History’s lesson on the stimulus and tax increase

Tim Phillips, Americans for Prosperity:

The narrative seems familiar: a president coming off a significant election victory with improving poll numbers; his allies on the left demanding an ambitious Big Government agenda; political pundits opining about how Republicans must bow to reality by abandoning their core principles; some Republican elected officials hinting about a new “bipartisan” approach and shaken congressional Republicans standing as the last line of defense.

It should be familiar because this was the case in December 2008. Then President-elect Barack Obama had won a resounding victory with 53 percent of the vote — a percentage exceeded by only three Democrats in history: FDR, LBJ and Andrew Jackson. Obama’s poll numbers were in the ’70s. The left was euphoric, having ended the Bush years. Pundits were hyperventilating with their analysis of how Republicans must embrace big new government spending in order to get the economy moving again. And many in the Republican congressional leadership were openly hinting that they would support a bipartisan stimulus bill.

Then Obama, showing even then a predisposition for overreach, demanded an unprecedented trillion-dollar stimulus package.

A critical moment of decision faced House and Senate Republicans. Would they bow to pressure and take the easy route — walking away from their free-market principles in order to supposedly preserve their strength for the future, or would they stand and fight for what they knew to be right?

To their credit, they chose to take on the popular newly elected president and the left along with a chorus of pundits. They united in opposition to a stimulus bill that at the time was favored with the public. They calmly articulated their position — that massive new government spending would drive us only deeper into debt, would be wasted by Washington politicians and would fail to create lasting jobs and prosperity for our nation.

With the advantage of hindsight, we know what happened next. They lost on the stimulus, but they remained united in the next crucial public policy fight over health care. They competently argued their sound position that Washington-run health care would spend too much and waste too much while ultimately harming the quality of our health care and delaying our economic recovery.

To the dismay of the president and shock of most pundits, the American public sided with congressional Republicans and rewarded them with an historic once-in-a-generation electoral victory in 2010.

Today, congressional Republicans face another momentous decision — whether to walk away from their free-enterprise principles by supporting new tax increases. But the president they face today is not the president of 2009. He is weaker.

Continue reading at Phillips in Politico: History’s lesson on the stimulus and tax increase.