Former adviser to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Brad Dayspring now runs the Young Guns Network for his former boss and Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He sent out an e-mail this morning with the following sage advice:
“Four years later in 2013, total employment remains about 3 million jobs below 2006-7 levels under President Bush. Despite an economy mired in a state of stagnation+, President Obama seems primed to instead focus his energies on ideological pursuits to deal with climate change and a controversial comprehensive rather than step-by-step approach to immigration. Conservatives would be wise to dust off the 2009-10 Playbook and focus on economic growth and job creation instead of austerity alone.”
This is immensely important both because the president doesn’t address growth and the public wants the recovery it’s been told is here (or around the corner).
But right now all of Washington D.C. is focused on cutting and entitlement reductions. How can the GOP pivot to growth and jobs?
First, it should include within the budget a pro-growth, pro- jobs tax reform plan. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to explain how a flatter, simpler and fairer tax code would benefit small business, individuals, job creators and investors. And the president should like it (if he were intellectually consistent) because it will spur growth and thereby increase revenue.
Second, GOP leaders should shift focus from discretionary spending to the real problem, which is entitlement spending that crowds everything else out. That means addressing Social Security and making some tough choices on Medicare, such as rethinking the notion we should spare anyone over 55 from the effects of reform. (If they are wealthy and everyone else is sacrificing, why shouldn’t they.) In fact sustained spending for STEM training and education is essential; defense spending should be prudent but not slashed.
Third, make energy a major portion of the discussion. Opening up federal lands, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and encouraging domestic development should be a pro-jobs, pro-growth no-brainier.
Beyond these specifics, someone with good communication skills has to make the following case to voters: Our excessive debt, out of control spending and mind-numbing regulations are killing growth and preventing job creation. (This is true, by the way, several studies looking at the drag on growth from huge debt have shown.) The argument must be that we are pruning government so the economy can grow. Obama won’t weed the garden and now government is strangling the private sector.
It is this connection between spending restraint and growth that the GOP must make.