There is a virtual consensus among Republicans that lower tax rates spur economic growth, but there are divergent opinions on where the party should focus its attention in terms of how to reform the tax code to spur growth for the middle class, reports The Wall Street Journal
Those differences are particularly evident among younger members of the party, the Journal says.
Among leading GOP voices speaking out in favor of a tax policy that is more focused on the middle class and addressing present-day economic realities is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who outlines a his vision in his recently released book "American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone."
"Republicans haven’t been creative or innovative enough in offering solutions. We have spent plenty of time opposing the president’s agenda, but not nearly enough time applying our principles of limited government and free enterprise to the challenges of our time," writes the potential GOP presidential candidate, according to Politico
In his book, Rubio lays out his policy prescriptions to guide the economy through a "dramatic and disruptive transformation," including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and replacing some federal welfare programs with a state-run "Flex Fund.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will echo some of the same policy prescriptions in a speech Wednesday in Detroit, reports CNN
A fresh approach is needed, says Andrew Smith of the National Review
"The need for a new kind of candidate is obvious enough: Republicans have lost the last two presidential elections by worrying margins, and it’s quite possible the party needs both a fresh message and fresh policies to take on a formidable Hillary Clinton," Smith writes.
Smith notes that many of Rubio's ideas fit better into the mold of so-called "reformicons," a term used to describe the reform conservative movement that promotes a more middle-class-focused vision of government.
Robert Stein, former treasury secretary to President George W. Bush, tells The Wall Street Journal that, unlike reform conservatives, some GOP economists simply "want to replay the records of the 1980s without realizing the beat has moved on."
Stein expounded on that point in a 2010 article in National Affairs
, which laid the groundwork for the pro-growth, pro-family reformicon agenda.
"Too often, advocates of comprehensive tax reform have focused on the particular means of Reagan's plan — the lowering of marginal income-tax rates — rather than on its more general ends: correcting economic distortions caused by government policy, lightening the tax burden on American families, and encouraging more work and investment," he wrote.
It was in the spring of 2014 that the "reform conservatives" began coalescing behind a concrete plan that could serve as the pathway to success in 2016.
During a conference in Middleburg, Virginia, organized by the YG Network
, the network unveiled an essay, "Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class," that laid out its vision in a plan that was circulated among Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Likewise, "Conservatism cannot be a successful political movement if it makes a virtue of the fact that it doesn’t do anything for anybody. What conservatism really needs is a sort of bread and butter agenda," said the National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru last year
at a Brookings Institution discussion.
He added that to achieve victory, "the conservative agenda needs to be updated and broadened to take account of a larger range of issues than just the familiar ones of the regulation of business and high marginal income tax rates."
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