After the political analysts complete their commentary on the meaning of the 2014 election, the serious work will begin to get this country back on the right track. There is much to do, big issues that have been ignored too long, our national security, and leadership not least of all.
Recently, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio., and incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., avoided the mistake of spiking the ball in the end zone, despite their resounding victory. They came out sober and business-like; it was exactly what the American people needed to see. Their job will be difficult, but there is a path forward and it is obvious: regular order.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., strategy of shutting down the Senate to protect his members from tough votes failed miserably, and did more to heighten the hyper partisanship and polarization we’ve come to know all to well in Washington. Reality ultimately trumped political posturing as voters rejected dysfunction in favor of candidates who promised to govern.
Regular order means going back to basics, where legislation moves through the tried and true process. Where the majority rules, but the minority get their say and has input. McConnell already made clear his intentions to allow an open amendment process in the Senate, something his predecessor failed to do. The legislative process works when bills are debated, rather than forced through under threat and media pressure.
Boehner and McConnell are going to have to be CEOs at the helm of complex difficult organizations, but they are also going to have to be creative and responsive to the bright ideas of their members and be flexible in favor of comprehensive objectives that garner support on both sides of the isle. Sticking to core conservative principles while finding common ground with Democrats is the best way for Republicans to improve their brand over the next two years.
The next election is soon, but now is the time to prove we can, to quote the president “get stuff done.” Republicans have an opportunity to show the American people that they’re capable of governing, and that they are much more than the party of “no.” Doing so will allow them to ride a wave of legislative accomplishments and set the platform for 2016 and beyond.
Boehner and McConnell have made clear their priorities.
It was a Democratic president who said “it’s the economy stupid,” but it has been the Republicans over the last couple of years who have made it their mantra. Boehner has asked hundreds of times, “Where are the jobs?” The answer lies in expanding trade, simplifying our antiquated tax code, and approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. Job growth comes from less regulation and more innovation, so the American people have the resources to save and invest for a decent return, afford their own health care and plan for their retirement.
Republicans should make it a top priority to reform the tax code for both individuals and businesses. There has already been plenty of support among Democrats and Republicans to increase the incentives for corporations to bring foreign revenue back into the U.S. This would mean more money for businesses to invest in jobs for the American people.
It is also imperative for Republicans to address the issue of our crushing national debt. Getting our fiscal house in order is critical to the future long-term growth of the economy. Identifying redundancies in the federal bureaucracy will streamline the delivery of government programs and bring government agencies in line with the demands of the 21st Century economy.
A well-educated workforce is also vital to the economy. We can accomplish this by implementing policies that encourage school choice and make college more affordable. We must also ensure that those who come to our country to receive an education, especially in the STEM field, are allowed to stay in the U.S. if their intention is to open a business and contribute to the economy.
These policies are just the tip of the iceberg of what Republicans and Democrats can accomplish starting next year. So before we just let the pundits pivot the conversation to the next election, let’s see what this group can do. The Congress is under new management and this is quite a turn around project. Let’s give them the opportunity to try. President Barack Obama may be a lame duck, but he still has 25 percent of his presidency left to work with — let’s salvage some of it with real progress.
Fred Malek is founder and chairman of Thayer Lodging Group and the American Action Network.
An earlier version of this post misstated the name of the group Malek chairs.