Tom Cotton has an idea that could help make the GOP a working-class party

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By Henry Olsen
The Washington Post 

The Republican Party will have to shift its economic thinking if it is truly going to become a multiethnic, working-class party. A new bill from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that would offer federal scholarships for postsecondary vocational education is a good example of how the party can do this.

Cotton’s American Workforce Act, derived from a concept developed by the reform-oriented American Compass think tank, works like this: Every citizen with a high school diploma or GED, but without a college degree, can receive a $9,000 federal voucher to pursue “workforce contracts” with employers. Those contracts would guarantee a full-time job to trainees, coupled with skilled, educational workforce training. The voucher could be used to pay the employer for the costs of that training, up to $1,500 a month. Employers would receive a $1,000 payment for every new employee it hires for a full-time job following completion of the training.

This flexible, employment-based program is exactly what workers without college degrees need. It will help provide them with the skills needed to quickly advance in the modern economy without forcing them to pursue a two- or four-year college degree, which would either be unaffordable or require them to take on thousands of dollars in debt. Many would not even graduate, either because they find the non-job-based aspects of obtaining a degree uninteresting or because they cannot afford to spend years out of the full-time workforce. In other words, Cotton’s program provides the sort of public support we give students in higher education to those without the interest or aptitude for college.

This is the type of flexible, nondoctrinaire thinking a conservative workers’ party needs. Working-class voters traditionally want opportunities to advance but also crave government help to do so. People making middle- or working-class incomes can prosper only with significant aid for education, public services and even retirement. That’s why public support for generous K-12 education, college loans and grants and Social Security and Medicare remains so strong.

Traditional conservative thinking fights against these sentiments rather than works with them. Working-class voters enjoy tax cuts, but they like generous programs that help them more. They would not be anywhere near as well off without the social insurance and social welfare programs initiated by the New Deal. They have never been willing to go back on that innovation, as shown by Barry Goldwater’s crushing 1964 defeat and the continuing unpopularity of former House speaker Paul D. Ryan’s proposed entitlement reforms. Conservative successes, such as the 1996 welfare reform bill and Ronald Reagan’s presidency, have arisen only when they work within the New Deal consensus to introduce more freedom and personal responsibility.

The recent experience in Alaska makes this point crystal clear. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office in 2019 facing a massive budget deficit. He proposed to close it by slashing government spending, something one might expect red-state voters to like. He also offered voters a huge carrot: He restored full funding for the permanent fund dividend, an annual payment funded by the state’s oil revenue that goes to every Alaska resident regardless of age. That would have increased the yearly check by $1,400 per Alaskan, or $5,600 for a family of four. But Alaskan legislators refused to go along because of the proposed spending cuts, and four years later, Dunleavy has largely retreated from his earlier stance.

If voters in Alaska prefer well-funded services to extra thousands of dollars a year, there’s no hope that the nationwide New Deal consensus will be overturned anytime soon. That insight means conservatives who want to increase freedom and private-sector power need to think creatively rather than just say no to anything the government does.

Cotton’s bill would do that while adhering to traditional conservative values. It would funnel the new voucher to employers rather than government-run community colleges. And it would provide enormous flexibility for businesses to design appropriate training programs. No top-down, one-size-fits-all approach here.

It also may not add to budget deficits. The proposal includes a 1 percent tax on the fair market value of the endowments of the largest and richest colleges, which have soared in value with the decades-long bull market. That would raise close to $3 billion this year, perhaps enough to fully fund the new vouchers. It’s an example of what limited — not libertarian — government should look like.

Some conservatives get it. Two groups founded by Trump administration alumni, the America First Policy Institute and Center for Renewing America, are on board with Cotton’s bill. But the traditional heavyweights remain on the sidelines. The Heritage Foundation has not yet taken a position, and scholars from the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution have not yet commented. Their seals of approval would signify that the party’s traditional sources for expertise understand the need for change.

Cotton’s American Workforce Act is an idea that’s time has come. Let’s hope other Republicans see the light.

Breitbart: Tom Cotton on Rule of Law under Biden: ‘We are seeing a breakdown of society’

Tom Cotton on Rule of Law under Biden: ‘We are seeing a breakdown of society’

Breitbart

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said on Monday at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson that the court is an intricate part of upholding the rule of law in the United States.

Cotton and other Republicans are expected to focus on Jackson’s past rulings, which have been described as soft-on-crime decisions.

Cotton said the rule of law has suffered under the administration of Joe Biden, who nominated Jackson to keep a campaign promise.

“These threats to the rule of law are not merely theoretical,” Cotton said. “We are witnessing a breakdown of society.”

“There are many Americans who no longer feel safe today,” Cotton said. “Parents are scared to walk down the streets that used to be free from crime. In 2020 Anarchists, rioters and left-wing street militias raged across the country, and murders increased at the fastest rate in history.”

Read more at Breitbart.

Jen Psaki Blames Tom Cotton For Voting Against Ukraine Aid – But He Fires Back With Receipts

Jen Psaki Blames Tom Cotton For Voting Against Ukraine Aid – But He Fires Back With Receipts

Daily Wire

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took a swing at Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), claiming that his calls for immediate aid to Ukraine were hypocritical because he had voted against the most recent spending package that contained such aid.

The confrontation began with a tweet from Cotton on Wednesday calling for the weapons Ukraine needed to repel the Russian occupation forces…

…But Cotton fired right back, pointing out the fact that the aid for Ukraine that Psaki had outlined only accounted for a very small percentage of the total package, which had a massive $1.5 trillion price tag.

Read more in Daily Wire.

 

Cotton op-ed: Biden’s timid leadership in Ukraine on full display in Poland MiG fiasco

Biden’s timid leadership in Ukraine on full display in Poland MiG fiasco

By Sen. Tom Cotton

Fox News

Right now, the Ukrainian people are locked in a desperate struggle against Russian invaders. Their courage in the face of Russia’s brutal onslaught stands in stark contrast to the weakness in the White House.

While President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rallied his people to defend their homeland, President Biden has responded with timidity and half-measures.

Most recently, Biden rejected a plan to deliver Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. The Ukrainians are in dire need of aircraft and spare parts to prevent Russia from gaining air supremacy, but the president refused to give the Ukrainians these valuable tools when they were practically handed to him by one of our strongest allies, Poland.

The Poles have a long and proud tradition of killing Russian invaders. They understand that helping Ukraine in its hour of need will make future Russian aggression less likely. As a result, they offered to transfer their entire fleet of MiG-29 fighters to U.S. forces for delivery to Ukraine.

Read more in Fox News.

Tom Cotton: GOP must rebuild economy for working class Americans with less immigration, more labor protections

Tom Cotton: GOP must rebuild economy for working class Americans with less immigration, more labor protections

Breitbart

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) says the Republican Party must be the party of less immigration and more labor protections, guided by the economic interests of working- and middle-class Americans.

During a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Cotton detailed the future of the Republican Party, which he said must keep the mantra “America First” at its core across all issues facing American citizens.

“Our economic policies should enrich the lives of Americans in this generation and the next,” Cotton said.

Most significantly, Cotton called on Republicans to reject globalism in all its forms in favor of an ideology that seeks to protect Americans’ livelihoods, jobs, wages, and quality of life.

“We must rebuild an economy that works for all citizens, especially the forgotten men and women left behind by decades of open borders, unfettered trade, and globalization,” Cotton said.

Read more in Breitbart.

Senator Cotton was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.
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