There’s no question that the catastrophic debut of Obamacare -- including the website breakdown and the millions of pink-slip cancellations -- will be a great card for Republicans to play on the way to the 2014 midterm elections. No question.
The president lied about his lies about keeping your health plans and doctors. And when he did finally apologize, he didn’t really say he was sorry. It’s also possible that we’ll see 10 million more insurance cancellations, leading to much higher premiums, bigger deductibilities, and more cutoffs between patients and their doctors. And employer-based cancellations will compound this disaster, with the whole process stretching across most of next year. It will be a killer for the Obama Democrats.
But while my conservative-pundit colleagues are out thrashing Obamacare, I want to raise a critical point: Don’t forget economic growth.
The Pew Research Center’s Andrew Kohut recently wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The GOP Is in Better Shape than You Think.” It provides an unbelievable statistic: Independents favor the GOP on handling the economy by 46 to 30 percent. Unbelievable. Overall, according to Pew Research, a plurality of all voters gives the GOP a 44 percent to 37 percent edge on the economy.
So I want to make a pitch that Republicans not lose sight of the importance of economic growth in the months leading up to next year’s midterms. And that suggests the importance of a program of pro-growth tax reform and simplification. Keep the spending-cut sequester and budget caps in place. Push deregulation that will help small and large businesses grow more and hire more workers.
The Obama economy is not keeling over. Despite the government shutdown, nonfarm payrolls increased 204,000 in October, private payrolls jumped 212,000, and jobs for the prior two months were revised upward by 60,000 to 70,000. The numbers were higher than expected.
No, these are not fabulous numbers. But they are decent. Of course, 7.3 percent unemployment is still too high, participation rates are way too low, and we need to traverse a multimillion-job deficit to get back to the prior historical trend. So Republicans should keep up the mantra on this, talking jobs and take-home pay. In other words, talking economic growth.