Issue Toolkit:

2020 Issues

Background information

In 2020, we are growing the conservative grassroots and advocating for policy solutions that appeal to working-class voters, suburban-swing voters, and traditional conservatives.

At Project 2020’s onset, we identified core issues conservatives could leverage to win over undecided voters, recruit new grassroots to the conservative movement, and beat the left. While these issue areas (immigration, job training, capitalism, and culture) are still relevant, we believe the upcoming election will center around conservative and liberal responses to the coronavirus crisis as well. In Congress, the left has already used the crisis to push unreasonable demands, including blanket student loan forgiveness and Medicare-for-All.

Use this toolkit as a resource to discuss America’s conservative policy solutions with your family, friends, neighbors, community leaders, and legislators.

The Economy

The Problem: Millions of Americans are facing economic turmoil from the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment is at sky-high levels, and retirement savings are at risk. For restarting the economy, the left has pushed a government-first approach that pairs government bailouts and dependence with radical leftist wishlists. This is not the correct way to jump-start the economy.

The Conservative Solution: Before COVID-19, unemployment was at an all-time low—let’s get back there. The government can assist Americans by providing temporary relief in the short term, and allowing businesses to flourish in the long term by ensuring the employer stays attached to the employee during the crisis, cutting taxes and reducing stringent regulations. And any government relief payments and loans should be temporary and targeted and focused on having an immediate and direct impact.

We should also oppose a federal bailout for state governments. Bailouts will disincentivize Governors to reopen their states so people can get back to work. Currently, governors are requesting bailout money to pay off debts that preceded the pandemic—we should not reward states’ past reckless spending or incentivize them to spend recklessly in the future. The path to re-energizing the American economy starts with American businesses—not government handouts.

Talking Points:

  • The economy was strong and we were at record unemployment before the Coronavirus. We need to rebuild our economy, not turn to socialism.
  • Governors should thoughtfully reopen American society. There cannot be a recovery with broad, untargeted, stay-in-place orders mandated throughout the country.
  • We can help small businesses grow by providing short term relief coupled with cutting red-tape and burdensome regulations.
  • Americans should reject bailouts for state governments. Many blue-states mismanaged their finances and accumulated debt long before the coronavirus. A bailout would incentivize states to continue to mismanage their finances.

Additional Resources:
Heritage Action - Petition: “Open American Society”
Heritage Action - Congress Should Reject $500 Billion State Bailout
Heritage Action - After PPP: Fix Unemployment Insurance Instead of Bailing out States
The Heritage Foundation - How Congress Can Enable the Great American Economic Recovery
Cut Red Tape Coalition - Reigniting the Economy and Restoring Jobs Through Regulatory Relief

Higher Education / Workforce Development

The Problem: Economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with pre-existing concerns like automation and outsourcing, has put tens of millions of Americans out of work. Worse, a four-year degree is unaffordable for most Americans. Student loans are financially crippling, and as of 2018, outstanding student loan debt totals $1.5 trillion. Americans lack affordable access to job-training and vocational education to qualify themselves for better-paying jobs.

The Conservative Solution: As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and automation technologies threaten American industry, workers need the ability to learn new skills at an affordable cost. Americans shouldn’t be pressured into taking on crushing levels of debt to receive an education. By increasing access to job-trainings and vocational programs, conservatives can give college students and job-seeking adults access to the skills they need, at an affordable price.

Congress should support legislation like the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act that addresses the root cause of skyrocketing tuition and reforms the structure of higher education to empower students and learners instead of bureaucrats and special interests in Washington. Specifically, the legislation allows trade schools and vocational programs to be accredited like four-year schools. It also expands higher education opportunities for low-income and middle-class families by allowing states to develop their own system of accrediting educational institutions, curricula, apprenticeships, and programs.

Talking Points:

  • Rising tuition costs increasingly make a four-year degree unaffordable.
  • Increasingly, skills-based education and vocational programs are a better value to students.
  • We should enable students to use federal student grants and loans to pay for their tuition at vocational programs and trade schools. The HERO Act would allow states to accredit vocational programs and trade schools and make this happen.

Additional Resources:
Heritage Action: Key Vote: The Hero Act
Daily Signal - Lee’s College Accreditation Legislation Could Drive Down College Costs

Immigration

The Problem: While President Trump has given the federal government a clear directive to halt illegal immigration, the immigration system is still fraught with injustice and abuse. In fact, the majority of Americans say that illegal immigration affects their lives (54%) and that the biggest issue with illegal immigration is the overuse of social services (37%).

The COVID-19 crisis has only further highlighted the overburdening of our social services, and the challenge illegal immigration poses to the tens of millions of unemployed Americans.

The Conservative Solution: As Americans attempt to re-enter the workforce post-coronavirus, our borders must be secure and our immigration system must be fair. We must enforce immigration laws, end sanctuary cities, and protect our hospitals, schools, and other social services from being overburdened by illegal immigrants. And when it comes to legal immigration, securing the border is the first step. We must also prioritize the skills a potential immigrant possesses over his/her extended family connections. Immigration is not a right, it’s a privilege. The American immigration system must be orderly, lawful, and focused on legal pathways to American citizenship.

Talking Points:

  • Border security is essential to reduce illegal immigration, cut crime, and ensure illegal immigration does not burden schools, hospitals, and social services.
  • Sanctuary cities are illegal and are a danger to law-abiding citizens. States and cities should not shield violent criminals from deportation.
  • Legal immigration should be skills-based. We should deprioritize the visa lottery and chain migration.

Additional Resources:
Heritage Action - Activist Toolkit: Immigration
Heritage Action - Public Charge Rule Eases Strain on Social Safety Net
The Heritage Foundation - Immigrants Should Not Be on Welfare
The Heritage Foundation - An Agenda for American Immigration Reform
The Heritage Foundation - Sanctuary Cities Put Law-Abiding Citizens at Risk

Culture

The Problem: The left continues to force their radical cultural values on America. Now more than ever, America cannot become a liberal culture of political correctness. In fact, 73% of Americans say political correctness is a major problem for our country and 57% say that national Democrats are becoming increasingly extremist.

In the past two years, prominent liberals have called for arresting parents who refuse to give their children puberty blockers to change their gender, and pushed for biological males to be able to compete in women’s sports and use women’s locker rooms, showers, and dormitories.

They’ve voted against giving medical care to babies who survive botched-abortions and openly advocated for infanticide. They’ve gone from calling for abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare,” to only caring about it being “legal,” and calling on women to “shout their abortion” as a badge of honor.

The Conservative Solution: Americans need to be able to speak truths and hold on to their values without being shamed and ridiculed. As the left continues to push radical policies, we must remind our legislators what Americans truly stand for. For instance, 62% of Americans oppose allowing transgender biological males to play on female high school and amateur sports teams. And when it comes to the issue of life, 76% of Americans support requiring doctors to provide medical care to babies who survive abortion. Remind your legislators and community leaders about the issues that Americans truly care about.

Talking Points:

  • The Left’s increasing focus on “woke culture” and political correctness is a threat to free speech.
  • Radical policies, such as denying health care babies who survive abortions, should have no place in our society.
  • Allowing biological men who identify as women to compete in women’s sports creates an unlevel playing field that hurts women, both on the playing field and off; Many women depend on sports as a pathway through college and into corporate boardrooms.

Additional Resources:
Heritage Action - Activist Toolkit: The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act
Daily Signal - 3 Girls Speak Out on Having to Compete With Biological Males
Daily Signal - How Pelosi’s Equality Act Would Ruin Women’s Sports

Starting the Conversation

The Problem: We’ve all been there. Starting a conversation about anything, let alone politics, can be a bit intimidating at first. But don’t worry, it becomes natural after you’ve done it just a few times.

The Solution: A short policy questionnaire can help break the ice and get the conversation started. It will help them to open up and will allow you to better understand where they are coming from so you may engage in a helpful and constructive dialogue.

Attached is a quick 7 question survey you can use on relevant policies right now. Feel free to print off extra copies and have them answer them, or just read through it and ask the questions.

Remember, their specific answer to any one question is not what is most important. This is a tool to engage with them and will hopefully lead to a more in depth conversation. Feel free to deviate from the script if they have follow-up questions about an issue. Listen thoughtfully and work in talking points from above as appropriate.

When comfortable, offer to exchange contact information with them and provide them with more resources to their questions. This about starting conversations, engaging people on the issues, and developing relationships. It is not about making sure every person answers 7 questions so you can quickly move on to the next person.

You might choose to begin a conversation by saying:

Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a volunteer with Heritage Action for America. I’m talking with people in the community today about policy issues in 2020. So much of the news is focused solely on political personalities without tying it back to the issues. I’d be interested to know how you think and feel about the big issues facing our country right now. Would you be willing to help me by answering a few quick questions?

Download a PDF version of the toolkit and questionnaire

Talking Points

Social Posts (remember to insert the social handle of your member)

Graphics