Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander on Friday will lay out an aggressive GOP agenda for next year that includes a host of tax cuts, trade agreements and other business-friendly proposals — but no social policy items.
The Tennessee Republican will outline his proposals at the conservative Hudson Institute in a speech that is designed to provide a contrast to Democrats’ progressive agenda of the past several years and to establish policy goals for Republicans.
Alexander will denounce Democratic efforts to enact sweeping legislative overhauls over the past two years, arguing that this “has been government by taking big bites of several big apples and trying to swallow them all at once, which has had the effect of enraging Republicans and terrifying the independent voters of America,” according to prepared remarks obtained by Roll Call.
Many of Alexander’s proposals have been staples of the GOP’s libertarian wing, and Alexander will look to couch them in his speech as a response to this year’s tea-party-fueled midterm elections.
“It is no mystery what our country’s focus should be: jobs, debt and terror. Jobs and debt dominated the 2010 election. Applying [a] step-by-step, rather than comprehensive, approach, our first goal therefore should be to make it easier and cheaper to create private-sector jobs,” Alexander will say, according to excerpts of the speech.
Unlike House GOP leaders who have sought to placate social conservatives with at least vague mentions of abortion and other social issues, Alexander’s speech will avoid those matters altogether.
Alexander’s legislative wish list includes a vow against tax increases; repeal of the health care overhaul’s mandates one by one; reductions in the corporate tax rate and capital gains taxes; opposition to efforts to change union elections; ratification of free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama; and the elimination of the consumer protection agency created in the Wall Street overhaul law.
While those items are sure to find favor with grass-roots Republicans, proposals that are focused on spending will likely raise eyebrows. Alexander will call for a investment in clean-energy-technology development and the nation’s transportation system, as well as for the construction of 100 nuclear power plants. While such spending proposals were staples of the platforms of conservative and libertarian leaders about 20 years ago, they have fallen out of favor with many conservatives today.
Alexander will warn against trying to impose a strict conservative agenda on the nation, arguing instead for a process that “re-earns” the trust of the public.
“The new Congress should proceed step by step in the right direction to solve problems in a way that re-earns the trust of the American people, rather than invent comprehensive, conservative, big-government schemes in an attempt to correct comprehensive, liberal, big-government schemes,” Alexander will say.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.