In case you thought Republicans would be emboldened to crush the liberal agenda and focus on their mandate, think again. Given the Republican agenda in just the first 48 hours back in Washington after the election, they’d do themselves and the country a favor by abolishing the lame-duck session.
Same failed leaders
Today, House leadership rammed through leadership elections before incoming freshmen even knew where to find the bathrooms and ensured that all the existing honchos were re-elected. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (F, 51%) was re-elected as Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (F, 35%)as Majority Leaders, Steve Scalise, R-La. (D, 62%) as Whip, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (F, 41%) as Conference Chair. Conservatives even lost the lower tier leadership races. Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio (F, 32%) was elected as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRSC) over a more conservative opponent, Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas (C, 79%). A man who voted more with the Democrats will now be in charge of recruiting candidates for the GOP majority. The same people with the same failed modus operandi and the same broken political barometer will be leading the GOP’s governing agenda in the House. (Ditto for the Senate.)
As Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. (A, 100%) wrote so convincingly, leadership elections should have been postponed until there is a clear direction as to the 100-day agenda of each leader. Why not give the freshmen more time to acquaint themselves with the candidates? Why the rush?
A weak agenda rooted in defensiveness
And what do we mean by the same failed modus operandi and a broken political barometer, one which tells them a winning issue is a loser and a losing issue is a winner?
Look no further than this week’s agenda:
As CR already reported, the very first act of the GOP House after the election was to create a new government board designed to market products of the concrete industry. The cost is paid for by levying what is essentially a tax that will be passed on to consumers. The federal government is basically running a 501(c)(6) business association for the masonry industry. This is the worst type of crony capitalism, expansion of government, and market social engineering that every Republican campaigned to end.
What else is on the GOP agenda?
Imagine what Republicans could spend their time on if they truly wanted to signal that they’ve changed their ways. They could pass a resolution blocking Obama from bringing in 1,800 migrants that even Australia rejected. Or, they could address the border surge. But no, banality reigns supreme.
While Democrats spend every waking hour plotting to advance the liberal agenda and marginalize conservatives, Republicans spend every waking hour focusing on random special interests, bills that can’t be messaged to their constituents, and avoiding contentious issues and important reforms, even when they are electoral winners. That is the GOP modus operandi that will sadly continue unless the people around Trump force them to change.
A return to earmarks?
One of the only fiscal reforms that conservatives have secured in recent years was the abolition of earmarks. The problem with earmarks is not the relatively small cost of the expenditure, but that the practice is used to buy off members in support of terrible legislation. As I told Breitbart.com, it is the magic grease and force multiplier to get a majority of members to support any bad policy.
Yet tomorrow, when the House GOP Conference formally adopts its rules package for the next Congress, a group of big spenders will push for a vote on restoring earmarks. Reps. John Culberson, R-Texas (F, 54%), Mike Rogers, R-Ala. (F, 54%), and Tom Rooney, R-Fla. (F, 58%) plan to call a vote to restore earmarks. Paul Ryan would be wise to deny them a vote like he does when he blocks many conservative initiatives.
What is further disturbing on the fiscal front is that RINO Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. (F, 29%) is slated to take over as chairman of the Appropriations Committee with porker-in-chief Hal Rogers, R-Ky. (F, 30%) term-limited out of office. Republicans will be inheriting $20 trillion debt, which is a tremendous drag on the economy in addition to being a liability on our children. It would have been a nice opportunity for Republicans to demonstrate that they will not repeat the mistakes of the Bush years by appointing a fiscal hawk as chair of the check-writing committee. Instead, they will choose someone with a 29 percent Liberty Score®.
Conservatives must not hope for change. They must ensure change.
The first step to forcing change is to mitigate any more harm. Congress should extend the FY 2017 budget CR to next April — when hopefully an invigorated majority will finally pass conservative priorities. After that, they should short circuit the lame-duck session and get out of town.
Over the December break, conservatives should build support for immediate and complete repeal of Obamacare when Congress convenes in January and have a repeal bill ready for Donald Trump the minute he returns from the inaugural ball.
Amazingly, Paul Ryan opened the conference meeting today with the following declaration!
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Ryan to nation: ‘Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government.’
— Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) November 15, 2016
Actually, meet the new boss … same as the old boss.
If Ryan wants us to believe this is a new governing majority, he must prove it.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.