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Democratic senator dings the GOP for going a decade without new ideas

Bob Casey said of Republicans, "Other than tax cuts for wealthy people and big corporations and right-wing judges, what do they stand for?" Good question.


Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania told Talking Points Memo yesterday that his party's ongoing negotiations are part of a "healthy" debate, which his rivals on the other side of the aisle should try to emulate.

"I think it's a debate in our party about priorities and dollar amounts — I think it's healthy," Casey said. "The Republicans haven't had a new big idea in more than a decade. If you can tell me, if you can contradict me, I'm open to it, but other than tax cuts for wealthy people and big corporations and right-wing judges, what do they stand for?"

The senator wondered aloud about the GOP's plans on health care, climate change, and workforce development — ideas Democrats are trying to tackle in their Build Back Better legislation, which Republicans want no part of.

"I don't know what they stand for," Casey added. "It used to be the Republican Party in the '60s, '70s, '80s ... they have big ideas. I didn't agree with a lot of them, but they had big ideas."

Quite right. For years, Republicans boasted that they were members of the "party of ideas," which they were eager to discuss, explore, and implement.

But in 2021, Casey isn't the only one who doesn't know "what they stand for." In fact, it was just last summer when Republican officials decided they'd go without a party platform for the first time since 1854.

The results speak for themselves: The GOP, lacking an agenda or anything resembling a governing vision, lost the White House and Congress. Republican officials have spent this year as they've spent each of the last several years, refusing to engage in the policymaking process in a serious way.

On issues ranging from Covid-19 relief to voting rights, immigration to policing reforms, GOP legislators have been far more interested in saying no than working on constructive solutions.

That is, of course, because the Republican Party has abandoned its role as a governing party and become what I describe in my book as a post-policy party.

GOP officials have had more than a decade to prove the party is about more than far-right judges and tax breaks for the wealthy, but as Casey's comments helped demonstrate, Republicans' critics are still waiting.