The conventional wisdom is that the Republican Party will be more aggressive in 2009 and beyond. They will have to be, since they are looking at a filibuster-proof majority of Democrats in the Senate to go along with the Democrat majority in the House and a Democrat President. It will be important, therefore, for Republicans to seize the offensive initiative.
There are three issues which will likely come to a head in 2009 which Republicans can win – if they can get out in front of the story and start framing the debate before their counterparts:
Card Check/Forced Unionization. The Employee Free Choice Act is a proposed law that makes it easier for union “representatives” to intimidate workers into joining unions. (This can’t be repeated enough.) Aside from giving Democrats a healthy stream of campaign cash and workers, stripping workers of the right to vote against unionization on a private ballot would likely expand unionization – which, as anyone from the American auto industry can tell you, will serve to make American goods more expensive and less competitive in the marketplace. The right to a secret ballot is sacred for most Americans.
Business Bailouts. Speaking of Detroit, industries are already lining up with their hands out hoping to snag a share of the federal budget. Commercial real estate, retail stores, and even newspapers are rightfully asking why they shouldn’t get the same help as other industries. Handing out money hand-over-fist will earn votes in certain states and communities, but it won’t help the economy. And, in general, bailouts are unpopular among voters. Taking a stand against corporate entitlements would be a good way to demonstrate a broad support for entitlement reform.
Health Care. This may be the biggest challenge for the Republican minority, and it’s the issue they are already the most behind on. Given the state of the economy, a federal health care entitlement figures to be a popular program – especially if common misconceptions continue to be spread without answer. The Obama Pre-Administration has already solicited “public input” for its health care plan by having supporter organize “community discussions” during a time when many groups that would oppose his plan were taking a Christmas vacation. Of course, there’s plenty wrong with allowing the same people who run government institutions like the school systems, the IRS, the DMV, etc. to run medical care, but that case has to be made clearly, aggressively, and repeatedly.
These issues may not be the top three on President Obama’s docket, but Republicans can’t allow their agenda to be dictated by Democrats as they have for the past four years. These issues, while challenging, will help Republicans regain some control of the nation’s policy agenda.