- Tax reform & simplification (including eliminating the Obamacare medical devices tax)
- Energy independence (including the Keystone pipeline and Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility)
- Jobs and economic growth (education folds in here)
- Regulatory reduction (too many to note...start anywhere and whack. EPA is a good place to start.)
- Immigration reform/control (is there any way to block Obama's latest planned mass exemption for illegals)
- Governmental competence & accountability (no more excuses, no more finger pointing, blame placing and ignorance of the facts)
Republicans should put these items at top of agenda
by George F. Will
Unlike the dog that chased the car until, to its consternation, he caught it, Republicans know what do with what they have caught. Having completed their capture of control of the legislative branch, they should start with the following six measures concerning practical governance and constitutional equilibrium:
• Abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This creature of the labyrinthine Dodd-Frank law violates John Locke’s dictum: “The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands. … The power of the legislative … (is) only to make laws, and not to make legislators.” The bureau is empowered to “declare,” with no legislative guidance or institutional inhibitions, that certain business practices are “abusive.” It also embodies progressivism’s authoritarianism by being, unlike any entity Congress has created since 1789, untethered from all oversight mechanisms: Its funding, “determined by the director,” comes from the Federal Reserve.
• Repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This expression of the progressive mind is an artifact of the Affordable Care Act and may be the most anti-constitutional measure ever enacted. It certainly violates the first words of the first section of the first article of the Constitution: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress.” The board’s purported function is to achieve the Affordable Care Act’s purpose of cost containment by reducing Medicare spending. When the board’s 15 presidential appointees make what the act calls a “legislative proposal” limiting reimbursements to doctors, this proposal automatically becomes law unless Congress passes a similar measure cutting Medicare spending. Under this constitutional travesty, an executive-branch agency makes laws unless the legislative branch enacts alternative means of achieving the executive agency’s aim. The Affordable Care Act stipulates that no measure for the abolition of the board can be introduced before 2017 or after Feb. 1, 2017, and must be enacted by Aug. 15 of that year. So, one Congress presumed to bind all subsequent Congresses in order to achieve progressivism’s consistent aim
— abolishing limited government by emancipating presidents from restraint by the separation of powers. This impertinence by the 111th Congress requires a firm rebuke by the 114th.
• Repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices. This $29 billion blow to an industry that provides more than 400,000 jobs is levied not on firms’ profits but on gross revenues and comes on top of the federal (the developed world’s highest) corporate income tax, plus state and local taxes. Enough Democrats support repeal that a presidential veto might be overridden.
• Improve energy, economic and environmental conditions by authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would reduce the risk of spills by reducing the transportation of oil in railroad tankers.
• Mandate completion of the nuclear waste repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. The signature achievement of Harry Reid’s waning career has been blocking this project, on which approximately $15 billion has been spent. So, rather than nuclear waste being safely stored in the mountain’s 40 miles of tunnels 1,000 feet underground atop 1,000 feet of rock, more than 160 million Americans live within 75 miles of one or more of the 121 locations where 70,000 tons of waste are stored.
• Pass the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. It would require that any regulation with at least a $100 million annual impact on the economy — there are approximately 200 of them in the pipeline — must be approved without amendments by joint resolution of Congress and signed by the president. “In effect,” writes the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth, “major agency rules would become legislative proposals with fast-track privileges.” By requiring legislative complicity in especially heavy federal burdens, REINS is an ingredient in the recipe for resuscitating Congress, which has been far too eager to cede legislative responsibilities to the executive branch.
Such measures may be too granular to satisfy the grandiose aspirations of those conservatives who, sharing progressives’ impatience with our constitutional architecture, aspire to have their way completely while wielding just one branch of government. But if, as is likely, the result of Congress doing these and similar things is a blizzard of presidential vetoes, even this would be constructive. The 2016 presidential election would follow a two-year demonstration of how reactionary progressivism is in opposing changes to the nation’s trajectory. Congressional actions provoking executive rejections would frame the argument about progressivism. And as Margaret Thatcher advised, first you win the argument, then you win the vote.
George F. Will writes for the Washington Post Writers Group. firstname.lastname@example.org
DEMOCRATS CANT JUST SHRUG OFF THIS LANDSLIDE LOSS
For Democrats, the 2014 election was not the 2010 Republican landslide. It was worse.
Four years ago, the economy was still ailing and a new wave of conservative activism in the form of the tea party was roiling politics. This time, the economy was better, ideological energies on the right had abated — and Democrats suffered an even-more-stinging defeat. They lost Senate seats in presidential swing states such as Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina. They lost governorships in their most loyal bastions, from Massachusetts to Maryland to Illinois.
After a defeat of this scope, the sensible advice is usually, “Don’t overreact.” In this case, such advice would be wrong. Something — actually, many things — went badly for the progressive coalition on Tuesday. Its supporters were disheartened and unmotivated, failing to rally to President Barack Obama and his party’s beleaguered candidates. And voters on the fence were left unpersuaded.
A dismissive shrug is inappropriate.
If Democrats are tempted to seek alibis, Republicans want to read the outcome as a vindication for their strategy of obstruction to Obama’s program and a ratification of right-wing ideology. As The New Yorker’s Jeff Shesol pointed out, leading Republicans from incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Sen.-elect Cory Gardner to Rep. Paul Ryan all discerned a message from the voters against what Ryan called “incompetent big government.”
To make the argument, they can cite the victories of two of their most ideologically driven governors, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Sam Brownback in Kansas. Both won re-election despite a backlash against their policies. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis survived a similar backlash to defeat Sen. Kay Hagan.
Yet the one thing that will save the Democrats and ignite progressives will be a Republican Party that ignores the extent to which its candidates
— notably Gardner in Colorado and Sen.-elect Joni Ernst in Iowa — had to tack away from the right to win their signal victories.
The nation plainly did not vote in favor of more gridlock. Republicans will throw away the opportunity they have been handed if they mistake the general dissatisfaction with Obama’s leadership that they exploited for a specific turn to right-wing remedies. Many of Tuesday’s ballot issues were won by progressives. It’s instructive that four deeply red states, Alaska, Nebraska, Arkansas and South Dakota, all voted to raise the minimum wage.
Moreover, as Bill Clinton showed after the Democrats’ 1994 midterm defeat, the surest way to beat conservatives is to confront them when they press for steep cuts in government programs that voters like. Clinton’s mantra defending “Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment” was revealing and successful. If Republicans move to repeal Obamacare — a cause they used to mobilize their base — the GOP will only remind Americans of the many parts of the Affordable Care Act they want to retain.
Republicans need to remember: The electorate that turns out at midterms is demographically narrower than the pool of voters who elect presidents. To claim a sweeping mandate now will get in the way of creating a real one in 2016.
Yet Democrats and Obama can’t simply blame defeat on an inevitable falloff in their midterm vote. They failed to give the faithful enough reason to cast a ballot.
Amy Walter of National Journal cited a Republican operative: “You can’t win on turnout if you are losing on message.”
Democrats had pieces of an economic message. But they need a comprehensive and more-ambitious answer for voters angry about stagnating incomes. They took out their rage on the party in the White House.
For Obama, there is no escaping the urgency of restoring energy to his administration and confidence in his leadership. He should begin by focusing on the travails of Americans — including blue-collar whites as well as traditional members of his coalition
— for whom neither the economy nor the government seems to be working. They’re the ones who keep sending Washington desperate messages, both by voting and by staying home.
E.J. Dionne writes for the Washington Post Writers Group. email@example.com