A pollster at last week’s GOP congressional retreat summarized the proposals President Obama is making tonight as “free stuff for everyone.” Indeed, on everything from enhanced child-care tax credits to free community college the president was in a Santa Claus kind of mood in this month after Christmas. All of the proposals enjoy majority support in polls — although that support tends to fall after people weigh the price tag.
Take paid sick leave. Obama mentioned that wherever the issue was on the ballot this fall it passed when people voted on it. But he was careful not to mention that the only state where it was on the ballot was Massachusetts. Yes, the state that hasn’t sent a single Republican to the U.S. House in 20 years and consistently votes Democratic for president by about ten points more than the rest of the country. Question 4, the Massachusetts ballot measure that mandated paid sick leave in the state, did pass but with only 60 percent of the vote — meaning that after a real debate the issue might be an even split nationwide.
Republicans need to make a sustained argument that paid sick leave is yet another mandate on small- and medium-sized businesses that they can ill afford just as they are being buffeted by the gales of Obamacare.