Monday, October 3, 2022

America First think tank’s Washington conference offers 2024 policy platform for GOP

Conservatives gathered in Washington on Monday to push forward a Trump-inspired platform for the 2024 GOP presidential nominee that stressed law and order, economic prosperity and border security.

The America First Policy Institute, founded by former senior officials from the Trump administration, kicked off a two-day confab that featured a host of prominent figures from the conservative movement including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Former President Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks at the summit on Tuesday.

Mr. Gingrich told The Washington Times that AFPI policies can apply to the “next Republican administration,” whether it is led by Mr. Trump or someone else.

“Trump’s the most likely, but I think De Santis could use these people. Mike Pence could use these people.”

Still, the platform mirrored much of the Trump administration’s agenda such as get-tough border policies, including completing a border wall, support for aggressive policing and prosecution of criminals, and economic policies that promote U.S. trade and energy independence.

Former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said the gathering of conservative leaders was about policy as much as politics.

“I have a great deal of faith in the American people. I believe that they are smart enough to suss out which policies work for them literally and which do not,” she told The Times. “And if President Trump decides to run, I’m sure many of these policies will be part of his platform and his blueprint. And if he decides not to run, then other Republican nominees — they’ll also be running on America First.”

Mrs. Conway was a featured speaker at the summit. She also serves as chair of AFPI’s Center for the American Child.

The lineup of speakers also included former Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon and former Energy Sec. Rick Perry. Also taking the stage at the summit were Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Haggerty of Tennessee and GOP Reps. Richard Hudson of North Carolina and Mike Johnson of Louisiana.

AFPI,  which is led by Brooke Rollins, the organization’s president and CEO, discussed with Ms. McMahon and Larry Kudlow, both senior members of the organization’s board how “the future of the America First movement” would go forward following President Trump’s reelection defeat in 2020.

“We agreed that the central focus of AFPI should be to promote policies that advance the causes and the interests of the American people and put them first. And that’s what we’re going to do and everything we do. And that’s what the prior administration did as well,” said, Ms. McMahon.  

For the next Republican administration, AFPI wants to revive Mr. Trump’s plan known as “Schedule F,” an executive action considered at the end of Mr. Trump’s term that would have enabled him to eliminate tens of thousands of civil service jobs.

Critics denounce “Schedule F” as an affront to civil service employees and government workers’ union rights. Proponents of the plan argue that it is needed to shrink a bloated and sometimes out-of-control federal bureaucracy.

The policy was developed by former Trump administration official James Sherk, who now serves as AFPI’s Director of the Center for American Freedom.

Fred Fleitz, a veteran intelligence official with the CIA who now serves as AFPI’s Vice Chair for the Center for American Security, said the policy would not affect every government employee.

“The director of the CIA can fire anybody without a reason. But outside of CIA, where there are civil service protections, people stay in government forever, and they’re not accountable,” he said. “These people are drawing a government salary, and in our opinion, they have to be productive. They have to be honest.”

He added: “They have to be promoting the policies of the administration in office, and this would be a way to try to correct that.”

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