I got a lot of email that Republicans aren't libertarians and to stop complaining that they are not. OK. But let's look at their campaign messaging in the context of their own values.
Republicans had a golden opportunity to use the results of a natural experiment over the last four years between red and blue states. Obama constantly harped on the fact that 3.5 million new jobs had been created on his watch. Rather than play dueling statistics or end points in this analysis, the Republicans should have taken advantage of existing red/blue data:
Yes. And the vast majority of these jobs were created in states like Texas which have been successful precisely because they have labor and tax policies which you, Mr. Obama, oppose. And they have been created in industries like Oil and Gas production that you, Mr. Obama, have done your best to hinder. All the jobs you claim to have helped to create were actually facilitated by a philosophy of government you oppose, by regulatory policy you would overturn if you could, and in industries you would prefer did not exist. States like Texas -- with organic growth driven by private capital -- stand in stark contrast to your investments of our taxpayer money in bankrupt companies like Solyndra. If you had had your way, Mr. Obama, few of these jobs would have been created. Yes, this country saw some job creation, but it occurred despite your efforts, not because of them.
Instead of this clear kind of message, we get a bunch of wonky stuff about tax deductions vs. tax rate changes. Heck, even if you told me I had to run my campaign on the single plank of eliminating tax deductions, I could have done a better job. I saw this part of the debate that Romney supposedly won. His explanation was lame. What about this instead:
This country over the past several decades has increasingly become plagued by cronyism. Whether it be Wall Street bankers or public employees unions or casket sellers in Louisiana, everyone wants to try to convert influence with the government into taxpayer money for themselves. We have to end this. And a good place to start is with the tax code. Every special deduction and tax credit in the tax code is a giveaway to some special interest. At best it is a misguided attempt, like the money we wasted in Solyndra, of politicians to try to pick winners and losers, to say that one kind of spending is somehow better than another. At worst, these deductions are a crony giveaway. Sure, it's eliminating these deductions will help reduce the deficit. But even more importantly, eliminating them would be an opening shot in the war to take cronyism and corporatism out of Washington.