In an earlier blog, I had predicted that Barack Obama's "Jobs" plan was nothing more than a well laid trap for the Tea Party. He almost succeeded in getting members to bite. In fact, some actually did take the bait. Mitch McConnell, the often criticized Senate Minority leader may have saved the 2012 election for Republicans.
Of course, there are many Republicans who hold McConnell, House Speaker, John Boehner and a large number of house members in contempt. It was said that they "blinked" when the pressure was turned up. But what did they really concede?
The payroll tax holiday was favored by the majority of the country. Conventional wisdom has always mandated a simple axiom: Never raise taxes in a recession. We're still in one, no matter what some indicators might suggest!
The Keystone Pipeline should commence, as soon as practicable. 60% of America is with Republicans on this. Obama has shown signs of caving, even at the expense of losing support with Environmental Groups. The two month extension included steps in the right direction toward accomplishing this objective. Republicans had clearly positioned themselves on the side of James Hoffa.
The sticking point was extending unemployment benefits to 99 weeks. This went against the grain of most Republicans. Suddenly these recipients were positioned as "lazy." Opponents said they lacked proper motivation to look for jobs. Statistics later showed that the long term unemployed were applying for jobs at a rate higher than both the short term unemployed and those not receiving unemployment insurance.
Republicans attempted to craft "unemployment insurance reform." This translated to cutting the period to 59 weeks while requiring more rigorous qualifications such as drug testing. It sounded like a pretty reasonable compromise. The problem was, these "deficit hawks" never stopped to learn who these "lazy, unmotivated" recipients were. They concluded that they were "deadbeats" and left it at that.
In truth, these "deadbeats" are older workers, many 50 plus. A large number of them live in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In some cases, they have been downsized. In others, they have been forced out because their employers showed a preference for younger workers. There are countless sagas of workers who had already put thirty years into the work force who were suddenly out of a job. As humiliating as that is, politicians are now calling them "lazy, unmotivated deadbeats."
Barack Obama's record is dismal. But he is a cagy politician. He knew that the conventional Tea Party member would seize the chance to beat up these two million or so, "lazy, unmotivated deadbeats." He also knows where they live. Most importantly, he knows that these "lazy, unmotivated deadbeats" will vote. In a close election they could make the difference in the 2012 presidency.
The Tea Party may have saved the Republican Party. They introduced long overdue discussion in Washington. However, in their zeal to right things, they must be wary at attempts by the other side to force them into a strategic mistake! They must never forget that they are hated and feared by the other side.
It is imperative in the coming weeks for all Republicans to understand that they do not hold all the cards. The Keystone pipeline will have an impact on the mood of the country. Energy exploration and development is the key to a recovery. Standing between that recovery is Barack Obama and a dogmatic agenda. A radical Environmentalist effort to destroy the energy sector can be exposed as the primary deterrant to a return to prosperity. Republicans can bring along large numbers of Democrats to their position if they are both flexible and sensitive to other needs.
Alienating parts of an otherwise friendly constituency for "nickels and dimes" is not the recipe for victory! Besides, long term unemployed workers are not all Democrats. Some are Republicans. Others are Independents. All are predisposed to look for a 2012 election alternative to Barack Obama. Addressing their short term needs while making steps to fix the long term problem will win their support.
This is no time for "short sighted tomfoolery." The Tea Party must mature politically. Real leadership comes from the ability to look at problems from a strategically wise, multidimensional standpoint.
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