Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 5, 2013. Give Chad your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11 am.

Alex Wong, Getty Images
Alex Wong, Getty Images


1. The New GOP? (link)

Eric Cantor is ready to rebrand the Republican Party after the disaster that was 2012. According to Politico, Cantor plans to introduce his vision today.

Cantor plans to introduce his vision of America in a Tuesday speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. It includes granting more visas for highly educated workers, eliminating medical-device taxes and simplifying tax filings. His aides concede that all he’s doing is “taking policies that have been on the shelf for a while, or back burner, and elevating them.” He’s not completely abandoning Republicans’ core focus on slashing spending, just pairing it with other more palatable talk.

Call this Cantor 4.0 — just the latest twist in the majority leader’s attempt to hit on a winning conservative agenda at a time when Republicans are trying to regain their footing in the midst of a political pummeling at the ballot box and fiscal fights that haven’t worked to their advantage.

This isn’t Cantor’s first crack at repackaging Republicanism. Or second. Or third.

In 2009, it was the National Council for a New America — an effort filled with boldfaced GOP names to move beyond the toxicity of the George W. Bush years. That was quashed after pushback from the right and ethics concerns.

In 2010, it was the “Young Guns,” a book that was meant to highlight a new generation of conservative leadership.

When Republicans took the majority in 2011, Cantor branded the House GOP as the “cut-and-grow” majority to emphasize a laserlike focus on spending cuts. He launched a website called YouCut that allowed the public to vote on weekly bills to pare back the federal government. That effort has ended, as has the hunger for constant focus on budget austerity.

Cantor’s current message: Republicans should supplement their cut-and-burn zeal with legislation meant to better people’s lives. He will be flanked by regular-Joe Americans as he gives the speech — titled “Making Life Work.” Its purpose to prescribe policies rather than detail legislative process, something that people in Cantor’s orbit say that Republicans rely on too frequently — Speaker John Boehner’s speeches have touched on this theme.

What do you think? Does the GOP need a new message? What should it be?

2. Tea Party vs. Republicans (link)

I don't know about you, but I'm not sure that all this Republican in-fighting is helping anyone but the Democrats. Karl Rove, who Republicans used to praise, has started a new PAC called the Conservative Victory Project. The Tea Party faction isn't very happy about this and the two so far, aren't getting along.

A group aligned with ’s super PAC believes it can rescue the Republican Party from itself. These self-appointed saviors of the GOP call themselves the Conservative Victory Project, but many Republicans suspect they’re out to prevent conservative primary victories.

This new outfit’s spokesman claims, “Our party has lost six Senate seats over the last two election cycles not because of our ideas but because of undisciplined candidates running weak campaigns.” There is more than a kernel of truth to this. Todd Akin and Christine O’Donnell were terrible candidates whose abysmal performance in turn highlighted gaffes by other slightly less ham-fisted GOP candidates, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The article then goes on to blame Rove and Co. for giving us President Obama.

But even all this somewhat misses the point. Who got the Republican Party into this mess in the first place? Would Barack Obama even be president without George W. Bush?

After all, the Rove Republicans’ claim to fame is getting Bush elected twice. (Albeit by losing the popular vote to Al Gore and getting just 51 percent against noted man of the people John Kerry.) For the GOP, however, these turned out to be costly victories.

How about the GOP understand that not all Republicans agree on everything? How about we find leaders that are for smaller government and then go after the Democrats and their hold on the message. In my opinion, the GOP has a very good chance of concentrating too much on Tea Party vs. Republican vs. Conservative vs. Libertarian, while losing in 2016.

3. School Finance (link)

Michael Quinn Sullivan wrote an excellent piece on yesterday's school finance ruling.

Predictably, the state’s school finance system was (again) ruled unconstitutional because taxpayers aren’t footing a big enough bill for the size of bureaucracy educrats want. Fortunately, the ruling by a liberal Democrat state district judge in Austin isn’t the last word.

District Judge John Dietz, a Travis County Democrat, has ruled on school finance before, always siding with the big-spenders who want more access to your wallet.

Today was no different.

The judge ruled that the state’s school finance system is “unconstitutional” because it is inadequate. In other words: spend more money, levy more taxes. He was not persuaded by evidence showing just how inefficient schools are at spending the money they already get.

The case is going now to the state Supreme Court, where — hopefully — clearer-thinking minds reside.

Texas’ constitution requires that “it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

Efficient system? Anyone willing to make the argument that it is “efficient” to build jumbotron scoreboards while threatening teachers’ jobs — as districts engaged in this lawsuit have done? We’ve doubled per-pupil spending over the last decade, but average test scores have remained flat. The system is anything but efficient.

The article continues and you can read it by clicking on the link above. This won't be settled until it gets to the Texas Supreme Court. Yesterday's ruling wasn't shocking to anyone really. The problem with our schools isn't money. The problem goes much deeper than that. Throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it. Sure, it may help for a moment, though we haven't seen that in Texas, but it doesn't fix the root of the problems.

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