House Republicans are devising an agenda that targets economic issues and seeks to attract voters who were alienated in the 2012 elections.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is holding sessions to retool party economic policy in hopes of showing that Republicans can solve problems, not just fight against the Obama administration, reports Politico
Meeting Thursday with a group of House Republicans, Cantor handed them a piece of paper with only the heading "Agenda 2014" to illustrate the blank slate Republicans face coming into next year's elections.
Party problems didn't end with Mitt Romney's 2012 loss. Since then, a 16-day government shutdown over Obamacare has caused the GOP's poll numbers to plummet, and Congress overall has just a 9 percent approval rating.
Thursday's session was one of many with Cantor and policy chief Neil Bradley as Republicans work on issues including energy costs and education reform. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy were not at Thursday's meetings but have taken part in other strategy sessions in hopes of coming up with solutions.
Instead of focusing on increases in oil drilling, for example, lawmakers at the meetings have discussed how increases in home energy costs are surpassing rises in take-home pay.
Cantor has talked about charter schools to help solve education woes, and discussions have been held about coming up with conservative solutions to issues such as poverty and job growth.
Other lawmakers are discussing shaving college costs, encouraging students to enter professions that are hiring, and working on accreditation programs.
Republican aides say the refocus on the party won't take away from its work on fixing the nation's deficit woes, but at the same time, they realize most Americans aren't all that worried about the nation's $17 trillion debt as a major part of their day-to-day lives.
In addition, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Reid Ribble said, the party recognized that a large-scale fiscal deal probably won't happen while President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are in charge.
"There's too much difference between the groups," Ribble said. "We need to accept the reality of the political dynamics that we're facing."
The bungled Obamacare rollout did help the party's numbers, and some prominent Republicans, including strategist Karl Rove, say the debacle will be a centerpiece of many coming campaigns.
"In 2014, it's likely to be a bigger, more obvious, and equally deadly issue for Democrats, especially incumbent Democrats in red, even purple, states and districts who voted for the monstrosity," Rove told Reuters
Cantor, Boehner, and other party leaders, however, need more than just the Obamacare failures next year to win seats, and face another looming government funding battle in January if a budget deal can't be reached before then.
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