Politics & Policy

The Lame-Duck Session Should Sprain Trump’s Wrist

President Trump in the Oval Office, August 27, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Until January 3, the GOP should exhaust him with bills to sign.

‘It’s about stopping the GOP,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said on election night. Voters turned her minority into a majority Tuesday evening. But Democrats do not get their hands on the lower body until January 3, which lets Republicans write this story’s final chapter.

Democrats will stop the GOP. Pelosi, or whoever becomes speaker, will convert the House into a giant rubber stamp that says, “HELL NO!” Aside from an infrastructure bill, anything that slips past filibustering Democrats and passes the GOP Senate will be machine-gunned the second it reaches the House. The Trump/GOP legislative agenda, as such, dies in two months. Instead, the Democratic House will launch big-government measures (even if they sink in the Senate), probe every curve of the Trump administration, and possibly impeach President Donald J. Trump for the high crime of defeating Hillary Clinton two years ago this week. He crushed the Duchess of Chappaqua’s dreams. And for that, he must suffer the stain of impeachment, even though there is zero chance that 67 senators would vote to convict him.

House Democrats cynically will ensure that nothing Trump wants goes anywhere. Then, come 2020, they will slam him as a do-nothing president. There is no bottom to the Democrats’ craftiness.

Facing these facts, Republicans should lead the mother of all lame-duck sessions. In fact, they should call it the working-duck session.

 As deficits and the national debt creep higher, Congress should pass the Penny Plan. Every dollar of “on-budget” federal spending this year would drop to 99 cents in 2019, 98 cents in 2020, and so on. In 2024, spending would hit 94 cents on the dollar. This should yield a balanced budget as painlessly as possible, without touching Social Security.

 It’s now or never to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Senate should revisit the “skinny repeal” bill on which the late Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) turned his thumb down. The reliably conservative Senator John Kyl (R., Ariz.), McCain’s temporary replacement, would turn his thumb up on this measure. If the other Republican “Ayes” hold, Obama’s national embarrassment finally will be unplugged.

If all of this requires additional work by a conference committee, to marry the “skinny” measure with better, earlier House repeal/replace language, lawmakers should get busy. If a new budget resolution and reconciliation are needed, Congress has two months to do what it must to keep its sacred promise to the American people and to prevent Obamacare from sinking even deeper roots until at least 2021.

 One of Obamacare’s most obnoxious features is the 10 percent tanning-salon tax. No surprise, this discriminatory levy hammered this industry. Some 10,200 tanning shops have closed since 2010. According to the American Suntanning Association, 70 percent of these now-padlocked small businesses were women-owned. Democrats betrayed those whom they claim to champion. Republicans should make Democrats reverse their severe damage to law-abiding businesses and let the sun go down on the sexist suntan tax.

 Congress should provide permanent legal status to some 700,000 DACA recipients in exchange for a fully funded border wall. The violent, barrier-busting, rock-throwing, helicopter-attacking pedestrian invasion force — still headed north — vividly confirms the desperate need to control America’s colander-like southern frontier.

 The House-passed Tax Cut 2.0 bill would make last year’s tax relief permanent, thus avoiding an automatic tax hike come 2026, if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expires. Senate Democrats have bemoaned this potential middle-class tax increase. So, they should vote to avoid it forever.

 Congress should adopt the Higher-Rate-Optional Tax. Through the H.O.T. Tax, any American who feels under-taxed may designate on his 1040 form whatever higher rate he prefers to pay, multiply his income by that steeper levy, and send that amount to Washington. This should silence wealthy liberals who despise tax cuts — until they pass, whereupon they pocket them. These swells can pay however much more they wish, and everyone else can enjoy tax relief.

 The bipartisan Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act would limit state-level Internet taxes — a virtuous cause, indeed.

 Planned Parenthood funds should be block-granted to the states on a per-capita basis. Let governors and state legislatures restrict those funds as they wish.

 By a 360–59 vote, the House adopted prison reform via the FIRST STEP Act. The Senate should add sentencing-reform language before full adoption.

 The National Taxpayers Union’s annual “No-Brainer List” includes measures that boast serious bipartisan support, have passed one house, or are in conference committees. Among other things, these ten bills would increase transparency, halt federal checks to deceased Americans, terminate pensions to crooked members of Congress, and prevent federal employees from flying first class at taxpayer expense. These commonsense items deserve swift approval.

Senate Democrats may cheer some of these measures. Others might squeak through with limited Democratic support. And if Democrats insist on filibustering any item in lockstep, Republicans should make them filibuster. Bring out the cots, boil the coffee, and make them talk all day and night, if they insist. Fighting that fight is more important than Christmas shopping — which real Americans do on Christmas Eve anyway.

Come January, the Republican Senate — possibly fortified with more GOP seats, depending on three unresolved races — should stay busy confirming federal judges and swapping holdover Obamacrats with conservative replacements. Those seats should have been filled last year. Personnel equals policy.

Republicans should use their remaining power until 2019. Democrats will scream, but they always do. Republicans must resist the foolish temptation to “be nice” to Democrats, in hopes that they will return the favor. They won’t.

Instead, Republicans should vote, vote, vote relentlessly until January 3, with just a day or two off for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas. They should litter President Trump’s desk with bills that enhance individual freedom, fortify national security, limit government, and unleash markets. Come 2019, President Trump will have little if anything to sign. Until then, congressional Republicans should give Trump a sprained wrist from signing a pile of beautiful bills.

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

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