As the new Congress sets its agenda, there will be an incredible amount of pressure put on the new GOP majority to pass bills, regardless of substance, with bipartisan support to prove it can “govern.”
Yesterday Utah Senator Mike Lee posted a lengthy, by blog standards, essay at The Federalist, titled Mike Lee’s Plan to Fix Congress. It is a great read and deals in the realm of achievable goals and not in the fairy dust land of a Constitutional Convention, I recommend it to everyone. One of the points he touches on is a subject that is or particular interest to many contributors at RedState. It is the issue of how “governing” neatly dovetails with crony capitalism.
We’re going to be hearing that word, “govern,” a lot in coming weeks; as in, “Now Republicans must show they can govern.” What is meant by this is passing bills—quickly and with bipartisan support—and having them signed into law, in order to show the country that Republicans can “get things done.”
In this advice, there is much truth, and also a trap.
The truth is that, yes, Republicans should take every opportunity to reform federal law wherever common ground with Democrats can be found. And if good policy makes for good politics, as it usually does, so much the better.
But the trap is that Republicans in fact can’t “govern” from the House and Senate alone—especially without a Senate supermajority. We can clearly articulate our views and advance our ideas, and then see where we can work with the president and congressional Democrats. But we have to do these things in that order. We should find common ground that advances our agenda, rather than let the idea of common ground substitute for our agenda.
If we fail to grasp that, we will be drawn into advancing legislation that is both substantively and politically counterproductive, and that sends the wrong message to the public about our party. For instance, the easiest bipartisan measures to pass are almost always bills that directly benefit Big Business, and thus appeal to the corporatist establishments of both parties. In 2015, this “low-hanging fruit” we’ll hear about will be items like corporate tax reform, Obamacare’s medical device tax, patent reform, and perhaps the Keystone XL pipeline approval.
As it happens, these are all good ideas that I support. But if that’s as far as Republicans go, we will regret it. The GOP’s biggest branding …read more