Republican Party leaders realize they have an image problem. Today's GOP, especially after the most recent national elections, is perceived as a party committed to protecting the wealthy at all costs, which in turn alienates the middle class and makes it awfully difficult to win.
So, some prominent Republicans are eager to change that perception. It'd be more compelling if their pitch was matched by policy.
A month after Republicans lost their bid for the White House, a pair of party leaders said Tuesday that a greater emphasis should be placed on improving the lives of the middle class if Republicans hoped to expand their appeal and confront the nation's changing demographics.
Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the former vice-presidential candidate, declared: "The Republican Party can't make excuses." Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said the party should pursue policies aimed at allowing "the poor to rise into the middle class -- not by making the rich people poorer, but by making poor people richer."
It certainly sounds like a more compelling public posture. Ryan and Rubio want to make clear that they have no use for Romney-esque rhetoric on the parasitic "47 percent"; they insist they want to look out for working families and their visions are built around the goal of making a material difference in struggling Americans' lives.
The problem, of course, is the distance between the rhetoric and the reality. Are Ryan and Rubio offering new, more populist, more progressive policy measures, intended to help the middle class? Of course not; they're offering the same far-right ideas, but framing them in a different way.
In other words, Ryan and Rubio are putting a fresh coat of paint on the same far-right agenda. Instead of saying, "Let's forget the 47 percent and focus on tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, and deep cuts to social insurance programs;" these future Republican leaders are saying, "The middle class might benefit if we focus on tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, and deep cuts to social insurance programs."
Meet the new conservative plan; it's the same as the old conservative plan.