- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2022

Democrats love to trash the so-called MAGA agenda, but the term represents a list of specific policy initiatives embraced by voters that the party believes will usher in a Republican takeover of Congress and eventually the White House.

Republicans, poised to take over the House in November, rolled out an agenda Friday that was endorsed by Trump allies and all but screamed MAGA, even though Republican leaders didn’t mention the former president by name.

Increasing border security, bolstering domestic energy production, lowering crime rates by hiring more police officers and supporting parental rights in schools topped the list of a populist agenda that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican and Trump ally, announced in a governing blueprint called “The Commitment to America.”

“The American people are tired of watching their wages shrink under the crushing weight of inflation, frustrated with lawlessness, an open border, and rising crime, and sick of a government that is not held accountable,” Mr. McCarthy told The Washington Times. “The Commitment to America will once again restore a government of, by and for the people.”

The House Republicans’ priorities align with the MAGA agenda that Mr. Trump promotes more broadly at nationwide rallies as he mulls a 2024 White House run. It also responds to top concerns among voters, who have been steadily abandoning President Biden as inflation, gas prices and crime rates rise and illegal immigration hits record levels.

“It’s in large degree in line with what the people are thinking,” said Derrick Morgan, executive vice president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “A good dose of populism is not a bad thing.”

SEE ALSO: More voters say ‘rights and freedoms’ at stake in midterms than ‘financial well-being’

Voters consistently name inflation as the nation’s leading problem as the midterm elections approach.

In a Gallup poll this month, 56% of Americans said rising prices are causing their households “financial hardship,” an increase from 49% in January.

Republicans and many economists blame the near-historic inflation on massive government spending, much of it under Mr. Biden and Democratic control of Congress. Mr. McCarthy pledged that the Republican agenda will “curb wasteful government spending that is raising the price of groceries, gas, cars, and housing, and growing our national debt.”

Eight in 10 Americans are worried about crime, Gallup found in an April survey. An ABC News/Ipsos poll last month found Republicans leading Democrats by about 10 percentage points on immigration, crime and the economy.

The House Republicans’ proposal won the endorsement of the America First Policy Institute, a Trump-allied think tank that was formed to develop Mr. Trump’s never-realized second-term agenda. Many officials from the Trump administration are on the staff. 

Brooke Rollins, president of the institute and Mr. Trump’s former domestic policy council director, called the House Republican agenda “The America First Agenda.” He said it tackled “the problems hurting hardworking people.”

SEE ALSO: Fighting crime, stabilizing education are bedrock of House GOP ‘Commitment to America’

The term MAGA evolved from Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, which was central to his 2016 campaign and arguably played a major role in securing his victory over Hillary Clinton. 

“Trump expressed a vision that America liked, that America wanted,” said Job Creators Network President Alfredo Ortiz, who last week outlined a small-business recovery plan aligned with the House Republican proposal. “In some cases, some of the policies weren’t necessarily fleshed out in the beginning. What McCarthy did is to finally establish a vision for the Republican Party.”

Democrats, particularly Mr. Biden, have bastardized the term. In a recent speech in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the president called out MAGA 13 times. He described it as dark and dangerous for the nation and “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

On Friday, Mr. Biden denounced the House Republicans’ plan and warned that “the MAGA Republicans control the Republican Party right now.” 

House and Senate Democrats slammed the House Republicans’ rollout as dangerously MAGA.  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said the agenda was “extremist” and “way out of step with Americans’ priorities.” She said it represented “House Republicans’ whole-hearted Commitment to MAGA.”   

The Democratic National Committee said the Republican agenda would “ban abortion nationally” and “cut Social Security and Medicare.”

The House Republicans’ plan does not propose either, but Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, had called for annually sunsetting entitlements and Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, separately proposed a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Mr. Trump said in an interview on Fox News that the MAGA agenda embraces the “common sense” policies of strong borders, strong military, energy independence and low taxes.

The former president seemed genuinely perplexed at the term’s polarization. He asked Fox host Sean Hannity, “How do you attack Make America Great Again?”

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

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