The Ripon Forum

Volume 48, No. 4

December 2014

“Republicans need to show that we can deliver.”

By on December 10, 2014



American voters were spectacularly supportive of Republican candidates in this year’s elections. We have 54 Republican Senators and we’ll have more Republicans in the House than at any point since Harry Truman was President.

And, it could all be for nothing if we as a Party squander the opportunity we have been given by failing to restore peoples’ trust that government can function competently.

Let’s be clear. The voters gave us a second look, and expect us to govern and solve problems. They question and reject many of the President’s policies, and have had their fill of the Harry Reid “Do-Nothing” Senate.

If we end 2014 and begin 2015 threatening to shut the government down; if we give voters the sense that we’re ready to take the process hostage, we will suffer the same fate the Democrats just did. We need to regain trust. We need to show that we are a party more interested in building than in tearing down. We need to demonstrate that when there’s trouble we’re the ones with a reasonable solution.

How often have you heard Republicans say that we should run government like a family runs their household? Consider that if a family disagrees about spending priorities, they don’t get the leisure of “shutting down” and telling their credit card companies, their utility providers or their mortgage lender that they’re closed until one side wins the argument. Or, that they’ll start meeting their obligations again once things are ironed out.

Republicans want a limited, competent government that functions in the “real world.” We offer ourselves as the contrast to out-of-touch federal government functionaries who do not have to confront the realities that face average Americans.

Republicans are right about this. But, people will never trust us if we make that argument and then scare the financial markets by playing chicken with the debt ceiling.

We must govern while the President lashes out and fumes.

There are a large number of commonsense pieces of legislation, which enjoy broad, bipartisan support not only in Congress, but with the public as well, that went nowhere in the Senate for political reasons. We should immediately pass some of these bills, like construction of the Keystone Pipeline, the elimination of the Medical Device Tax and the restoration of the forty-hour work week, which was done away with under the health care law, to show people we have the capacity to govern.

Republicans need to show that we can deliver.

Government’s core functions include providing for the national defense and supporting the nation’s infrastructure. We can win back a lot of trust just by showing that we can accomplish the basics of what people expect government to do.

We should pass a budget and the necessary appropriations bills. We must then move aggressively to pass a Transportation Bill. People want roads and bridges built and repaired in their states and towns. They want us to accelerate growth in the economy. We can do that by reforming the 70,000 plus page tax code to make it fairer, flatter and simpler. They want us to open markets for trade to benefit our manufacturers, farmers and workers. They want us to work in a bipartisan manner to accomplish these goals.

As Republicans we are in a unique position to lead and provide opportunity. President Obama is in a weakened position. He can choose to exceed his executive authority on divisive matters like immigration, but he will only be making himself weaker with these power plays. His actions give Americans even less reason to trust the government.

Republicans can seize the initiative from the President by showing that we will work to enact legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans. We must govern while the President lashes out and fumes. To regain the public’s trust we must do what we say we’ll do.

That goes beyond partisan politics. A functioning Majority focused on doing the right thing to grow the economy and get people working is exactly the trust boost Americans need.

Charlie Dent represents the 15th District of Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as Co-Chair of the House Tuesday Group.

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