Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Accomplishments of the Current Republican Congressional Majority

           The Republican majority in the United States Congress has achieved a considerable amount since gaining the majority in January of 2011, despite a liberal Democratic President and robust minority in the Senate.

            Sometimes, all a majority can do when the Chief Executive is a member of the opposite party and that party enjoys the power of the filibuster in the Senate is to block bad proposals.  The Republican congressional majority has certainly blocked its share of liberal measures, but it has also forced the liberal Democrats to make numerous concessions on a wide range of issues, from security, foreign policy and veterans’ affairs, to taxes, regulations, abortion, drugs, as well as domestic spending cuts.  In addition to legislation, the GOP majority has become a party to successful federal litigation against President Barack Obama’s constitutional violations and used its power to hold hearings effectively to expose wrongdoing and make fixes.  Many of the concessions the Republicans wrought came from budget deals. 

            Among the major liberal proposals the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and Senate has blocked were the following: cap and trade, union card check, legalization of illegal aliens who earn college degrees, federal funding of universal pre-kindergarten, ending the embargo on Cuba and closing the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay and transferring the terrorist detainees to the American homeland.

            The Republican congressional majority obtained critical funds to renew the American nuclear force, won Purple Hearts and concomitant benefits for victims of Islamist attacks in the American homeland, imposed sanctions on the Hezbollah Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization, authorized lethal arms sales to Ukraine and reauthorized the International Religious Freedom Act.  They also won aid for the September 11 rescue workers.

The Republican congressional majority has attained hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts, including for domestic spending.  They have accomplished this feat by minimizing tax increases.  The GOP majority in Congress obtained the permanent extension of most of the George W. Bush income tax cuts, except on the highest earners.  A major accomplishment in regard to taxes was the permanent fix of the Alternative Minimum Tax by indexing it to inflation, instead of causing anxiety for millions of taxpayers caught by the AMT every year.

In regard to the federalization of health insurance (Obamacare), the majority Republicans in Congress protected health savings accounts, thereby essentially extending another Bush income tax cut.  They also prohibited the reimbursement of health insurance companies for their losses because of Obamacare.  The Republicans also completed the “doctor fix” for reimbursements. 

Among regulatory matters the Republican congressional majority addressed were the following: the expedition of the granting of permits for off-shore oil drilling, some curtailment of federal land-grabbing powers, a prohibition on federal funds to phase out incandescent light bulbs, a prohibition of the listing of a species as endangered, a weakening of a regulation to reduce the salt content of school lunches and the easing of banking regulations in regard to derivatives.  They also obtained an increase in campaign contribution limits.

A banning of federal needle exchanges and the prohibition of federal funds for abortion and marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia were among the GOP congressional majority’s other domestic accomplishments.

The Republican congressional majority has become a party to federal litigation when Obama has violated the Constitution, winning a unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court that he had abused his power to make recess appointments and blocking in federal courts Obama’s usurpation of federal immigration laws by establishing a legalization regime through executive actions.  In addition, the GOP majority has filed friend-of-the-court briefs in other cases.

The Republican congressional majority has made effective use of its power to hold hearings, such as in regard to Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service.  Its hearings in regard to the scandalous treatment of veterans by the Veterans Administration led to legislation to hold the VA more accountable. 

These accomplishments of the Republican majority in the House and Senate disprove the liberal Democratic argument that the GOP in Congress has been obstructionist and disproves the argument by other critics that the Republican majority has failed to accomplish much or win many concessions, despite the challenge of liberal Democratic control of the office of President and the ability of the liberal Democratic minority in the Senate to filibuster Republican initiatives.  

See also the following posts: Conservative Analysis of the Congressional Lame Duck Session, from January of 2011, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2011/01/conservative-analysis-of-congressional.html, Conservative Analysis of the Fiscal Cliff Tax Deal, from January of 2013, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2013/01/conservative-analysis-of-fiscal-cliff.html, Conservative Analysis of the Two-Year United States Budget Deal, from December of 2013, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2013/12/conservative-analysis-of-two-year.html, and Conservative Analysis of the United States Federal Spending Authorizations, from December of 2014, http://williamcinfici.blogspot.com/2014/12/conservative-analysis-of-united-states.html.

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