The conservative independent advocacy group Crossroads GPS is preparing to spend millions of dollars this year to define issues ranging from health care to tax reform in a way that helps Republican candidates and sets the stage for legislative victories in 2013.
The Karl Rove-backed nonprofit, the sister organization of the American Crossroads super PAC, is planning to share its new agenda with Republican House members, chiefs of staff, committee members and staffers, K Street and likeminded insiders starting early next week , but gave the Alley an early look at the battle plan.
Crossroads GPS, which can raise unlimited money without disclosing its donors, plans to focus its "New Majority Agenda" on six issues:
--"Craft a lean, pro-growth tax system"
--"Clean up Washington's 'downgraded' finances"
--"Ensure quality health care for seniors and families"
--"Restore America's energy leadership"
--"Break the regulatory chokehold on economic recovery'
--"Make America a respected global leader again"
"For us, it's a roadmap for a lot of the advocacy work we're going to be doing this year and into next year. Our basic plan is to put millions of dollars behind the issues we're pushing in this agenda," said Crossroads GPS president Steven Law.
Crossroads did a fair amount of research and polling that will drive its message development as officials begin to frame how they will communicate with voters in the months ahead. The group is planning to use TV and online advertising, social media, grassroots and partnerships to "put (the issues) front and center in the minds of voters, build support for them and get people bought into them and elevate their profile with policymakers," Law said.
"Typically during election years, both lawmakers and their constituents tend to be more focused on issues that need action so it's a perfect window for us to be active this year," Law said. "Advocacy in the even number year can often have a determinative impact on policy making in the following year."
For instance, Law said, the group's polling and focus groups showed that President Obama's health care law remains generally unpopular. But, people don't feel an imminent need to change it because they don't know how it will affect them.
Crossroads GPS, Law said, plans to start "communicating to people in much more specificity about how the law works and how it impacts them in order to build a foundation for dismantling it in 2013. If that case isn't made before then, it will be hard to build the momentum to do so if we're in a position in the White House and Congress to."
Another issue ripe for definition, he said, is corporate tax reform and the role of taxes in general.
The effort is an exact analogue to the 2008 campaign Law ran to derail the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made it easier for unions to organize. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce effort successfully defined card check as extreme legislation and a sop to labor that ultimately helped kill its chances of passing a Democratic-controlled Congress and White House.
Or, as Law put it, "We've made it radioactive by the time the new Congress was seated."