Republican Party officials say they will try next month to pass a resolution accusing President Bush and congressional Republican leaders of embracing “socialism,” underscoring deep dissension within the party at the end of Mr. Bush’s administration.
Those pushing the resolution, which will come before the Republican National Committee at its January meeting, say elected leaders need to be reminded of core principles. They said the RNC must take the dramatic step of wading into policy debates, which traditionally have been left to lawmakers.
“We can’t be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms,” said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries. Republican National Committee Vice Chairman James Bopp Jr. wrote the resolution and asked the rest of the 168 voting members to sign it.
“The resolution also opposes President-elect Obama’s proposed public works program and supports conservative alternatives,” while encouraging the RNC “to engage in vigorous public policy debates consistent with our party platform,” said Mr. Bopp, a leading attorney for pro-life groups who has also challenged the campaign finance legislation that Mr. Bush signed.
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If enacted, the resolution would put the party on record opposing the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector, which passed Congress with Republican support and was signed by Mr. Bush, and opposing the bailout of the auto industry. The auto bailout bill was blocked by Senate Republicans, but Mr. Bush then reversed course and announced that he would use financial bailout money to aid the auto manufacturers.
The RNC usually plays a policy role only every four years when it frames the national party platform, which typically is forgotten quickly.
In 2006, some party members presented a resolution challenging Mr. Bush’s plan to legalize illegal immigrants and enact a guest-worker program. Mr. Bush’s lieutenants fought back, arguing that the party should not tie the president’s hands on a policy issue, and the RNC capitulated, passing an alternate White House-backed resolution instead.
This time, the backers of the new resolution say they will not be deterred by a fight, and say they have the numbers to pull off this rebellion.
“We have enough co-sponsors to take this to the RNC floor” at the party’s Jan. 28-31 annual winter meeting in Washington, Mr. Bopp said. “I will take it to the Resolutions Committee, but I intend to press this issue to the floor for decision.”
North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth said it’s time for the RNC to end the disconnect between what the party platform says and what elected Republicans do.
“It is time the party gets involved in policy issues and forces candidates to respond to the platform,” Mr. Emineth said. “Frankly the way we view the platform is a joke. We work hard to drive our principles into the platform, then candidates ignore it.”
“If the party doesn’t move in this direction, we will continue to be irrelevant. Whoever has the larger star power will continue to win, and what they stand for and believe will become less relevant,” Mr. Emineth said.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both of whom voted for the financial bailout but opposed the auto bailout, declined to comment.