State of the Union: John Boehner adviser David Winston reacts

Jan 26, 2011

David Winston, Republican strategist and adviser to Speaker of the House John Boehner, will be online Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss reaction to President Obama's State of the Union address.

David Winston here - a Republican Strategist - to take your questions about last night's State of the Union address...

Why don't Republicans offer changes to health-care law instead of repeal? Sure seems as if they are trying to be political and not doing what is best for the people.

Republicans felt that the best way to deal with this massive legislation and its incredible intricacies was to repeal the entire bill and replace it with an alternative that better achieved quality and cost, as well as addressing key concerns like pre-existing conditions. Republicans just passed instructions to committees to begin the process of defining replacement

Why doesn't Congress develop legislation that will move us to be energy independent? Developing jobs, keeping U.S. dollars at home would probably do more to make us fiscally sound faster and without uncertainty. It means continuing to develop alternate fuels but also being realistic about our fossil fuel needs for the next 20-30 years.

Good question. Republicans were glad to hear that the President seemed to embrace an "all of the above" approach, which would work toward alternative energy while expanding resources here at home, both in terms of oil exploration and nuclear capacity. While his rhetoric was good, we will see what his actions produce. The most critical piece will be the impact on the economy.

When are the Repubs going to start creating jobs? They have not done anything so far to create even one new job.

In the last election cycle, Republicans posed the question "where are the jobs". As a result, Republicans have a responsibility to answer that question, and one of the first steps in that direction was working with President Obama to extend tax cuts. Additionally, as part of the SOTU speech, were some general proposals that Republicans have advocated and were glad to see that he had adopted, such as reduced regulations, cutting business taxes and free trade agreements. We believe that will help create jobs. If there is one point of philosophical difference, it is that Republicans feel it is the private sector that creates jobs, as opposed to government activity. 

Hello there...I'm a fairly liberal independent voter who is upset about the way both parties are handling the current budget deficit. Democrats seem to be focusing on a kind of trickle up economics where somehow raising spending on the ground will elevate the budget down the road. Republicans, on the other hand, are almost comically stereotypical in thinking that the budget deficit can only be handled by cutting the budget without significant tax increases. To extend this to consumers, how many families with not enough take home pay could balance their budgets by cutting spending? What would they, medicine, clothes for the kids? Most families would look instead to increase revenue (a second job, etc.) Please explain why your party thinks we can cut our way to a balanced budget. Thanks.

Thanks for your question. It is going to take both economic growth and cutting spending to deal with the deficit. Republicans believe that the key to increasing revenue is by growing the economy. That is how the budget was balanced back in the late 90s. Additionally Republicans believe that increasing taxes has a contracting effect on the economy and does not produce the necessary revenues. Cutting spending will create a better economic environment and put more resources in the private sector, where they can be more productive.  

Is the GOP for real? Those of us who weren't living in a cave from 2000 - 2008 remember that our economy went into a terrible tailspin after the massive Bush taxcuts and two expensive wars. Now the GOP is preaching fiscal restraint by shutting down the Dept of Education, the EPA and Corporation of Public Broadcasting? The Obama administration's performance is far better than the previous two GOP terms. Why should we trust your party, when your representatives spew such obvious nonsense?

From 2003 to 2008, revenues to the Treasury increased from $1.9 trillion to 2.7 trillion, so the problem was not income, as the tax cuts generated significant economic activity. We had a spending problem. You are right in that Republicans have to earn back the trust of the American people which is what Speaker Boehner has advocated on a consistent basis. Reducing spending will be difficult and has to be done in a thoughtful and coherent manner that ensures fairness. 

I have not heard one Republican propose alternate methods to solve our problems, and they have had time to do so. There's a lot of Obama-bashing and no solutions.

I would respectfully disagree. The Republican Pledge to America was a governing document intended to define what Republicans would do if they gained the majority in Congress, and now you will see them try to implement that pledge. you may disagree with elements of the Pledge but nevertheless, it is an alternative set of solutions. I firmly believe in the need to offer solutions rather than simply opposing President Obama. 

The 'investment' our federal government put into creating the internet seems to have been worth it then, yes? Why don't Republicans think that government investment is important now?

Republicans are not saying that all government spending is bad, but the present situation has reached such proportions that we have to confront spending in a realistic way. 

Rhetoric aside it seems to me Obama is quickly moving right of center and should get more support from Republicans especially when he starts trimming fat. Or do the Republicans think they can just play politics and let the president take the heat for cuts in the military and entitlements in hopes that they'll get to blow the budget up like they did during the Bush years ?

Some of the President's speech proposals were policies that Republicans have advocated and look forward to implementing with the President's support. Examples include reducing regulations, cutting business taxes to create jobs and expanding nuclear energy. These are examples of potential areas of agreement. However, areas of increased spending - or "investment" as the President calls it - is a clear point of contention given the size of the deficit. Just today the CBO projected that the deficit would be $1.5 trillion - scary number. The rhetoric was more centrist, but the question will be his actions.

David, thanks for taking questions. There seems to be several different takes on her speech last night: good because it made Rep. Ryan look better by comparison, so Republicans were glad she did it; bad, because she's a divisive figure who took the attention away from the "main" Republican response. What did you think?

One of the challenges of being a majority party is managing a majority coalition. The tea party has been very helpful inpointing out the need to address our fiscal crisis and growing the economy. In listening to Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann, there was consensus around the need for economic growth and fiscal responsibility, and that consensus reflects how Republicans built a majority coalition in the 2010 elections.  

If the entire Bush tax cuts were restored, personal incomes greater than $750K taxed an additional two percent, all energy subsidies and credits canceled, and all farm subsidies canceled, we could have a balanced budget and possibly a surplus. Other than offending wealthier political donors, why not?

Let me give you one number from the Tax Policy Center. Not extending tax cuts for those making over $250,000 would have raised taxes on 894,000 small businesses, averaging about 2000 per Congressional district. That would most definitely have a negative impact on job creation. If that happened, then this would have reduced revenues as there will be fewer taxpayers. Ultimately the key difference is do you want policies that will create more taxes or policies that create more taxpayers? Republicans believe the way to a balanced budget is by creating more taxpayers, not taxes.  

For not using the terms "Obamacare" or "job-killing" (yet?)... They may play well with the base, but I am hoping both parties are starting to get the real message sent in November: We're all in the same boat, so shut up and start bailing water.

I disagree with the President's health care plan but the best way to disagree is through thoughtful debate on policy differences, not the use of hyperbole language. 

In an earlier response you cited the CBO: 'Just today the CBO projected that the deficit would be $1.5 trillion - scary number'. Two questions. Your boss the speaker has questioned the CBO's credibility when it comes to health care. So is the CBO credible or not?. The projected deficit is $1.5 trillion. Given that Bush's last deficit was $1.2 trillion if 'off-budget' items like the wars were counted and given the large decrease in revenues caused by the Bush recession, isn't Obama doing pretty well managing the nation's finances?

CBO scoring is a rather complicated issue and let me boil it down to what is seen as the key source of controversy. That is CBO uses static scoring instead of dynamic scoring. For example conservative economists do not feel that CBO scoring of cutting or raising taxes adequately reflects the true economic impact. 

Why would raising taxes on profits of small businesses hurt job growth? If profits are taxed higher, wouldn't businesses be more inclined to increase expenses, e.g., by hiring?

A business only has a certain amount of resources. If more of those resources have to be paid out to the government, there are fewer resources to be able to hire. 

Thanks for the questions and your participation. Good questions on a range of topics, and thanks for the thoughtful tone. Hope to do this again soon


In This Chat
David Winston
David Winston is a Republican strategist at the Winston Group and an advisor to Speaker of the House John Boehner.
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