“As long as we stay on offense, we stay in the majority.”

McCarthy Expresses Confidence in GOP Prospects this Year

WASHINGTON, DC – In remarks this past Thursday before a lunch meeting of The Ripon Society, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) painted a realistic — but optimistic — picture of GOP prospects heading into the mid-terms this fall, saying, “As long as we stay on offense, we stay in the majority.”

“History is against us in the election,” McCarthy stated bluntly.  “The party in power usually loses 29 seats. Since World War II, there are only two times in history where the party in power actually picked up seats. In 2002, I think a lot of it had to do with 9/11, and I don’t think that will repeat itself.  But 1998 is pretty good model. I laid this out to the President in January. In 1998, Bill Clinton was President.  He was getting impeached, and all the polling said that Republicans would pick up seats.  But Election Day came, and Democrats actually gained five seats. They broke even in the Senate, Newt retired, and people wondered, ‘How did that happen?’

“Well, if you analyze it, there were six quarters of economic growth.  Republicans had shut the government down and lost that argument.  The issues triangulated both parties. When I gave this to the President in January, we had just passed the tax bill.  It was unpopular.  All the Democrats had voted ‘no,’ which I think was a mistake on their part. Their leader called it ‘Armageddon’ and ‘crumbs.’ Since that time, Schumer shut the government down and lost. You had the President in the State of Union triangulating on issues. And if you take sections of the legislation that we passed, it polls overwhelmingly.”

McCarthy said that while Democrats currently have an advantage in voter intensity, on a broad range of economic issues, Republicans are coming out ahead.

“For the last eight years of Obama,” the California lawmaker stated, “the average growth rate was 1.8%.  Growth is now projected to be over 3%.  Unemployment claims are low. They are not just low, they are at the lowest point they’ve been in 44 years. We are bringing more people back into the workforce.   I follow unemployment numbers, but more importantly, I follow participation rate.  Obama started his presidency at a 65% participation rate, and ended his presidency at 62.7% — the lowest participation rate since 1978.  We’ve already moved that up to 63%.  That means more people are coming into the workforce — which is positive.”

McCarthy pointed to one other issue where Republicans have made difference – human trafficking.

“It is breaking the fiber of this nation and it happens every day,” he said of the scourge. “More than 100,000 people a year in America are trafficked. Seventy percent of that happens on the web. A lot of it happened on a site called ‘Backpage,’ and we could never stop it. We just signed a bill into law a couple weeks ago, and ‘Backpage’ is off the internet.  Craigslist no longer advertises that section as well.  This is a big success.”

The Majority Leader also pointed to a number of other areas where he expected the House to take action this year, and expressed hope that the Senate would follow suit and also take action – for a change.

“We will get NDAA done,” McCarthy stated.  “We’re going to get Dodd-Frank reform done. We will get FAA reform.  We will get WRDA.  If you take the work just in Congress — I love this metric, but no one believes me — this is the most productive Congress we have ever had… excluding the Senate.  Do you realize that we have had more than 400 bills pass the House that are sitting in the Senate?  You’re going to think they’re partisan, right?  Only five of them are. The rest have bipartisan votes on them. More than half of them — more than 225 are 100% Republican and 100% Democrat.”

McCarthy concluded by dismissing concerns some have raised about the number of GOP retirements, and expressing optimism about Republican prospects heading into the election later this year.

“I am actually looking forward to the race,” he declared.  “I think our members know there is a challenge. I know a lot of people are fearful because of retirements.  I wish people wouldn’t retire, either.  But I also understand.  The retirements I look at are those Republicans who retire in seats that Hillary carried, and those Democrats who retired in seats that Trump carried. You know what that number is?  Five to four.  It’s a pretty good ratio that we have.”

“As long as we stay on offense, we stay in the majority. I think we have to be able to run on more than just taxes. Taxes will not be the savior.  But it is a very good place to start.  1.2 million people have a longer maternity leave. In 39 states, their electrical bills are lowered. If you look at the verbatims, a lot of people in all these districts say ‘the raise I got in my paycheck is not a crumb,’ and are offended by what Nancy said.  Nancy was at Georgetown this past week doing a town hall. And one student said, ‘My parents own a small business. That really helped them be able to hire more people.  How can you say it was crumb?’  She had a hard time explaining it.

“But we do know the wind is in our face.  We do know we have to be prepared. Those who get challenged all the time I am not fearful for. It is those who sit in a seat with an R +6 to an R +10, that haven’t been in this kind of environment before.  One thing you should look at is the generic ballot — it is the best indicator. In January, I gave a presentation to the President and it was +12 to the Democrats. Today, it is +5.  We get a four point advantage. By this, I mean that if we get 49% of the national vote, we’ll get 53% of the seats. That’s the way they are drawn, and the way they are.  So, it continues to trend our way – the generic ballot going down.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.