President Reagan won re-election with 49 states. President Ford came from 30 points back to lose narrowly to Jimmy Carter, and would have won easily were the election a few months later. What does this say about an Obama second term? With little discernible improvement in the economy from the president’s $862 billion in fiscal stimulus, citizens are revolting against the explosion of spending, deficits, higher taxes, government bailouts and economic micromanagement, and seem poised to put an exclamation mark on it in the November elections.
Not surprisingly, the left is frantically calling for a second “stimulus” and demanding tax hikes for the “rich”—a.k.a. our most productive citizens and small businesses. The rehashed ideas include such nonsense as massive infrastructure spending financed by a national infrastructure bank, an old Carter idea; yet more aid to the states; and even that worst of ideas, “general revenue sharing,” which would force citizens to pay future federal taxes to fund the debt used just to send revenue back to their states.
These ideas would do a lot more harm than good. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we have the best economic system among the advanced economies, “if we can keep it.” That will require fundamental policy changes, not doubling down on the failed big government experiment of recent years.
The president and Congress would have to implement serious spending reductions, real entitlement reform focused on substantially slowing the growth of benefits per recipient, and no tax hikes. President Clinton made a major move back to the political center—to his own and the nation’s benefit—when Republicans won control of Congress in 1994. In partnership, they balanced the budget and reformed welfare. But recall, President Clinton’s major big-government initiative—HillaryCare—was defeated. For President Obama to get to a similar place after the midterm elections, he would have to partner in “repealing and replacing” his signature initiatives.