Members of the GOP should shy away from tying their campaigns to the national deficit. Although Conservatives and Tea Partiers understand what they mean, the exclusive focus on deficit instead of growth and spending is a recipe for political disaster. This isn’t a matter of policy, it’s a matter of presentation, an area where Democrats have long held a substantial edge.
Democrats are about to push for major—and highly destructive—tax increases under the guise of balancing the nation’s checkbook. If I were a Democrat strategist, I would encourage Republicans to “keep their word on the deficit.” I would present the people with a false choice. Either the Republicans are willing to comply with Democrat tax increases, or they’re hypocrites. The tactic might become even more effective if the GOP successfully won control of the House. I suspect I’m neither the first, nor the only person to conceive of this campaign strategy which is why Conservatives must plan an articulate response now.
By framing policy in terms of what is pro-growth, and what is not pro-growth, the Republican Party can sidestep this potential roadblock. Despite what Nancy Pelosi may think, taxes are not pro-growth; government spending is not pro-growth. Suddenly, the GOP’s policy positions become clear even though they haven’t changed. And if someone does ask about the GOP’s deficit plans, the answer is equally clear: “if we reduce spending to a sustainable level, we will eliminate the deficit; unfortunately, our friends on the other side of the aisle aren’t willing to confront the tough decisions that come with entitlement reform.”