Elections

Republicans, Stop Crying and Start Leading!

President Donald Trump with Congressional Republicans on the South Lawn of the White House, December 20, 2017. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Congress needs to snap out of its funk and litter President Trump’s desk with limited-government legislation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement on Wednesday suggests that Republicans are bracing for heavy losses in November, perhaps costing them control of the House and even the Senate. But the biggest danger for Republicans is not ferocious Democrats, who collectively resemble a freshly fueled tank brigade. What Republicans have to fear is . . . fear itself.

In nearly every center-right gathering that I have attended lately, the sense of impending doom threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Long-time conservative and GOP activists say, “Well, we’re going to lose the House,” as matter-of-factly as most folks say, “What a chilly day!”

Nowhere is it written that Republicans must  squander control of either house of Congress, or any seats at all. In fact, if GOP members of Congress want to maintain their majorities, the best thing they can do is their jobs.

The reasons for hope, rather than self-reinforcing defeatism, are abundant. Among other indicators:

• The GOP is in a competitive and improving electoral position. The Democrats’ lead in RealClearPolitics’ average of five surveys stands at seven percentage points, down from a 13-point zenith on January 1. The Quinnipiac poll gives Democrats a mere 3-point edge, down from a 15-point advantage on February 20.

• The GOP also enjoys a staggering fundraising lead over Democrats. The Republican National Committee currently has some $40 million cash on hand, debt free. The DNC? As of January 31, its $6.3 million in cash, minus $6.1 million in debt, netted it about $200,000.

• Though it could be higher, President Donald J. Trump’s popularity is climbing. RCP’s average of seven surveys clocked his job approval at 42 percent on Thursday, up from a 37 percent nadir in mid December. Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll finds Trump’s positive rating at 50 percent.

• Unemployment is at just 4.1 percent, with black and Hispanic joblessness at or near record lows.

• The Congressional Budget Office forecasts 3.3 percent growth this year, up from 2.6 percent in 2017 and a mere 1.6 percent in Obama’s embarrassing final year in office.

• The economy is expanding, thanks to President Trump’s and the GOP’s deregulatory efforts and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The U.S. Treasury estimates that this tax relief will boost take-home pay for 90 percent of wage earners. “A typical family of four earning $75,000 a year will see their tax bill slashed in half,” President Trump said Thursday in the Rose Garden.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, these  lowered levies have encouraged at least 505 employers to pay immeasurable billions in bonuses, higher wages, and enhanced benefits to at least 4 million workers. Other companies are hiring, expanding, and even returning to the USA, owing to Washington’s pro-market atmosphere (beyond the critical area of foreign trade) and the new 21 percent corporate tax rate. Every congressional Democrat fought these game-changing tax cuts.

The Senate’s spa-like intensity cripples Congress’s productivity.

(Republicans should follow the example of Rep. Bradley Byrne. When employers in the Alabama Republican’s district have given their workers tax-cut-related bonuses, Byrne personally has helped hand out these checks and explain that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made them possible.)

• Such businesses are doing the wave. The National Association of Manufacturers reports that 93 percent of such firms have a positive view of their prospects. Among small manufacturers, 94.5 percent are upbeat, the highest level since NAM launched its Outlook Survey in 1998.

• Overseas, ISIS has shriveled. And in perhaps the unlikeliest news, “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un has stopped launching missiles across the Pacific and started talking about de-nuclearizing North Korea.

Despite this excellent news, all of which should inspire superb campaign ads, Republicans have psyched themselves into a narrative of imminent oblivion. And somehow, too many think that the solution is to avoid major legislative battles and hide beneath their desks.

Pathetic.

Instead, Congress needs to snap out of its collective funk, redouble its efforts, and litter President Trump’s desk with pro-market, limited-government legislation to sign. For starters:

• A rescission bill, to disinfect some of the self-humiliating fiscal obscenity in last month’s omnibus spending catastrophe.

• A bipartisan DACA/wall swap seems within reach. Fugitive cities also should lose federal funds until they stop harboring violent illegal-alien criminals.

• Junking Obamacare deserves a fresh push. At a minimum, Congress should scrap this heinous program’s destructive levies, such as the job-killing tanning-salon tax. Americans also should be freed to open universal health savings accounts and purchase low-cost, no-frills catastrophic plans. Those who do not want Obamacare’s frills should not be forced to buy them.

• House adoption of the Senate’s unanimously approved Right to Try bill would give terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs. So would Senate endorsement of a similar, recently passed House measure. But neither house will budge on this humane reform. Meanwhile, as members of Congress have bickered over this matter since August, Americans literally drop dead begging for promising, if not yet approved, cures.

• An Audit Everything Act would make each federal agency endure a cellar-to-ceiling examination by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, or another major accounting firm. Vital functions should continue. Wasteful ones should be scrapped. Criminals should be arrested.

• A Universal Federal Accountability Act would permit on-the-spot dismissal of inept and/or corrupt federal officials — just like in the private sector. It’s past time to end the virtual inability to sack dysfunctional and crooked federal workers (e.g. IRS henchwoman Lois Lerner).

If this translates into continued Republican majorities on Capitol Hill, mission accomplished!

The Senate’s spa-like intensity cripples Congress’s productivity. Gaveling in on Monday afternoon and jetting home after lunch on Thursdays won’t do. Senators must consider the stack of worthwhile bills that the House, to its credit, already has passed.

Drowsy GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky must snatch the steering wheel from Democratic chief Chuck Schumer of New York. When Schumer says his party will filibuster measures, McConnell should call his bluff: Make Schumer and his Democrats stand up and talk and talk and talk until they are exhausted. After a few such grueling experiences, Schumer might behave more reasonably.

A re-energized Senate must accelerate confirmations of judges, sub-cabinet appointees, and ambassadors — including Richard Grenell, who awaits a vote to represent America in Berlin. So far, Democrats have filibustered 82 of Trump’s nominees. Republicans did the same to only twelve designees in Obama’s first two years as president.

Come autumn, a GOP record of worthwhile legislative accomplishments (and no more omnibus-style acts of self-debasement) will re-energize the demoralized conservative base. Convincing evidence of functioning, rather than misfiring, institutions should please independents, who crave smooth governance. And the positive results of these initiatives should satisfy most voters, even thinking Democrats — beyond those whose mouths foam beside the barricades of social justice.

If this translates into continued Republican majorities on Capitol Hill, mission accomplished!

And if not, at least Republicans will have spent six months securing major conservative victories that will make America great again — before Democrats take charge and reverse the process.

Either way, Republicans need to stop moaning and lead!

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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