Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specter’s Switcheroo and America's Lurch to the Left

My initial thought on Arlen Specter jumping the GOP ship is Katy bar the door. This is just the latest indication of a lurch to the left in Washington. It does not bode well for investors, businesses and entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, GOP political prospects are looking increasingly grim. Just this past Friday, Republicans in upstate New York conceded defeat in a hotly contested battle for a congressional seat where the Republican, James Tedisco, held a 25-point lead at the start. His opponent, Democrat Scott Murphy, credits Obama with his come-from-behind victory. Out in Minnesota, Norm Coleman is all but guaranteed to lose to Democrat Al Franken. Sure, pollster Scott Rasmussen shows the GOP even in the generic Congressional race, but it’s getting difficult to find concrete evidence.

Here’s the problem right now: Republicans lack a clear and defining alternative message on the economy, spending, and the unchecked growth of big government. They have been sorely ineffective on TARP, and sorely ineffective on bank and auto bailout nation where Team Obama is threatening to take over six U.S. banks, not to mention GM and Chrysler. This is on top of the already consummated union of Fannie, Freddie, and AIG into the government fold.

Strange as it may seem, the best GOP spokesman right now appears to be former Vice President Dick Cheney who has taken the Obama administration to task over its declassification of CIA torture memos. He says Team Obama has made America less safe. He’s right. Perhaps he can rally the party?

Perhaps we won’t have a lurch to the left. But my worry remains that with Republican ranks dwindling, and the specter of a filibuster proof majority in sight, we could soon be faced with unprecedented government control over healthcare, energy, and unionization.

Moreover, if this massive, anti-business, regulatory apparatus otherwise known as cap-and-trade ever sees the light of day, we’ve got problems. It is a huge, unwieldy tax and economic depressant.

How about card check and ending the secret ballot for unions? Oh my goodness. Wal-Mart, retailers, tech companies, banks and financial services will all feel the union assault.

And how about healthcare nationalization? That will bankrupt the budget, if it hasn’t happened already. It will worsen services and jack up costs.

And let’s not forget the threat of higher tax rates. Great Britain has already gone from 40 percent to 50 percent to finance their gigantic spending appetite. In the name of balancing the already humongous budget here, we are headed in the same direction. Guess what? Big tax hikes will only inhibit growth and slow the economy down.

Unfortunately, all of this looks like the polar opposite of 1981, when Ronald Reagan progressively moved the nation to the right. Today, Obama is tugging the country left. It appears that the president is more popular than his policies, but he is effectively using this popularity to simultaneously move his agenda forward, and increase the strength of his party.

The Democratic machine is gathering steam and looming large in Washington. None of this is good.