Two facts emerge from the New Hampshire Primary with ominous implications for the GOP in 2012:
• Pat Caddell reports that there were 25,000 fewer votes in the New Hampshire Republican Primary this year than in 2008, even though there was a Democratic contest between Obama and Hillary to siphon votes away from the GOP contest that year.
• And exit polls show that Ron Paul won half of the votes of those under 30 in the New Hampshire contest. It is Ron Paul – with his message of fundamental economic change – not Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum – with their anti-Obama message that is spreading on American campuses, competing for the very heart of the Obama base.
Both data point to an enthusiasm gap for the 2012 Republican nominee that could be dangerous. As the campaigns descended into negative advertising, a decreased turnout was a predictable consequence. But the rallying of young people to Ron Paul suggests that the Republicans need more than just an anti-Obama message. After all, young people understand that the pre-Obama economy was bad and that the recession began before Obama was even running for president. They realize that their future depends on an affirmative program, not just on repeal of the Obama laws and regulations.
But, while we need the enthusiasm that Ron Paul ignites, we do not need Ron. Another Ronald — Reagan – built the Republican majority by baking the three disparate wings of the Republican Party into one political layer cake. He combined the national security conservatives with the evangelical social populists and the free market economy advocates into a force that won at the polls. Ron Paul is seeking to deconstruct the Reagan coalition by embracing economic conservatism while shunning the evangelical social agenda and the concerns of the national security voters. His recipe is one for a massive defeat.
But you don’t need to embrace Ron Paul’s nutty foreign policy and self-flagellation in blaming terrorism on our own policies to get the restructuring that our economy needs. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 program will do the trick. It can appeal to the young Ron Paul voters offering them the kind of basic economic change that they seek. By transferring the locus of taxation from production to consumption, 9-9-9 can create jobs by incentivizing the creation of wealth. The Obama focus on economic stimulus that catalyzes demand for products and services often creates jobs in China more than it does in the United States.
Cain is planning a new effort to promote his 9-9-9 plan now that his candidacy is over. It could not come at a better time for the Republican Party. (Those wishing to join should go to www.cainconnections.com.) He is doing a bus tour and the rounds of television shows to push his substantive agenda. And, in the process, can breathe enthusiasm back into Republican ranks.
9-9-9 will satisfy the libertarian impulse that underscores Paul’s appeal, particularly to the young. It will simplify the tax code so that it is a means of raising government revenue, not of promoting social engineering. Tax laws won’t tell us what to buy, where to invest, and how to live. Instead, it will leave these decisions to each us.
9-9-9 offers an agenda to repair the flaws in the economy that led to the stagnation of the late years of the last decade before Obama even arrived on the scene. It will make America a land of incredible business opportunity, luring innovators and job creators to the nation with what would then be the lowest maximum personal income tax rate on earth. The repeal of the capital gains tax will eliminate the barrier that stands between innovation and capital and will encourage the kind of explosion of economic growth that we need.
If Mitt Romney is to be the nominee, he needs a better message than his current reliance on his private sector credentials and his desire to oust the current Administration. His flat tax ideas have not ignited a wave of enthusiasm nor will they. They are yesterday’s ideas. He needs 9-9-9. The Republican Party needs it. And America needs it as well.