There has been a pervasive misconception that has been promulgated by those within and outside of the Republican Party concerning the power of the GOP House majority . They assert that because the Democrats control the other branches of government, there is no way we can pass any meaningful conservative legislation until 2012.
There seems to be an assumption that we can only scuttle the passage of new nefarious bills, and should sit pretty until we can win back the Presidency. In fact, they believe that our only proactive legislative agenda should be one that involves issues in which we can seek common ground with the Democrats, thus garnering positive media for leading a productive and bi-partisan congress. This view of the political landscape is counterproductive and will lead to the same unsuccessful cycle of 94'-06', in which we failed to deliver on conservative change and eventually forfeited the majority.
The Republican House leaders have floated some good ideas concerning reform in procedures and parliamentary rules. We always welcome more transparency in government and fully support the decentralization of power in the House as well as the posting of legislation online before its passage. However, these changes are full of symbolism, but lack any real substantial element of conservative change. So, we will post legislation on the internet 72 hours before the vote. But which legislation? Are we going to squander our historical mandate on symbolism, procedural reform, and playing defense; without a coherent and proactive policy agenda to strike out at the heart of the welfare and regulatory state?
We all realize that the Democrats still control the Senate and the Presidency, but we will control the most effective legislative body. Unlike in the Senate, we will have full operational control of the House and have the ability to pass anything (assuming that there aren't too many Rinos left). Let's get to work on our conservative agenda and let the Democrats and Obama vote down our proposals that will undoubtedly remain popular with the public. Here is a list of agenda items that we should shove down the throats of the Democrats every week, while forcing them to be on the wrong side of popular legislation with the public:
Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment: Most political analysts frown upon constitutional amendments because of their unlikeliness to survive the amendment process. However, with most Americans finally coming around on the issue of spending and debt, we need to strike now. It will be virtually impossible to strike out at the heart of the welfare state by going after each line item of spending and every individual entitlement program. The Democrat smear machine will raise hell over every spending cut, and run TV ads across the country in an attempt to demagogue the issue and accuse Republicans of killing people and leaving children out to die. The only way to get in front of the issue is by forcing a balanced budget across the board. This will compel the Democrats to go on record as opposing a balanced budget instead of having the advantage of individualizing the spending items to fire up support from their political rent seekers.
Tort Reform: As the cost of health care continues to climb due to the Democrat trial lawyers, and as the cost of health insurance skyrockets as a result of the passage of Obamcare, what better time to pass tort reform than now? Let Obama and the Democrats in the Senate (many of whom will be up for election in red states next year) go on record as siding with the trial lawyers over consumers who are struggling with their expenses.
Corporate Tax Rates: Our current corporate tax rate is 35%, one of the highest among all industrialized nations. How about slashing that rate to 20% (after cutting spending to pay for the short term loss of revenue)? Let the Democrats assault job creators while so many people are out of work, so many manufacturers are outsourced, and millions of workers suffer from reduced income. We also need to articulate how high corporate tax rates hurt consumers, especially in terms of high costs for vital goods and services.
Energy- Drill, Mine, Build: We need to vote on ANWR every week. Let's follow through with the campaign promises to implement an all of the above energy solution. Let's defund these ridiculous subsidies of "green energy" and invest, explore, and expand those energy sources that are know to work; oil, coal, shale, natural gas, and nuclear power. We haven't built an oil refinery in over 30 years. Ditto for nuclear power plants. Energy and oil in particular, is the lifeblood of our economy. There is no more profound and direct way of creating jobs, spawning economic growth, and reducing costs to consumers than by ramping up our energy productivity. Let the Democrats vote against oil, coal, and nuclear power and promote "green energy" while consumers are left out in the cold and paying through the roof for their energy and food needs. Tort reform would also help in protecting and incentivizing energy producers to build power plants and oil refineries.
Repeal Ethanol Subsidies and Mandates: This is self explanatory. There is "bi-partisan" recognition that ethanol has enriched a few special interests, while raising the cost of fuel and food. What a regressive, backdoor tax on the "little guy" whom the Democrats purport to endear. This is a political winner.
Immigration: As our borders remain open and our immigration agents are hamstringed from enforcing the laws, more states are finding it necessary to deal with the issue on a local level. Our huge victories in state legislatures will give us a tremendous opportunity to clamp down on illegal immigration, while simultaneously embarrassing the administration for their criminal negligence in lack of apprehension of non-criminal aliens. The problem is that the ACLU and the Justice Department have contrived a pseudo constitutional crisis based upon federal preemption of state immigration enforcement. While we firmly disagree with such jurisprudence, let’s solve the debacle once and for all in congress with a statutory fix. Unlike the President, congress has the ultimate preemption power over immigration law. Let’s pass a resolution clarifying the Immigration Reform act of 1965 to explicitly deputize states to enforce immigration laws. The Democrats would be hard pressed to oppose this measure based upon exit polling data on this issue.
Israel: The Democrats in congress like to distinguish themselves from Obama by repeating ad nauseum that they are supporters of Israel. Let’s call their bluff and make them sign on to a bill that stops funding the Palestinian Authority and moves our embassy to Jerusalem [S. 2737] (the city that Obama believes is not part of Israel). Obama and Clinton are already pledging another $150 million of our taxpayer money to the PA terrorists. This needs to be stopped immediately.
Also, in the realm of foreign policy, we need to pass a House Resolution (non-binding, obviously) condemning the START treaty and calling for a robust missile defense program.
These are just a few important agenda items over and beyond the obvious spending cuts that congress needs to pass. These legislative measures all represent good policy and good politics. We obviously need to prioritize our agenda, as we cannot throw everything out to the public at once. However, if we are to ignore these important issues and squander our historic mandate on pure symbolism, then what is the purpose of controlling the House? As Reagan once said, If not us, then who? And if not now, when?
Cross-posted to Red Meat Conservative