Leading GOP senator on board with culture war truce

LEADING GOP SENATOR ON BOARD WITH CULTURE WAR TRUCE…. Just a six months after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) suggested it’s time for a “truce” on hot-button, culture-war issues, it looks like a high-profile Republican senator is thinking along the same lines.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander on Friday will lay out an aggressive GOP agenda for next year that includes a host of tax cuts, trade agreements and other business-friendly proposals — but no social policy items.

The Tennessee Republican will outline his proposals at the conservative Hudson Institute in a speech that is designed to provide a contrast to Democrats’ progressive agenda of the past several years and to establish policy goals for Republicans. […]

Unlike House GOP leaders who have sought to placate social conservatives with at least vague mentions of abortion and other social issues, Alexander’s speech will avoid those matters altogether.

It strikes me as a little presumptuous that the third-ranking member of the Senate minority would even have a policy agenda — does he know voters have elected a Democratic Senate for three consecutive cycles? — but putting that aside, Alexander’s decision to ignore his party’s social agenda altogether is pretty interesting.

The speech isn’t until tomorrow, so the religious right and the theocratic contingent within Tea Partiers haven’t had much of a chance to respond, but I suspect the remarks will not be well received by much of the GOP base. When Daniels raised the specter of a culture-war “truce,” a variety of social conservatives responded with borderline apoplexy. Given that Alexander is the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the religious right will likely be even less pleased now.

It’s hard to say with certainty, but this is a fissure worth keeping an eye on. Just a few weeks ago, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) was asked on Fox News about the notion of a “truce on social issues” for awhile, so that policymakers could focus on economic issues. He replied that it’s just not possible for someone to be “a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.”

It’s safe to assume, then, that DeMint won’t care for his colleague’s remarks tomorrow.

I should also note that while what’s missing from Alexander’s speech is noteworthy, I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention his stated priorities. As he sees it, the country’s focus should be on “jobs, debt, and terror.” To that end, he wants to see policymakers slash taxes even more (making the debt worse), repeal the Affordable Care Act (making the debt worse), and eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (making it easier for consumers and investors to get screwed over).

Fortunately, Alexander’s in the minority, and won’t be in a position to make any of this actually happen.