During election years, action typically grounds to a standstill. Attention shifts to the elections as the House runs for reelection, along with roughly one-third of the Senate. During presidential election years, both sides know that their actions can have an impact and will be fodder for positive and negative ads. However, the House Republicans, led by Speaker Ryan, seem intent on ignoring this tradition and are planning to tackle five major policy areas: the economy, health care, poverty, and the Constitutional authority.
Speaker Ryan spoke on the five topics in an address at the Library of Congress and the renewed push comes following the conference’s annual retreat. Speaker Ryan has emphasized a conference-led legislative process and this case will be no different. The five topics will be tackled by conference task forces.
Speaker Ryan stated, “We do not like the direction the country is going, and we have an obligation to offer an alternative. Starting today, we will begin developing a bold, pro-growth agenda to take to the country. By giving the people a clear choice in 2016, we can earn a mandate to do big things in 2017 and beyond. We want a confident America. Now it’s time to get to work.” Confident America is also the name of the platform, similar to the Contract with America from the 1990s.
Poverty is an issue that Speaker Ryan has focused extensively on, especially since his vice presidential bid in 2012. BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins detailed in his book, The Wilderness, that Ryan regularly met with anti-poverty activists on the frontlines and was mentored on the issue by Pastor Darryl Webster. Constitutional authority is an issue that could be red meat to the conservative base. Conservatives often attack President Obama as surpassing his constitutional authority.
Budget Committee Chairman Representative Tom Price (R-GA) told reporters that he has met with policy advisors from each of the Republican presidential campaigns and is working to have a budget released by February. The budget would set up a contrast against President Obama’s.
House Republicans believe their year of action will be able to assist the eventual nominee with a platform to be contrasted against the President and the eventual Democratic nominee. The proposals will also serve to deflate a common Democratic talking point that the Republicans are the “Party of No.” The measures will go further than just repealing Democratic measures and will instead replace them with Republican proposals.