“The people in general are more conservative and in particular are more liberal. That is to say, if you ask the people in general, what do you think of government, ‘Get it off my back, less taxes.’ If you ask in particular what about health, national health; what about full employment, government is the employer of last resort,” by Michael Harrington.
Fiscal conservatives must heed Harrington’s advice and turn the policy debate toward the general. Over the weekend, congressional Republicans introduced, “The House Republican Plan For America’s Job Creators,” politically shifting spotlight to the general: the economy and job creation. It is this instance of a jobs plan where fiscal conservatives must tell citizens what they will take away from them; regulations hindering job growth and overbearing taxes.
Fiscally conservative congressmen need to realize their party’s message cannot be what entitlements they will take away from citizens. The threat of reducing Medicare benefits in the recent congressional election in New York swayed the voters toward populist Democrat Kathy Hochul (who is stridently anti–entitlement reform and anti-trade), a considerable underdog. This upset should set the precedent for fiscally conservative candidates going forward: keep it general. For the upcoming 2012 election, they should emphasize the general and the economy as a whole. Liberal candidates, as we’ve seen with the budget debate, do not need a plan. They only have to highlight that they will continue to preserve entitlements and other reckless spending.
Between the budget, the debt limit, and Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, fiscally conservative representatives’ sole focus is telling Americans what they will take away from them. Above all, the Medicare proposal speaks volumes to the credence of Harrington’s quote — the particular special interest for seniors is Medicare and this voting bloc will not support a fiscally conservative candidate if the candidate is running on a platform to take away their entitlement benefits.
Medicare, along with Social Security, is a problem and it is unsustainable. Frame the issue for what it is. If modifications to the Medicare are not made, then the Obamacare-created rationing panel (Independent Payment Advisory Board) will decide how to cut Medicare services. This outcome remains true for the rest of our entitlement system in America. Without change, Americans will be entitled to nothing.