Friday, September 30, 2022


House Republican leaders, who have thrown gasoline on the red wave expectations bonfire for a year, finally unveiled their “Commitment to America” plan last week. The odd Friday rollout at an interminable, low-energy town hall event was panned for being light on details. That criticism is not without merit.

The new “Contract with America” is a full page of text that lacks memorable and specific proposals. The plan certainly hits on ideas that Americans broadly support, like fighting crime and not teaching kindergartners about transgenderism. But motivating swing voters requires more than hitting a pleasant note or two. It’s about striking chords that truly resonate.

What Newt Gingrich understood that today’s tentative GOP leaders often forget is that despite deep political divisions, the reality of our politics is there are always 60-40 or 70-30 issues. Kevin McCarthy should grab hold of a few simple ideas and drive them.

Let’s start with something he got right: the pledge to repeal the expansion of the IRS. Adding 87,000 IRS agents and $80 billion to the federal budget to increase tax enforcement is a loser for most voters.

Turning to immigration, it would have been a layup for Mr. McCarthy to pledge to prevent the federal government from covertly resettling illegals in states without their permission. This would force the feds to find a way to reduce the numbers coming across the border and protect the integrity of communities from Washington’s overreach.

Taking some of the resources slated for the IRS and reprogramming them for the Border Patrol or other law enforcement agencies to deal with the fentanyl crisis would be a winner as well. Democrats want to talk about January 6th and climate change. The GOP should focus on stopping the drugs that are killing tens of thousands of Americans. Simple. Effective.

Also simple and effective: doubling down on natural gas and domestic lithium production, as well as prohibiting any federal funds from going to energy, infrastructure or communications projects that utilize Chinese components.

On the economy, running on cutting taxes for the middle class can be broadly sold to voters as a booster for their wallets and the flagging economy. Many Americans believe that runaway government spending during COVID-19 contributed to the inflation crisis. Giving people back more of their own money by continuing to flatten the tax code is the exact opposite of what they’re hearing from Democrats.

A middle-class tax cut plan would enable Republicans to tell families specifically how they will benefit at a time when they’re struggling.

When it comes to crime, the GOP plan sounds good, but they should make clear that resources will go only to localities that support the police. No city that has abrogated qualified immunity or passed laws that lead to de-policing should benefit from federal programs. Americans know that throwing money at crime doesn’t work in a vacuum.

Then there’s education. The “Parental Bill of Rights” is a solid idea, but the GOP must go a step further. Their plan should say definitively that Congress will tie federal education funding to curriculum transparency and the prohibition of teaching critical race theory, providing sexually explicit material to kids, and school-based gender transition assistance. Republicans need to make clear that the left believes children belong to the state, not to their parents.

Welfare reform was perhaps the most successful result of the 1994 Republican Revolution, and it still works as an issue, particularly in this post-COVID environment. The left uses federal money as a weapon to drive their agenda, buying off states and industries with our money. The GOP needs to start doing the same to reform welfare.

We’ve seen the poisonous impact that “free” money has had on the American workforce, the budget and the economy. Democrats don’t seem to much care if people spend their lives on the government dole.

Republicans need to make that clear with specific proposals to reduce dependency and “free” stuff. Work requirements should be federally mandated and strict time limitations put in place for more welfare programs. People who get fired because of “quiet quitting” or don’t look for work should not be eligible for unemployment.

All those ideas are easy to understand, have a proven track record and directly contrast with the Democrats’ platform. Those are the specifics people can talk about around a dinner table or at whatever amounts to the office water cooler these days. That’s a real plan that can win.

• Tom Basile is the host of “America Right Now” on Newsmax TV, an author and a former Bush administration official.

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