Conservatives Look To States After Election Triumph

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Peter Fricke Contributor
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Should Republicans fight President Barack Obama or compromise with him?

Chris Chocola, a former congressman from Indiana and current president of the free-market group Club for Growth, argued in an op-ed for The Washington Examiner on Tuesday that, “Republicans in Washington should look to the states for guidance.”

“Governors in blue and purple states,” he points out, “passed pro-growth reforms, ran on their records, and were re-elected,” providing a blueprint for the GOP nationally.

Gov. Sam Brownback, Chocola notes, “passed substantial pro-growth tax cuts” in Kansas, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder both won re-election after taking on public employee unions. (RELATED: Scott Walker Wins in Wisconsin)

Chocola gives national Republicans credit for advancing minor policy goals, “such as repealing the Obamacare medical device tax,” but says more substantive proposals are needed, because “voters across America did not send more Republicans to Washington [just] to repeal a tax on medical devices.”

While some Republicans believe that avoiding difficult issues will prevent the party from losing seats in 2016, Chocola argues that, “using power responsibly to promote reforms that lead to economic growth will indeed lead to a larger and more sustainable majority in the future.”

Several current members of Congress are putting forward their own, equally sanguine, visions of a feasible conservative governing agenda, as well. (RELATED: Candidates Campaigning Against Corporate Welfare)

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, for instance, laid out a five-point reform agenda last week in an op-ed for The Federalist.

The first aspect, “rebuilding trust,” is based on the recognition that the American people have lost trust in Congress thanks to manufactured crises and secret negotiations. To regain that trust, Lee says, Republicans should embrace a much more open legislative model, and “invite the people back into the process, to give the bills we do pass the moral legitimacy Congress alone no longer confers.”

Lee also says Republicans need to show voters that, “we’re pro-free market, not simply pro-business,” by targeting “the crony capitalist policies that rig our economy for large corporations and special interests at the expense of everyone else.” (RELATED: Research Sheds Light on Corporate Welfare in the States)

Republicans should also “keep it simple on the budget,” by eschewing arguments over “specific spending levels, cuts, programs, and reforms.” Instead, Lee says, they should focus on three core principles: balancing the budget within 10 years, avoiding tax increases, and repealing Obamacare, all of which they could accomplish with a simple majority using the reconciliation process.

Lee’s fourth point is that Republicans should “make a commitment in coming years not merely to cut big government, but to fix broken government,” rather than “blindly cutting the federal government’s budget.”

Finally, Lee recommends “Ryan-izing” the legislative process by requiring “that each committee — and ideally, each subcommittee — propose at least one major, fundamental, long-term policy overhaul each year,” just as Rep. Paul Ryan used his Budget Committee chairmanship to advance his “Roadmap for America’s Future.”

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, in an op-ed for the Idaho Statesman on Monday, echoed several of Lee’s proposals, while also advocating a plan to turn management of federal lands over to the states. (RELATED: Eric Cantor’s Loss Reveals Holes in the Conservative Reform Agenda)

“Congress should pass a free-market alternative to Obamacare,” Labrador argued, as well as lower tax rates, eliminate corporate welfare, and promote pro-growth policies that increase revenue while “cutting our $18 trillion debt now, not down the road.”

Labrador said all of this should be done within the first 100 days of the next Congress, in order to “prove that limited government can work efficiently and effectively.”

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