The GOP’s Real Challenge

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Unfortunately, easing these voter concerns entails addressing the runaway costs of federal entitlement programs and their impact on the national debt. Understanding this relationship can best be illustrated through the Holy Trinity of mandatory entitlements: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

These programs, which are regulated outside the normal budgeting process, account for up to 41% of all current federal spending, with a projected increase to 62% by the end of the decade. Not included in these figures is the huge anticipated costs attached to the recently passed healthcare reform entitlement.

These programs have become fiscally unsustainable because their enormous cost neatly dovetails alongside a shrinking revenue base. While an increasing number of retiring Baby Boomers, combined with a low national birthrate, has become contributing factors in explaining the diminished tax base, the most glaring culprit can be found in the over 132 million Americans who do not pay income taxes, a figure which equates to almost 43% of the nation’s population. Further compounding the problem is the added fact that nearly 64 million Americans are now dependent for their daily sustenance from government programs.

The Democratic solution to this revenue problem is predictable. Public patience toward tax-and-spend policies seems to have run its course and has opened the door for the GOP to gain handsomely from voter gravitation toward budgetary frugality.

For Republicans, unfortunately, this presents a nasty conundrum in the effort to slay the national debt dragon: which government programs does one slash when nearly two-thirds of Americans are dependent on some type of federal assistance? Put more succinctly: whose ox gets gored in the pursuit of budgetary sanity?

The political challenge the GOP faces is that it will be charged by its anticipated 2010 electoral victory with squaring that nut without tearing apart its new-found political alliance. While the Tea Party has many diverse components, from social conservatives to strict constitutionalists, its underlying commitment to monetary temperance has extended its reach to include large numbers of conservative Democrats and independents.

It’s an uneasy coalition, top heavy with members intolerant with the politics of inaction. Dissatisfied by Republican efforts to effectively reduce the national debt, they might not balk at splintering off and forming a third party, or worse, returning back to a potentially chastened Democratic Party that has been forced back to the center by an electoral drubbing. For the Republican Party, how it rises to this challenge will determine if the 2010 election winds up being nothing more than a pyrrhic victory.

Frank Crimi is a freelance writer living in San Diego, California. You can read more of Frank’s work at his blog, or contact him at

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  • Jim Johnson

    The Republicans used to label USA as the land of opportunity until the threw Americans out
    of work with their H1b programs and their one sided trade programs especially with China. Their Nafta treaties first created great economic distress on the Mexican peasant who out of desperation had to migrate north in order just to survive. That migration north hit the lower middle class Americans very hard as they were displaced from their traditional jobs especially the Southern Blacks.. On top of that wall street and the Mays discovered a perfect Ponzi scheme in sub prime mortgages.
    The tarp saved the gambling banks but the rest of the country went into collapse.
    The public remembers what the Republican ideology did to them. It is of their great good luck that Obama started off with a program of great insanity that did nothing to ward off the gathering economic storm.
    The public now hates both parties and is grasping at the Tea party like a life preserver.
    We can only hope that common sense wins;but how many campaign funds has common sense:

    • jim

      Your post reveals a big part of the problem: too many people vote for Dems or Reps instead of a person. Both parties have liberals & conservatives, so evaluating the INDIVIDUAL is important.

      • SenatorMark4

        Evaluating the individual when electing politicians is totally NOT important. The vast overwhelming majority ALWAYS vote with leadership. Of if not, they avoid the tough votes if they can, when allowed by leadership, and just vote "present". It would do a lot to define politicans if they could ONLY vote yes/no, but then it wouldn't be "politics" anymore. Blue dogs? Lots of barking but easily tempted with earmarks.

    • bon

      You're correct, Jim. My cushy job was lost in the fallout of the 2,000 tech bubble. My 'ordinary' skills I used as a back up were shipped over seas. I was penniless and homeless within six months. I Bush after that, but I did'n't know the half of it. I worked hard, changed my ways. I 'll never be homeless again but the business I built is squashed by big government and a pitiful economy. I emphasis the government because I believe in American ingenuity which I have much of. I cannot do shiite. The government is in the way. I hate both parties. I trust NONE of them and my state bleeds blood red. We're toast. I don't even believe Nov 2 will make a difference. Watch and see! They're all politicians – money-grabbing lying sacks of fecal matter. That will always be the case. If there's a good one in the bunch they haven't a voice. Corruption, ego and power are totally out of control.

    • Patrick Henry

      I share your concern over losing our manufacturing base, but you may be barking up the wrong tree. NAFTA lowered tariffs, which should have been a net win for us (return on profit, division of labor, specialization, etc. versus protectionism, which loses 3-5 jobs for every one protected – its Free Market Economics 101). But NAFTA did accelerate the lose of mfg. jobs. The problem is not too much freedom and competition, its government intervention: the pro-union, onerous regulatory environment and tax burden coupled with the Fed-induced monetary roller coaster ride we've been subjected to. The GOP has been pro-business, but they need to be pro free market (i.e., laissex faire capitalism).

  • jim

    Liberals ask conservatives to name their plans to resolve problems with the economy and the huge national debt. The solution is simple, repeal everything Obama has done, and cut taxes.

    • Rifleman

      I'd only add "cut spending."

    • maurice

      There are all sorts of initiatives that hurt business that are not easily rolled back. For example, now a law has been passed that if you are a whistle blower against your company, you get a big share of the profits of the lawsuit that will follow. It used to be that workers who found a problem would alert management (or go public), but now the incentive is to go immediately to the government and get the company sued. This is just one of many examples of how our political class and our ideological lawyers damage the economy for romantic reasons. How do you reverse that? How do you cope with a bureaucracy and court system that is stacked against jobs? And how do you resurrect an economy that has to pay off more money than you would get by spending a dollar for every minute the planet earth has been in existence?

      • Maurice

        No, its 0.6 cents for every minute of the 4 billion years the planet has been in existence. Sorry.

  • Lary9

    I couldn't agree more. Right now, it's Obama's congress; Obama's economy. In 2012 it may be all yours again! Hot potato, hot potato…ouch…here take it.

  • RiverFred

    We are in deep do do. The idiots passed NAFTA causing the U.S. to loose 1/3 of its mfg. base, the sub prime ponzi scheme has now exploded and who knows what the bottom is coupled with massive debt. I am afraid we will have 10% unemployment, etc for many years to come. A monkey could have done a better job running our government.

  • Andres de Alamaya

    In China both Bush and Obama and their advisers would face firing squads.

  • WildJew

    This is a pretty good piece but there is much more.

    1) Mr. Crimi wrote, "Republicans paid a heavy political price for reckless spending habits, losing control of both the House and Senate in 2006…."

    Not only that, Republicans (I am still an "independent" Republican), led by George W. Bush pursued a reckless foreign policy post 9/11. Bush and the Republican leadership refused to identify the enemy, instead calling it a "religion of peace" that had been hijacked by a few terrorists. Bush, supported by the Republicans, pursued a policy of nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush sought to spread western-style democracy in a world rooted in the seventh century. Worse Bush, supported by Congressional Republicans and Republicans at large, repeatedly lied about our only ally in the region, Israel. Bush, supported by Republicans, sought to establish another Muslim enemy state, this one in Israel's Biblical and historic heartland. Bush sought to establish this jihad state which he and Republicans knew and know will be dedicated to Israel's annihilation. Now then Republicans have for the first time in the history of the GOP codified the destruction of the Jewish state. Since 2004, Republicans formally call for Israel's destruction in our national party platform!

  • WildJew

    2) Crimi: "Put more succinctly: whose ox gets gored in the pursuit of budgetary sanity?"

    Whose ox gets gored in the pursuit of budgetary sanity? Every one's ox gets gored (and I mean every one's ox) including mine. The US will have to cut or reduce foreign aid, including aid to Israel. Entitlement programs will have to be cut. Of course Obama's Marxist legislation will have to be dismantled bit by bit. More importantly — and Mr. Crimi did not mention this all important point — Republicans MUST seek to destroy (politically) Mr. Obama who is seeking to destroy this nation. That means Republicans MUST NOT work "with" Obama except perhaps on the bare essentials; that is funding essentials like national defense and things of that nature. Republicans working WITH Obama will help to ensure Obama is a two term (eight year) US president. Isn't four years of this disaster in the Oval Office enough?

  • Victor Laslow

    We as a nation have been taken over by the progressive movement a long time ago. Bush being one of them (progressives) has done almost as much damage to our freedom as Obama has. George Bush has set a precedent (by bailing out AIG) that opened the door for Obama to further disrupt the nation’s economy by continuing the bailouts on a grander scale and other Progressives like McCain (remember "All hands on deck") in the Republican Party went right along with it.
    We must vote for a real change not to fundamentally change America, America is already great.
    We need to vote out the professional politicians and vote in the gentleman farmer, the plumber people who do not make a living of the public and care about our future that is what the Tea Party is all about.
    Victor Laslow
    The Republic Revealed a social political website for a free America
    2010 The year we take back Washington
    2012 The year we take back our country

  • Chezwick_Mac

    We need ACROSS THE BOARD cuts, from every entitlement program to Defense. The goal must be not just to BALANCE the budget, but to start servicing the principle on the debt, which means running up yearly budget SURPLUSES.

    America is broke. We can't afford empire, we can't afford foreign entanglements and we can't afford new, expensive weapons programs. (I write this bitterly, as a national security hawk and a long-standing proponent of active interventionism abroad in the service of our national interests).

    We can't afford to subsidize the education and health care of our citizenry…and we can't afford Section-8 housing. We are going to see the impoverishment of large sections of the American populace as the necessary means to get our finances in order and to imbue in our people anew the work ethic that entitlements have so tragically undermined.

    It isn't going to be pretty, but it's the only way out. The question is, do our politicians have the gonads to administer such strong medicine? The realist in me says "no chance".

  • 080

    Each budget deficit contributes to the ever growing debt. The l3+ trillions have to be paid eventually. So does the 12 trillion foreign debt. Any attempt to pay this kind of sum by raising taxes (i.e. making the bondholders pay themselves) will not work. We can't pay this debt except to bring it down as a percentage of GDP. In 1923 the Germans got rid of their debt by running an stupefying inflation. If the dollar was worth 4.2 marks in 1913 it was worth 4.1 trillion marks in 1923. It wiped out the middle class and was very closely related to the rise of Adolf Hitler. Inflation not only wipes out wealth it also wipes out personal identity. The British had a public debt of 300% of GDP after the Napoleonic wars. Instead of paying it or inflating it away they allowed the economy to grow throughout the 19th centruy which brought the debt down to about 25% of GDP. Can we do something like this? I don't know. At present we can continue to kick the can down the road. This only makes things worse. We pay the interest and the debt grows. Right now the long term bond is under 4%, so we can go deeper into the big muddy and the damn fools say to push on.

  • Patrick Henry

    One largely unknown problem with paying off the debt is that our currency is no longer based on gold (i.e., real money) but based on federal IOUs. As this debt is paid down, the money supply shrinks along with it, just as it grows when the fed creates fiat currency by buying treasuries and using the IOUs as "reserves" from which its affiliate banks can lend, as if they had real cash added to their reserves.
    So paying off the debt will cause ruinous deflation. Its the ultimate catch-22! The SOBs have us over a barrel, by design. The way out? Link the dollar to gold, privatize the entitlements and return to laissez faire capitalism and pay off the debt by growing out of it. Its honest and doesn't destroy the American middle class, except maybe forcing grandma to move in and the teenagers to pick fruit or clean homes for their tuition. The alternatives are far, far worse.

  • SenatorMark4

    Okey dokey now! Who's thinking outside the box? NOBODY! One billion of stimulus went to dead people? Why don't ALL reciipients of 'redistributed wealth' in the form of welfare, food stamps (SNAP), college grants, etc get an IRS Form 1099-GOV? Simple. ALL politicians use these programs to pander. If government at EVERY level had to issue 1099-GOV for all the money they give away we'd be having some serious looks at where it's going when the tax returns, even if no taxes were owed, were reviewed. Wanna bet there are people making more in 'redistributed income' than many make with real income? Didn't think so.

  • badaboo

    "take back the country " ??? FROM WHO ? We never lost it to anyone , we GAVE IT AWAY . We let the lobbies of big buisiness , destroy our manufacturing base , using the phony scapegoat of "unions , high labor , blah , blah , blah , the suckers bought the agendfa of big buisiness lock stock and barrel …..and where the F did it get us ? And if you think a change in November will get jobs back , then you're naive . You dont need an M.A. in economics to realize that our manufacturing base is GONE , we've become a service nation . Just look at the trade defdicits ! Short sighted short term profits rule the day , Wall Street demands quick and sumptious returns , big buisiness lives and dies on the ratings , CEO's are bent on instant gratification from their stockholders to boost their insane bonuses and keep their jobs . Dont upgrade plant , pay some Chinese coolies to produce your product , cut labor costs , increase profits , fatten up the stock holders , all fine and well until "the inevitable law of diminishing returns bites you on the arse .

  • badaboo

    Oh yea , and SCREW the social contract [not to be mistaken by the idiots as "socialism " ] but the term that every single buisiness school in this country teaches and has taught all MBA 's – the ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY , to the Company , the Workers , the Communities in which they operate , and the Nation.
    Well we threw all that out the window for short term profits .The late 70's , the 80's , the 90's ….we've learned NOTHING , we just got greedier , and GREED always builds houses of cards , and it's not as if they haven't collapsed before . Short sighted economics and buisiness plans . The formation of the housiong bubble , accentuated our warped economics , the profits realized easily overcame common sense , and as with the previous economic disasters , regulations on banks were loosened or eliminated , and ALL were to blame . .
    Take back America ? Yea , that's code for simply letting the other side F___k things up and then blame the other for the inevitable failure .

  • badaboo

    FLAT TAX , TERM LIMITS , BRING MANUFACTURING BACK TO AMERICA , forget all your party B.S. no matter which one . And THEN you'll get America back . Until then the Chinese own our arses . And we're perfectly willing to sell more of it away .

  • badaboo

    I sincerely hope that the Republicans / "conservatives " sweep the elections , then maybe Americans will realize how sooooo full of B.S. , the phony cl;aim of "taking back America " truly is . Then we can stop kidding ourselves about what's REALLY wrong here .

  • cynthia curran

    Well, a lot more factory jobs went to China instead of Mexico, and Nafa did help the Northern Mexican states that did the factory work. And believe it or not, in many States Manufactoring is no longer done mainly by the white midde class but illegal immirgants. So, why would Republicans be so upset over factory work since fewer and fewer whites do it in this country. I know I work a couple of temp jobs in Orange County California and few whites work there on the assemly line. Not that I saying in some places there still some whites but why do we complain about the good factory work when a lot of it is no longer done by native americans.

  • badaboo

    Why ? You just said it , temporary factory jobs ? can you raise a family and pay a mortgage with that ? Washing Machines , Windows , Electronics , small appliances , building materials , all REAL manufacturing and real factory jobs , are gone . It's a self feeding fire , the moree jobs that go overseas , the more unemployed here , the more small buisinesses close up , adding yet MORE unemployed Americans . Who in the heck is benefiting from this policy ? How can this situation possibly create jobs ? Where's all the profits from the big companies using offshore labor and offshore factories going ? Is it being reinvested in America ? Hell no it isn't , it's going into individulas bank accounts , and even company accounts -OFFSHORE – .
    The play of right and left / Dem and Rep / and all the B.S. phony moral issues, and frothing rhetoric entangled in our now deranged political process , is brain numbing and stupifying , ..but perhaps that's why we cant see where the problem really is , and that all the talking heads we are sending to Washington are and will double-cross us at the end of the day , and sell their arses to the highest bidder .

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Start with sane use of our natural resources, we can stop
    foreign oil and keep the money in America, we have plenty
    of oil but the leftist government has kept us from it. The leftists
    are out to destroy America and took over the environmental
    movement, changing it from attacking misuse to total obfuscation
    and disuse, thus hemorrhaging our National wealth, reversal
    of this will be a reversal of fortune…………………..William

  • Kenneth