Several weeks ago on Twitter, Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted, “The Republican Party is no longer the ‘wine and cheese’ party. It’s the beer and blue jeans party.”
In the wake of Trump’s loss, several members of the Republican Party — including Jordan, other members of the House Freedom Caucus, and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley — have begun to attempt to shift the image of the GOP. The question is whether they’re going about it in the right way at all.
The repositioning could very well work if Jordan et al dedicated more time working on policies to benefit blue-collar Americans. Unfortunately, Jordan and his compatriots, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Lauren Boebert, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, have spent the early part of 2021 engaging in what seems to be an actual “endless war” — the culture war.
Jordan takes a lot of time tweeting and doing Fox News hits which rail about “cancel culture.” Lauren Boebert’s first order of business in Washington DC was to demand she gets to carry her firearm inside the Capitol building. Congressman Gaetz took time out of his schedule to fly to Wyoming to hold a rally to yell about Liz Cheney. It’s hard to imagine how that benefited his constituents in the Florida panhandle, butas Gaetz said, “If you aren’t making news, you’re not governing.” Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden the day after he assumed office.
It isn’t easy to fathom how someone struggling to pay bills will find comfort in knowing some Republicans are doing their best to “fight” and “own the libs.” However, that’s not going to pay the mortgage or put food on the table.
Ironically, it’s Utah Senator Mitt Romney — the RINO squish establishment OG “traitor” in the GOP ranks — who is doing the job of a legislator in earnest. Romney has been spending most of his time drafting legislation to assist middle-class people in the form of direct payments in place of some welfare programs, as well as a separate bill to increase the minimum wage. He drafted the latter with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who undoubtedly has his eyes on a possible 2024 run for president.
Romney’s payment plan provides up to $4,200 per year in direct aid to families with young children, a figure that’s higher than a similar proposal from President Biden. Romney and Cotton’s minimum wage bill isn’t as ambitious as the Democrats’ call for $15 per hour, however: instead, it raises the minimum wage to $10 and ties it to inflation every two years. It also comes with mandating E-Verify for businesses to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers.
The minimum wage puts the ball in Biden’s court. His left flank in the House, made up primarily of “Squad” members such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, have already blasted the plan. Biden also faces opposition in the Senate. The House will include the wage hike in the Covid relief bill. Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia oppose the inclusion of the minimum wage as part of a budgetary reconciliation process.
That leaves open the possibility of tackling that issue separately. Biden may find that he’s better off negotiating with someone like Romney or Cotton, who has come to the table with a plan, instead of relying on a strictly partisan mechanism and opening the door for Republicans to have an issue to take into the 2022 election cycle.
A common phrase spoken to politicians is, “Do your job!” Romney is following that blueprint. If the Republican Party truthfully wants to attract more working-class voters and bring back some of the suburban voters that ran for the hills in the last two election cycles, people like Matt Gaetz should get to work instead of spending his time whining about Liz Cheney.
Jay Caruso is Managing Editor of the Washington Examiner