WASHINGTON -- The new Republican-leaning Congress will get down to business in a few days to deal with the concerns of voters who were unhappy with the gang who ran the last Congress.
"Republican-leaning" may be an insufficient term for the incoming Congress. The Republicans, who crushed the Pelosi Democrats with a net gain of 63 GOP seats, now rule the entire House, its legislative machinery, oversight powers, and all tax-revenue measures, which must originate in the so-called lower chamber.
No legislation becomes law without the consent of the House, and those 63 largely rock-ribbed conservative members are in no mood to pass the rest of President Obama's big-spending, liberal agenda. Indeed, they want to repeal major parts of his earlier agenda.
The Senate, on the other hand, is still controlled by the Democrats, though Republicans have six more members now, shrinking Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's liberal majority to a tenuous three-vote margin. But several members of Reid's army, who come from conservative states, are on the ideologically endangered-species list in 2012 and might not be so eager to vote the party line next year.
If the White House hopes to pass anything in the Senate over the next two years, it will first need the approval of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Obama will be the first to admit that McConnell's approval is hard to get. Color the Senate reddish.
But what are the Republicans planning to do with their newfound power? They ran on a campaign pledge to grow the economy, put Americans back to work, apply the brakes on reckless spending and spiraling debt, because that's what the voters told them they wanted done.
"In short, the Pledge is the plan," Brendan Buck, chief spokesman for incoming House Speaker John Boehner, told me. "This fall, we laid out our Pledge to America, an agenda that reflects the people's priorities: creating jobs, cutting spending, and repealing the job-killing Obamacare law. Without tipping our hand too early on tactics, those will be our priorities in the new year."
How will they create more jobs? By boosting economic growth through new tax incentives to unlock needed venture-capital investment for start-up firms, and lowering tax burdens for all business, workers and investors. Don't expect more of Obama's spending stimulus plan, which dumped hundreds of billions of dollars into government spending that disappeared into a black hole and created few jobs, as 10 percent unemployment clearly confirms.
The late, great tax-cut crusader Jack Kemp used to say that you couldn't have more employees without more employers.
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