OK, Health Care is Dead. Here Are Four Things Congress Can Do Now

How Trump, and Congress, can avoid the fate of being unproductive

This Congress is going to be “historically unproductive,” according to David Faris in The Week:

One measure of what Congress is likely to do the rest of the year is to look at bills that have already passed the House but are awaiting action in the Senate. There are 238 of them. Amazingly, GovTrack gives only 13 a better than 50 percent chance of actually arriving on President Trump’s desk in their current form. If that holds up, Trump will have signed just 56 laws by the beginning of the 2018 congressional session. If this tortoise-like pace continues, he will preside over the least productive Congress since Millard Fillmore signed just 74 bills sent to him by the brink-of-war 32nd Congress between 1851 and 1853.

President Trump doesn’t seem to notice. He keeps touting his unprecedented accomplishments, not recognizing that the pace of his legislative victories is indeed nearly unprecedented – except not in the direction he claims.

With the failure of the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, is there anything that can be done to reverse this trend?

There is, in fact, quite a bit that this Republican Congress can do. Let us suggest four areas of legislative focus:

Repeal Obamacare one piece at a time

The effort to simultaneously repeal and replace the ACA didn’t work because “repealing” is opposed by moderates and “replacing” is opposed by conservatives. Meanwhile, Democrats are sitting on the sidelines. Trump could enlist them into battle by suggesting smaller fixes. Instead of talking, truthfully, about how Obamacare is heading for disaster, Trump should instead suggest fixing the bill with smaller, bipartisan reforms.

Slash the capital gains tax

Trump’s tax reform proposals on income taxes, which are only paid by about half of Americans, are vulnerable to the charge that they primarily benefit the wealthy. Rather than step into class warfare, Trump should instead propose to cut the capital gains tax in half. It will benefit the wealthy, but it will spur massive investment and growth to increase government revenue.

Tackle entitlement reform

Trump unwisely ran on a promise to leave Social Security and Medicare untouched. That is the equivalent of burying our heads in the sand. You think Obamacare is unsustainable? These entitlement juggernauts are barreling headlong toward insolvency at a rapid rate. Entitlement reform is a pet project of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. If Trump were merely to say that he was open to Ryan’s proposals, it would skyrocket to the top policy agenda item overnight. That would spark a flurry of likely-productive legislative activity.

Go small or go home

When Bill Clinton lost his majority in Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, he quickly abandoned ambitious legislation and grasped things like the v-chip in television sets and school uniforms. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to get much through a Republican congress. He focused instead on small things that gave the illusion of accomplishment. Trump’s executive order approach is already doing that in name.

However, if he took these suggestions, he could avoid the fate of being the least-productive Congress – and controlled by a single party, to boot! – since 1853.

(Photo of Donald Trump’s Joint Address to Congress on February 28, 2017, by the White House.)

Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett recently ran for Congress as the first candidate of the newly formed United Utah Party and garnered the largest vote percentage of any third-party congressional candidate in Utah history. A longtime editorial writer and columnist for the Deseret News, he has managed several political campaigns in Utah, and he is currently at work on a biography of his father, former Utah Senator Robert F. Bennett. He and his wife, Laurel, are the parents of five children.

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