Congressional Republicans have spent the first two years of the Obama administration as the rock-solid party of “no,” “uh-uh,” “no way,” “forget about it,” “nothing doing,” “we’re-agin-it-and-we’ll-kill-it.” This is one reason their job approval rating is in the ditch.

But now, GOP leaders in the House say they are shifting from pure negativity to stepping forward with their own bold policy ideas. Terrific! What are some of those? “Uh… um… well,” say the leaders, “we don’t know yet, but that’s why we’ve launched an exciting new campaign that we call America Speaking Out. We’ll go directly to the grassroots people, asking for their ideas, giving them a voice and letting them shape “the new Republican agenda.”

Again, terrific! Where are you starting? “Uh… um…,” stumble the leaders, before mumbling : “Washington, DC.”

Indeed, only six weeks after America Speaking Out was introduced as “an unprecedented initiative to listen to the American people,” ASO didn’t rush out to hold a policy-crafting get-together in an open town hall forum in Fargo or Fresno–but in the snug privacy of Rep. John Boehner’s Capitol Hill office. And who were the just-plain-folks that the House GOP leader invited? His e-mailed solicitation went to 20 top lobbyists representing big corporations, and such business front groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. This is the bunch that Republican leaders consider to be their real “grassroots” constituency.

Well, sniffed an ASO spokesman, it’s important to “receive input” from the nation’s largest employers.

Bovine excrement! These corporate lobbyists give their input every day, usually with campaign donations attached. They’re the problem, not the solution–and ASO is just more of the same.

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Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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