Are We Witnessing A Real “Do-Nothing” Congress?


Chris McDaniel Mississippi State Senator
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In the fall of 1948, Harry Truman was fighting for his political life.  Running for a term in his own right, the President found himself in a heap of trouble.  His poll numbers were so bad that many experts were publicly saying the race was over. Gallup quit taking surveys because the contest was, in their view, mostly decided.  Tom Dewey was a shoo-in.

But Truman fought back, attacking the Republican “do-nothing” Congress for inaction.  His “Give ‘Em Hell Harry” blitz turned the tide and presented Truman with one of the most iconic photographs in American political history.

The moral of this story?

The American people expect action on campaign promises, and they will take it out on lazy, disengaged politicians at the ballot box if they don’t get it.  Even though the Republican Congress in 1948 had several real accomplishments — cutting taxes and spending, which helped revive the economy — Truman’s message resonated with voters.

We should prepare to see it again in the coming years if Republicans fail to get any significant agenda items enacted into law in the next 18 months.  Only this time the “do-nothing” tag is well-deserved.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who recently resigned his seat in the House, probably out of frustration as much as anything else, told Fox News, regarding the healthcare bill, that even though Congress voted to repeal Obamacare at least 50 times under Obama, it was only “pretend.”

Chaffetz’s frustration showed:  “Republicans, their deal with America was: If you give us the House of Representatives, we can play defense; if you give us the Senate, we can play a little bit offense; you give us the House, the Senate, and the presidency and we can actually get things done. And so here we are seven months into it, and they haven’t even passed a bill yet.”

He’s right.  It’s becoming disgraceful.  And the establishment is to blame.

Regarding Obamacare for example, real conservatives, especially those in the Senate, like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, have developed alternative plans, but the GOP leadership isn’t cooperating because they evidently desire Obamacare to survive.

Cruz and Lee have proposed a modification that has been labeled by the House Freedom Caucus as a “consumer protection” amendment.  It would allow insurance companies to sell plans that do not comply with Obamacare on the condition they offer just one plan that does comply.  Though a good step in the right direction, the amendment does not go far enough; perhaps it is just an attempt to free the present logjam.  Whatever his intent, the Republicans in charge are already seeking to defeat it.

Mike Lee had likewise announced he would support any healthcare bill that came to the Senate floor, but only if the states were free to opt out of it.  In direct contradiction to their campaign rhetoric, GOP leadership has also rejected Lee’s idea.

Rand Paul’s plan, which is the best of all, is an attractive solution to the impasse — break things up into two bills:  first, repeal Obamacare in one act, as Republicans have promised since 2010, then institute reforms in a second, separate bill. President Trump has announced his support for Paul’s concept.  But in typical “do-nothing” fashion, the establishment Republicans won’t budge.

Another major issue, tax reform, is probably in worse legislative shape than healthcare.  Trump’s plan is a great start to a complex problem, which would be to cut the seven brackets down to three and double the personal deduction to $24,000.  The plan would also slash the corporate tax from 35 percent to 15.  Not only has it yet to take off, but it’s also not even on the launch pad.  True to form, Congress is standing in the way.

There are also other areas that need attention soon. With the federal budget set to top $4 trillion, we need a massive spending cut, to also include the elimination of many departments and agencies.  Welfare and anti-poverty programs need reductions.  With unfunded liabilities now at over $200 trillion, we desperately need entitlement reform. The military deserves an upgrade, and our space program also needs refining.  School choice and energy independence are also significant concerns.  But other than DC fundraisers, expensive dinners with lobbyists, and fancy cocktail parties, nothing is being done.

We have been given a historic opportunity to pass meaningful reforms to get the economy humming and moving in the right direction.  Now is the time to roll back the size and scope of the federal government.  Now is the time to stop judicial abuse and defund unconstitutional programs.  The Democrats are on the ropes.  If we are courageous enough to do the right thing, conservatives will be in power for years to come, and we can restore our faltering Republic.

But if we take no action, compromise, or surrender, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

We’ve talked about these issues for years, decades even.  Now it’s time to walk the walk.  It’s time for the “do-nothing” Congress to end.

The people are watching.