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Republicans seduced by power

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KAI RYSSDAL: There’s grist enough out there for days of poltical analysis about why the Republicans lost so decisively. But in the end it’ll all probably come down to just a couple of key issues. Iraq. Corruption. Or maybe the economy. Commentator Steve Moore offers his choice.

STEPHEN MOORE: Yes, the Iraq war is very unpopular. And yes the parade of sex and money scandals of the past two years damaged the Republicans severely.

But so did the busting of the bank. Republicans came into power in 1994 as revolutionaries promising to clean up the swamp in Washington. And as the old saying goes, they discovered it was a hot tub.

The real scandal in Washington is that conservatives waited 40 years for a Republican House, Senate and White House, and the GOP produced the biggest spending orgy ever. The budget is up nearly 50% over George Bush’s presidency.

Exit polls found that only one-in-five voters said Republicans will do a better job to “keep government spending under control” than the Democrats.

When the Republicans came into power there were 1,500 pork projects. This year there were 15,000. That $300 million Alaska bridge to nowhere is an enduring symbol of the 110th Congress.

Republicans can only win when they support tax cuts and smaller government — not Washington insiders.

Now to win back voters, they must enact a bold pro-growth, counter-agenda to that of the Pelosi Democrats. This agenda should include reform of the budget process, a flat tax, market-based health care, and protection of private property rights.

The Republicans were corrupted and seduced by power. They forgot why voters elected them. Perhaps now they will remember.

Steve Moore is on the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal.

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