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Op-ed Placement

House Republicans forgot to act like Republicans, so they lost

BY Noah Wall
6 days ago
Originally Published in The Washington Examiner by Noah Wall on 11/7/18.

The results are in, and Republicans have lost the majority in the House of Representatives. This outcome was disappointing, but not surprising.

The president’s party loses an average of 32 seats in the House during a midterm election year. It has been this way since 1862, with only two exceptions. Republican leadership needed an unusually high GOP turnout to preserve the majority, and as luck would have it, they had the tools to make it happen.

Republicans had control over two branches of government, a strong economy, a president enthusiastically stumping for GOP candidates, even a last-minute enthusiasm boost from the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.

If ever there was a year for a historic upset, this would have been it. Unfortunately, congressional Republicans failed to check off the most important box of all: They forgot to govern like Republicans.

When congressional Republicans govern like Democrats, likely GOP voters stay home. This is normally the moment when Republican Party “strategists” release a 100-page autopsy to analyze “what went wrong” this cycle, but I will save them the trouble.

Rather than seizing the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create an enduring legacy of free markets, lower taxes, shrinking debts, and economic growth, Republicans in Congress made four critical mistakes that ultimately cost them the majority.

Mistake #1: Ignored regular order, governed by manufactured crisis

Under Republican watch, Congress passed two huge spending bills with almost no time for legislators to read the bill before the vote. Republican leadership justified the last-minute vote by claiming it avoided a shutdown, but really it was a self-manufactured crisis.

Republican leadership promised a return to regular order. They promised voters that a GOP majority would follow the annual appropriations process as it’s written. Yet, GOP voters were looking at another broken promise, another fiscal emergency.

Mistake #2: Passed giant spending bills

Republican leadership forced through a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that busted spending caps and increased our national debt to $22 trillion. After such a massive spending spree, it’s almost impossible for the GOP to maintain credibility as the party of fiscal responsibility.

In 2011, the FreedomWorks Tea Party Debt Commission, led by volunteer grassroots activists, created a budget that would cut spending by at least $9 trillion and balance the federal budget in less than 10 years without raising taxes. If everyday citizens can solve the debt problem, why can’t a Republican majority?

Mistake #3: Failed to repeal Obamacare

Republican leadership talked a big game about “repealing and replacing” Obamacare, especially during the 2016 election season. It was easy for GOP legislators to speak in bold rhetoric while hiding behind the almost certain veto of President Barack Obama.

With Republican control of the White House, there was nothing stopping the repeal of Obamacare except for other turncoat Republicans. The individual mandate is gone. Healthcare premiums have spiked across the country. So many insurance providers left the state exchanges that 21 percent of Obamacare consumers are faced with a monopoly in the marketplace.

Once again, Republican voters were left shaking their heads. All the Republican majority had to do was call time of death on the failed program. They had one job.

Mistake #4: Mocked colleagues who want to cut spending

When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., fights to stop new federal spending, Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, accuses him of “wasting everybody's time.”

When chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows, R-N.C., votes according to the principles outlined in the Constitution, former Speaker of the House John Boehner calls him “an idiot.”

Republicans lost the House majority because they have completely abandoned the fiscally conservative principles that got them sent to Washington in the first place. It’s time for Republican leadership to clean house and take accountability for their policy failures. Obama is not around to blame anymore.

If Republican leadership is unwilling to fight for a pro-liberty agenda, they should yield to the rising generation of conservative leaders who are willing to do so — if they want to win elections, that is.