March 6th, 2008 by Rightsideup

Fiscal responsibility hasn’t been mentioned much in this year’s presidential campaign outside of discussion of the Bush tax cuts (which McCain voted against initially but has since supported). But it’s got to be one of the biggest issues that Republicans need to address if they want to retake Congress. The fact that they’ve been so weak on fiscal responsibility (i.e. lowering government spending and taxes) has allowed the Democrats to neutralise the traditional advantage Republicans have on the economy (and even overtake them in this regard in some polls) and has been a big part of the reason they retook Congress two years ago.

I think Romney should have gone after the Republican Congress harder on this – it would have been a nice stick to beat John McCain with since he’s been right there in the thick of it (though arguably not one of the worst culprits). But I think he was hamstrung in this and in other matters by the fact that he wanted to be supportive of President Bush, who hasn’t done the Republicans any favors in this department either aside from those tax cuts, never vetoing a single pork-laden spending bill during the entire time Republicans were in charge.

At this point McCain needs to make this a campaign issue, but the Republicans (planning to stay) in Congress also need to really take it on board and ensure they send a strong message on the issue to voters between now and November.

Ed Morrissey (erstwhile of Captain’s Quarters, now at Hot Air) has written several good pieces on this whole issue over the last few weeks which are all worth reading. The Republicans have had a mixed record even over that short period, but they really need to tighten up and close ranks on this issue. They also need to put some serious reformers in prominent committee positions to give them some clout to clean things up. At this point, it’s 50/50 at best as to whether they’ll make any headway on this point in time for this fall’s elections.