For 18 months, Republicans have been torn between their ideological nature, and their need to appear different from the party that ended the Bush era in the crapper. In a sign of just how confident they feel that their electoral fortunes have turned, that tension is seemingly now gone. In the last two weeks, unabashed Republicans have started revealing the details of their governing agenda — one that will be familiar to those who were alive between 1994 and 2006, and which remains broadly unpopular with voters.
In the words of Mitch McConnell, Republicans feel like they’ve gotten their groove back. After the jump we run through the top 5 Republican retro-grooves we expect they’ll be playing throughout the August recess.
1. Limit Social Security: Late last month, House Majority Leader John Boehner called for Social Security to be means tested — i.e., limited to those with limited resources — and for the retirement age to be raised to 70. On the latter point, he has the support of some leading Democrats.
2. Cut Taxes For The Rich: It is the near-unanimous position of the Republican party, according to GOP leaders, that Bush-era tax cuts that benefit the rich should be extended, without being paid for by spending cuts or tax increases in other areas — even as they deny unemployment benefits on the grounds that they cost too much. The tax cuts cost almost $700 billion; the unemployment benefits about five percent of that. Some Republicans say tax cuts ought not be paid for because that puts downward pressure on the size of government. Others say, against all evidence, that tax cuts raise revenue.
3. Don’t Regulate Wall Street: Yesterday, Boehner added another item to his list of Democratic initiatives he says Republicans would fight to reverse. This one, though, is much more popular than health care reform. Boehner says just-passed rules meant to reign in Wall Street “ought to be repealed.”
4. Limit Corporate Governance: In their pursuit of a complete agenda, Republicans are fielding suggestions from their base voters. But for the most part, they’re listening to some of the most conservative interest groups in Washington, who are calling for lower corporate taxes, and gutting regulation.
5. Stop Federal Regulations: Just how do we know that the GOP is giving deference to their corporate interests? Because minutes after he met with the very lobbyists and trade representatives who publicly asked for less regulation, Boehner came out and called for a moratorium on new federal regulations. As Speaker Pelosi points out, this would put babies at risk. But more than that, as David Kurtz explains, it would strangle recently passed health care and financial reform legislation, and essentially bring the government to a halt.
All before our very eyes.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.