Republicans' New Policies Push Revamped Image

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 12:15 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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After spending the past five years calling for a repeal of Obamacare and fighting President Obama's other domestic policies, GOP leaders have changed direction and are coming up with their own comprehensive policies.

Business Insider reports that although "the intellectual resurgence is still in its infancy" the sudden shift is "an important first step for the reform conservative movement."

The GOP began reinventing itself in September when Sen., Mike Lee of Utah crafted his own tax plan expanding the child tax credit and making it available to every parent.  Now seen as one who is introducing substantive policy initiatives, Lee has been chosen to give tonight's tea party response to the state of the union address.

Lee has also produced a prison reform bill calling for a reduction in mandatory minimum sentences in drug-related cases and also giving judges the power to hand down more lenient sentences in other cases with mandatory minimums.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio recently introduced his own policy to fight poverty that would create a flexible federal fund that states could use when needed, while his bill also allowed the earned income tax credit to be used as a wage subsidy for married couples.

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was praised for forging the recent budget deal with Washington state Democratic Sen. Patty Murray despite vehement objections from the tea party conservative movement. According to the report, he's now planning to produce an anti-poverty agenda later this year and possibly his own healthcare policy.

The Business Insider singled out the new healthcare reform plan unveiled yesterday by three GOP senators, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, calling it "the most comprehensive, realistic replacement to the Affordable Care Act that any Republican has introduced in years."

The report  by writer Danny Vinik noted that in the past the Republican agenda had been to simply attack anything that Obama or the Democratic Party had proposed. The new policy proposals from GOP leaders "attempt to solve real problem," Vinik writes, "That has been missing from the Republican Party since Obama took office."

And he pointed out that Rubio and Ryan in particular "are experimenting with different ideas" possibly because they may plan to make a presidential run.

Reihan Salam, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute and a contributing editor to National Review, said that the feeling that Obama's policies have "stalled" have opened the door to GOP legislators "to build an identity and build a profile."

Salam said, "The balance is shifting now and I think that you’re going to see more stuff coming down the pipeline. It’s nice to see because there have been a bunch of people who have been working on some of these things for many years and risk-aversion kind of overcame this taste for novelty."

And Vinik added, "The Republican Party has taken a big first step towards a positive policy agenda during the past six months. These proposals may not end with bill signings but the lack of them should not be confused with a lack of development within the party. Change is happening and will continue to happen throughout this year."

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