Bold Roadmap for America's Future?

GOP struggles to maintain relevance in a post-conservative society

Republicans in the new Congress will be pushing “bold” ideas tied to traditional GOP principles, Sen. Jim DeMint, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, tells Newsmax.

The South Carolina senator was just re-elected to a second two-year term as head of the steering committee, a forum where the vast majority of Republican senators work to discuss and promote conservative legislation and policies.

“It’s important that we go out and redefine ourselves as Republicans around our core principles,” DeMint says. “I don’t want to be out looking for who is going to be our next leader and presidential candidate. What we need to do is stand behind the principles that were the secret to America’s success as well as to the core values of the Republican Party.”

DeMint plans to introduce a Senate bill similar to one introduced in the House by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) enhancing health and retirement security and aiming to reduce debt and promote jobs and business competitiveness. The proposals are outlined in what Ryan calls “A Roadmap for America’s Future.”

Included in the proposals is a plan to ensure universal access to health insurance and make Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security permanently solvent. The proposals also include a new tax code that would give taxpayers a choice: to pay taxes according to the present system or to pay according to a highly simplified code that fits on a postcard with just two rates. The option comes with virtually no special tax deductions, credits, or exclusions.

“A new tax code has never been more important, particularly on the corporate side, so that when products are exported, those taxes are eliminated, and when products are imported, they carry the same tax load that domestic producers carry,” DeMint says. “Besides fixing the tax code, the bill fixes social security and creates an opportunity for every American to own a health insurance policy.”

As DeMint sees it, people have “soured” on the Republican product because Republicans have been “big spenders, big promoters of earmarks, and have been divided on immigration issues.”

The Republican label says you are for “limited government and cutting wasteful spending, you’re for personal responsibility and a strong defense,” DeMint says. “But when people have been opening that label, they don’t necessarily get that product. So we’ve got to make being a Republican mean something.”

By promoting the solutions in the roadmap for the future, DeMint hopes to brand Republicans as being positive rather than against everything.

“There’s some things we’re obviously going to need to try to stop,” DeMint says. “Eliminating the secret ballot for workers in a union organizing process would be terrible,” he says, referring to the Democrats’ so-called card-check proposal. “The whole card-check idea basically violates a sacred idea of secret ballots in our country.”

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Asked about the loss of Hispanic voters in the last election, DeMint says, “We obviously need to attract the Hispanic vote, but we need to do it with our core principles. It’s a mistake for us to sit down now and say how do we get the Hispanic vote, how do we get the women vote, how do we get these votes, what do we have to say to get them?”

As outlined in a recent Newsmax story, Republicans are losing Hispanic voters big time. By a margin of 67 percent to 31 percent, Hispanic voters helped carry Barack Obama to victory. This is a major shift from 2004, when President Bush won an estimated 44 percent of the Hispanic vote.

While the amnesty debate did not help Republicans with Hispanics, “I don’t think asking to enforce the border is what alienated legal immigrants,” DeMint says. “American citizens who are Hispanic who vote have a very mixed opinion of Republicans just not being for anything. The big problem is that we had President Bush pushing a plan that did not include good border enforcement and a workable ID system, and it didn’t have enough in there to allow people to immigrate, particularly on a temporary basis, allowing them to come and go in a flexible environment.”

DeMint hopes to promote the roadmap proposals by going directly to the American people, using blogs, radio talk shows, and friendly newspapers.

“We’re trying to use all the media sources we can to get the right information to people, because usually the way things are presented here, when a bill comes out, the news reports are not necessarily accurate,” DeMint says. “When folks start calling, emailing, or writing their congressmen and senators, it may give us the impetus we need here to get more and more allies to work together.”

DeMint considers it a hopeful sign that Democrats, mindful that we are in a recession, are not talking about raising taxes. He is also keeping an open mind on Obama.

“He has said that he wants to eliminate earmarks,” DeMint says. “He’s said he wants to cut wasteful spending and make us energy independent. He may not do that in a way that I think he should, and if he comes into office and reinstates the moratorium on drilling in America, then obviously he’s going a route that is not going to create energy independence in our lifetime. But he’s going to be our president, and we need to give him the benefit of the doubt and find some things we can work with him on and hope we can move some things together that can benefit the country.”

- Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com.


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