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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Don’t cave, Republicans, America can’t afford new federal entitlement$!

It was only natural when Democrats retook the House majority earlier this month that some folks began telling Republicans to abandon their limited government principles to regain a popular foothold with the American people. Do this, they reasoned, and hopefully the party would once again steer the federal ship back towards its proper latitude.

Of course whenever either party absorbs a political rectification like the GOP did this year it’s necessary to conduct a thorough self-examination to determine how candidates might better capture voters’ imaginations the Democrats and Republicansnext time out. Democrats went through their own limited soul searching after 2016, but their “correction” mostly involved whining about the unfairness of the result, hating on the Constitution’s Electoral College framework and pecking at Republicans for abusing the system.

Republican experts weighed-in with their typical establishment-centric advice: tell President Trump to soften his tone, offer new federal programs to draw notice and approval from our increasingly benefits-hungry public (and provide them a reason to vote GOP) and perhaps most importantly, to “work” with Democrats and “get things done.”

In some circles this “gimme-gimme-gimme” chorus has become deafening. Former Pennsylvania Republican senator and perennial presidential candidate Rick Santorum wrote at National Review, “Today, middle-income American families are squeezed from all directions. Supporting the families raising the next generation is vital to our nation’s long-term success and prosperity. Healthy, well-behaved children prepared to learn will create a better learning environment for all of our children. We must face the reality that our laws and our culture have made it much harder for moms and dads to succeed at that task. It’s time to give parents the flexibility they need to be with them at the most crucial times of their lives...

“Women cite a lack of paid leave as one of the biggest reasons for not having as many children as they would like. Though estimates vary widely as to how many mothers lack access to paid leave — it depends on how generously the term is defined — the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 85 percent do not have a defined benefit. Also, one in four women return to work less than two weeks after giving birth. They simply can’t afford to miss the paycheck...

“Republicans need to roll up their sleeves, reach across the aisle, and get a new federal paid-leave program enacted. Paid parental leave is good policy and good politics.”

Santorum makes a number of good points and if you didn’t know better you’d probably agree the hour has arrived for Republicans to crawl over to Nancy Pelosi’s and House Democrats’ caves with hat in hands, beg them for forgiveness, apologize for all the cruel advocacy for federal budgetary restraint over the years and promise to sign-on to whatever funds the majority conjures up to encourage Americans to breed more – and then help raise the kids, too.

No one doubts Santorum’s heart but I beg to disagree with his premise: a federal family leave program is not good policy and it almost certainly would end up a political disaster for the GOP. This is true for many reasons. First, Democrats would see any proposal to create a new federal entitlement program as free rein to pile on gobs of giveaways and largesse for favored liberal constituencies that have little or nothing to do with helping people rear babies and shepherd them through infancy.

Everyone knows once a national entitlement is created it’s impossible to get rid of it and as a matter of principle we should not be adding additional federal subsidies to all citizens, many of whom already don’t pay a penny in income taxes. Studies show around half of Americans have zero annual income tax liability – do we really desire to add to that total with welfare checks?

And would such a program be means tested in any case? What if a member of the “super rich” (Democrats hate so much) has a baby and receives payments for six months (or however long the term would be)? Where’s the benefit there? Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump is a major proponent of Santorum’s cause and she has three children herself. Should Ivanka have been eligible for federal payments after birthing her kids?

Second, Democrats would recognize and take full advantage of the opportunity to enact federal family leave to (again) cement their radical social agenda into law and erode traditional notions of “family” even further. Assuming “family leave” (as Santorum envisions it) is meant for mothers -- and mothers only -- how would the new program treat homosexual couples who adopt a child or pay to create one through artificial insemination and surrogacy? Would both “spouses” in the “marriage” be eligible for payments? How about a transgender “man” who births a baby?

Think it couldn’t happen? Think again. How far have American bureaucratic norms deteriorated ever since “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the more recent 21st century advent of same-sex marriage? Democrats are completely beholden to the most militant elements of the LGBTQ lobby – and no family leave legislation would ever dare exclude the party’s favored classifications. Should Uncle Sam be on the dole for paying a surrogate mother for her “recuperation period” even when she’s not taking care of an infant?

Or how about work-at-home fathers? The possibilities for fraud and abuse are endless. Check out the depth of the fall before leaping off the cliff, folks.

Third, there’s no way around it, having children is expensive. While the cost of birthing and raising babies is a factor in everyone’s ultimate family-size calculations, it isn’t the only one. Moral considerations, life plans and family traditions often go into the “decision” to have a baby. And then there are those “surprise, surprise” children who aren’t planned. Unless you’re very wealthy and/or enjoy a situation where children are cared for by extended family, there’s no “right time” to have a child, period.

Would a federal government agent standing at the hospital door offering paid leave make the choice any easier? Who would or would not have a baby based on such frivolous circumstances?

Lastly, as far as political considerations are concerned, any credit for a family leave law passed on the Democrats’ watch would go solely to Democrats themselves. If surveys show a majority of Americans see Democrats as superior on the healthcare issue already, how would Republican support for constructing a new federal entitlement help Republicans win future elections?

The GOP is supposed to represent the liberated individual who longs to live free of excessive and unnecessary government interference. Purchasing votes through federal outlays is the purview of Democrats, and frankly, they’re much better at it. Republicans should’ve learned the lesson during George W. Bush’s presidency, when passing No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D failed to increase their vote share to any measurable degree.

Democrats will always promise more, and given power, will always provide more (and raise taxes along the way). Democrats would then tout how effective they were in governing (a.k.a., bringing home the pork), an additionally impressive feat with a GOP senate majority and Donald Trump occupying the White House.

The Republican ruling elites (think Karl Rove) would crow about “good government” and other substance-free puffery but voters aren’t stupid. Americans understand that if they want “stuff” they know where to get it – make a call to Democrat National Committee headquarters and ask to be connected to Speaker Pelosi!

On a more serious note, if there is to be any kind of paid family leave program, leave it to the individual states to enact and administer, along with other family-friendly incentives for adoption or funding for crisis pregnancy centers. These are the “charities” that truly help people in need, not federal bureaucrats sitting behind desks hundreds or thousands of miles away from the birthing room.

Passing federal family leave won’t help President Trump and Republicans expand their coalition, either.

The best ways to build on 2016 are a hot topic of debate these days. Jay Cost wrote at National Review, “[Trump's] attitude seems to be that he represents a majority coalition within the electorate and that he need not worry about persuading anti-Trump voters to back him. This is simply untrue. He should worry. It may be the case that the anti-Trump vote will remain divided across multiple candidates, enabling him to win reelection in 2020. And the Democrats could nominate somebody so far outside the mainstream that Trump will win virtually by default. But this is leaving his fate in the hands of others, when instead he should be expanding his coalition.

“No doubt, Trump will always be Trump. His unique and unconventional approach to politics and public relations is what made him stand out in a field of multiple Republican candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination. And, to his credit, his policy priorities — especially on tax cuts, the state of Israel, and judicial nominations — have won him the support of many policy-oriented conservatives who were skeptical about his approach to governance. But in two years he has done nothing to win over that critical 4 or 5 percent of voters who will be necessary to secure his reelection. If anything, his prevarications and his needling of his critics on Twitter are probably continuing to alienate Trump doubters. Can he ever win them over, or will he at least try?

“If not, then his reelection hopes will depend entirely on what the Democrats do. It will come down to whether they nominate somebody who, unlike Clinton, can attract a critical mass of the anti-Trump vote.”

Not to disagree with everything published in National Review these days, but I again take issue with Cost’s notion that Trump hasn’t tried to expand his base. While it’s true the president has worked overtime to shore up his Republican support, he’s also extended an opened hand to Democrats on numerous occasions to “work with” him and establishment GOP congressional leaders to pass reforms on such all-encompassing topics as healthcare (ditching Obamacare and putting together something that actually works) and immigration.

One need only look back to Trump’s State of the Union address to see where the chief executive offered to find common ground with his opponents. Democrats rejected his overtures outright, demagoguing entire subjects to keep their base heated up and activated ahead of this year’s elections. Finding themselves in the minority and somewhat powerless in all three branches of government, Democrats weren’t about to award Trump any legislative victories.

To Democrats, to exist is to #resist. They’re the ones who haven’t attempted to expand their base support and, at least on the House level, their strategy paid off. But now that Pelosi and gang are setting the House docket, they must produce politically palatable achievements, something other than endless wasteful investigations and the myriad of stupidities Democrats love occupying their time with.

Here’s an area where having Democrats in the House majority could actually help Trump make a case to expand his base and boost his favorability ratings. If Democrats can’t make good on any promises – and Trump continues keeping his – the persuadable portion of the voting public could swing to Trump’s side. This is especially true when Democrats nominate a socialist nutcase as their presidential standard-bearer…which appears certain at this point.

Voters like change but they also appreciate stability and results. Trump delivers. People may not like his personal style but they recognize the bottom line. How will Democrats counter?

Beto O’Rourke, perhaps? Don’t laugh…it could happen. Avery Anapol reported at The Hill, “Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said Monday that he would not rule out a run for president in 2020, backtracking on recent statements that he would not seek the White House.

“O’Rourke, who rocketed to national fame with his campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), indicated Monday that he and his wife are discussing the possibility.

“’Amy and I made a decision not to rule anything out,’ O’Rourke told reporters after a town hall in El Paso, Texas, according to The Washington Post.”

See, it’s not even 2019 yet and already Democrats are making moves towards helping Trump get reelected! The establishment media loves “Beto” because he reminds them of another young ultra-liberal Democrat who managed to beat Hillary in the party primaries and then hoodwink enough voters to win the presidency… twice.

But “Beto” ain’t Obama -- not even close, in fact. Obama had a national profile before running for president, having delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democrat convention and won a senate seat that same year. “Beto” lost his race against Ted Cruz this year and doesn’t have nearly the gravitas Obama possessed to “wow” people with his charisma.

“Beto” is a phony white guy passing himself off as a minority, too. One can only speculate what “Pocahontas”-like nickname Trump would dream up for “Beto.” It would be fun to watch, wouldn’t it?

How about “Gringo Beto”…?

The last thing Republicans should do ahead of 2020 is make hasty decisions about changing course midstream and then start acting like Democrats to pass another big federal entitlement program (like paid family leave). Will Democrats help by pushing the needle a little too far? Time will tell.

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