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Memo to GOP: If you want to keep Congress in 2018, voters can't argue with results
Do your job, and do it well.
The quick analysis from Republican losses in New Jersey and Virginia this past week is that Donald Trump is unpopular and the voters are expressing their displeasure at the ballot box. It's certainly not the first time that has happened. The president's party usually loses seats in off-year elections because voters are unhappy about one thing or another.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Much of Washington seems to think the president's unusually low approval ratings make a Republican wipeout inevitable in 2018. They're bracing for the loss of the House and the Senate - and maybe both - and of many of the GOP's gigantic majority in governorships and state legislatures across the country.
Is it really going to get that bad? Is this inevitable?
Voters usually rebel like this when one of two things happen: 1. The party in power fails to do things the voters expected them to do. 2. The party in power goes ahead and does things the voters didn't want them to do.
Scenario 2 was the reason Democrats got bazooked in 2010 and 2014, and it was mostly about ObamaCare. Those Red Wave elections amounted to the voters putting a restraining order on the Obama White House and telling it to knock it off.
But it's Scenario 1, not President Trump's personality or style, that is putting Republicans in jeopardy going into 2018. The same voters who elected Trump last year knew full well how he operates. No one is shocked by that. They decided then to accept all that in order to get a policy agenda that was more to their liking than Hillary Clinton's. The problem is that, for the most part, they haven't gotten it yet.
The rollback of regulations has been very good. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch has been excellent. The reversal of Obama executive orders, particularly on domestic energy matters, has helped fuel improved economic growth.
But we're still stuck with ObamaCare and we're still waiting for tax reform. These are the biggest items on the voters' minds, and to this point the Republican Congress hasn't gotten its act together to get either one of them done. Now we're hearing that the Senate might delay the corporate tax cut - the absolute strongest part of the tax proposal - by a year in order to comply with their arcane reconciliation rules. If they do that, they'll delay the acceleration of economic growth the country needs to see to in order to believe Republicans are doing their jobs and deserve continued control of Congress.
I'm not saying they should do these things just because there's an election coming up and they want to keep their jobs. I'm saying the opposite. I'm saying that if you want to win re-election, stop freaking out about the politics all the time and just do your job. The people need growth. They need jobs. They need opportunity. And much of the struggle to realize it comes from a twisted tax code Congress has taken far too long to fix.
Solve that problem, and it won't matter what President Trump tweets, or who he says what about. The people want results. And to the extent they haven't gotten those results yet, it's not because of President Trump. He's ready to sign the bills that need to be passed. But we've got a dysfunctional Republican majority that can't seem to figure out what to pass or how to pass it.
Straighten that out, and 2018 will take care of itself.
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