It appears that the Republican party has successfully changed their PR campaign out of the gate.
This morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal entitled, “Now We Can Get Congress Going,” laying out something of a “Contract With America”-like outline of priorities:
Our priorities in the 114th Congress will be your priorities. That means addressing head-on many of the most pressing challenges facing the country, including:
• The insanely complex tax code that is driving American jobs overseas;
• Health costs that continue to rise under a hopelessly flawed law that Americans have never supported;
• A savage global terrorist threat that seeks to wage war on every American;
• An education system that denies choice to parents and denies a good education to too many children;
• Excessive regulations and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up costs for families and preventing the economy from growing;
• An antiquated government bureaucracy ill-equipped to serve a citizenry facing 21st-century challenges, from disease control to caring for veterans;
• A national debt that has Americans stealing from their children and grandchildren, robbing them of benefits that they will never see and leaving them with burdens that will be nearly impossible to repay.
The same posting mentioned the following context for scope of change:
Will these bills single-handedly turn around the economy? No. But taking up bipartisan bills aimed at helping the economy that have already passed the House is a sensible and obvious first step.
More good ideas aimed at helping the American middle class will follow. And as we work to persuade others of their merit, we won’t repeat the mistakes made when a different majority ran Congress in the first years of Barack Obama’s presidency, attempting to reshape large chunks of the nation’s economy with massive bills that few Americans have read and fewer understand.
Instead, we will restore an era in which committees in both the House and Senate conduct meaningful oversight of federal agencies and develop and debate legislation; and where members of the minority party in both chambers are given the opportunity to participate in the process of governing.
As the Speaker alluded to, there are already a number of bills in the Legislative branch that have significant support across the board. In theory, getting such bills passed and sent for the President’s signature can potentially build up political capital on both sides of the aisle; this is the rhetorical currency of deal-making, and also what makes politics an art that many of us enjoy.
Could I echo Sen. McConnell’s comments in his presser yesterday remarking how he hopes the President doesn’t “poison the well” by acting in less than deal-making fashion? Yes. This is also supported by a comment someone made after the President’s presser where he jokingly remarked about not knowing for sure if Kentucky bourbon is Sen. McConnell’s favorite drink; wouldn’t a historically close working relationship between power-brokers on the Hill already have provided such anecdotal information? The answer is yes.
In my view, the GOP must take the priorities enumerated above and — if not already written in legislative form — get representative bills scrutinized in committee, sent out to the floor of each respective chamber, get passed and sent to the While House. I think the GOP should do this in spite of any potential veto threats. Do this enough times and I believe the American people will understand who’s willing to take action and who’s not, which also practically translates into who’s representing the will of the nation and who’s not.
Once again (and dare I say this), the President could show true statesmanship by actually signing bills that cross his desk — especially those bills with strong bipartisan support.