They say in the finance industry that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. In politics, you can almost always drop the “not.” The past tells us what Republicans are prone to do when in January, a new crop of GOP legislators come to Washington and take the gavel of both houses of Congress.
The last times Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress were 2003-2005 and 2005-2007. The signature legislation of those eras were the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit in the 108th Congress and then the lack thereof of the pork barrel-filled "Do Nothing Congress" in the 109th.
One of the best, but little noted things that happened was the cutting of taxes for the middle class. Despite it being very good for the economy, it is rarely mentioned because of the economic collapse of 2008 that each party has tried to cast the blame on the other for.
After those four years Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress for the 110th Congress (2006 election) and then lost the Presidency two years later.
There are two lessons to be learned for the new GOP majority. And that is to avoid to being known for 1) the largest expansion of government spending since the Great Society program, and 2) doing nothing. Those four years Republicans basically became Democrats when it came to spending. They brought home the bacon, appropriation bills were filled with pork, and the Medicare Prescription Drug bill was a monstrosity.
The GOP has been granted a second chance after the November 2014 elections. If we want to lose our majorities again and help elect Hillary Clinton or whoever the Democrats decide to crown in 2016, the quickest way for us to do that is to spend like drunken sailors like we did last time we controlled both houses of Congress and get nothing else done.
What should we be doing? Tax reform. Border Security. Defeating ISIS. Lower the corporate tax rate. Regulatory reform both for small business and to make it easier for businesses to access capital. Dodd Frank Reform. Open up American energy and pass energy bills under the guise of jobs bills. Crack down on the IRS and the NSA. Repeal sections of the Patriot act. Defund the DOJ. The opportunities to fix this Country are endless and for once Congress can look like heroes to the public.
What should we not be doing? NOTHING for fear that the President will veto. Let him and when he does make sure every Communications staffer on the Hill pushes the veto to every media outlet large or small. I would love to see a wall on the new Majority Leader McConnell’s wall which is covered in all of the legislation that the President vetoed. Let Obama veto most of them, then he will be the Do Nothing President. Hillary will inherit his obstructionism and the GOP will have something to demonstrate they were adults in office and deserve to stay in the majority.
Just as dangerous however is divisive rhetoric within our own Party. Right now the Democrats realize their charade is up however and they realize the only way they can win is by running a campaign based on emotions and facts and make sure the GOP is divided. Comments from the newly announced director of the NRSC Ward Baker were an example of the mindless aspersions that Washingtonians feel the need to cast in the direction of tea party and constitutional conservatives: "We said we were going to be the Nick Saban of recruiting, we were going to recruit the best candidates, put them in the right position. We decided we couldn't be Akin-ed anymore. No more witches, no more gaffes.” These need to be erased from any conversations happening both internally and in the public eye.
Truth is, the 2014 election cycle has taught us within the GOP that neither the establishment nor the grassroots are strong enough to be on their own. Neither side can declare a total victory as both groups won and lost different races. Together as a team we won and beat the Democrats.
Maybe it’s naïve. Maybe it’s innocent. But in 2015, Republicans have a chance to buck the trends of their abysmal past performance. If we continue the unity, respect the various viewpoints within our Party and work together, we can reclaim the White House in 2016 and establish a long-term majority dedicated to reducing the size of government.