Congressional Republicans focus on stuff American people just don't care about

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Nearly half of Americans have never heard of 'cancel culture.'

The policy concerns most on the minds of the American people are the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to polling conducted by the Pew Research Center Jan. 8-12. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are focusing on issues like fighting "cancel culture" and repealing mask mandates.

Rather than focus on the issues that most people care about, a review of statements and legislation filed since the start of the current Congress reveals, GOP lawmakers are focused on issues that simply are not high priorities for the public.

Obsessing about "cancel culture"

Lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has made "cancel culture" — a negative spin on the idea of holding people who say and do offensive or illegal things to account for their actions — a major target. "Anyone who disagrees, they try to cancel," he said of Democrats in a Jan. 24 tweet. Last week, he repeatedly complained that Disney fired actor Gina Carano following her social media posts suggesting Republicans face as much discrimination today as Jews did during the Holocaust.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) labeled "cancel culture" the "number one issue" facing America today.

But a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in January suggested Jordan's view is not widely shared: Just 52% of Americans have ever even heard of the term "cancel culture," and only about 22% of that group have ever used it themselves. Even among those who knew the term, just 37% identified "cancel culture" as a "very serious problem."

Complaining about the budget deficit

Over the past four years, congressional Republicans added trillions to the national debt, passing unfunded tax cuts that mostly benefited wealthy people and corporations and voting for large relief funding to address the pandemic and its economic impacts.

But now that a Democrat is back in the White House, many are now proposing constitutional amendments to require a balanced budget and lamenting the huge national debt they helped rack up.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) penned an opinion piece this week in which he warned, "America is in a debt crisis and we need to start talking about it and taking decisive action to reverse course" and argued against President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill.

But Americans are not so concerned. A Quinnipiac Poll conducted this month found Americans support Biden's plan by a margin of 68% to 24%. A Gallup poll released Friday found that just 1% of those surveyed named the federal debt or budget deficit as the most pressing problem for the country.

Rolling back pandemic safety laws

Congressional Republicans have also strongly opposed mask requirements designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"Didn't wear your mask at the Super Bowl? The police are coming for you," Jordan tweeted on Feb. 8. "This is out of control."

In January, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) introduced a bill "To provide that no person may be required to wear a face covering on Federal property or while traveling in interstate commerce, and for other purposes."

And Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) tweeted Tuesday, "Masks do not slow or stop the spread of COVID-19."

A poll conducted in December by STAT-Harris found 75% of Americans support mandated mask use in public during the pandemic.

Making it even easier for criminals to get guns

Last week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and six other House Republicans announced a proposal to defund all federal gun regulation enforcement for a year. If enacted, the bill would likely halt operation of the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used by firearms dealers to prevent gun purchases by those with criminal records.

A Gallup poll conducted in 2018 found that 92% of Americans support background checks for gun purchases.

Censoring teaching about America's history of racism

Congressional Republicans have taken umbrage at efforts such as the New York Times' 1619 Project to teach about the nation's history of slavery and discrimination. Donald Trump's administration sought to undermine such efforts with his 1776 Commission, which sought to block schools from teaching about America's real history of racism.

After Biden abolished the 1776 Commission, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced a bill to reinstate it. Twenty of his GOP colleagues have so far signed on as co-sponsors.

But polling shows that an accurate accounting of American's history is popular. According to a poll conducted in September by the Southern Poverty Law Center, 67% of Americans favor requiring a curriculum that includes the "history of racial prejudice and violence, including slavery, lynching and Jim Crow laws." Just 20% opposed such a curriculum. Even among Republicans, 65% support such lesson plans. Another poll, conducted by professors from Brown University and Northwestern University last summer, found 81% of U.S. adults support teaching kids about America's history of racism.

Republicans are hoping to pick up at least five seats in the House and one in the Senate in the 2022 midterms to regain control of Congress. They have already indicated that they plan to run on the same unpopular proposals that failed for them in the 2020 elections.

Last week, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer told Politico that his "game plan" includes calling Democrats socialists who want to eliminate jobs; standing up for the fossil fuel industry; and reopening schools despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.