We’re all seeing the stories about the tea party movement. We’re all seeing the polls that have the economy, jobs and the national debt as the top issues on the minds of Americans. With Democrats faltering, Republicans are in an optimal position to re-take majorities in Washington DC and swing the national political debate in their favor for years to come.
But if they keep pulling stuff like this, they’re going to blow it. Offering up an alternative to a $1.13 trillion Obama budget that’s not only just 2% less but also still represents $10 billion in spending growth isn’t going to sit well with voters this year.
Let’s think back to the 2008 election. What was one of the chief complaints from disillusioned conservative voters? That there wasn’t a lot of daylight between the Democrats and Republicans on spending and size of government issues.
What Republicans are proving with these milquetoast spending cuts (if you can even call a reduction in the growth of spending a “cut”) is that there still isn’t a lot of daylight between them and the opposition party when it comes to spending and size of government.
Voters want something different. Obama was elected because he made nebulous promises about change. He’s suffering in the polls now because the change he promised has really been more run-away government, except even more run-away than before.
Republicans this election year are, in a lot of ways, campaigning on change this year too. But if the change they’re selling is “we’ll grow the national debt more slowly than the Democrats,” it isn’t going to cut it.
The debt, deficit and spending are hardly new issues for voters. The National Debt clock has been running in New York City since 1989. But despite bi-annual, election-year promises from the politicians the clock keeps counting. Faster now under Obama and Democrats than ever before, in fact, which is probably way a recent Gallup poll ranked the national debt with terrorism as the top concern of voters.
And that’s also why Republicans need to do more. They need to propose policy alternatives that reduce the national debt. Not merely slow it’s growth. If they really want to win over voters, they need to be bold and open up some daylight between themselves and Democrats.
Show voters some policy contrasts, not shades of gray.