Excerpt Of The Day: Good Policy Is Good Politics

“I have always believed that good policy is good politics for Republicans. Reagan won against an incumbent president in 1980, declaring in his first inaugural address that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” I beat an incumbent Democrat in 1984, against the dire predications of my party’s political experts, on an aggressive agenda of smaller government and Social Security reform based on large personal retirement accounts. In 1994, Republicans took control of the House for the first time in 40 years, running on the Contract with America, a clearly articulated public policy agenda based on smaller, smarter government.

Conversely, when we let politics define our agenda, we get in trouble. The highway bill is one example in which the criterion of choice was politics. An even better example was 2003’s expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs. This was an explicitly political effort to take health care “off the table” for the 2004 elections. I said at that time that the proposed legislation was “a case where bad politics has produced a bad policy proposal.” I predicted that the deal was “bad news for senior citizens and possibly even worse political news for the Republican Party.” Here is another one of Armey’s Axioms: You can’t get your finger on the problem if you’ve got it in the wind.

Bad policy is bad politics. The 2003 expansion of Medicare enacted by Republicans has dramatically increased the financial pressures on an already broken program, and it has become a political albatross around the necks of Republicans who voted for it.

…Notice that the brightest liberal politicians, like Hillary Clinton, always move toward our policy ground as they prepare to run for national office. Why would Republicans want to act like them when they act like us in order to win?” — Dick Armey

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