Heritage Foundation Embraces "Conservative Populism"

Posted: Jan 12, 2015 10:30 AM

The Heritage Foundation released a new book Monday, "Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None," urging Republicans to reject "donorism" and embrace "conservative populism."

"The Heritage Foundation is giving notice to those who use the law as profiteers," Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint writes in the book's foreword, "whether they walk the halls of Congress or Wall Street... Our rallying cry: Opportunity for All, but Favoritism to None."

Just short of 200-pages, the book's 12 chapters cover labor, energy, K-12 education, higher education, health care, finance, welfare reform, taxes, marriage, and foreign policy. The policy recommendations are bold an comprehensive. There is no call to change the Obamacare workweek from 30 to 40 hours a week. Instead, Heritage offers a detailed plan for full repeal and replace.

The book is particularly hard on the current leadership of the Republican Party and the Bush administration.

In the book's introduction, Michael Needham, president of Heritage Action (The Heritage Foundation's advocacy organization), calls the Bush presidency "an eight year expansion of the federal government’s role in American life," including "a new unfunded prescription drug entitlement," "a massive federalization of the school system," and a swelling federal budget.

Heritage is also highly critical of the Republican National Committee's 2012 autopsy, calling its policy prescriptions "caricature interest group politics of the worst kind." The RNC's recommendations "flowed from the very same view of politics held by the left—that individuals are best understood as demographics, that people can be bought off in mass groups," Needham writes.

Instead of becoming the Democratic Party Lite, Heritage urges Republicans to speak to all Americans. "Life is hard. Bills are getting bigger. And no one in Washington is listening," the book reads. 

"The Democratic Party is too consumed with the petty politics of inequality and pipe dreams like cap and trade to develop a responsive agenda. Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s priority appears to be increasing corporate bottom lines rather than freeing up family budgets for food and gas. Worse yet, even where these disenchanted voters should be natural allies of Republicans—social issues that touch the fabric of their communities—they feel they have no real support from those in power."

The book is not as comprehensive as The Heritage Foundation's 1981 effort, "A Mandate for Leadership," which served as a blueprint for the incoming Reagan administration, but Heritage still believes it will have an impact. "This is a roadmap to conservative success in building winning coalitions on issues that resonate with Americans for the next 2 years," Heritage spokesman Wesley Denton told Townhall.