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The Lost Era of Economic Growth

Republicans have neglected their best issue.

Apr 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 28 • By FRED BARNES
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Bush believes economic growth can reverse the decline of social mobility, which he says has occurred “over the past 20 years without a big national debate.” Broad-based growth would reduce poverty by allowing everyone to climb the economic ladder, he insists.

Ryan, Cruz, Gilmore, and Bush were joined last week by the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project, whose report was highly critical of the party, especially the congressional wing in Washington. The report touted economic growth as a message to those who feel “Republicans don’t care.” But despite the project’s title, growth was a minor point in the report.

Rather than praise growth on its own terms as the path to a better life, it was presented as the antidote to reliance on government. “Our job as Republicans is to champion private growth so people will not turn to government in the first place,” the report said. That’s fine, but a far better case could be made.

For the moment, economic growth sits in the waiting room of ideas, while the Republicans consider “rebranding.” But what’s needed is for the entire Republican party to make a growing economy central to its message. Once that happens, political life under Obama will change—to the advantage of Republicans.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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