Sessions: GOP needs to concentrate on Main Street economics, not Wall Street

posted at 12:01 pm on February 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Ever since the 2012 election loss, Republicans have looked for an economic platform to move away from the “47 percent” argument that ended up backfiring that election cycle. Party leaders like House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan and erstwhile presidential candidate Rick Santorum have urged the GOP to move away from protecting Wall Street and mega-investors and focus economic and tax reforms on the middle class and the manufacturing sector. Ranking Senate Budget Committee Republican Jeff Sessions added his voice to that call yesterday at the Tea Party Patriots’ fifth-anniversary celebration, calling for conservative populism to recapture the declining middle classes, and to ditch Wall Street:

“The elites are failing America, they’re failing the people of America… My party, the Republican party, needs to sever itself from the elite consensus, we need to break from it,” he told a celebration for fifth anniversary of the Tea Party Patriots group, held Thursday evening in Washington, D.C.

“We can tell Wall Street ‘We love you’… but we’re going to be representing Americans by the millions,” he told the audience.

The populist shift is needed, Sessions said, because Republican candidates and their constituents haven’t been able to persuade alienated Americans and low-income swing voters that the GOP cares about them and their interests, even with piles of advertising funded by Wall Street.

“These workers, these Americans, these citizens, are not happy with President [Barack] Obama — they don’t want to be on food stamps… [and] that’s a vote we can get back,” he said.

The speech marks another step by Sessions to promote his populist reform agenda to the GOP’s diverse base and business-friendly leadership.

The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro sounds skeptical:

He’s made no significant steps to build a national following, nor to recruit a team to help him participate in the 2016 Republican primaries.

His disavowal of Wall Street will close donors’ checkbooks, and so will his skeptical comments on trade. But he’s unlikely to gain donations from working-class people, nor from the wealthy but cautious professionals who fear progressives’ scorn.

His base is in deep South Alabama, and his soft-spoken style won’t help him win fans in the Midwest, where millions of election-winning potential GOP supporters live.

I don’t think Sessions is looking to run for president, nor does he have to do so in order to press for a clear economic agenda from the GOP. Neither does Paul Ryan. Both have perches in their committee assignments to develop that agenda, and both have enough heft within the GOP to push for that kind of reform. In fact, given Sessions’ remarks, it sounds as if he’s correctly noting that this message will be needed in the midterm cycle, because while ObamaCare will serve as a powerful indictment of Democrats, it’s not going to be enough to just be the anti-Democrats. Republicans need an argument of their own, too.

Byron York agrees, and sees a big opening in a stagnant economy for a true opposition platform to Obamanomics:

There’s little doubt that economic conditions, coupled with the burdens imposed on millions of Americans by Obamacare, are behind the Democrats’ troubles now, and most likely in November, too.

What is unclear is whether Democrats are fully aware of the peril. Of course, savvy candidates and strategists are, but the new Times poll shows that, as a whole, Democrats have a far more positive view of the economy than everyone else. …

Of course, it’s possible most Democrats do, deep inside, believe the economy is still bad, and their poll answers reflect partisanship more than anything. That’s a danger for Republicans, too, who could overstate the economy’s problems.

But in the bigger picture, there is a huge opportunity for the GOP this November. Large majorities in the Times poll said both parties should do more to address the needs and concerns of the middle class. Seventy-six percent of independents said the GOP should do more, while 72 percent of the same independents said Democrats should do more.

The middle class is where the votes are, and the party that does the better job of addressing “middle-class squeeze” (a term House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has taken to using frequently) will win in November.

Some Republican officeholders and conservative thinkers are devoting a lot of time and energy to coming up with policy proposals for middle-class relief, and the GOP candidates who are most open to those ideas will have a big advantage in attracting votes outside the Republican base.

Well, we’ve been discussing it under the radar for almost seventeen months now. Granted, the budget crises and ObamaCare disaster has occupied much of their time in that period, but with the rollout of ObamaCare proving every bit as disastrous as Republicans warned and the budget settled until late 2015, the GOP needs to put a clear agenda aimed at Main Street economics on the table soon. Five years of stagnation leaves a wide-open target on the Obama administration’s policies and Democrats on Capital Hill who keep excusing regulatory disincentives as “liberating job lock,” or other such nonsense.

Middle- and working-class Americans want real growth and the opportunities it provides, not the embrace of malaise as a goal. The sooner Republicans present a case, the sooner voters will see through the ennui and stagnation.


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Gerson is looking for a populist too :)

Schadenfreude on February 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Gerson made me laugh out of my chair. I almost sent him change today.

Schadenfreude on February 28, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Sorry, forgot the link.

Schadenfreude on February 28, 2014 at 12:02 PM

After reading the Politico “DEFCON1″ piece, I couldn’t agree more. Big business is crony capitalism and no friend to conservatives.

kevinkristy on February 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

If Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy, McConnell and Cornyn weren’t K-street bagmen they would be out saying these things every day.

Wigglesworth on February 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

After reading the Politico “DEFCON1″ piece, I couldn’t agree more. Big business is crony capitalism and no friend to conservatives.

kevinkristy on February 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Big Business is no different than Big Government.

ConstantineXI on February 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

After reading the Politico “DEFCON1″ piece, I couldn’t agree more. Big business is crony capitalism and no friend to conservatives.

kevinkristy on February 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

The problem is anyone who.owns a business that n make 5 million or more is considered big. So tell me how that works again, since it is a drop in the bucket anymore with inventory, assets, etc.?

upinak on February 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Schadenfreude on February 28, 2014 at 12:02 PM

yeah, caught that. I wonder why HotGay is linking so much WaPo.

DanMan on February 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

We could certainly enjoy having a few more Jeff Sessions.

Bmore on February 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

The problem is anyone who.owns a business that n make 5 million or more is considered big. So tell me how that works again, since it is a drop in the bucket anymore with inventory, assets, etc.?

upinak on February 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Considered “big” by whom? $5 million is a small business. We are talking about Wall Street corp cronies like JP Morgan, Amex, NFL, etc – where the CEOs make $5 million per week.

kevinkristy on February 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

I love Jeff Sessions. One of my only upsets when I moved from Alabama to Tennessee was trading him in for Alexander and Corker..

melle1228 on February 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Middle- and working-class Americans want real growth and the opportunities it provides, not the embrace of malaise as a goal. The sooner Republicans present a case, the sooner voters will see through the ennui and stagnation.

Main Street economics do not include the push for amnesty that the surrender weasels are still trying to push through (Paul Ryan included).

Happy Nomad on February 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM

I love Jeff Sessions. One of my only upsets when I moved from Alabama to Tennessee was trading him in for Alexander and Corker..

melle1228 on February 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Well you got Ashley Judd in the deal too. There is that. ;0

Seriously, I liked living in Alabama (one of the few places I’ve lived where somebody actually attacked my “liberal” views). And Jeff Sessions really is a statesman among politicians.

Happy Nomad on February 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

“We can tell Wall Street ‘We love you’… but we’re going to be representing Americans by the millions,”

Representing American voters rather than corporations?

Wow!

Could that actually work?

sharrukin on February 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Considered “big” by whom? $5 million is a small business. We are talking about Wall Street corp cronies like JP Morgan, Amex, NFL, etc – where the CEOs make $5 million per week.

kevinkristy on February 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

The IRS of course.

upinak on February 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

The problem is that the GOP has done a horrendous job of communicating the way that supply side economics lifts all boats. The solution is not, and I fear this is where Sessions and some others may be heading, to resort to demand driven economic populism.

Supply side economics emphasizes the effectiveness of jobs brought about by economic expansion. The GOP must not enter in to a bidding war of individual tax cuts and credits with the donkeys.

MJBrutus on February 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

I agree with Jeff Sessions. He isn’t perfect but he’s one of my favorites, especially on this topic. If the GOP establishment picks another amnesty supporting RINO in ’16 I’ll either be voting 3rd party, if there is a major 3rd party effort, or perhaps I’ll write in Jeff Sessions.

Paul Ryan, on the other hand, is one of the worst K Street/Wall Street cronies of them all and doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Sessions, IMO.

FloatingRock on February 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Jeff Sessions is an old time southern gentleman. He is a rare breed today.

celtic warrior on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

It’s sound policy. All of Obama’s measures and the FRB’s have favored Wall Street investment bankers over anyone else (except the cronies who get direct subsidies).

But the “47%” didn’t “backfire” last time except insofar as it cost Romney at the margins of some undecideds who weren’t leaning to him anyway.

The 47% hurts because it is true. We are so close to a tipping point where those sucking on the gummint teat added to the limo lefties will equal a permanent electoral majority – especially now that we’ve registered every half-wit who can make an “X” on a postcard.

Adjoran on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Well you got Ashley Judd in the deal too. There is that. ;0

Seriously, I liked living in Alabama (one of the few places I’ve lived where somebody actually attacked my “liberal” views). And Jeff Sessions really is a statesman among politicians.

Happy Nomad on February 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

LOL- Don’t remind me about Judd.. I was perfectly happy when she was claiming Kentucky. :)

melle1228 on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Paul Ryan, on the other hand, is one of the worst K Street/Wall Street cronies of them all and doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Sessions, IMO.

FloatingRock on February 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Agreed. Ryan looted veterans pensions to pay for the tax credits enjoyed by illegal aliens.

Happy Nomad on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Paul Ryan, on the other hand, is one of the worst K Street/Wall Street cronies of them all and doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Sessions, IMO.

FloatingRock on February 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Agreed. Ryan looted veterans pensions to pay for the tax credits enjoyed by illegal aliens.

Happy Nomad on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

And yet most veterans don’t really know who did it. That is the problem.

upinak on February 28, 2014 at 12:29 PM

It’s sound policy.

Adjoran on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Perhaps you could tell me what the policy is? I read some vague remarks about streets without much explanation.

MJBrutus on February 28, 2014 at 12:29 PM

upinak on February 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Good to see you posting again . How are things in the Great Wilderness?

celtic warrior on February 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

The GOP can’t concentrate on Main Street. What will their base think of that?

I’m sure the Chamber of Crony Capitalism would not be happy about it.

NWConservative on February 28, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Jeff Sessions is an old time southern gentleman. He is a rare breed today.

celtic warrior on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

he’d make an awesome Chief Justice. :)

ProudinNC on February 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Good to see you posting again . How are things in the Great Wilderness?

celtic warrior on February 28

Good, warmer than the lower 48 it seems.

And not happy about this little gem I just found.

upinak on February 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Jeff Sessions spoke at a tea party anniversary gathering the other day. There is a video of it here:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/02/27/Jeff-Sessions-The-Tea-Party-is-right-on-every-issue

FloatingRock on February 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

The 47% hurts because it is true. We are so close to a tipping point where those sucking on the gummint teat added to the limo lefties will equal a permanent electoral majority – especially now that we’ve registered every half-wit who can make an “X” on a postcard.

Adjoran on February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

with any luck, the “need ID to get Zerocare” argument to brush back the voter ID lawsuits will keep happening and more real voters will be heard instead of half the drunk uncles and dead aunts in the US. it’s a sound argument, and when that 47% realizes the opportunities they are being held back from, things should change.

Dr. Ben Carson and Mike Rowe are big advocates in the “here’s your opportunity, take it” arena. just got to keep throwing those messages out there and get people to listen. in particular, the youth.

ProudinNC on February 28, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Bmore, did you see the 3-stooges suggestion? Ukraine thread, below this one.

Schadenfreude on February 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM

I love Jeff Sessions. One of my only upsets when I moved from Alabama to Tennessee was trading him in for Alexander and Corker..

melle1228 on February 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Agreed. :(

ladyingray on February 28, 2014 at 12:42 PM

The GOP needs to revive Reagan’s argument about “the invisible foot” of government that is keeping the economy from recovering. Our once great American jobs engine is sputtering and grinding to a halt because government keeps putting sand in the gas tank.

rockmom on February 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Don’t miss this

Schadenfreude on February 28, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Why should they worry about Wall Street, the Federal Reserve is taking very good care of them.

DDay on February 28, 2014 at 1:28 PM

It also means nominating someone who speaks to common middle class people, who comes from their world, who understands them.

In other words no more wealthy kids from political dynasties that the GOP elite so love. We should not play class warfare, but we have to face reality as well. People relate to people like them…

William Eaton on February 28, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Middle- and working-class Americans want real growth and the opportunities it provides, not the embrace of malaise as a goal. The sooner Republicans present a case, the sooner voters will see through the ennui and stagnation.

Which highlights not only the biggest problem facing the GOP, but the biggest failure of the GOP since January 2011….the absolute and complete fecklessness of the GOP Congressional Leadership as well as the RNC to effectively articulate, message, and challenge the reality of the past 5 years.

This leadership is too afraid to take on the propagandists in the lapdog media to articulate a message to middle and working-class Americans.

This leadership, reading the continuous propaganda and ‘advice’ from the progressives in the media, believe that the best prospects for the future is to ‘go along to get along’, to become ‘progressive-lite’, and to avoid becoming castigated by the lapdog media for highlighting the mendacious lies around ‘income inequality’, ‘social justice’, ‘fairness’, and ‘wealth redistribution’.

This leadership is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Athos on February 28, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Bwahahahahahahahahahaha

Whee! And again I say “Whee!” And yet thrice do I say “Whee!” as in “Whee! the azz clowns are here

roflmmfao

donabernathy on February 28, 2014 at 2:02 PM

“We can tell Wall Street ‘We love you’… but we’re going to be representing Americans by the millions,” he told the audience.

The populist shift is needed, Sessions said, because Republican candidates and their constituents haven’t been able to persuade alienated Americans and low-income swing voters that the GOP cares about them and their interests, even with piles of advertising funded by Wall Street.

An attitude like that just might lead to turning a thumbs down on amnesty. And maybe we’ll start winning elections.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 28, 2014 at 2:10 PM

The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro sounds skeptical:

He sounds like Karl Rove!

VorDaj on February 28, 2014 at 2:38 PM

We could certainly enjoy having a few more Jeff Sessions.

Bmore on February 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Abraham Lincoln Ronald Reagan: “Find out what kind of whiskey that Grant Sessions is drinking. I want to send a barrel of it to my other Generals all Republican office holders.

VorDaj on February 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Middle- and working-class Americans want real growth and the opportunities it provides, not the embrace of malaise as a goal. The sooner Republicans present a case, the sooner voters will see through the ennui and stagnation.

…agree.

KOOLAID2 on February 28, 2014 at 2:52 PM

I love the fact that Jeff Sessions has taken to speaking up for a populist agenda.

dforston on February 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Sen. Sessions has been my hero for many years on illegal immigration.

I just called his office and urged him to combine his call for the GOP to address main street economics with the issue of the 7 million employed illegal aliens in this country.

If Boehner is all about “Jobs, jobs, jobs” what the heck is he pushing so hard for work permits for 11 to 20 million illegal aliens? (I know, big donors and Chamber of Commerce, et al)

The GOP should be able to proudly stand up (as they promised here in their 2012 platform!!) and say:

We represent American citizens.

We especially represent the 20 million unemployed American citizens.


We do NOT represent foreign nationals who have broken our immigration laws.

The reason there are 7 million employed illegal workers is shown here — an example of “The jobs Americans won’t do”:

http://www.jmisys.com/calosha/

fred5678 on February 28, 2014 at 3:38 PM

The GOP should be the party of small business. The Democrats are already the party of big business with such things as Sarbanes/Oxley and Dodd/Frank killing small business and making the big get bigger. The Democrats are the party of “too big to fail” and they have produced a regulator environment where small business is too small to succeed.

crosspatch on February 28, 2014 at 3:41 PM

“We believe in immigration, we’re not trying to stop all immigration,” he said, adding that the selective immigration systems in Canada, Australia and New Zealand helps those countries’ citizens.”

“With less immigration, “wages would begin to rise and we wouldn’t need a government law to set wages.”

Nice to hear from a senator who gets it. You know, I don’t think Senator Sessions has any national ambitions, either, but despite all the typical RINO whining, he is exactly the kind of conservative, yet ‘don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good’ pragmatist that RINOs claim they want. It’s just further proof that RINOs really are Republicans in name only.

Knott Buyinit on February 28, 2014 at 3:59 PM

This is so funny. While Democrats have been in power Wall Street is making record profits and is the ONLY part of the economy that has rebounded. While Joe Main Street is trying to find a job and figure out how to pay for his more expensive health care, Wall Street is enjoying record profits and enjoying endless delays on mandates that will cost them money.

Ridiculous anyone would try to claim Republicans are for Wall Street after seeing the “wealth gap” widen more than ever under Obama’s watchful eye.

ButterflyDragon on February 28, 2014 at 6:17 PM