Utah’s Mike Lee is the most important Republican not running for president Feb 9, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 21 • By MICHAEL WARREN
There’s an old saw in Washington that every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Utah’s Mike Lee doesn’t, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Over the past two years, Lee has been delivering speeches and introducing policy proposals at a pace that far outstrips his tenure and experience. On the whole, it looks like the beginnings of a domestic policy agenda for a future presidential candidate.
And Lee was among the speakers at the Iowa Freedom Summit in late January, the unofficial kickoff for the 2016 GOP presidential primary season. Speaking as well were such White House wannabes as Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz. Des Moines would have been the perfect place for Lee to launch a dark-horse candidacy. But the 43-year-old Republican cleared things up from the get-go. “My name is Mike Lee. I’m from Utah. And I’m not running for president,” he said, by way of introduction. “I’m probably the only person up here today who can say that.”
He certainly had 2016 on his mind, though. “It seems to me conservatives should be looking for a candidate who is three things: principled, positive, and proven,” he said. “If someone can offer the nation a positive, innovative, and unapologetically conservative agenda that re-expresses our timeless convictions to fit the challenges of our times, then that’s a candidate who can earn our trust and support.”
That candidate might very well be one of Lee’s colleagues. “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’ve got a few senators running,” he grins during an interview in his office. “It seems I may be the only Republican not running for president.”
Lee knows he isn’t the presidential candidate conservatives are looking for, but he’s got his eyes on that “positive, innovative, and unapologetically conservative agenda.” He’s not shy about the role he’d like to play. “I do want to influence that debate,” Lee says. His slate of policy proposals isn’t light fare. Since 2013, Lee has introduced bills to make the tax code more family friendly, take on cronyism in Washington, reform the college accreditation system, and change the way the federal government funds transportation infrastructure. But what Lee really wants is to change the way conservatives think about domestic policy, reorienting the Republican party toward a family-focused, constitutional populism to help the GOP win back the White House. If Lee succeeds, it will make him one of the most consequential conservatives of his generation.
Lee’s touchstone is Ronald Reagan, but not in the rote way you might think. “It’s important for us to remember that by the time 2016 rolls around, we will be about as far away from Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 as Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 was from D-Day, and it’s important for us to update our agenda to make sure that it fits the times,” says Lee. “We need to stop simply talking about Reagan and start acting like him.” That doesn’t mean slashing the marginal tax rate or getting rid of the Department of Education. Lee says acting like Reagan means applying principles of limited government, constitutionalism, and a healthy civil society to the issues of the day—namely, the rising cost of living and economic insecurity of the American middle class.
If the Republican party needs another Reagan, Lee wants to fill the role of Jack Kemp, who as a junior congressman took the lead in formulating the tax cuts that were central to Reagan’s agenda once he took office. Like Kemp, Lee has made tax reform his signature issue, despite not having a seat on the tax-writing Finance Committee. The target of Lee’s tax proposal is what he calls the “parent tax penalty.” Parents, like everyone else, pay some combination of income and payroll taxes. The “penalty,” Lee says, is that parents also bear the costs of raising children who will grow up to become taxpayers themselves. The current child tax credit isn’t enough to offset these additional costs. Lee’s plan looks a lot like other Republican tax reform ideas—simplifying the brackets, lowering rates, removing costly deductions—while adding an extra $2,500-per-child tax credit that can apply to any parent’s combined tax liability. It’s money that could pay for child-care costs or cover expensive dental work or even help one parent stay home to raise the kids.
"Testing the waters" for 2016.11:44 AM, Jan 29, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham has launched a new political action committee for "testing the waters" for a presidential run in 2016. The Republican, in his third term, has started Security Through Strength, a PAC that bluntly describes itself as a group to "fund the infrastructure and operations allowing Graham to travel the country, listen to Americans, and gauge support for a potential presidential candidacy."
11:15 AM, Jan 6, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
After a weekend exercise accident left the top Democrat in the Senate with broken ribs and bones in the face, Harry Reid is working from home.
"Working from home on doctor's orders. Just wrapped up a good meeting with my leadership team," Reid tweets, including a picture of himself.
Dec 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 16 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
"In any election,” Tom Coburn often says, “you should vote for the candidate who will give up the most if they win.” All things being equal, we should prefer politicians who have accomplished something in their lives beyond government work—and who are willing to sacrifice it, at least temporarily, to serve the country at a cost to their convenience and comfort. During his 6 years in the House of Representatives and 10 more in the Senate, Coburn has embodied his own principle.
1:35 PM, Dec 17, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican senator Marco Rubio said a top State Department official was "dishonest" about the Obama administration's plans to change its policy on Cuba. Tony Blinken, the newly confirmed deputy secretary of State, told the Florida senator at his confirmation hearing in November that the administration would not unilaterally change its Cuba policy without "full consultation" with Congress. That consultation, Rubio says, never happened to his knowledge.
"He was dishonest," Rubio told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Wednesday. "He was clearly evasive."
11:29 AM, Dec 17, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Obama administration is embarking on a “policy shift” to normalize diplomatic and economic relations between the United States and Cuba, according to senior administration officials who spoke with reporters on background Wednesday morning. One official described the current Cuban policy as “past its expiration date.”
5:28 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In one final ignominious act of parliamentary genius, outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid rolled Republican troublemaker Ted Cruz of Texas over the weekend, robbing the GOP of a chance to stop Democrats in the lame-duck session.
11:50 AM, Dec 12, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The new dawn didn’t. There was to be no more sturm und drang, no more brinkmanship, no more government shutdowns, no more threats of default on America’s debt. Just routine passage of a $1,100,000,000,000 spending bill to keep the government running until next September when the current fiscal year ends. In the event, it was only hours before midnight on Thursday, when funding of most government activities was scheduled to end, that the House of Representatives, by a vote of 219-to-206 passed the so-called continuing resolution that will keep all of the functions of government, both the necessary and the wasteful, in operation. No, it was not a split in the Republican party that brought us once again to the brink of shutdown, although some Republicans, eager to show their distaste for the president’s unilateral action in freeing millions of illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation did cause, did defect. It was the Democrats who almost succeeded in shutting down the government and President Obama, not House speaker John Boehner, who had to struggle to get this resolution passed. The battle will have important consequences for the shape of American political life during the two years remaining of his term, and perhaps far into the future. Here’s why.
9:42 PM, Dec 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The House of Representatives passed a long-term spending bill Thursday night, just hours before the current continuing budget resolution is set to run out. The vote of 219 to 206, including nearly 60 Democrats, took longer than the alotted 15 minutes as House members from both parties witheld their votes for several minutes.
1:43 PM, Dec 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma delivered his farewell address to the U.S. Senate Thursday. An emotional Coburn thanked the staff of the Senate and the U.S. Capitol before delivering an assessment of the state of the Congress and of the country. Watch the video below:
7:01 AM, Dec 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
There's more Obamacare bashing from the political left today. This time it's from outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
As he tells a New York Times reporter:
Hosted by Michael Graham.1:15 PM, Dec 9, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on the CIA interrogation report, and how it fails to report the facts.
8:01 AM, Dec 9, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
What follows is the document written by Jason Beale -- a pseudonym for a longtime U.S. military and intelligence interrogator with extensive knowledge of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA on some high-value detainees. Those techniques are scrutinized a forthcoming report, scheduled to be released today, prepared by the Democratic staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
From the Nov. 24, 2014, issue: The enhanced techniques work.
6:05 AM, Dec 9, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
The Central Intelligence Agency repeatedly tortured suspected terrorists, regularly lied about it to Congress and the White House, and, for all the pain and trouble this caused the agency and the United States, didn’t end up extracting a single piece of valuable information not readily available by other means.