The Spectacle Blog

Buchananite Rhetoric Reaches Tea Party

By on 2.28.14 | 6:20PM

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) accepts that the GOP is “tone-deaf.” And no, amnesty is not the solution; in fact, it’s part of the problem. It’s the economy, stupid:

The elites are failing America…the Republican Party needs to sever itself from this elite consensus.

Addressing the Tea Party Patriots in Washington Thursday night, Sessions called for a Republican Party that doesn’t overlook the average American worker in favor of Wall Street: succinctly, an economy concerned with “national interest, not special interest.”

Sessions’ slogan isn’t Occupy noise. Like most Republicans, he preaches fiscal sanity: He understands that business, both small and big, suffers from excessive regulations and that spending is out of control.

But fiscal policy doesn’t comprise all of economics. Even so, economics don’t comprise the whole of the nation. Corporate benefits and popular interest can conflict, and Sessions has two instances in mind: immigration reform and free trade.

Sessions resolutely opposes any legislation resembling the Gang-of-Eight immigration proposal, which would “[triple] the number of people who would be brought into our country at a time of high unemployment.”

Sessions has long defended the average worker against immigration reform. Last year, he challenged the basis of Mark Zuckerberg’s pro-immigration reform super PAC, FWD.us, betting “Mr. Zuckerberg” he could find just as many Americans willing to take STEM jobs that would otherwise be outsourced to immigrants. The benefit of business can’t be the only consideration.

Yet, as Sessions sees it, a conservative approach to immigration is not enough to protect the American worker. He is equally critical of “an ineffective trade policy that allows our wealth to be drained abroad.” Bring industry back to the States and help revive the vanishing “Made in U.S.A.”

Not only does he consider these economic proposals a simple matter of duty, but also that they are advantageous to an ailing political party. Among other solutions, Sessions suggests:

A more competitive tax and regulatory code that allows U.S. businesses and workers to compete on a level global playing field…Converting the welfare office into a job training center…

By reforming the GOP’s economic approach, Sessions is optimistic that there is a significant vote to reclaim. In 2008 and 2012, the Republican Party lost the Rust Belt, a region scarred by free trade agreements and unemployment. The image of an elitist Republican Party concerned only with special interests repels those voters.

Of course, the policy proposals made by Sessions are political sacrifices. Businesses and wealthy donors won’t be especially pleased. But this might be the direction in which the GOP is already headed. Sen. Mike Lee recently reintroduced discussions of tax reform. Sen. Rand Paul is attacking crony capitalism. Rep. Dave Camp initiated a battle with Wall Street.

If the Republican Party wants to win a national election, it will have to make a sacrifice; it’s just a matter of whose interest will get sold out.

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