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New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is very generous to me here:
In the last week there have been not one but four impressive pieces on fixing the Republican Party’s policy problem — one by Ramesh Ponnuru in the pages of this newspaper, one by James Pethokoukis in National Review, a lengthy essay by Pete Wehner and Michael Gerson in Commentary, and a sketch of a right-of-center health care reform by Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Avik Roy for Reuters. The proposals vary a bit, but there’s an essential unity to the ideas that they promote. To borrow Gerson and Wehner’s language, they’re all addressed to voters who “now regard the Republican Party as …wholly out of touch with ordinary Americans,” and they all take the obligations of governing more seriously than a lot of recent right-wing rhetoric has done.
The core of the center-right message last year was a) cutting debt and b) promoting heroic entrepreneurs. All good stuff. But too many voters were unable to connect the dots on how that was supposed to help them solve their real-world, real-life, on-the-ground problems. It all seemed sort of off point. And you know who else saw this problem? My pal Larry Kudlow of CNBC. Over and over last year, he pushed the Romney campaign to emphasize the old Reagan “take-home pay” message for middle-income voters who’ve suffered from years of declining or stagnating incomes. But Team Romney just didn’t have the policy agenda to sustain that message beyond a tax cut plan the candidate stopped talking about.
Anyway, I just thought I would point out that while the center-right has to apply timeless principles in a different way than a generation ago, the 1980s supplysiders still know a thing or two about a thing or two. Like free market capitalism is still the best path to prosperity.
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