Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. What Do Republican Politicians Want?

 

On Ricochet, we often debate which legislation and strategies are feasible under current political conditions and which are only pipe dreams. In this thread, I’d like to set aside what Republicans could do and instead focus on what Republicans would do if they had the power. 

Assume a Republican super-majority in Congress. Assume a Republican president. Even assume a friendly majority on the Supreme Court. I am not predicting any of this. I’m just asking that we pretend these conditions for the sake of argument. 

Imagine that Republican politicians have all the power, but concentrate on current office holders, rather than upcoming candidates. Because we currently lack a Republican president, let’s focus on Congress and simply pretend that any legislation they pass will be signed in the Oval Office. 

Knowing what we do of the various interests and personalities in the Republican congressional caucus today, what is the boldest legislation they might generally agree upon? I’m not asking what you wish would happen; I’m asking what you guess Republican politicians wish would happen. 

Do they want limited, local government? Do they object to regulatory capture? Or do they only wish to choose the winners in industry? How would spending change? How would taxes change? Would we end up with fewer laws or more?

The preferred goals and methods of our representatives vary widely. Where do their hopes and commitments intersect? What would the current crop of Republicans do with total control?

There are 25 comments.

  1. Josh F. Inactive

    In Congress, Republican politicians want to be re-elected. Without re-election, their personal policy preferences are moot.

    Congressional Republicans therefore take polls and determine what issues are most important to their voters. Then, the members of Congress take positions in accord with the preferences of their voters. In the Burkean dichotomy, most are delegates, not trustees.

    Given this state of affiars, the real question becomes what do voters who elect Republican politicians want the most? That varies from district to district, but can properly be summed up as: peace through strength, secure the border, repeal Obamacare, lower taxes, balance the budget, send a Reagaenesque Republican to the White House in 2016. Candidates who personally connect with voters, seem trustworthy, and agree with the above positions will get what they want – another term in Congress.

    • #1
    • July 31, 2014, at 10:08 AM PST
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  2. Tuck Inactive

    We don’t have to imagine, we can just look at recent history.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Presidents_and_control_of_Congress

    Bush had a Republican Congress for part of his presidency, and we got Democrats-lite. Better spending control, but still increases every year. New programs, but fewer and smaller.

    The Republican Party is a Progressive party, in large part. Progressives believe in larger government, and apparently it has to be larger every year than it was the year before.

    • #2
    • July 31, 2014, at 10:27 AM PST
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  3. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    I would guess we would get a form of the Ryan budget with Medicare reform, lower corporate tax rates, possibly some form of toverall tax reform, repeal of most of Obamacare with changes to the rest, some form of regulatory reform, increased energy production on federal lands, possibly a move to return control of large portions of western state territory to the states, appointment of non-activist judges to the federal bench, …

    • #3
    • July 31, 2014, at 11:45 AM PST
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  4. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    Tuck: The Republican Party is a Progressive party, in large part. 

    That does not become any less a ridiculous and plainly ignorant statement when you repeat it. 

    • #4
    • July 31, 2014, at 11:48 AM PST
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  5. Tuck Inactive

    Klaatu, I look forward to an argument from you some day that’s more than, “That’s not right!”

    • #5
    • July 31, 2014, at 12:32 PM PST
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  6. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    Tuck:

    Klaatu, I look forward to an argument from you some day that’s more than, “That’s not right!”

    On the rare occasion when you have attempted to distinguish between ‘progressive’ and ‘non-progressive’ Republicans, I and others have debunked them. Your assertion is ludicrous, I have no obligation to say more in the absence of any argument supporting it.

    • #6
    • July 31, 2014, at 2:53 PM PST
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  7. Mendel Member

    Bucky Boz:

    In Congress, Republican politicians want to be re-elected. Without re-election, their personal policy preferences are moot.

     Agree completely with this. Most officeholders are vehicles to channel others’ wishes more than they are autonomous actors.

    Given this state of affiars, the real question becomes what do voters who elect Republican politicians want the most? 

     The examples you cite represent just one leg of a Republican Congressman’s constituency: his base. There are also swing voters (to a greater or lesser extent in each district) who may care less about balancing the budget than how their representative is portrayed on TV. Plus, there are the donors (and other party members) who finance the campaign.

    Everyone seems to think that politicians (especially the ones they dislike) are in hock to only one single group (be it the media, the base, or the big donors), but I think the truth is that most of them are blindly juggling these competing interests.

    • #7
    • August 1, 2014, at 5:10 AM PST
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  8. Proud Skeptic Inactive

    I guess we might get a budget out of it. It is so hard to tell with the Republicans. I just don’t see them as anything other than a barrier to Democrat craziness.

    ACA might get repealed, but it would probably get replaced with something almost as dumb.

    Would regulations be cut? I doubt it.

    Would the border get controlled? Possibly. Would they still be talking some form of “amnesty” for illegals? Absolutely.

    Would the Patriot Act be reviewed and pruned? Would the NSA spying be curtailed? Unlikely.

    Would the IRS get a kick in the ass for going after people for political reasons? Probably.

    I’m not the only Conservative who doubts the Republican’s interest in getting us back on a sane path. If I had to bet, I would bet we would get nothing from them that would make us Conservatives feel like the country is in good hands.

    Ladies and germs, we are in deep doo doo.

    • #8
    • August 1, 2014, at 5:14 AM PST
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  9. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Deafening silence around here. Eight comments on an excellent question about the purpose of any fight in the political arena; fight *for what*? What would we get if we gave the Republicans everything they wanted?
    I’m with Tuck & Proud Skeptic on this, and we don’t even have to go back as far as the Bush administration to see what would happen. The historic Tea Party victory in 2010 gave the GOP not only a powerful majority in the House, but surging increases *across the board*.
    Review in your mind the history of “a return to 2008 spending levels”, budget, CRs, CCB, Supercommittee, Sequestration, Fiscal Cliff, and the collapse of the Hastert rule. There’s a line to be drawn through all of those things, which is a single fight that the GOP has waged *against* cutting spending.

    So yeah, we know what we would get from”God’s Own Progressives”.

    • #9
    • August 1, 2014, at 6:45 AM PST
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  10. KC Mulville Inactive

    Number one for me would be tort reform. I think that’s the Rosetta Stone for unraveling the dysfunction of our current situation. 

    My theory is that if you’re causing genuine harm, you deserve to get sued, and government regulations that prevent that harm are legitimate.

    But as I understand it, the current situation overly encourages litigation – and when we couple that with a bureaucracy that’s eager to pass regulations over the smallest details, we wind up with a government that is constantly giving lawyers something to sue about. A business spends all its time defending against all possible lawsuits, even with the most hare-brained accusations, instead of legitimate lawsuits.

    Not long ago, I read (sorry, can ‘t find the citation) where some lawyer said, with a straight face, “you can be held negligent for a lot of things you couldn’t possibly know about.” That’s just crazy. It means you don’t understand what negligent really means.

    And it forces businesses to defend against The Unknown … and The Unknown is expensive … so expensive that it discourages business in the first place.

    Reform the legal environment, and cut regulations. The rest will follow.

    • #10
    • August 1, 2014, at 6:48 AM PST
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  11. Tuck Inactive

    Klaatu: I and others have debunked them. Your assertion is ludicrous,

    Again, saying “that’s not true!” isn’t debunking, Klaatu.

    And it’s not just my assertion, it’s also Paul Rahe, the historian’s assertion. There’s a whole long thread on Ricochet where a number of member show a complete ignorance of the history of the Republican party.

    “In a 1983 interview, [Nixon] told historian Joan Hoff that his many liberal initiatives as president (from the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency to his calls for universal health insurance) reflected his own background and association with the “progressive” wing of the Republican party.”

    So I guess it’s not just me, Paul Rahe, John Fund, and National Review who are wrong about Progressive Republicans, but also Richard Nixon?

    Spend some time doing homework, Klaatu, you might learn something.

    • #11
    • August 1, 2014, at 6:58 AM PST
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  12. Tuck Inactive

    Proud Skeptic: I just don’t see them as anything other than a barrier to Democrat craziness.

     Which is no small thing!

    • #12
    • August 1, 2014, at 7:02 AM PST
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  13. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    Tuck:

    So I guess it’s not just me, Paul Rahe, John Fund, and National Review who are wrong about Progressive Republicans, but also Richard Nixon?

    Spend some time doing homework, Klaatu, you might learn something.

     That you need to go back to Nixon is illustrative. There was (notice the tense) a liberal or Progressive wing of the GOP at one time. It no longer exists in any meaningful sense. The one remaining lady from Maine is probably the last significant member of it, the rest of it died in the 80’s. The GOP today is a thoroughly conservative party. There are no more Rockefeller Republicans any more than there are Scoop Jackson Democrats.
    Paul Rahe is wrong on this just as you are. Nice attempt at an appeal to authority though.
    I have challenged you before to state specifically who is a member of this wing and why. Every time you have attempted to do so it is found that same reason can apply to someone (Reagan for instance) you insist is not a member of the Progresssive wing.

    • #13
    • August 1, 2014, at 7:49 AM PST
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  14. Tuck Inactive

    “I have challenged you before to state specifically who is a member of this wing and why.”

    Mitt Romney in Worcester 2002 “My views are progressive” His father was also a member of the Progressive wing. Wasn’t he recently the Republican’s presidential candidate? Much to the dismany of many Conservatives?

    Eisenhower: “If there is one thing that I am going to try to do during the next two years, I have just one purpose, outside the job of keeping this world at peace, and that is to build up a strong progressive Republican Party in this country… If the right wing wants a fight, they’re going to get it. If they want to leave the Republican Party and form a third party, that’s their business, but before I end up, either this Republican Party will reflect progressivism or I won’t be with them anymore.”

    The Republican Party is much more conservative than it used to be, certainly. And its rhetoric is far more conservative. But its actions are still largely Progressive, and that’s what matters. “Compassionate Conservativism” was simple a new name for an old phenomenon.

    “That said, there is something deeply disturbing about the philosophy that underlies the Bush administration. “Compassionate conservatism,” as defined by Bush during the presidential campaign and as proposed now as part of his legislative agenda, is a philosophy that says the federal government is going to be “strong and active”—in Bush’s words—in involving itself in the lives of Americans. It is a philosophy that is closer to that of the New Democrats over at the Progressive Policy Institute than to the Goldwater-Reagan heritage of the GOP.”

    “…that same reason can apply to someone (Reagan for instance)…” Reagan had to work with Progressives, and, in fact, had been a Progressive for much of his life.

    And you don’t understand the appeal to authority fallacy, clearly. To many of us, Rahe is an authority on these matters.

    • #14
    • August 1, 2014, at 8:10 AM PST
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  15. Tuck Inactive

    LOL! Here’s a good one, from the Daily Kos of all places (do read the author’s caveats, he certainly doesn’t want Bush II to be considered a Left Progressive!):

    “…So, without further ado, here’s my quick list of 50 Progressive Accomplishments of President George W. Bush:

    1. Increased the budget for the Dept. of Education
    2. Designated three huge new marine preserve
    3. Cut taxes on the poor
    4. Cut taxes on the middle class
    5. Increased money for Medicare
    6. Signed McCain-Feingold into law
    7. Increased aid to Africa…”

    • #15
    • August 1, 2014, at 8:28 AM PST
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  16. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    Tuck: Mitt Romney in Worcester 2002 “My views are progressive“ His father was also a member of the Progressive wing. Wasn’t he recently the Republican’s presidential candidate? 

    LOL… This is the best you have? You do understand the word “progressive” has a meaning apart from the political philosophy, do you not? It means favoring change and reform, exactly what Romney was discussing. And his dad?? His dad, like Ike is dead. That you continuously go back 40+ years shows just how wrong you are.

    So W was a Progressive? Not because of anything he actually did but because the term he used to describe his philosophy evoked the New Deal? Try specifics.

    I understand what an appeal to authority is. Dr. Rahe is unquestionably a learned man but I believe his specialty is ancient history not modern political thought. What you did was the classic appeal to authority.

    • #16
    • August 1, 2014, at 8:35 AM PST
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  17. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Klaatu, both Boehner and McConnell, upon returning to power in 2010, delivered emotional speeches about how the party had strayed into big-spending and little oversight during the Bush administration. Then what did they do?

    Name anything that has been cut while the House GOP controls every penny with an insuperable majority. Anything other than defense, that is.

    In a nutshell, Progressives believe that “when people are hurting, government has got to act”.

    • #17
    • August 1, 2014, at 10:25 AM PST
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  18. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    Ball Diamond Ball: Name anything that has been cut while the House GOP controls every penny with an insuperable majority. Anything other than defense, that is.

    The House does not control spending unilaterally but this ain’t nothing.
    image

    • #18
    • August 1, 2014, at 10:54 AM PST
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  19. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    If our representatives are merely empty vessels into we pour, by letters and telephone calls, our own interests and priorities, then that tells us two things (at least):

    1) Most Republicans seek power for power’s sake, rather than for opportunity to accomplish preset objectives. Consequently, they will enrich their own powers as much as possible without dooming future campaigns. Because no election is a referendum on a particular issue, but is rather a referendum on a politician’s overall performance over a span of years and involving dozens of issues, that leaves representatives a lot of wiggle room. 

    2) Most Republicans are less interested in what to do than in what not to do. Generally speaking, voters react more strongly to disagreeable actions than to inaction. This also encourages our representatives to make deals behind the scenes than out in the open, presenting fewer actions for voters to object to. 

    Regardless of whether Republicans are mere spokespersons for voters or rather trustees, the main question remains what interests unite Republicans across the country and how far Republicans would go to accomplish those goals. I see little common ground between various Republicans around the country beyond peripheral adjustments like minimal, temporary tax cuts. Half the reps talking about repealing Obamacare have granted to Democrats the premise that government should be more involved in healthcare than it was before Obamacare.

    • #19
    • August 1, 2014, at 11:15 AM PST
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  20. Josh F. Inactive

    Mendel: Plus, there are the donors (and other party members) who finance the campaign. Everyone seems to think that politicians (especially the ones they dislike) are in hock to only one single group (be it the media, the base, or the big donors), but I think the truth is that most of them are blindly juggling these competing interests.

     You are correct to add donors and swing voters to the position taking balancing act. I’m channeling David Mayhew “Congress: The Electoral Collection” in my blurb. He treats the Burkean trustees as outliers, but his main thesis is that the best predictor of Congressional voting behavior is how the member believes the vote will impact their chances of re-election.

    • #20
    • August 1, 2014, at 11:39 AM PST
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  21. Proud Skeptic Inactive

    Tuck:

    Proud Skeptic: I just don’t see them as anything other than a barrier to Democrat craziness.

    Which is no small thing!

     True…but we need more. And once they are in power then what?

    • #21
    • August 1, 2014, at 2:31 PM PST
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  22. dfp21 Inactive

    D.C. is a cesspool of bribery and petty tyrannies. There is only one solution: eliminate most Federal agencies. There are 431 of them (https://www.federalregister.gov/agencies). Elect me as President and after 2 years there would be maybe 100 remaining. That’s plenty. Thank you.

    • #22
    • August 1, 2014, at 2:53 PM PST
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  23. Brian McMenomy Inactive

    Let’s stick with policy and process:
    1) Domestic-Some form of the Ryan budget (incorporating his recent anti-poverty agenda; reverse the decline in defense spending (especially naval, nuclear & counterinsurgency funding); entitlement reform (some privatization of SS, premium support model for Medicare; Repeal ACA & replace with premium support model and vastly greater choice in private market: Eliminate all federal funding and mandates for abortion & abortofacients; build Keystone XL, allow fracking on federal lands and end green energy subsidies.
    2) Process-term limits of 12 years in a chamber; tort reform; immediate accountability review for every federal agency, flunking agencies get their budgets zeroed out. Eliminate the EPA, Dept. of Education & HHS.
    3) Foreign Policy-stop browbeating Israel, let them get the job done & help with a Marshall Plan-style rebuilding of Gaza, UN not allowed; install missile defense in Czech Republic, Poland, etc. to reassure our allies we’re re-engaged in Eastern 
    Europe; re-engage with India, Japan, S. Korea, Canada, UK (essentially every ally Obama has gone out of his way to offend); drone & airstrikes on ISIS positions to allow Iraqi government to re-assert control; Border security AND a complete overhaul of immigration, Jindal style (cont).

    • #23
    • August 2, 2014, at 2:46 PM PST
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  24. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    The bigger question is “What would Democrats Do?” Lefty shenanigans would commence. Obamas’ Organize for American, with 50 thousand Central American recruits and millions of dollars raised from publicly financed fundraising trips, would start community organizing, i.e. registering illegals, lawyering-up minorities, and in general being royal pains in the you-know-what.

    Let’s face it. With a left-leaning Media and Republicans who grovel and perform tricks for media appearances, they would end up RINO-tized in about 3 months. But with a strong Tea Party presents and leadership to stiffen Republican spines, there might be some good things to happen. They would end ObamaCare, but force a replacement on us as a compromise with RINO’s. A budget would be passed, but with no changes to current spending. They would strengthen the military and border security.

    • #24
    • August 4, 2014, at 8:27 AM PST
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  25. Josh F. Inactive

    Aaron Miller: the main question remains what interests unite Republicans across the country and how far Republicans would go to accomplish those goals.

    Bucky Boz: Given this state of affiars, the real question becomes what do voters who elect Republican politicians want the most? That varies from district to district, but can properly be summed up as: peace through strength, secure the border, repeal Obamacare, lower taxes, balance the budget, send a Reagaenesque Republican to the White House in 2016.

     I think we’re really not that divided and we have pretty clearly defined policy goals. Right now there is a huge leadership contest in Congress between Senators who see themselves in the White House and congressional leaders who want to stay in leadership for a long time to come.

    The media reports this as a GOP “civil war” but it’s really just the natural result of not having control of the presidency – being out of the white house creates a national leadership vacuum resulting in ambitious politicians seeking to emerge as the party’s leader. We’ll have to wait til the spring of 2016 to find out who wins the battle. 

    • #25
    • August 4, 2014, at 8:43 AM PST
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