GOP Leaders Unveil ‘Family-Friendly’ Agenda

Posted May 14, 2008 at 4:04pm

A day after losing a major special election in Mississippi, House GOP leaders Wednesday sought to recast their party’s image by unveiling a new agenda focused on the “special role wives and mothers have in the workplace.”

Led by Republican Caucus Vice Chairwoman Kay Granger (Texas), House GOP leaders announced their new “American Families Agenda,” which they said reflects where families are today and addresses the concerns “that keep parents up at night.”

The family-friendly agenda not only seeks to recast Republicans as agents of change — a popular slogan resonating strongly on the presidential campaign trail — but also appears aimed squarely at women voters, a key voting bloc.

The agenda centers on five policy areas in which GOP lawmakers have already filed related legislation that they claim will help middle-class families and women. These include bills aimed at encouraging economic security, health care and retirement security, protecting children, assuring access to quality education and supporting military families.

“These are the issues that our constituents sent us to Washington to address,” House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said.

Blunt called the family-friendly agenda part of the broader GOP message of “delivering real change in Washington.”

“More than empty rhetoric,” Blunt said, the GOP agenda “offers real answers, backed by tangible legislative proposals,” and can be enacted if Democrats cooperate.

The agenda puts a particular emphasis on working women, whether by seeking to make it easier to get comp time instead of wages for overtime, or by giving tax breaks to small businesses being launched by women at twice the rate of men.

Female GOP lawmakers emphasized that more than 60 percent of mothers with children under the age of 6 work outside the home.

“We want to make certain that women voters in America hear from us,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

“This may not be the family agenda you expected from Republicans,” Granger said. “But it’s one you deserve.”

Earlier Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) ridiculed the “change you deserve” message and said it echoes a trademarked slogan associated with an anti-depressant medication.

Displaying an enlarged image of an advertisement for Effexor, Hoyer said the medication shares common side effects with Republicans: nausea, headaches like those “certainly” caused by the Republican Congress and drowsiness, which has resulted in more Americans “starting to wake up to the change they want” by voting Democratic.

“Democrats, not drugs, is what the American people need,” Hoyer said.

A senior House GOP aide chalked up the partisan jab to another instance of Democrats having no real agenda aimed at helping Americans.

“Rather than wasting time on campaign-style hijinks, they should be working with Republicans to solve the problems facing our country,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).