You know what? James Carville is still right. It’s the economy, stupid. That was the phrase he coined in the 1992 presidential election and more or less was a guiding light during the Bill Clinton years.
So, I’m going to give a huge hat-tip to Judge Glock of the Manhattan Institute for his excellent op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled, “U.S. voters want limited government. Contrary to common belief, economic policy is an electoral strength for the Republican Party.”
If I may summarize Mr. Judge’s thoughts, the idea is so-called “culture war wedge issues” don’t work near as well for the GOP as the mainstream media might suggest, or frankly as some Republicans have been suggesting. Now caveat emptor, I’m not suggesting the GOP stop talking about all the crazy, woke cancel culture, end American history, open borders, sex, gender, race obsessions going on in our schools, I’m not saying these aren’t important issues, and Mr. Glock doesn’t go into any detail on any of this, but I am saying that it’s all a matter of degree.
I say that as a pro-life, social conservative who continues to believe, however, that economic growth and prosperity has been and will always be the winningest issue for Republican candidates, especially for national office, and most especially for the president. The populist issue has been and remains limited government. For nearly 50 years, maybe even more for all I know, the majority of Americans believe that government is too large and taxes are too high.
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As Gallup polling continues to point out whenever asked if voters prefer less services and lower taxes compared to more government services and higher taxes by massive margins, according to Mr. Glock’s research, from a low of 17 percentage points in 2019 up to 31 points two years later — Gallup’s been taking this poll forever. Those are just the last couple years. Those results, which I think you would agree with, starkly underline the limited government point.
I would probably go a step further and say all presidential elections are decided by the outlook for peace and prosperity. Right now, with the Biden economy mired in stagflation, with a growing risk of outright recession along with sticky high prices, the limited government economic message will be even more important for the GOP. Joe Biden has given us the biggest volume of big government any of us have seen in our lifetime, at least excluding World War II.
Just the recent EPA regulations would have the federal government essentially running a car industry, which is the fifth biggest in America, and virtually ending the fossil fuel business.
Biden’s spending on an unprecedented scale all across the board, social welfare benefits, just recently proposing to include illegal immigrants into the Obamacare subsidies, of course trillions of dollars on unproven Green New Deal climate obsessions, never any work requirements in return for the federal benefits, his recent budget added $5 trillion in tax hikes and he’s already raised roughly $1 trillion in taxes so far… it’s all government on a grand scale.
Many have said it’s the takeover of the Biden administration by socialist Bernie Sanders. Yes, but Mr. Sanders loves Sweden. Joe Biden’s big government socialism has gone way beyond Sweden. Taking a cue from my dear friend and mentor, Art Laffer, who will be here in just a moment, we both have been worried that the Republican leaders have not yet produced a true prosperity agenda, showing voters that they are capable and reliable guardians of economic growth.
That’s why it’s good to see Gov. DeSantis, for example, going after the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve just recently as highlighted in today’s Wall Street Journal. Also, good to see Former President Trump out just today with a paper and a video called “liberating America from Biden’s regulatory onslaught.”
All the Republican leaders must talk about limited government, lower taxes, minimal regulations and sound, stable King Dollar. All of them should state the goal of at least 3.5 to 4% growth which prevailed for 50 years after World War II, but has slumped to less than 2% the last 25 years. Let’s not ignore the culture war issues, I am not saying it, but let’s remember the GOP does best when it sticks with first principles: limited government and economic growth.
This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow’s opening commentary on the April 14, 2023, edition of “Kudlow.”
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