"Young Guns," Old Ideas: GOP Puts New Faces On Failed Policies
For the past few years, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been leading an effort to rebrand the Republican Party and connect with a wider range of voters. In 2009, Cantor founded the National Council for a New America, a Republican listening tour that held just one meeting at a beltway-area pizza parlor before flaming out. This summer, Cantor launched an online gimmick called YouCut, which allows the public to vote on spending cuts endorsed by House Republicans. (Notably, the first YouCut loser was a jobs program for the unemployed that has bipartisan support.)
But Cantor's rebranding mission actually began prior to the Obama presidency. During the 2007-2008 election cycle, Cantor, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) formed the "Young Guns" to support Republican candidates and usher "a new generation of conservative leaders" into power. On the "Young Guns" website, the group claims credit for four victories in 2008. However, like the failed projects mentioned above, "Young Guns" is mostly a marketing ploy — the average age of this year's candidates is around 50 years old.
Still, in their minds, Cantor (47), Ryan (40) and McCarthy (45) represent a new brand of Republican leadership and they want the world to believe that the party will be different with them in charge (even though Cantor and Ryan were in Congress for all of the Bush years). To that end, the trio has written a new book, creatively titled Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, to outline how Republicans would govern if they regain the majority in November (watch the melodramatic video trailer below):
Young Guns, however, doesn't provide much of a vision. Politico describes the book as "long on platitudes and personality but short on policy details...a reader-friendly paean to limited government and an attack on liberalism," adding that anyone looking for a "fresh idea for the next Republican Party platform" should "skip it."
Sadly, we didn't follow Politico's advice. Reading through the 191-page manifesto, we found the same old Republican talking points about President Obama's policies. Some of them were debunked well over a year ago, while others are refuted again and again with every new CBO report. Ryan offers a full-throated defense of his Medicare-and-Social-Security-eliminating "Roadmap for America's Future," but there isn't much else in the way of policy.
In the end, Young Guns does make one thing clear: regardless of their age, House Republicans don't have any new ideas for the future.
For more on the book, read the following items: