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Republicans' Real Problem: Conservative Policies Provide No Solutions to Nation's Problems

12/06/2012 08:57 am ET | Updated Feb 05, 2013

"A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it." - William F. Buckley, Jr.

Someone has to say it.

Four weeks since the election, Republicans cannot face the truth: their core deficiency is that their policies solve none of our nation's problems.

Sure, they attack Latinos. They prefer banks over students. They invade women's autonomy. They consider their hotel bedmaker to be a taker. They suppress and intimidate the vote. They lie about almost everything.

Now, they believe that by speaking softly instead of harshly, punctuating their speeches with "middle class" and conveying their "values" that they can make major gains among women and minorities.

But, that is not the core of the Republicans' problem.

Rather, it is that conservatism has no serious solutions (serious = able to withstand scrutiny) to any of the problems the nation confronts nor that people face in their daily lives.

Nor have they ever. Conservatism is best-suited to be a loyal opposition, forcing progressive policies to improve their clarity, efficiency and ambition. It is not suited itself to be a governing philosophy because it does not have credible solutions to problems.

Until Republicans develop real solutions, they will have to engage in all that nefarious behavior, hoping they are not caught, in order to trigger this or that fear or concern and try to make people believe their problems are all the government's fault. Additionally, they will make declaratory statements, e.g., "we will fix immigration," talking about their "principles," but never actually doing anything to fix it.

One of the reasons presidential election years are particularly difficult for them is that the nonsense is dissected when tens of millions are actively listening.

Consider, for example, Republicans' menu of answers to national problems:

1. Cut taxes, with benefits skewed heavily to the wealthy.
2. Cut spending.
3. Reduce regulation.
4. Let the states handle it.
5. Privatize it.
6. Deny the problem exists.
7. Make declaratory statements without any specific suggestions.

That's it.

If none of these remedies actually addresses the problem, and, for the most part, none of them do, Republicans basically say "tough shit."

Just a few examples:

Health care: In 2010 they ran on a "repeal-and-replace" platform regarding ObamaCare. The House repealed Obamacare 30+ times. But they never proposed a credible replacement that was scored by the CBO. During the recent campaign, Romney told the uninsured to go to emergency rooms.

$2.2 Trillion Infrastructure Deficit: Republicans opposed President Obama's limited down-payment on rebuilding the foundation of our economy. They oppose Democrats' infrastructure bank because taxpayer money would be funding union workers to do the work. When Katrina struck, and "W" awakened from his slumber to propose rebuilding, conservatives immediately insisted that "Davis-Bacon" -- a law requiring the prevailing wage to be paid in federal contracts -- be suspended. Conservatives would rather the infrastructure crumble if rebuilding it meant that workers would get good salaries and some of them may be in unions. Far right conservatives like Jim DeMint (R-SC) reject funds appropriated to upgrade a harbor, Scott Walker (R-WI) rejected funds to create high-speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison and even the recently lovable Chris Christie (R-NJ) rejected funds for a new tunnel from New Jersey to Manhattan.

Climate change: Republicans deny there is problem. How are they going to appeal to people in New York and New Jersey if they cannot even admit that Hurricane Sandy struck with surges four feet higher than ever before? In Washington State ocean acidity (caused by carbon dioxide in water) is destroying beds of shellfish, threatening not only a major industry but also a key part of our food supply.

Taxes and Budgets: Mitt Romney ran for president portraying himself as a successful businessman who knew how to make organizations work. If a former CEO is using that skill set as ticket to the presidency, one might think he would take extra care to have his proposal thoroughly vetted, so at the very least it would add up. But the reason he did not is that it was utter fantasyland -- cutting taxes 20 percent across the board, closing loopholes, and making it revenue neutral without increasing anyone's taxes and giving tax cuts to the middle class. It does not require a computer model to know that that just cannot work.

Republicans have promoted the fictions that tax-cuts pay for themselves (they don't) and that cutting taxes for the wealthy increases economic growth (they don't). Mitt Romney imbibed this orthodoxy and thus all his supposed business acumen seemed to be sham.

Worse for Republicans going forward -- that is about the sum total of their economic growth policies, all shown to be wrong.

Immigration: Mitt Romney's blasted the President's executive order protecting "Dream Act" qualifiers stating that he, Romney, would do comprehensive immigration reform. That was it, politics by declaratory statement. He never said anything about what that would entail. He, Romney, also said that he, Romney, would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Again, no suggestion about what he, Romney, would do it.

National Debt/Fiscal Cliff: Even at hour of a "crisis" Republicans created for themselves, they are unable to provide a cogent counterproposal to the President's plan. Instead, they call upon the president to negotiate with himself, proposing plan after plan that Republicans reject. They have yet to demonstrate how $800 billion in revenues can be raised by closing loopholes that would not also impact the middle class. There is a good reason for that -- they can't.

Republicans' main hope is for the American people to return to their lives, and ignore politics and politicians again. Then, they can pretend they have solutions to our problems, perhaps use more soothing language about groups they disdain, and make declaratory statements about fixing things.

Keeping people aroused and engaged is their worst nightmare.