For the past year, Republicans have been desperately trying to show Americans that they have substantive policy ideas, and that they are not just “the party of no” that reflexively opposes anything President Obama supports in order to score cheap political points. “House Republicans have engaged with the American people to develop innovative solutions that meet the serious challenges facing our country,” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) declared on the flimsy “GOP Solutions” website.
But Rep. Peter King (R-NY) was perhaps a little too honest yesterday, explaining to radio host Bill Bennett that Republicans shouldn’t “lay out a complete agenda,” because then people would be able to scrutinize it and make it “a campaign issue”:
BENNETT: Is it enough for Republicans to say we are opposed to what [Obama's] doing — stimulus, health care, we don’t like what he’s doing with the government, and look at the job situation — or do we need to have meat on the bones? And say, this is what we are for? Do we have to have positive proposals? [...]
KING: So, It’s a combination of being against what Obama is for, and also giving certain specifics of what we are for. Having said that, I don’t think we have to lay out a complete agenda, from top to bottom, because then we would have the national mainstream media jumping on every point trying to make that a campaign issue.
Of course, an agenda should be a campaign issue — the most important issue. But King’s political calculation reflects the strategies of several Republican candidates, like Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, to hide from the mainstream media, lest they accidentally reveal more of their extreme agenda.
And later in the interview, King offered a good example of why he probably shouldn’t be talking about policy. While saying that conservatives need to craft a “much more intelligent argument” to defend the Bush tax cuts, King argued that those tax cuts “saved our economy”:
KING: That’s where we have to make a much more intelligent argument and defend the Bush tax cuts. Because after all the years of the Bush tax cuts, after two wars, after September 11th, as of 2007, the deficit was down to $165 billion, which is almost chump change by today’s standard. No, the tax cuts is what saved our economy. People forget, they have this talk about how there was a $6.5 trillion surplus projected when President Bush come in. The fact is, he inherited a severe economic downturn — the third quarter of 2000, the first quarter of 2001, the economy was tanking. Then we had September 11th, then we did have two wars — both of which I’ve supported — and with all of that, the economy continued to add jobs, and by 2006, 2007 the deficit was being dramatically reduced.
Listen to a compilation here:
King’s claim that the Bush tax cuts increased revenues reflects the “view of virtually every Republican on that subject,” according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but contradicts the facts and Bush’s own economic advisors, including former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.