Morici: Remaking the GOP
Professor, Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
For the GOP to win elections, it must offer voters what they want, and pathways to a more prosperous and livable America.
The country is more than just more multiracial, it has shifted fundamentally in its practice of tolerance.
While white Americans may lament the challenges of coping in a much more diverse society, they recognize the entire economy is dependent on Hispanic and Asian immigrants. And by winning 70 percent of their votes, President Obama demonstrated the GOP's anti-immigration makes it unelectable, even among socially conservative and more prosperous Hispanics and Asians.
(Read More: Why Immigration Reform May Happen This Year)
Gay bashing and ending funding for Planned Parenthood are for GOP politicians aspiring to perpetual minority status.
While downplaying GOP positions on "core pro-family issues" would soften GOP support among southern protestant conservatives, those folks are a dwindling share of the electorate. In the last election, social issues got trumped by immigration reform among generally Catholic Hispanics and economic issues among blue-collar northern whites. And most white professionals, who may live according to those values, increasingly are disinclined to support the regulation of private lives or deny others' legal protections and full access to reproductive choices.
On the economy, the GOP should offer attractive alternatives to the liberal agenda, not where it has succeeded, but where it has failed—on growth and jobs.
Favoring tax cuts for the wealthy is a proven loser and personal income tax reform is a political dead end.
The Bush cuts were proportionately more generous to low and middle income folks--it was those that created an America where 50 percent pay little or no taxes. Mr. Obama's recent victories merely enshrined that, and jacked up taxes for the well off.
(Read More: White House to GOP: Don't Play With Dynamite on Debt)
The new tax law makes deductions benefiting most ordinary folks—like mortgage interest, state taxes and charitable contributions—only marginally valuable to families earning over $400,000. Tightening up the personal income tax code would overwhelmingly raise low- and middle-class taxes, and that's a nonstarter.
The corporate tax code needs fixing. Many businesses—especially, domestic manufacturers and small businesses—are often more heavily taxed than competitors abroad, while large multinationals and some other players get off easily. That bias exports middle class jobs, and linking tax equity to growth should be the GOP stalking cry.
More fundamentally, though, Mr. Obama has fallen victim to fallacies in conventional wisdom on free trade, energy independence, and the environment, and those slow the recovery. Early in the tenures of Presidents Reagan and Obama, unemployment reached double digits, but at this point in his presidency the Gipper had the economy growing at a 6.3 percent annual pace.
The $500 billion dollar trade deficit is a huge drain on growth. China accounts for the lion share of that gap and oil imports the rest, despite recent surges in oil and gas production from on-shore fracking.
Free trading economists across the spectrum advocate denying China and others the benefits of subsidizing its exports with undervalued currencies, so that trade can be based on genuine competitive advantages.
Early on, the Obama Administration became fixated with the BP Horizon disaster and put in place unworkable regulations on drilling where the big U.S. oil reserves remain. Freeing up the Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, and parts of Alaska, could cut petroleum imports in half—and lower environmental risks, because those could be better managed here than in similarly difficult environs in developing countries.
Spread out populations makes mass transit and electric cars too expensive, and solar, wind and nuclear cannot compete in the wake of cheap, clean natural gas.
America does need to use less gasoline—populations must become more compact and rely more on smaller, fuel-efficient conventional and hybrid vehicles better attuned to city living.
Young people see all this and where they can are moving back into and closer to urban cores. They like the cultural amenities and automakers are shifting offerings toward their needs.
Republicans need to abandon their bias toward suburbs and become champions of livable cities and a revolution in personal transportation—that would foster a lot of private sector growth and offer younger Americans reason to give the GOP a second look.
By offering sensible strategies on trade, energy, and the environment, in the context of the urban renaissance, the GOP can appeal across the electoral spectrum.