Congressional Boarding Pass

Setting the 2017 Policy Agenda

No more favors for the few. Opportunity for all—that is our motto.
— Speaker Paul D. Ryan

Americans are hungry for leaders who will address concerns about the relationship between mobility, economic dynamism, concentrated power, and collusion between special interests and government.

The Heritage Foundation’s American Perception Initiative (API) “demonstrates the centrality of the two core themes of this vision—’opportunity’ without the corrupting influence of ‘favoritism’.” That is the central challenge facing our nation: creating opportunity for all and favoritism to none.

BUDGET

While nonbinding and frequently ignored, the budget is an opportunity to put forward a roadmap to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Heritage market research found conservatives have “high credibility” on issues related to government spending and reform.

Balance. A 2013 NRCC poll found a balanced budget message proved to be a winning argument, even in purple districts. The budget should balance at lower spending levels, without gimmicks, and without relying on Obamacare’s tax revenues, which will be repealed come 2017.

Recommit to Premium Support. The House and Senate budgets should explicitly reaffirm the GOP’s commitment to advancing premium support in Medicare.

OBAMA AGENDA

Congress must find new leverage points to reassert its constitutional authority and rein in executive overreach — guns, amnesty, environment, labor, etc — during the final year of the Obama administration.

Legislative Riders. Appropriations riders can be part of the strategy, but final action is unlikely before September. In the interim, riders should be attached to bipartisan priorities that are likely to move through the process.

Nominees. Given the Obama administration’s disregard for Congress’s role in our constitutional system of government, the Senate should refuse to confirm the president’s nominees unless those nominees are directly related to our national security.

WELFARE REFORM

In 1996, Congress reformed one welfare program out of roughly 80 means-tested programs. Heritage market research found the conservative approach to welfare reform “has the ability to significantly increase support for the conservative vision for America.”

Strong Work Requirement. The most notable component of the 1996 welfare reform was a work requirement. Any welfare reform proposal should include strong work requirements. Last year in Maine, work requirements for childless, able-bodied adults without dependents caused an 80-percent reduction in that group’s food stamp use.

Restore Federalism. The 1996 reform also froze nominal spending on TANF — a cap that remains in place today. Congress should aim to restore federalism in welfare policy by reducing the long-term federal footprint through real spending reductions and a nominal cap, allowing states to make decisions about how much revenue should be devoted to their welfare programs.

HEALTHCARE REFORM

According to Heritage’s market research, a fresh start for health care reform “is overall one of the strongest issues on the conservative agenda” and offers “a significant ability to further increase identification with the conservative vision for America.”

Pre-Obamacare Baselines. America’s health care system prior to Obamacare was deeply flawed. Any conservative reform proposal should envision a smaller federal role than that which existed before Obamacare, with the goal of reducing overall healthcare costs rather than matching Obamacare’s aspiration for universal coverage. At a bare minimum that means reverting back to the pre-Obamacare spending and tax baselines. Simply redirecting and rebranding bloated Obamacare spending towards a less bad system is unacceptable.

TAX REFORM

The current tax system is stifling opportunity for all Americans, not just corporations. Heritage market research finds that tax reform “is the most relevant issue of the conservative agenda.” The conservative approach — fair and simple, reward work and savings, and eliminate loopholes for special interests — “is highly credible and recognized as a strong solution.”

Ditch Neutrality. The beltway orthodoxy — tax reform should be revenue neutral, distributionally neutral, and conform with other liberal constructs — crippled Mitt Romney’s ability to campaign on reform and stifled the most recent congressional effort to draft pro-growth reforms. With revenues as a percentage of GDP approaching Clinton-era levels, congressional reform efforts should reflect this emerging consensus on the right.

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Want to talk to your Members of Congress? Check this list

Conservative accountability goes beyond casting a vote. Building a society in which freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and the civil society flourish requires a sustained effort.  That is why we have compiled a non-exhaustive list of upcoming townhalls, all of which provide excellent opportunities to discuss important issues with members of Congress.

As always, make sure to confirm the details with the Representative or Senator’s office.

Email Matthew.Lauer@heritageaction.com for any further details.

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Reconciliation: Americans deserve the full repeal of Obamacare

This week, the House will be considering the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which would repeal the individual and employer mandates from Obamacare, as well as place a one-year moratorium on some Planned Parenthood funding. Heritage Action has endorsed the use of the tool to repeal Obamacare in its entirety, but believes this use of reconciliation is a mistake and that the bill should be opposed.

In the Obamacare fight, reconciliation’s aim is to set a legislative precedent for a Republican president to follow. Forcing a presidential veto of a bill repealing Obamacare will cause every presidential candidate to answer a simple question – what would you have done? Every serious Republican candidate will answer that they would repeal it in a heartbeat. But if reconciliation is simply used to remove a few provisions, it does not provoke the conversation and force a Republican nominee to continue to support repealing Obamacare in its entirety.

In addition to leaving one of Planned Parenthood’s main funding sources intact, the reconciliation tool is ineffective in defunding Planned Parenthood because it does not contain sufficient leverage to succeed. The reconciliation tool can only place a standalone bill on the President’s desk, which would be promptly vetoed. But because of the recent Center for Medical Progress videos, there is sufficient political will to carry a defund effort past the finish line. Those seeking to use reconciliation for Planned Parenthood prematurely concede defeat and content themselves with “putting a bill on the President’s desk,” when a legislative rider on the continuing resolution could succeed.

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Memo: Path to Ex-Im Reauthorization Rapidly Closing

To:                   Interested Parties
From:              Heritage Action for America
Date:                May 18, 2015
Subject:          Path to Ex-Im Reauthorization Rapidly Closing

Because the House appears poised to allow the Export-Import Bank to expire on June 30th without taking any action, proponents of reauthorizing the bank are staking their hopes on the Senate jamming the House.  That path seems to be increasingly difficult to walk. While it is conventional wisdom to believe the Senate can “jam the House” the reality is that doing so is extremely difficult. There are two general scenarios in which Senate action could spur House action, but those situations are unlikely to materialize into significant threats.

Read the entire memo.

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Memo: Republican Budgets Should Achieve Additional Conservative Gains

To:                    Interested Parties
From:              Heritage Action for America
Date:                March 16, 2015
Subject:           Republican Budgets Should Achieve Additional Conservative Gains

In 2011, the new Republican-controlled House passed a bold budget that demonstrated the party was serious about confronting the policy challenges facing our nation.  With an obstinate and obstructionist Democrat Party in control of the Senate, House Republicans used subsequent budgets to lock in and consolidate their policy gains into a coherent platform.  Empowered by a historic House majority and control of the Senate, Republicans must do more than regurgitate previous policies.

Repealing Obamacare.  Republicans owe their majorities to their unwavering opposition to Obamacare, a reality that must be reflected in the budget.  A throwaway line that the budget “repeals Obamacare in its entirety” is not enough.  The claim must be backed up by words and deeds.

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