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Morici: The GOP’s Winning Issues and Losing Strategies

Social conservatives are at it again—sacrificing the opportunity to advance their agenda on the altar of ideological purity.

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If President Obama wins reelection, they will blame the GOP nominee—Mitt Romney—for a lack of commitment to core conservative values and running an ineffective campaign, but a glance in the mirror would better identify the source of their woes.

Mr. Obama is vulnerable, because the economic recovery is the weakest since the Great Depression—unemployment remains above 8 percent.

If jobless adults who have quit looking for work altogether were counted, the unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent.

A clear case can be made that left-leaning policies of Barack Obama are transforming America into the next Greece—broke, absent decent opportunities for the young and unable to provided dignified retirements for the elderly.

Depressed real estate values notwithstanding, Americans have returned to the malls, but too much of what they spend goes to pay for imported oil and consumer goods from China.

Since the recovery began in December 2009, the trade deficit is up a whopping 73 percent, and every dollar that goes abroad to pay for imports that does return to buy exports is lost demand for what Americans make and lost jobs.

Mr. Obama promised greater energy independence by promoting solar and wind power, and he clamped down on domestic oil development. Now a parade of federally subsidized projects like Solyndra are failing, and high priced imported oil that could be produced in America is costing the U.S. economy $250 billion in lost GDP and 2.5 million jobs.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama promised to deal with China’s currency manipulation, export subsidies and flagrant discrimination against U.S. companies and products in its markets. He brags about all the ineffective complaints he has taken to the WTO but fails to even acknowledge that China manipulates its currency and refuses to let most of its citizens legally hold dollars.

Blind to facts and deaf to reason, the trade deficit with the Middle Kingdom is now a whopping $300 billion and costing the U.S. economy $500 in lost GDP and 5 million jobs.

Mr. Romney, more than any other national politician, has articulated a full understanding of these issues and solutions. However, with the nomination secure, he spends too much time reassuring the GOP’s conservative base—which is even more stone headed and oblivious to the conditions on the ground than the White House—that he is pure enough to occupy the Oval Office.

The fact is whoever is President will have little direct influence over how the nation’s cultural wars sort out. Those battles will be won or lost in state legislatures and the courts.

Plainly, Mr. Romney would appoint conservative judges and Supreme Court Justices in the spirit of Justices Kennedy and Roberts, who actually listen to arguments and weigh the facts in constitutional cases, instead of reliably voting the liberal line as do Clinton and Obama appointees.

Instead of enthusiastically supporting Mr. Romney, social conservative luminaries like Evangelical Christian leader Gary Bauer and President of Concerned Women of America Penny Nance endlessly test him and carp about inattention to their concerns.

Social conservatives, in their public myopia and private vanities, are doing more than all the fat cat Democratic contributors on Wall Street and in Hollywood to reelect President Obama.

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Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

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