Mitt Romney must have heard DeMint, and he has his own feisty post-election advice spiel in The Washington Post—which features, among other op-eds, a statement by Ruth Marcus-as-President-Obama (the point of which is never really explained, but we guess this is a Dowdian variety of advice by possession), and a very Kumbaya “time to work together” editorial by the board featuring this bizarre blindside.
So pardon us if we don’t overinterpret the results of Tuesday’s vote. Particularly when unemployment is approaching 10 percent, incumbents are going to take a beating.
Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that the midterm elections represent a sharp rebuke of President Obama, and that many voters meant them that way.
Did we just say we’re not going to overinterpret? Forgot we had inches to fill
But we digress. Inches are also given to Romney, who has advice for his (fingers crossed) 2012 adversary, and not for the GOP:
Government is smothering the pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit that propelled our economy past those of older, larger nations. Ever higher taxes on small and big business, layers of red tape, onerous labor regulations, and punitive bureaucrats and lawsuits are suffocating U.S. economic vitality. So far, the president and his fellow travelers in Congress have made things worse: If Obama is serious about changing the way things are done in Washington, he must slay the job-killing beast Washington has become.
He must also choke off government’s voracious appetite. Under current law, the federal government’s share of the economy will grow from its 50-year average of 20.3 percent to 26.5 percent by the end of this decade; federal, state and local governments will then constitute more than 40 percent of the economy. At what point do we effectively become a socialist economy, with its associated low growth, low incomes and permanently high unemployment?
His advice is at least more constructive than DeMint’s, but he may have just given Obama a serious headstart in debate prep:
Rule One: Start with the total, don’t end up with it. Decide from the outset the amount that the government will spend for the year
Rule Two: Go where the money is. With entitlement spending about half of all federal spending, the president has no choice but to address Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He should propose less costly progressive indexing for future Social Security beneficiaries - using the consumer price index inflator rather than the wage index for higher-income retirees.
E.J. Dionne has a smart take on why the midterms were lost, and some specific advice on where Obama might mine for Republican Kryptonite next time (just like Romney, Dionne is squarely focused on 2012).
Democrats held onto moderate voters while losing independents. What hurt them most was this brute fact: Voters younger than 30 made up 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 but only about half that on Tuesday, according to network exit polls. This verdict was rendered by a much older and much more conservative electorate. Yes, there was an enthusiasm gap.
Republicans need to be pressed to put specifics behind their anti-spending, anti-deficit rhetoric. They should be confronted with budget cuts that force them to face their constituencies. Farm subsidies are not sacred, nor is spending for weapons systems the Pentagon says it doesn’t need, nor are hundreds of millions in tax expenditures and preferences. And if Republicans continue to insist on tax cuts for the wealthy, they should have to identify spending cuts to cover the costs
[The election] is a setback for progressives, not a permanent defeat. They took real losses but held their own in the Senate and in key governors’ races. The real showdown takes place in two years - and with the electorate equally disapproving of both Republicans and Democrats, that battle is wide open.