nation in the future.

But you just don’t run against the over-reaching of the Majority Party and an increasingly arrogant and power-hungry White House.

You run to repeal the worst aspects of the health care bill and replace it with reform that will actually drive down costs, provide more access to the uninsured, end state insurance monopolies and fix the problems that plague the health care marketplace.

You run on a plan to make America’s manufacturing base more competitive, including a plan to cut the corporate tax rate, so that manufacturing jobs can be created once again in America.

You run on a plan to cut spending in Washington.  You start by looking at federal pensions, you push to trim the federal workforce, you push for efficiencies, you demand greater accountability from federal workers.  You learn from the experiences at the state level, where governors like Mitch Daniels, Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie, Haley Barbour, and Tim Pawlenty have successfully trimmed their budgets to meet their budget challenges.

You also run to serve as a check on the currently unchecked power of President Obama.  You run on the general sense that we are losing what is truly unique and great about the American experiment in democracy.  You run on the idea that to truly embrace American greatness, we need leadership that doesn’t try to make all Americans comfortable, but tries to provide all Americans with an opportunity, that if they work hard, they can achieve their dreams.   If they don’t work hard, well, that’s their problem.

The President and the Democrats can spin this health care bill as a victory for them, and in a policy sense, they are right.  This is a big victory for the left wing.  They believe in the supremacy of the government.  They distrust the marketplace.  They think that the essential character of American democracy must fundamentally change.  This is the change that the President has promised.

But politically, this Administration has over-reached.  This health care bill cannot be spun as a political victory.  It is further evidence to those who are most likely to vote in November that Republicans need to provide a check on the unchallenged power of a President whose ambitions are well beyond the comfort zone of a solid majority of the American people.