Peggy Noonan, in “The Establishment Fights Back” (The Wall Street Journal, 11/9/13), presented – without rebuttal- the Mitch McConnell argument that the Republican Party should ignore Ted Cruz and the Tea Party and follow the leadership of Sen. McConnell and the other more-moderate Republicans. The essence of the McConnell case is that the moderates are more electable and that the key to repealing ObamaCare and otherwise rescuing the country is for Republicans to re-take the White House and the Senate. Here is the rebuttal to the McConnell argument.
Would you trust this man (or his wing of the GOP) to repeal and replace Obamacare? The Senator’s point is, the GOP’s primary goal should be to achieve control of the government, because we can trust the moderate Republicans to do the right things. The problem is, many responsible conservatives say, No, they do NOT trust the moderates, and they do not consider that a good strategy. Specifically, they fear the moderates would not perform a complete repeal and that, with regard to any repealed provisions, the moderates would be clueless as to what to replace them with. For example, several moderates have already floated the notion of retaining certain popular features of OBC – such as the banning of insurance-premium rates that reflect the increased cost of insuring people with pre-existing conditions (or otherwise inferior risk-profiles), even though that feature is a mission-critical element of OBC that would, if retained, allow OBC to retain its essential character (and its essential defect) as a hodge-podge of hidden subsidies that is devoid of free-market incentives to rein-in costs. (As Paul Ryan’s reform plan makes clear, Conservatives are not opposed to subsidies to the needy, they merely insist that the subsidies be provided by the government directly, rather than being built into the pricing of healthcare services and insurance.) Conservatives would observe that there is precedent for this type of behavior. Look what happened on the most-recent occasion when we had moderate Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress: the adoption of one huge new entitlement program (Medicare Part D), the desultory attempt by the President to reform one of the other huge entitlement programs (Social Security), the failure to terminate or reform Fannie and Freddie, the nomination of Ben Bernanke (Mr. Easy Money) as Fed Chairman, the mounting annual deficits, and the enactment of the Goldman Sachs Relief Program law (formally known as TARP).
No, the point is, a GOP win is NOT necessarily a higher priority than electing politicians who are competent and who understand that fiscal conservatism involves cutting tax rates rather than raising them. Granted, the Tea Party has produced a lot of incompetent nominees, mainly when the TP has deluded itself into thinking that its mandate is based upon its positions on social issues rather than its soundness on economic ones, but the argument that Conservatives must choose between the Tea Party and the McConnell faction presents a false dilemma.