Former GOP Leadership Aide Pans Party Agenda

Posted August 2, 2010 at 1:05pm

The House Republican agenda has found a new critic: the former policy director for the House Republican Conference.

Russell Vought wrote on the conservative website RedState that the draft of the new GOP agenda lacks a “bold” approach to spending, and he encouraged conservatives to attend Republican town halls and tell lawmakers to “go big or go home.”

Vought charged that an agenda without a “bold, overarching spending proposal that would define ‘spending restraint’ or ‘fiscal discipline'” would be worthless.

Vought left the Conference on July 30 to take a position as the political director of the Heritage Foundation’s new 501(c)(4), Heritage Action for America.

A spokesman for Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) declined to comment on Vought’s post.

Vought suggested on RedState that two Republicans have offered proposals that would help solve the nation’s problem, but he said he was “partial’ to the spending limit amendment, authored by his former bosses, Reps. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Pence. The proposal looks to limit spending to one-fifth of the economy.

He also mentioned the balanced budget amendment and said, while flawed, it was “much, much better than nothing.”

Contrary to public statements made by several House GOP leaders, Vought contended that the midterm election is as much about the minority as it is about Democrats.

“Some will say that it does not make political sense to call for these type of reforms before an election that is supposed to be about Democrats,” he wrote. “It’s also about us and how Republicans would solve the problems of the day and not simply make them modestly better.”

Vought encouraged conservatives to attend GOP town halls to make sure that one of the proposals is included in the final version of the Republican governing agenda, due out in September. Republicans have been gathering input for several months on the endeavor through their “America Speaking Out” initiative.

“Fortunately, we have an opportunity to improve the Republican agenda before it’s too late,” he wrote. “Contact your Congressman and find out where and when they’re holding these August town halls … Tell them to go big or go home, and let’s see what we can’t get done in the months ahead.”

Republican leaders, including Pence, have promised the agenda will include “bold” solutions to America’s problems.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Chief Deputy Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), said the agenda project is designed to solicit public opinion and said anyone can take part in the process.

“This is the point of America Speaking Out — anyone with an idea can engage in the process and work to make it part of the new governing agenda,” he said.