Charles Krauthammer, in his Oct. 3 op-ed column, “Why winning the Senate matters,” wrote proudly about the “power of no,” which he advanced as key to blocking President Obama’s ideological agenda since 2010. “And Republicans should not apologize for it,” he said. “With an ideologically ambitious president committed instead to expanding entitlements, regulation and government itself, principle alone would compel the conservative party to say stop.” Whoa, Nellie. Let’s go to the tape.
Rewind to 2006, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Here is the same sentence modified to reflect the 2006 reality: With an ideologically ambitious president (George W. Bush) committed instead to expanding entitlements (Medicare Part D, the largest expansion of the welfare state since the creation of Medicare and an unfunded program), regulation (under Mr. Bush, regulatory budget and staffing levels increased while the total regulatory burden continued to increase in absolute terms) and government itself (total government employment and total obligation authority both rose significantly under Mr. Bush), principle alone didn’t compel the conservative party to say stop at all. In fact, conservatives were behind the expansion in all three areas.
I am not sure what principle means to conservatives. Perhaps Mr. Krauthammer can define it for us in a later column.
John Allison, Williamsburg
Charles Krauthammer looks forward to the coming Republican Senate, suggesting that it focus first on “needed, popular and doable” tax reform. A Republican plan will excessively favor the wealthy and squander an opportunity to reasonably enhance needed revenue by demanding revenue neutrality. This would not be popular — or doable. He also recommended repealing “the more onerous Obamacare mandates”; if such a move included the mandate that individuals buy insurance, it would blow up a program increasingly accepted and appreciated by millions of people and the health-care and insurance industries. Only hyper-partisans still recommend that.
Mr. Krauthammer said that President Obama’s agenda died with the midterm election of 2010, when the tea party effectively commandeered the Republican Party and wedged a wrench into the gears of national government. This dysfunctional strategy — the “power of no,” he called it — is wholly dedicated to thwarting a president’s agenda, no matter the harm done to the economy or progress on critical problems. Is Mr. Krauthammer really okay with this as a new normal? Should Democrats adopt this reckless strategy the next time a Republican occupies the White House (or controls the Senate)? Isn’t turnabout fair play?
Bill Conrad, Alexandria