Taxes, Health Care, and GOP Strategists

Fox News has an article about the future of the GOP, and its search for rising starts. It is a pretty good piece, except for comments by Republican strategist Margaret Hoover.

“We definitely need some fresh leadership and some fresh faces,” Hoover said. “Even on taxes, Barack Obama’s tax message got more traction with Americans, so clearly we’re not doing something right. The wilderness isn’t a bad place to be.” …

One Republican on Hoover’s short list of creative thinkers is Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, 38.

“He’s the only guy I know of that’s putting forth a health care blueprint,” Hoover said. “Americans mostly don’t want lower taxes. The reason why is they don’t feel like the Bush tax cuts were worth it.”

Two complaints: First, she is completely wrong about how Americans feel about taxes. “Obama’s tax message” was that he would cut taxes for 95% of Americans, and especially for “the middle class” or “working class Americans.” He even noted he would be cautious on proposing tax increases on the rich and on Exxon – noting that taxes shouldn’t be too high or passed if we are still in a recession – as that could be bad for the economy.

The idea that Americans are looking for big government solutions, and support higher taxes, are completely undermined by surveys and polls, such as the Club for Growth poll. As David Boaz points out, citing other survey data, smaller government is more popular than Obama. And Dick Armey notes that more Americans believe Obama would lower their taxes than McCain.

Second, though Paul Ryan has been a leader on conservative ideas and on health care, he is far from “the only guy.” John Shadegg and Tom Coburn have been leaders in Congress on health care reform. States like Florida, Georgia, and Missouri have enacted free market reform. Here in Pennsylvania, people like Sen. Folmer and Rep. Boyd have pushed consumer-driven reforms.

And of course, free market think tanks and other groups have put together numerous principles for health care reform. Here is the Commonwealth Foundation’s PolicyPoints on health care reform. And there are too many groups to list here promoting health care freedom in other states and nationally.

That a Republican strategist is oblivious of either of these issues is exactly why we need to focus on Ideas, not Politics.