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Becoming the Party of Work
How the GOP can help struggling Americans, and itself.


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According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, seven in ten voters believe that the Republican party is “out of touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today.”

What follows is a plan for how the GOP can win back their trust — and a build a conservative majority in the process.

But first, a little history.

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When Americans went to the polls in 2012, the following was true: Work-force participation had sunk to its lowest level in 35 years, wages had fallen below 1999 levels, and 47 million Americans were on food stamps. Yet Mitt Romney, the challenger to the incumbent president, lost lower- and middle-income voters by an astonishing margin. Among voters earning $30,000 to $50,000, he trailed by 15 points, and among voters earning under $30,000 he trailed by 28 points.

And what did the GOP’s brilliant consultant class conclude from this resounding defeat? They declared that the GOP must embrace amnesty. The Republican National Committee dutifully issued a report calling for a “comprehensive immigration reform” that would inevitably increase the flow of low-skilled immigration, reducing the wages and living standards of the very voters whose trust the GOP had lost.

Over the past four decades, as factories were shuttered and blue-collar jobs were outsourced or automated, net immigration quadrupled. Yet the corporate-consultant class has pronounced that an insufficient level of immigration is the problem. A more colossal misreading of the political moment has rarely occurred.

Perhaps the most important political development now unfolding in the U.S. is the public’s growing loss of faith in our political and financial elites of both parties. To open the ears of disaffected voters, the GOP must break publicly from the elite immigration consensus of Wall Street and Davos. Republicans have a clear path to building a conservative majority if they free themselves from the corporate consultants and demonstrate to the American public that the GOP is the only party aligned with the core interests, concerns, and beliefs of everyday hardworking citizens.

But the immigration “principles” offered by House GOP leaders imply that record immigration levels must be increased further to meet “the needs of employers.” One such GOP proposal — to provide the food industry with half a million low-skilled workers each year — was polled by Rasmussen. Nearly 70 percent of independent voters opposed it.

“Most business leaders have long favored more open immigration. Different businesses want different kinds of people,” a prominent GOP fundraiser declared on TV. “A restaurant may want waiters and cooks; a hospital wants nurses and doctors; a university wants physicists; a business like Exelon needs more engineers.” Asked by the interviewer about hiring U.S. workers for open jobs, he replied that many of those now unemployed are “unable to compete for them.”

Is that the message of a winning party? It might win a majority of votes at a dinner party in a gated community in Bel Air, but it is an act of profound delusion to think that plan can form the basis of a nationwide Republican resurgence.

Democrats in Washington have already cast their lot. A recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows that all net employment gains from 2000 to 2013 — a period of record legal immigration — went to immigrant workers, and yet the immigration plan championed by the White House and congressional Democrats would triple the number of immigrants given permanent legal status over the next decade, and it would double the annual flow of guest workers to compete for jobs in every sector of the U.S. economy. The Democrats’ plan delivers for international corporations, open-borders groups, and even workers now living in other countries — all at the expense of American workers.

So Republicans have a choice. They can either join the Democrats as the second political party in Washington advocating uncontrolled immigration, or they can offer the public a principled alternative and represent the American workers Democrats have jettisoned. Republicans can either help the White House enact an immigration plan that will hollow out the American middle class, or they can finally expose the truth about the White House plan and detail the enormous harm it will inflict.

Republicans could then illustrate how, on every policy front, the Left embraces an agenda that benefits only the fortunate few. Their agenda includes: energy restrictions that destroy jobs and drive up costs; maze-like administrative rules that only the largest companies can navigate; nationalized health care that shrinks the work force; Federal Reserve stimulus, which helps big firms at the expense of small savers; taxes and regulation that close plants and send work overseas; massive spending that makes Washington a boomtown while impoverishing the nation; bureaucratic interference in schools and homes; intrusive government; a surging welfare state; endless deficits; and an increasingly open-borders immigration plan. Each of these policies directly harms working Americans. Each of these policies serves the political interests of Democrats while entailing lower pay, fewer hours, and higher unemployment for dedicated American workers.

Wherever the policies of the Left have been faithfully implemented, as in Detroit, human tragedy has followed. The future offered by the Left — a shrinking work force struggling to fund a growing welfare state — is not only unsustainable but uncompassionate. Compassion demands that we spare no effort in helping millions now jobless to realize the dream of financial independence. This is the urgent economic task of the 21st century.

Too often, Republicans have offered a passive reply to the Left’s refrain that the GOP does not care for those in need. The usual GOP responses — that the Left is engaged in “class warfare,” or is not presenting “credible solutions,” or is “kicking the can down the road” — fail to rebut the underlying slander. Instead, Republicans should hold the Left accountable for the social and moral harm its policies have inflicted on every community that has suffered for decades under its disastrous policy regime.

The GOP cannot win a bidding war with Democrats, carried from election cycle to election cycle in perpetuity, about who is willing to embrace the most generous amnesty and the most expansive immigration policy. Moreover, polling shows that by a margin of two to one Americans wish to see immigration curbed, and that by a margin of three to one those earning under $30,000 — the very group the GOP is hemorrhaging — favor a reduction over an increase.



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