Republicans have found their platform for 2020, and they have Democrats to thank. After a month in which a partial government shutdown battered President Trump’s approval ratings, a string of self-inflicted wounds by Democrats has abruptly shifted the political landscape, resuscitating discouraged Republicans and also setting the debate for 2020.
Just recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was riding high, enjoying her “win” over the government shutdown and corralling freshman Democrat rock star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other noisy House newcomers into a compliant body. The “wall” was toast and NPR was assuring us that President Trump’s support with his base was slipping.
Then came the upbeat State of the Union address, in which President Trump celebrated America’s proud history, talked up the booming jobs market and asked his rivals to choose greatness over gridlock.
Boom! Trump was back, while Democrats looked alternately churlish or childish by comparison. The president’s approval ratings began to climb.
Meanwhile, abortion activists were hailing new legislation signed by Gov. Cuomo in New York and a similar proposal in Virginia that pushed their political allies into an impossible corner. Both bills allow abortions at any time during the pregnancy, under certain circumstances, even if the fetus is viable outside the womb. That is not where the country is.
According to a Marist poll, 55 percent of respondents identify as “pro-choice”, but only 25 percent condone abortion at any time during the pregnancy. Gallup polling has consistently shown that most people want some restrictions on abortion.
Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam, asked how a baby who survived an attempted abortion might be treated under the legislation proposed in his state, shockingly implied that the infant might be killed or allowed to die.
Just days after the New York law went into effect, a man stabbed a woman in New York, killing her and her unborn fetus. Because of the recently signed bill, the prosecutor said he could charge the assailant with murdering the woman, but not the baby. That is the horrible outcome of a horrible bill, which Democrats will have to defend in the months to come.
Meanwhile, the debate on immigration goes on. Though Trump took the blame for the government shutdown, the intransigence of Pelosi also has come under fire. As the conference committee struggles to craft a compromise on a border security package, Democrats want to limit the number of beds contained by ICE detention centers, even if it means criminals must be cut loose.
With caravans continuing to head north and threatening to overwhelm our border patrol, immigration will remain a hot-button topic. Trump’s wall (and the reduced $5.7 billion budget request) looks reasonable compared to calls on the Left for getting rid of ICE. Just in the past week, a suspected member of the notorious MS-13 gang murdered a rival on a New York subway. The suspect is reportedly from El Salvador, and is in the U.S. illegally. That kind of story is nectar for Republicans.
Also likely to benefit Republicans is the slew of new taxes being proposed by Progressives running for president. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., wants to hike income taxes on the rich, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposes an extraordinarily complicated and possibly unconstitutional wealth tax while Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has called for a vast expansion of the so-called “death tax.” Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC as she is called, is too young to run for president but wants to raise the marginal income tax rate on the “tippy top” to 70 percent.
The GOP will remind voters that our country rewards success, and is therefore successful. They will also point out that our tax code is one of the most progressive in the world, and that other countries that have targeted the rich have seen high earners emigrate. A recent Rasmussen poll reports the country split on whether hiking taxes on our most successful citizens will benefit the economy. This is not a slam dunk for Democrats.
Moderate liberals like Mike Bloomberg and Howard Schultz have blasted Warren’s wealth tax; of course, both billionaires would lose enormously under her plan. But former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also weighed in on AOC’s plan, reminding the 29-year-old congresswoman that “the American people are very conservative” and don’t like “radical change quickly.”
That rebuke clearly missed its mark, given that AOC has more recently rolled out her “Green New Deal,” proposing to completely overturn our economy and our way of life in search of a carbon-free existence.
Among other ambitions, the resolution submitted to both houses of Congress aims to ensure “economic security for all,” “healthy food, [and] access to nature,” “justice and equality,” and also that “businesspersons are free from unfair competition.” It also guarantees “higher education, high-quality health care, and affordable, safe, and adequate housing to all.” And we thought Obama’s promise to slow the rise of the oceans was grandiose.
The program is so impractical and preposterous – so extreme — that it is difficult to take seriously. Even so, the resolution has attracted 67 co-sponsors in the House, and 11 senators, including almost all the easily cowed Democrats hoping to run in 2020.
Republicans will have a field day warning voters that Democrats want to get rid of airplane travel, rebuild every house in the nation, ditch the cars Americans love, and in every way undermine the competitive advantage enjoyed by our resource-rich country.
The Green New Deal could have been a junior high science project; instead, it will be the centerpiece of Republicans’ war on Democrat extremism.