Our state’s GOP is failing to defend Republican ideas

Daniel Henninger has a terrific article in today’s Wall Street Journal with the title “Has Obama Buried Reagan?” Henninger writes,

“The stock market has been in a free-fall (with a bounce off a ledge yesterday), dismantling the saved wealth of millions of individual Americans who must feel they are living through the exploding rubble of some Hollywood disaster movie…

Someone said, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’ Why are the Republicans wasting it?”

Illinois Republicans have been wasting opportunities for years, so we feel Mr. Henninger’s pain. Rod Blagojevich and the Democratic majorities in the state capital have been on an irresponsible spending spree for several years with little check or balance applied from the other side of the political aisle.

Henninger writes of the federal government:

“If the Democrats are willing to bet the entire U.S. economy on a 1931 theory known as the Keynesian multiplier, surely Republicans can excavate and relearn the core idea handed down to them by Ronald Reagan. That idea was known as economic growth.”

Of course economic growth is an issue right here in the Prairie State. Our very high unemployment rate and terrible state economy means lost opportunities for Illinois citizens and yes, lower revenues to the state coffers.

Henninger sums up the opportunity being presented to Republicans right now – including those in the Illinois General Assembly (emphasis added):

“Arguably at no time in their lives have more Americans been this sharply focused on the economy. They think and talk about nothing else. The Republicans have been handed on a tarnished silver platter the chance to offer the American people an alternative vision of how their economy works — and grows.”

“Alternative vision”? I’ve used those exact same two words together often – including here, here, here, and here.

What we need to hear from elected Republicans goes beyond “fiscal responsibility,” “reduce the debt,” and even “tax cuts,” Henninger writes.

“What Ronald Reagan knew and they don’t is that what moves a nation is the vital, teeming life of the private economy — work, ideas, innovation, the excitement of production, getting bigger. Growth.”

Three years ago I wrote “Want to run for office? Please don’t unless you read this book” – and pitched Henry Hazlitt‘s “Economics in One Lesson.” Henninger suggests that Republican leaders need to go back and reread not only that one, but also Ronald Reagan‘s “A Life in Letters,” and Milton Friedman‘s “Free to Choose.”

I might recommend that our GOP legislators read our state Republican Party’s2008 Platform as well. Here are a few highlights (emphasis added):

* * * * *

“We call on the Governor and the General Assembly to balance the state budget and provide for a responsible capital development program without resorting to the expansion of gambling, which harms Illinois’ families and our state’s business climate and presents costly challenges for both law enforcement and social service agencies.”

* * * * *

We advocate a pro-growth orientation for our state’s economic policies, subjecting proposed legislation or regulation to analysis as to its impact on economic growth for Illinois and rejecting any proposals which would impose a negative impact…

We call on the Republican delegations in both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate to present an alternative budget, reflecting our principles, to engender debate on spending and to move along the process of enacting a budget for Fiscal Year 2009.

Illinois Republicans understand that taxing businesses translates into fewer jobs, less investment and higher consumer prices. Therefore Republicans not only oppose higher general taxes but will consistently fight the multitude of tax and fee increases which are bleeding Illinois employers and destroying jobs.

* * * * *

“The Republican Party of Illinois condemns the efforts of Illinois Democrats to graduate the state income tax.

We call on the Governor and the General Assembly to meet the constitutional obligation of a balanced budget.”

* * * * *

“Politics,” Daniel Henninger writes, “is about ideas and language,” and the “conservative movement is not at a loss for proven ideas…” I’ve noted before the irony of the nation’s premier state issue think tank existing right here in Illinois. How often have you seen our Republican state senate or state house caucus calling on the abundant resources and talent found at the Chicago-based Heartland Institute?

Ronald Reagan was born here ninety-eight years ago – today his example lives on and should be followed by Republican state legislators.