Point/Counterpoint: The next two years in Congress


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GOP must change strategy

Ever since the Republicans had control of the House, they have been in a sticky situation with President Obama. On one hand, they had enough representation in Washington in which conservative activists could demand action. On the other hand, with Harry Reid running the Senate, it was virtually impossible to even get their bills up for a vote. The result was that their legislative actions became largely symbolic (more than 40 votes on repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act). Some would argue they enjoyed the perception of being powerless and blaming the president for anything that came up.

With an approval rating in the low 40s, Obama is not popular. In many ways, this is how the Republicans had such success this election cycle. However, after this midterm election, the GOP must change its strategy.

There are too many Republicans in Congress for their message to be simply opposing the president. As Rand Paul put it, the GOP brand “sucks.” For far too long, it has been only anti-Obama and nothing else.

It is no surprise that when House Speaker John Boehner met with Obama shortly after the Republican victory, he emphasized the many bills that the House had passed. Most of these were related to jobs and the economy, a topic Americans consistently rate at the top of their priority list.
The Republicans will need to put as many bills as possible in front of the president. If the bills are somewhat bipartisan, they can frame Obama as being uncooperative if he vetoes them. Charles Krauthammer recommended in the Columbus Dispatch that the rate should be “a bill a week for the first 10 weeks.” I agree with this recommendation.

The focus should be on actions that harbor significant Democratic support. For example, the Keystone XL pipeline is a no-brainer. A substantial number of Democrats support it, and it will be difficult for the president to attack. Large symbolic actions such as repealing Obamacare, on the other hand, will be unproductive and will only hurt their new image.

The worst thing Obama can do at this point is to pursue executive action on illegal immigration. The result would essentially be a declaration of war against Republicans; Boehner described is as “poisoning the well.” In any case, it would lead to a very unproductive two years.

To many in Washington, politics is all about the next election. There is no doubt whether both Republican and Democratic leaders have 2016 on their minds. If the Republicans can succeed in highlighting their vision for America and painting Obama and the Democrats as the party of “no,” they will have a much greater chance of exciting voters come 2016.

Michael Korobov

Don’t burn bridges

With the GOP taking the Senate majority and gaining full control of Congress what the next two years will look like is cause for speculation. It is no secret that President Obama has had a rocky relationship with Congress riddled with gridlock and blatant opposition when the GOP controlled the House beginning in 2010. The results of the recent midterm elections give the GOP full control over Congress, and this could result in a legislative knife fight for the next two years.

Republicans already have their eyes on gutting Obamacare, which won’t happen without a fight, and Obama has suggested he will make moves on the issue of illegal immigration.

Just because the GOP has the majority does not mean the president is defenseless, but neither side should want to see the relationship get to the point of excessive vetoes and strong-arm executive orders.

The GOP is now in a position to turn around its public perception of poor bipartisanship and change the course of itsrelationship with the President. The checks and balances that form the framework of the Constitution were put in place as safeguards against tyranny. However, we have seen these checks and balances become political weapons used to polarized agendas.

The functioning of the governing body as a whole can be seen as a three-­legged race with the GOP now effectively in the position to drag Obama to the finish line with their majority.

However, more could be done if both sides remain cordial and work in harmony. There’s no telling how long the GOP will be able to hold its majority, and burning bridges while the Republicans are on top could prove to be  disastrous if the circumstances change in the future. The public eye will be on the GOP, and its actions moving forward have the potential to either forge a bridge of bipartisanship or further divide the parties.

Marcus Brown

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