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GOP’s Agenda for Affordable Energy Outshines Trump’s Indictment

Anyone who has worked in politics and policy, especially in a communications role, knows how hard it is to get your audience to pay attention to your agenda. As I write in The Dispatch, in politics, and every other area of life, we make “opportunity cost” decisions. In other words, we recognize trade-offs and make choices between competing priorities. No day better illustrated this challenge for the modern GOP than March 30, 2023, when Trump’s indictment came seven hours after the House GOP passed its signature agenda item, H.R. 1 the Lower Energy Costs Act.  

>>>READ: H.R. 1 and The Importance of More Energy

[Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer know his party is vulnerable because H.R. 1 is popular with his base, not just the “MAGA hard right” (whatever that is). Instead, too many in the GOP directed their fire at the Manhattan DA and elevated the narrative that the GOP cares more about defending Trump than advancing conservative policy. 

The vast majority of Republican legislators would rather promote H.R. 1 than spend time talking about Trump’s indictment. Yet, that isn’t going to happen until they drown out voices in their own conference who would rather defend Trump than sell a conservative agenda. House Republicans sent a promising signal this week when Speaker McCarthy’s office suggested his opening bid on a debt ceiling deal will include H.R. 1 as a whole or in part.

Shifting the conservation, flipping a script, and changing people’s perceptions about who “cares” about a set of issues – and who has the best policies to produce positive results – takes years of persistent hard work. The good news is that while Trump’s indictment is divisive, millions of Americans really are open to the GOP’s case for H.R. 1. Our sister organization, C3 Action, has a poll showing that the core policies and concepts of H.R. 1 are very popular with the electorate. 

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[H.R. 1] is smart policy and politics … While “climate change” doesn’t rank high on voters’ lists of concerns, inflation does. The bill addresses inflation and pocketbook issues in tangible ways by reducing the cost of energy, which affects the costs of everything. 

Republicans wisely concluded that an issue the left believes it “owns” gives them a major comparative advantage. Democrats have allowed themselves to become the “Party of No” on climate and energy, preferring to appease their increasingly fanatical base than support no-brainer policy reforms around improving access to American sources of energy and critical minerals.

Some in the GOP will argue that you can both defend Trump (I agree the indictment is political and flimsy) and H.R. 1 with equal vigor but that isn’t how life works. Voters will decide what the GOP cares about most based on how it allocates its words and time. Directing finite resources at promoting H.R. 1 over Trump will be good for the people, planet and politicians. 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

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