Now over one month ago, Republicans succeeded in attaining almost unprecedented control over the country’s various levels of government. After eight years of having progressive policies shoved down our collective throat, mixed with an extreme, uncompromising approach taken by our current Commander in Chief, the GOP now holds all the cards (come January 20th, of course). The question is: can President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and the rest of the Republican leadership learn from the Democrat’s grave mistakes in the dawn of President Obama’s seemingly all-encompassing progressive mandate?
In ’08, the GOP was dealt a heavy blow. Democrats across the country clenched onto Barack Obama’s coattails and rode his momentum to victory. What did they do with this newfound control? Expanded the power of the Federal Government exponentially by ramming legislation through Congress, not the least of which was the disaster now known as the Affordable Care Act. About which, then Speaker Nancy Pelosi once exclaimed "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." That kind of lunacy, and blind adherence to dogma, is exactly what Republicans must avoid succumbing to.
So then, what should soon-to-be President Trump’s first signature legislation focus on? The Donald has pointed to a few options. First and foremost, the core theme of Trump’s entire campaign was a focus on the illegal immigration problem facing the country. One would be right to assume that he’d first set his eyes on some sort of reform to address this, or even “build the wall.” Yet, he has since (allegedly) acknowledged that a wall is not entirely possible. This, to me at least, is not that concerning. I never once believed that pipe dream of a wall stretching across our southern border. However, many of his followers did enthusiastically buy-in to his “Build the Wall!” mantra. This has caused a bit of a rift in the Trump camp, as illustrated best by Ann Coulter’s Twitter feed. Donald has also shown a slight softening of his once very tough stance on policies dealing with illegal immigrants already in the United States. What once appeared to be a straightforward policy option for a Trump administration, appears to be going by the wayside.
Additionally, Trump throughout his campaign, expressed his distaste for NAFTA. Despite the clear lack of economic understanding displayed in this argument he has articulated. As a free-trader, I would argue that this would be a colossally poor route to take the country down. However, it may not be politically inexpedient for a President Trump, until the unintended consequences start pouring in. Like Obama and his brainchild, the Affordable Care Act, Trump’s base would salivate over the gutting of NAFTA and other beneficial trade policies. While on the surface, this may seem appealing to Trump, he would undoubtedly end up reaping what he sowed like his predecessor did. Any move towards protectionism is the line from which I’d hope Paul Ryan would not budge.
A third path I could envision a fledgling Trump administration undertaking is on energy. This would be a very good option, in my opinion, especially considering Trump’s rhetoric on the issue. In his “First 100 Days” plan, Trump pledges to “lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.” Legislation signed into law by Trump of this sort would invigorate the economy and our energy industry. Allowing America to be even more energy self-sufficient will only help all parties involved in the economy. A scenario in which this occurs, is my preferred option. Generally speaking, any deregulation is beneficial, and this would be exceptionally good.
Finally, a large and significant initiative in reforming our nation’s tax code could very well be the go-to option for Donald Trump and his associates. It is certainly needed, but is probably a cumbersome endeavor. If President Trump and the Congressional Republicans believe this is the best use of their recently obtained political capital, then it could likely be the headliner for their agenda. His tax plan (which can be viewed in full here) places taxpayers in one of four income tax brackets; 0%, 10%, 20%, and 25%. Overall, while simplistic, Trump’s plan seems to be realistic and achievable. However, whatever tax cuts Congress passes and President Trump signs, needs to be met with ample deregulation. The combination of cutting taxes AND deregulation is what jumpstarts an economy. The two go hand-in-hand, and need to be treated as such.
Anything President Trump and Congressional Republicans set their eyes on will surely be met with boos and hisses from the Left. However, this game of tit-for-tat the Democrats started in ’08 needs to be avoided. The GOP has the full might of congressional and executive authority behind it, but the Democrats still have a seat at the table. Instead of using executive power to scold Democrats, like they’ve done to us over the past eight years, I genuinely hope that Republicans reinstate the restraints on executive and federal power that have been usurped over the last 100 years (and especially the last eight). Charles C.W. Cooke said it best, “If you would not see your enemies handed untrammeled power, seek it not for your friends.” We must learn the lesson of the Obama Presidency. Should we fail, look to Newton’s Third Law for forecast.