As lawmakers prepared to head home from Washington for the long August recess, one ambitious organization sent them packing with a blueprint for delivering conservative policy reforms that emphasizes opportunity for all Americans.
Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, today delivered “Conservative Policy Agenda: Opportunity for All, but Favoritism to None” to all members of the House and Senate ahead of the summer break.
Three months before midterm elections, one of its authors describes the treatise as a call to action that challenges lawmakers to renew their commitment to just such a “bold agenda.”
It’s time for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to return home with an ear to the concerns of Main Street, Heritage Action Chief Executive Officer Michael Needham said in an interview with The Daily Signal, the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation:
We feel there’s a real need for conservatives in Washington, D.C., to reconnect with the American people, who increasingly feel that they don’t have a voice in Washington. And this lays out the groundwork for lawmakers to be able to go home and talk about opportunity for all but favoritism for none, which would be a new way of operating here in Washington.
The Conservative Policy Agenda outlines a dozen legislative priorities focused on promoting a strong, thriving economy, a commitment to marriage and religious liberty, and a vigorous foreign policy.
>>> Read More: Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None
To boost the economy, the agenda calls for the end of housing finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, implementation of a flat tax, and the defense of Internet freedom — policies that Heritage Action argues will bring the country back to its free market roots and away from government intervention.
Though some Democrats as well as Republicans are shifting their attention to the fiscal challenges confronting the country, the group’s agenda puts equal emphasis on the importance of family and religion. The report reads:
While Washington focuses on policies that grant favoritism to the well-connected, the next generation of Americans faces an uphill struggle against social breakdown, a welfare system with the wrong incentives, and poor educational opportunities.
Reforms proposed to promote a “strong society” include eliminating marriage penalties in the welfare system, increasing choice and competition in public education, and improving Medicare and Medicaid — a common thread woven through conservative agendas.
Heritage Action praises the Supreme Court in the policy agenda for its 5-4 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which said the government cannot require certain businesses to provide abortion-inducing drugs or devices in employee health plans when doing so would violate deeply held religious beliefs.
“This is a step in the right direction, but this recent decision neither protects all Americans’ religious freedom when it comes to health care nor ends the danger they face from the marshalled forces of intolerance,” the agenda reads.
In its third theme, the policy agenda encourages a robust military and strong foreign policy.
Recent cuts to Pentagon spending led to a decrease in troop strength in the Army and Marine Corps, and the Navy had to reduce its fleet even as China “aggressively expands” its own, the report says.
Heritage Action advocates a “thorough, transparent defense appropriations process” that would set Pentagon spending “through an analysis of the threats our nation faces, the capabilities needed to meet those threats, and — only then — the programs needed to achieve those capabilities.”
Needham said release of the group’s Conservative Policy Agenda comes as Americans, grown increasingly cynical toward Washington, are more likely to voice concerns to senators and congressmen when they return home for the summer break.
“It’s important for members of Congress to be going home and talking about positive reform ideas which reconnect Washington, D.C., to conservative values our country shares,” he said.
Though the Heritage Action agenda promotes conservative principles and reforms, the think tank’s lobbying affiliate distributed copies to all 535 Republicans and Democrats in Congress with the pitch that the ideas should garner bipartisan support. Needham said:
We’re putting out good ideas, and we don’t care who takes them up, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat or anybody else. These are the ideas the American people want, these are the ideas America needs if we’re going to remain the strong, free country that we’ve been, so we’re making sure that everybody in Washington has access to them and we’re hoping that everyone rallies around them.