“Project 2025.”

Republicans With Time.

An analog clock with ticking hands and rubble all around. A person stands beneath, watching. Image Description: An analog clock with ticking hands and rubble all around. A person stands beneath, watching.

Summary: Learn about the dangerous plans Republicans concoct when out of office, as seen in the Heritage Foundation's Project 2025 playbook. Explore the impact of conservative think tanks and the looming threat of Republicans regaining power.

Superbowl, 2016. A few families with kids all around the same age gathered at a friend’s house to watch the favored Carolina Panthers take on an aging Peyton Manning of the Broncos. My buddy invited one of his childhood friends named Anthony, who wound up stealing the show. He had us on the floor with his commentary. His enthusiasm was childlike and he was prone to outbursts, headlocks and a particular phrase that became part of our lexicon from that day forward.

“Manning with time,” he would yell whenever the Broncos QB hung in the pocket for more than a second.

If he said it once he said it a thousand times that night with zero self-awareness.

Turns out, “Manning with time” was all the Broncos needed to cruise to a decisive win over Cam Newton and the Panthers.

Republicans With Time

“Manning with time” is one of those core memories that kept coming back to me when I was going through the Heritage Foundation’s “Project 2025” plan. Republicans with time.

Republicans with time on their hands is a very dangerous thing and only Anthony’s words from 2016 kept me from tearing my hair out as I reviewed this conservative action plan. Republicans with time.

We’ve covered the rise of conservative think tanks in America and the negative consequences they’ve had on the social and economic fabric of the country. It’s an insidious feedback loop that deserves a quick review:

  1. Billionaires and their minions come up with ideas and plans to hoard wealth and consolidate power.
  2. They fund think thanks to develop white papers that provide a policy rationale to implement these changes.
  3. Then they pass this information to billionaire funded non-profit advocacy groups to craft model legislation for Republican legislators in Congress and state legislatures.
  4. Corporately controlled conservative media gins up controversy to manufacture consent in the court of public opinion.
  5. The legislators appear on conservative programs to talk about the model legislation they’re proposing that is backed by solid research from the think tanks.
  6. Bills pass and then are challenged in court, only to lose said challenges because the billionaire backed Federalist Society has stacked the district courts, appellate divisions and now the Supreme Court with conservative activist judges.

And that’s how you carry out a long bloodless coup.

Evil Think Tanks

The world heavyweight champion of think tanks is the Heritage Foundation, the bête noir of this program. In so many ways, Heritage has paved the way for the current state of affairs. Bloated military budgets and endless war. Tax cuts for the wealthy. Gutting social services. Criminalizing reproductive health. Kids in cages. Anti-transgender legislation. Rampant deregulation. Union busting. Just some of the knockouts from the heavyweight champ.

Republicans with time.

The Heritage Foundation was founded in the early 1970s with money from the Coors family, which has a long history of funding conservative causes. It was a slow start but then suddenly, Republicans unexpectedly found themselves with time on their hands when a relatively unknown governor from Plains, Georgia named Jimmy Carter beat the accidental President Gerald Ford.

Again, it’s territory we’ve covered before. Think of all the conservative powerhouse inventions that arose in such a short period of time. The whole thing kicks off with the Powell Memo in ‘71. George Mason University split from UVA in ‘72 and builds a hardcore conservative curriculum to indoctrinate students. The Heritage Foundation was founded in ‘73. The Cato Institute in ‘77 with Koch brothers money. Chicago School economic policies take center stage amidst stagflation. James Buchanan and Michael Horowitz began shaping a conservative agenda to take over the courts in the late seventies leading to the creation of the Federalist Society.

This was the neoliberal intellectual framework determined to turn back social and economic progress for the masses. All backed by billionaires.

The Heritage Foundation kicked into high gear during the Carter years and was locked and loaded upon the election of Ronald Reagan with a stream of policy proposals and research that ultimately shaped the governing platform of both Reagan terms. Fellows and staff members of Heritage were drafted by the administration, such as Edwin Meese who served as Reagan’s Attorney General. Heritage policy recommendations from tax cuts and welfare reform to rampant deregulation and aggressive militarization were all pursued, promoted and enacted. More than 60% of the foundation’s proposals made it into policy under Reagan.

Republicans with time.

Republicans were on a hot streak after Reagan when his Vice President George W. Bush was elected. There was a sense that Republicans might never lose the presidency again. The Gulf War was enormously popular with the American people and Bush’s continuation of Reagan era policies were as well…until they weren’t. After a dozen years, the Republicans once again found themselves on the sidelines. On the sidelines with time.

Midway through the first Clinton term, the Republican Party released the much ballyhooed Contract with America, a reassertion of principles and policy prescriptions for the Republican Party. More tax cuts. Work requirements and time limits for welfare. Tough penalties for criminals. Tort Reform. Term limits. More deregulation. More money for the military. And a balanced budget reform. Surprisingly, the Republicans were outdone on most of these items by the Clinton administration. Just not in the way one might hope.

A few of the agenda items have yet to be enacted such as the balanced budget amendment and term limits. But most of the policies wound up making it through the legislature and were signed into law by President Clinton. Clinton’s answer to these devastating neoliberal reforms was to steal Republicans’ thunder and propose them himself.

After the Clinton era, it was time for another Bush era, this one twice as long as the first and hand-delivered by the Supreme Court. But not before another initiative was birthed by a conservative think tank in the waning days of Clinton’s second term. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) was an organization comprised of Nixon and Reagan flunkies like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz, all of whom would assume roles in Dubya’s administration.

PNAC became fodder for conspiracy theorists for two reasons. The first is that one of its central foreign policy initiatives in a document titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” from September of 2000 was to pursue regime change in Iraq. The second is that it plainly stated that…well, let me just read from the report and see if you can spot the moment that still fuels conspiracy theories to this day:

“To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades, the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs…The effects of this military transformation will have profound implications for how wars are fought, what kinds of weapons will dominate the battlefield and, inevitably, which nations enjoy military preeminence… the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”

The Pearl Harbor-like catalyzing event would come just one year later and the PNAC blueprint would be adopted and enacted almost overnight.

Republicans with time.

Now, I don’t think I need to rehash what happened the last time Republicans found themselves out of office. But here’s a quick overview. Handsome Black Democrat gets top job. The Tea Party is formed in response. Ayn Rand sycophants are elected to Congress to block any and all movement after the first midterm bloodbath except for droning innocent civilians into the stone age in foreign countries, bailing out Wall Street and giving bankers a pass on the financial crisis. They had time to get their shit together until a fly flew into the ointment, shit hit the fan, the car went off the rails, we hit a brick wall. Oh, yes. Republicans had plans.

And then this fucking grifter from New York said Obama wasn’t born here, so Obama insults him to his face, so the grifter comes down a golden escalator, says he can shoot people on 5th Avenue and get away with it and…you know the rest.


A lot of bad shit happened under Trump. Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. Ultra conservative Supreme Court nominations. Upending of diplomatic norms. Tariffs that actually hurt U.S. job growth and GDP. The bungled response to the pandemic, resulting in hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. More tax cuts for the wealthy. Federal agencies gutted. Billionaires cheating the tax code with impunity. Controversial pardons. The demonization of the LGBTQ community. Hindering investigations. Trying to subvert the election and inciting an insurrection. Giving important roles to family members. Stealing campaign funds to pay for his legal defense in multiple cases. Being impeached twice.

He’s also a rapist, serial sexual abuser and pathological liar. And the Republican nominee for president. Again. By like, a landslide.

Now, look…We’ve done a lot of soul searching and hand wringing over this rematch. I personally don’t believe Biden is fit to remain in office. His legislative accomplishments in the first year were impressive by historical standards but he fucked progressives on key issues like minimum wage and student debt relief and didn’t go far enough on climate resilience, Medicaid expansion, immigration reform and poverty alleviation. And now he’s turning hard against immigration reform by backing punitive measures at the border and facilitating the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.

And despite performative support of unions and even some important measures that protect the right to organize, he failed to bring the corporate class to heel during the inflation crisis, which gave cover to the Federal Reserve to jack up interest rates and crush households all across the country.

Biden’s “bottom up, middle out” strategy can work. But it needs way more time than he likely has. As a result, people feel less well off than they did under Trump. That’s not good. Biden has lost key support among Arab and Muslim voters that have a demonstrable impact in key states like Michigan. Also, not good. He took way too long to address the border crisis and when he finally did, he adopted the Republican stance just like Clinton did in the ‘90s. If you’re not going to differentiate yourself from the opposition on such a critical issue, then what’s the fucking point?

The hell of this whole thing is that as bad as Biden has been for Palestine, there’s no question Trump would be worse.

As bad as Biden has been on the border, there’s no question Trump would be worse.

As bad as Biden has been for the working poor and impoverished, Trump would be worse.

But it doesn’t end there. And you don’t have to take my word for it, you can take the Republican Party’s word for it.

When Trump won the first time, even Republicans were surprised. That’s why it took them a while to get their ducks in a row. If you recall, Trump’s only real legislative accomplishment before he lost power in the midterms was the enormous tax cut for the wealthy. Everything else was pretty much done by executive order and the seat of his pants. This time around, we’ve got

Republicans with time.

That’s right. And they have a plan. Mom’s for Liberty, Turning Points USA, Tea Party Patriots, National Right to Work Foundation, Liberty University, Hillsdale College, ALEC. More than 80 organizations have co-signed the new Heritage Foundation plan titled Project 2025, the Presidential Transition Project. And it’s a fucking doozy.

What you’re about to read is entirely pulled from the 900 page book these organizations drafted for the presidential transition. I read it so you don’t have to. (That’s why it took me a couple weeks.) I’m going to editorialize on a couple of these where I think it’s necessary to clarify the meaning, but mostly the work speaks for itself. And it’s very important that we take them at their word because a lot of what you’re going to hear can be done by executive order. Now, a lot of it can’t but the nightmare scenario, of course, is that Trump takes over with control of both houses again and is way more prepared to enact several of the measures you’re about to read.

Project 2025 Highlights

Culture Wars

“Deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”), diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”), gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.”

The noxious tenets of “critical race theory” and “gender ideology” should be excised from curricula in every public school in the country.”

“Allowing parents or physicians to “reassign” the sex of a minor is child abuse and must end.”

“The next conservative Administration should dismantle USAID’s DEI apparatus by eliminating the Chief Diversity Officer position along with the DEI advisers and committees; cancel the DEI scorecard and dashboard; remove DEI requirements from contract and grant tenders and awards; issue a directive to cease promotion of the DEI agenda, including the bullying LGBTQ+ agenda.”

Abortion Ban

“The next conservative President should work with Congress to enact the most robust protections for the unborn that Congress will support while deploying existing federal powers to protect innocent life and vigorously complying with statutory bans on the federal funding of abortion.”

Unions & Federal Workers

“According to current law, federal workers are to be paid wages comparable to equivalent private-sector workers rather than compared to all private-sector employees. While the official studies claim that federal employees are underpaid relative to the private sector by 20 percent or more, a 2016 Heritage Foundation study found that federal employees received wages that were 22 percent higher than wages for similar private-sector workers…The obvious solution to these discrepancies is to move closer to a market model for federal pay and benefits.”

Quick editorial on this one. Basically they’re creating their own litmus test for compensation, which allows them to benchmark federal employee wages and benefits against private sector employment tiers of their own choosing. Basically a way to suppress wages in lockstep with lower wage private sector jobs.

“Although the government pension system has become more like private pension systems, it still remains much more generous, and other means might be considered in the future to move it even closer to private plans.”

“Congress should also consider whether public-sector unions are appropriate in the first place. The bipartisan consensus up until the middle of the 20th century held that these unions were not compatible with constitutional government. After more than half a century of experience with public-sector union frustrations of good government management, it is hard to avoid reaching the same conclusion.”

Foreign Policy & Military

U.S. defense strategy must identify China unequivocally as the top priority for U.S. defense planning while modernizing and expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal and sustaining an efficient and effective counterterrorism enterprise.”

“The United States must regain its role as the “Arsenal of Democracy.”...End informal congressional notification. Informal congressional notification or “tiered review” is a hinderance [sic] to ensuring timely sales to our global partners.”

Jumping in again here. Basically this is a way to subvert congressional oversight or even just informing them of military actions abroad. It’s a pretty wide exception for executive authority that already has preposterous overreach. Speaking of overreach, this next one allows more aggressive military recruitment in schools.

“Improve military recruiters’ access to secondary schools and require completion of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)—the military entrance examination—by all students in schools that receive federal funding.”

“Those with gender dysphoria should be expelled from military service.”

“The use of public monies for transgender surgeries or to facilitate abortion for servicemembers [sic] should be ended.”

“Make irregular warfare a cornerstone of security strategy. Define irregular warfare as “a means by which the United States uses all elements of national power to project influence abroad to counter state adversaries, defeat hostile nonstate actors, deter wider conflict, and maintain peace in great-power competition.”

“This decision to be free of the country’s abusive leaders must of course be made by the Iranian people, but the United States can utilize its own and others’ economic and diplomatic tools to ease the path toward a free Iran and a renewed relationship with the Iranian people.”

“To contain Venezuela’s Communism and aid international partners, the next Administration must take important steps to put Venezuela’s Communist abusers on notice while making strides to help the Venezuelan people.”

“Regardless of viewpoints, all sides agree that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is unjust and that the Ukrainian people have a right to defend their homeland. The next conservative President has a generational opportunity to bring resolution to the foreign policy tensions within the movement and chart a new path forward that recognizes Communist China as the defining threat to U.S. interests in the 21st century.”

Russia is so terrible we should go to war with China. Makes sense. It’s like Bush invading Iraq after a bunch of guys from Saudi Arabia got together in Afghanistan to bomb the U.S. Makes perfect sense in Republicanville.

“Specific countries in the Americas, such as Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, and Ecuador, are either increasingly regional security threats in their own rights or are vulnerable to hostile extra-continental powers. The U.S. has an opportunity to lead these democratic neighbors to fight against the external pressure of threats from abroad and address local regional security concerns.”

“Africa’s importance to U.S. foreign policy and strategic interests is rising and will only continue to grow. Its explosive population growth, large reserves of industry-dependent minerals, proximity to key maritime shipping routes, and its collective diplomatic power ensure the continent’s global importance.”

“The next Administration must end blind support for international organizations. The United States must return to treating international organizations as vehicles for promoting American interests—or take steps to extract itself from those organizations.”

And in case we need to assassinate anyone without running it by Congress:

“The President should demand creative thinking and a clear strategy as to how covert action fits within the President’s broader foreign policy strategy.”


“Privatizing TSA screening and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program, reforming FEMA emergency spending to shift the majority of preparedness and response costs to states and localities instead of the federal government, eliminating most of DHS’s grant programs, and removing all unions in the department for national security purposes.”


“CBP should restart and expand use of the horseback-mounted Border Patrol. As part of this announcement, the Secretary should clear the records and personnel files of those who were falsely accused by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of whipping migrants and issue a formal apology on behalf of DHS and CBP.”

“ICE should be funded for a significant increase in detention space, raising the daily available number of beds to 100,000.”

“Repeal Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations.”

Public Broadcasting

“The 47th President can just tell the Congress—through the budget he proposes and through personal contact—that he will not sign an appropriations spending bill that contains a penny for the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting). The President may have to use the bully pulpit, as NPR and PBS have teams of lobbyists who have convinced enough Members of Congress to save their bacon every time their taxpayer subsidies have been at risk since the Nixon era…The next President should instruct the FCC to exclude the stations affiliated with PBS and NPR from the “Noncommercial educational” (NCE) denomination and the privileges that come with it.”

Because you can’t allow commies like Big Bird and gay couples like Bert and Ernie to permeate the minds of our children.


“The next conservative Administration should rescind all climate policies from its foreign aid programs (specifically USAID’s Climate Strategy 2022–20307 ); shut down the agency’s offices, programs, and directives designed to advance the Paris Climate Agreement; and narrowly limit funding to traditional climate mitigation efforts.”


“Reform SNAP. Re-implement work requirements.”

“The USDA should not provide meals to students during the summer unless students are taking summer-school classes.”

“The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) created a drug price negotiation program in Medicare that replaced the existing private-sector negotiations in Part D with government price controls for prescription drugs. These government price controls will limit access to medications and reduce patient access to new medication. This “negotiation” program should be repealed.”

“Strengthen asset test determinations within Medicaid.”

“Clarify that states have the ability to adopt work incentives for able bodied individuals (similar to what is required in other welfare programs) and the ability to broaden the application of targeted premiums and cost sharing to higher-income enrollees. Add targeted time limits or lifetime caps on benefits to disincentivize permanent dependence.”


“The new Administration must end abuses in the loan forgiveness programs. Borrowers should be expected to repay their loans.”

“In order to fully wind down the Department of Education, Congress must pass and the President must sign into law a Department of Education Reorganization Act.”

Privatizing all lending programs, including subsidized, unsubsidized, and PLUS loans (both Grad and Parent).”

Tax Code

“The Treasury should work with Congress to simplify the tax code by enacting a simple two-rate individual tax system of 15 percent and 30 percent that eliminates most deductions, credits and exclusions. The 30 percent bracket should begin at or near the Social Security wage base to ensure the combined income and payroll tax structure acts as a nearly flat tax on wage income beyond the standard deduction. The corporate income tax rate should be reduced to 18 percent.”

Okay, I have to contextualize this one. 40% of households don’t pay income tax because they don’t make enough money to even qualify to pay taxes. Also, there’s no mention of K1 income or carried interest provisions. So because the wealthiest people in the country aren’t paid like the rest of us, they can pay taxes like a corporation. So poor people who haven’t had to pay any federal income tax will have to pay 15% while the wealthiest people in the country would have to pay 18%. And those who make more than about $150,000—that’s what they mean by Social Security wage base—would have to pay 30%. And this doesn’t touch carried interest income provisions that allow wealthy investors to hide money from the IRS and doesn’t reclassify stock options as income either. Such bullshit.

“All taxpayers should be allowed to contribute up to $15,000 (adjusted for inflation) of post-tax earnings into Universal Savings Accounts (USAs). The tax treatment of these accounts would be comparable to Roth IRAs. USAs should be highly flexible to allow Americans to save and invest as they see fit, including, for example, investments in a closely held business. Gains from investments in USAs would be non-taxable and could be withdrawn at any time for any purpose.”

Okay. This one is important. This provision acts like your friend but it’s a Trojan Horse. Basically it’s encouraging people to save on their own with post-tax dollars, not pre-tax like a college savings plan for example. The difference is it would allow these accounts to invest in closely held businesses or things like IPOs that have the ability to grow exponentially and be withdrawn without penalty. Basically a shelter that avoids capital gains but it would be sold to the public as a personal responsibility investment that provides cover for their real desire, which is to phase out the Social Security Trust. As far as inherited wealth:

“The estate and gift tax should be reduced to no higher than 20 percent, and the 2017 tax bill’s temporary increase in the exemption amount from $5.5 million to $12.9 million (adjusted for inflation) should be made permanent.”

So wealthy people can pass up to $13m to their heirs without a dollar being taxed and then everything above would only be taxed at 20%, which is still 10% less than what they’re proposing for the middle class income tax.

Those are just the highlights.

Like I said, this document is over 900 pages long and is co-signed by over 80 conservative organizations with incredible strength, financial wherewithal and lobbying prowess. So here’s the difficult conversation we need to have.

If Cornel West makes it onto the ballot in New York, I will vote for him because I’m aligned with his beliefs and appreciative of his consistent activism over the years. Not because I think he’s a good candidate. In fact, he’s a terrible candidate and even worse politician. New York will go solidly Democrat so I don’t have to worry and it’s a way to send a message to the establishment that they have work to do to win us over.

I think protestors should continue to disrupt every single Democratic event in support of a free Palestine and continue to call for a ceasefire, at a minimum, and a permanent halt to the atrocities and apartheid regime in Israel.

We must continue to push our elected officials to invest in poverty elimination, climate change resiliency, Medicare for All, $15 minimum wage, a path to citizenship and so much more.

But like I said in the Progressive Meditation essay, we lost the presidential election a long time ago when our candidates were sidelined by a corrupt DNC, none of our key issues made it to the Democratic platform and the officials we hoped would tie up the Democratic majority in Biden’s first two years were soundly defeated and silenced.

This election is not the time to stage an electoral protest. You don’t have to buy into “democracy ending” hyperbole either. Because we don’t have to wonder what a second Trump regime would look like. Those of us with power and a voice have an obligation to protect the least among us right now as we work in the background to reorganize and gather our strength. This agenda is evil. This is dystopian corporate consolidation shit. And what’s different this time around is that they own the court. If we hand Trump back the keys to the Oval Office and take the risk that Republicans control both houses, they won’t flounder like they did in 2016 because of one key difference:

Republicans with time.

Here endeth the lesson.

Max is a basic, middle-aged white guy who developed his cultural tastes in the 80s (Miami Vice, NY Mets), became politically aware in the 90s (as a Republican), started actually thinking and writing in the 2000s (shifting left), became completely jaded in the 2010s (moving further left) and eventually decided to launch UNFTR in the 2020s (completely left).