A Message to Republicans: Do What You Can

I received an email from Mr. Newt the other day, and thought you might like to read it too.

For the last several months, I have tried to understand what is not working with the new Republican team.

The GOP-led White House, House, and Senate have not been getting key legislative results at the level that people reasonably expect.

One national Republican leader said to me this week: “When you travel around the country, you discover the base is very unhappy because they do not see any of the major projects being completed. They elected a Republican House in 2010. They elected a Republican Senate in 2014. They elected a Republican President in 2016. Now, they are getting frustrated. They want results – big results.”

The unhappiness is growing so strong that it is conceivable the Democrats could take the House in 2018. That would be a disaster.

The core problem is not that Republicans are not trying hard enough. The problem is that Republicans have set unattainable goals and have publicly crashed on the rocks of the impossible for six solid months.

Former Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck warned that “politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”

The job of leadership is to define what is possible and then achieve it.

Sometimes, trying to do something you can’t do is a formula for frustration and defeat.

Republicans keep telling me what they have to do, but they don’t have the votes to do what they have to do. Instead, they must learn to identify what they can do.

When I worked with President Reagan, he had a constant desire to force a successful negotiation, get as much as he could, and then come back another day for another step forward.

Reagan understood that dismantling the big government system was like eating an elephant – you must take one bite at a time to succeed.

Republicans are about to face a serious challenge trying to cut taxes. If they persist in pushing a large, complex tax reform plan, they will almost certainly fail.

So, it is imperative that they keep it simple.

Americans love tax cuts. Well-designed tax cuts can attract a wide range of support from people who will get to keep more money and create more jobs. Well-designed – and popular – tax cuts can attract a big enough coalition that Democrats who are up for re-election in 2018 may decide that survival requires voting yes. Look at the 1981 Reagan tax cuts and the 1996 welfare reform bills to see how it works when a large number of Democrats have to vote with Republicans to survive.

On the other hand, aside from the government elites, most Americans don’t care about tax reform. Tax reform invariably creates winners and losers – and the losers invariably fight harder than the winners.

Republicans spent a long time talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare. They thought they could get it done in the first quarter, with one bill. We saw the result.

Republicans have been talking about a large, complex tax reform bill, which some thought they could have marked up back in February. We know how unlikely it is that such a bill can pass soon enough to boost the economy for 2018.

Before following the same road on taxes that they have followed on health care, Republicans might remember Albert Einstein’s warning that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Let’s get what we can done, as fast as we can, and then use the momentum of winning to come back and get more. Ten steps can cover more ground than one giant leap – and steps are more doable.

Your Friend,

P.S. I am very excited to announce that my new book, Understanding Trump is a #1 New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal Best Seller! Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.

If you are interested in receiving Newt’s weekly newsletters (some are really informative, such as recent ones on tax legislation), you can sign up HERE.


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14 Responses to A Message to Republicans: Do What You Can

  1. Sharon says:

    I think I’ve turned into a glass-half-empty kind of person.

    Newt’s email is an expression of his choice to calibrate, understand, accept, be reasonable, etc. etc.

    None of those have been productive with either Rinos or democrats for the last 45 years as far as I can see. Those in Congress who have made useful decisions and pressed forward on strong changes have done so as individuals, not (primarily) as Republicans.

    I guess I’ve not forgiven* Newt for what he did in drawing support away from Herman Cain a couple of cycles back. Newt was plainly a wheeler and dealer in those primary campaigns, not looking to make America great again at all. (*of course, he hasn’t asked for forgiveness either, so there’s that)

    All aspects of the Uniparty are being undressed in public these days and Newt, as far as I’m concerned, is on the edges of the uniparty. Both he and Mark Levin have a book ready-to-be-published in any context you can name.

    Frankly, I don’t need help understanding Trump. I wonder if Newt believes (really believes) that those who “don’t understand Trump” are interested in understanding Trump?

    I never had trouble understanding LBJ, JFK, Nixon,Gerald Ford, Ike/Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, obama, or Trump. I look at their actions and their words over months and years and decades. We have gotten somewhat accustomed to listening to someone (including Newt) tell us what to think about this and that and the other thing. I guess I’m just done with it.

    An unwillingness or inability to do our own thinking is a problem – individually and nationwide. And that cultural thing provides a huge marketplace for so many kinds of products.

    Oh, well – maybe I’m just a curmudgeon today, so sift it all and toss freely!

    Liked by 3 people

    • stella says:

      That’s okay, Sharon. Curmudgeon away!

      I guess I remember Newt from way back when. He did get things done. If the GOP doesn’t do something even vaguely resembling what they have promised for the past several years, many of them will be replaced next year. As lame as many of them are, I prefer the devils I know to the kind of devils we will get with the Democrats in charge.


      • Sharon says:

        Yes – I remember Newt from way back when as well, and you’re right: he got things done. In the last fifteen years, his pattern is not what it was. I followed him with enthusiasm as he schooled Bill Clinton from time to time!


    • joshua says:

      newt is just trying to sell his book…nothing more.
      the problem is not the republicans set too lofty goals at all.
      the problem is they are only focused on personally getting reelected and if they vote for something, will their constituents throw them out or primary them.
      it is not about complex legislation. here is the fact.

      The Democrats do not write legislation.
      Their bills are written by lobbyist staff members..not their congressional staff.
      Therefore, they just mouth talking points…that is why they did not know or have to read the ACA when they voted for Obamacare….it was all lobby stuff.

      The Republicans have crappy lobbyists who only favor business interest, not public interests…so they cannot put a bill build by lobbyists into Trump’s populist Congressional voting mix…..they do not know how to write or formulate legislation.

      Not complex, just outside of their ability, and totally outside of their personal interest.


      • stella says:

        The Republicans still vote. Lobbyists can’t do that for them – yet.

        If they don’t do some of what they promised these past few years, then they will lose the next election, and deserve to lose.

        Liked by 1 person

      • stella says:

        By the way, what’s wrong with trying to sell his book? I included the blurb about the book, and nobody forced me to do it. Everybody has to make a living.

        Liked by 1 person

    • auscitizenmom says:

      My trouble with Newt is that I don’t trust him. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you why, I just don’t. Never have. I do think he is worth listening to, because sometimes I think you can glean some good advice out of what he says.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon says:

    I think my knee jerk thoughts in this kind of conversation (and I know I have them) and then look further behind them to try to see why I “think” those things.

    When Scott Brown was being elected that night in 200…..whatever, ….well, I will never forget the excitement across the land. Grant and I (and many thousands of others) had for the first time in our lives made a financial contribution to an out-of-state individual campaigner because we just so flat excited at the potential for a change of pace – FINALLY – the Kennedy seat would no longer be the Kennedy seat. It would belong to normal Americans who were opposed to obamacare (as I recall the issue of the time).

    Hundreds of us were up all night long, on the CTH, tracking, reporting and re-reporting to one another, giddy as a bunch of high school kids in the last game of a winning season…..he was carried across the line by a cross-country mix of support. And for what? It wasn’t more than two-three weeks before we knew he was bought and paid for before he even got moved into his new digs.

    There have been others like that. Those experiences were the first time I had ever involved myself with time and money in that way and believed that what was happening was solid. I was still hoping and believing and giving – up through Romney. Then he caved. And he didn’t care. Any more than Scott Brown did.

    It’s one reason I don’t get too excited when Mr. Trump does something that seems to undercut the expectations of every single mortal voter in America. I will never again tie my hopes for this country or my expectations of any particular election season to any candidate. “Faith in candidates” is not a sane way to live.

    There is much talk about how they will all be replaced in 2018 if they “do what we want”. How many times has that been tried? I’ve been watching it since the 1950s.

    Who will they be replaced with? Those who “agree with us” won’t have the backing of the GOPe, which is obviously still in very good health.

    How will their campaigns be funded?

    I truly have avoided saying what I think at my core about this since I have, for years, been occasionally accused of just being a spoilsport or a party-pooper, but I have yet to see anything that suggests that “easy-believism in politics” makes any sense.

    Yes, I like listening to Newt, too. I can learn things from him. That’s very different than trusting him.


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