Republicans should not let their minority status in the U.S. House of Representatives keep them from passing good legislation.

Republicans can use a combination of creative policy ideas and effective communication to pressure Democrats to “play ball” on particular issues. With Republicans in control of the presidency and Senate, and thus able (if politically savvy enough) to set the agenda and even to pass bills for the House to consider, there is no reason House Republicans should be anything but energetic in trying to govern.

When Ronald Reagan was president, he enjoyed the same majority in the Senate for three terms (53 or 54 seats each term) while facing significantly larger Democratic majorities in the House than President Trump faces right now. Reagan was nonetheless remarkably successful at pushing through major legislative initiatives each term.

Of course, the political atmosphere was different then — more bipartisan, and with far more Democrats being truly moderate or even slightly right of center, than today. But even after the 1982 election, at a time when Republicans held only 166 House seats (compared to 200 today), they managed to pass a major reform of Social Security and a major anti-crime bill. And with only 182 House Republicans in 1985-86, the 99th Congress passed the landmark Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget act, the transformative Goldwater-Nichols defense reorganization act, and the sweeping tax reform that cut the top income tax rate to 28 percent.

The Democratic caucus is more regimented now, and of course, left-wing outside groups are more powerful than in Reagan’s day. But as noted above, the Democratic majority is now smaller. And although hard-left candidates made gains within the caucus, the larger number of Democratic pick-ups in 2018 come from candidates running in swing districts, using moderate rhetoric, and often with military or law-enforcement backgrounds that gave them culturally conservative patinas.

The self-identifiably centrist Democratic Blue Dog Coalition has a membership of 24….

[later in the column:] Fortunately, the new chairs of the House GOP Policy Committee (its internal think tank) and the House Republican Conference (which has a major communications function) are tremendously talented. Alabama’s Gary Palmer, the new Policy chair, spent 25 years running a remarkably successful conservative state think tank, and his close ties to the national State Policy Network make him keenly attuned to new ideas and ways of selling them. Wyoming’s Liz Cheney, the new Conference chair, is sharp as a tack, an ace communicator, and a no-nonsense, energetic team builder…..

[The rest of the column is at this link.]


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