Oh we’ve all heard this before? That’s the message, anyway, coming out of the House Republican caucus retreat that took place last week: they’ll stop the infighting and extremist political battles that fractured the party and focus on jobs.
The 2012 GOP playbook is a poll-tested group of bullet points that seems to illustrate a fresh start for the majority. That means tackling issues that unify the party, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, domestic energy production, infrastructure spending and tax reform. It also means dodging the spending and deficit battles that hurt the party last year.In fact, much of the 2012 agenda will be the mirror opposite of 2011.
In 2011, Republicans talked about cutting spending, trying to convince the public that doing so would create jobs. That message—along with talk of the size of government—isn’t strong, Republicans were told in a polling briefing. They need to stick to the mantra of “Where are the jobs?”
The fact that they’re coalescing around a fresh set of principles shows that leaders are aware of the discontent in the conference and recognize that a fresh start is necessary to maintain their majority. It’s an attempt to scuttle the sense of crisis and improvisation that was the backdrop to governing in 2011. And it illustrates that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have settled on a set of answers for the coming year.
Right. Just to refresh your memory, here is what John Boehner said they would focus on in the first session of his term as speaker, in January 2009.
Part of our job is to work with the new administration, to work with our Democratic colleagues, when we think what they’re doing is in the nation’s best interest.”There will be disagreements, he said, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be discussion.
“Our job is not to be the party of ‘no,’ ” Boehner said. “We need to be willing to put our solutions out there— or what I would call our better solutions. And if we’re not willing to put our better solution out there, then we ought to reconsider the position we’re taking.
And what exactly did we get out of last session from Boehner’s House? Eight votes to restrict women’s reproductive health. They nearly unanimously adopted a budget that ends Medicare. They blocked President Obama’s jobs bill. Oh, and they saved the incandescent light bulb. But this session is going to be all about jobs. Really. No they mean it this time.