• What Has Congress Ever Done for Us?

    The Monty Python lesson about the House and Senate GOP.

    That might as well be the dialogue for a typical conversation these days among conservatives about the Republican Congress. The talk radio crowd has so fed the narrative of GOP “betrayal” in Washington that even many Republicans believe Congress has accomplished nothing since they took the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. The truth is that while the GOP Congress can’t match the Romans, it has achieved far more than the critics claim.

    Start with everything the GOP Congress has prevented. Universal pre-K, gun regulation, a $15 national minimum wage, an ObamaCare bailout for insurers, equal pay regulation, more disclosure of campaign donations, “free” community college, a new “infrastructure bank,” closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, among many others. President Obama proposed each of those, often more than once, but they vanished faster than Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign thanks to the GOP Congress.

    But wait, didn’t Republicans promise and fail to repeal ObamaCare? That was never going to happen with Mr. Obama in the White House, but this year Congress did put a repeal on his desk. The GOP Senate used procedures related to the budget to avoid a Democratic filibuster and force a presidential veto. Perhaps you didn’t know about that because conservatives were too busy wailing about renewal of the Export-Import Bank (which we also opposed).

    Congress hasn’t been able to block Mr. Obama’s regulatory binge, though not for lack of trying. Republicans have used the Congressional Review Act to repeal his rules on carbon power plants, the waters of the U.S., and the National Labor Relations Board’s ambush elections. They forced Mr. Obama to veto, setting up what should be an election-year debate. Republicans also took a risk that a lawsuit could stop Mr. Obama’s legalization of four million illegal immigrants, and the courts have stopped it at least until there is a ninth Supreme Court Justice.

    The GOP has also made incremental policy gains despite Mr. Obama’s hostility. The recent bill to save Puerto Rico from a chaotic default sets up an oversight board that will have the power to break up the island’s union-Democratic machine. Mr. Obama had to go along because the House held its 218-vote majority together.

    Congress has also imposed a far lower spending path than anyone expected after the stimulus blowout of 2009-2010. Spending as a share of GDP peaked at 24.4% in 2009, stayed at an historically high 23.4% in 2010 and 2011, but then fell each year through fiscal 2014 to 20.4%. It has begun to creep back up, in part because Mr. Obama has insisted on more domestic spending as the price for more defense money. But imagine where the fisc would be with Nancy Pelosi in charge?

    The GOP majority made several tax provisions permanent so they won’t be subject to Congress’s annual lobbying frenzy. These include enhanced expensing for small business, the research and development tax credit, and a ban on internet access taxes. Making these permanent will assist tax reform by giving a bigger revenue cushion to cut tax rates.

    Congress also passed an education reform that devolved more power to states and localities. It passed a bill to improve cybersecurity without the mandates on business that Senate Democrats wanted. It fixed the Medicare “sustainable growth rate” ruse that hid future spending increases. On foreign policy, it increased sanctions against North Korea and imposed a pause on refugees from Syria.


    None of this is world-changing, and we’d always hope for more, but then that rarely happens under divided government. Democrats settled for incremental gains in George W. Bush’s last two years, paving the way for more when Mr. Obama won. Republicans are set up for similar progress in 2017, and Speaker Paul Ryan has persuaded the House GOP to support an ambitious agenda to reform the tax code, health care, the financial system and much more.

    The best argument for Donald Trump, apart from the Supreme Court, is that Mr. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would steer him in the right policy direction. Mr. Trump would have little choice but to follow their lead if he wants to keep his promises of “winning.” All of this will be a tragic lost opportunity if Mr. Trump loses, but what conservatives should really worry about is what happens if he loses so badly that he takes the GOP House and Senate along with him.


    Posted by Dana West @ 5:13 pm for 2nd Amendment, Candidates, Climate Change, Economy, Editorial, Education, Elections, Energy, Immigration, Issues, Jobs, National politics, ObamaCare, Taxes, War on Women |

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