Dave Brat column: In Congress: getting from no to yes
By Dave Brat
When President Reagan came into office, the country was suffering like it is now: Our economy was in shambles, foreign policy was weak, and Americans were dispirited. With Reagan, OK was not good enough, so, once in office, he went big, bold and confident. Right now that’s what the American people are looking for. There’s an unmistakable feeling that real progress is truly possible and within reach. Real change, not incremental tweaks around the edges of bad policy, has been my focus since I was elected to office. That was my promise. Meaningful change improves the lives of my constituents.
When you say no to bad policy, you open up a window to say yes to good policy and this big, bold vision. For example, we stood against the bad budget deal that blew the budget caps last spring, and now we can push for next year’s budget to repeal Obamacare, and contain a $1 trillion cut in taxes and spending reductions. We now have a new chance to get it right this year under a Republican president.
I believed, rightly, that we could negotiate a better deal with a new president. After leadership failed to hold a vote on the budget in the spring, many of us demanded and got a long-term continuing resolution to avoid negotiating with Obama in a lame duck session.
Opposition to the bad budget deal was not based on partisanship or personalities, but based solely on principle. The federal budget deficit is projected to balloon to $590 billion in 2016; and if Congress continues on its current path of spending, the deficit will surpass $1 trillion a year by 2022 and every year thereafter. We have a moral obligation to address this failure. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to put this nation on a solid, sustainable and permanent course toward eliminating deficit spending and reducing the national debt.
Principled opposition from members in the House Freedom Caucus kept comprehensive immigration reform off the House floor. We asked for a pause on incoming refugees until they can be properly vetted, opposed the Iran nuclear deal, protected the First and Fourth Amendment rights of all Americans, asked for a return to regular order and rules reforms in the House, and played a pivotal role in changes to House leadership.
We were also able to halt a flawed education reform bill. We halted funding for the crony capitalist Export-Import Bank for nearly six months. All this — and more — is possible when we in Congress decide to hold the line and demand that this body represent the desires of the American people.
When the 115th Congress convenes next year, the House will be able to work on passing a budget resolution that outlines a pro-growth, conservative agenda. The House and Senate can pass a budget resolution that assumes the repeal of Obamacare, and put legislation on the president’s desk that will do just that. Also, we will now have reconciliation next year under a Republican president.
The reconciliation bill will likely hit tax reform, lowering tax rates, making our firms competitive around the world, and bringing a trillion back in repatriation to pay for lowering the national debt and needed updates to infrastructure. This is a huge opportunity and great news for all. Saying no last year led to this opportunity.
Congress will also have time to get rid of bad laws like the Overtime Rule. This rule, created by the Department of Labor, would be a disastrous, job-killing regulation for small businesses, colleges and nonprofits if implemented. Juanita Duggan, president of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), was invited to address the House Freedom Caucus about the detrimental consequences of this regulation. Following her lead, we are fairly confident that Congress will put an end to the Overtime Rule this year. Again, good policy for all. Small businesses create approximately 70 percent of all new jobs. This will help your kids in the job market.
We will also re-introduce good legislation. Several good bills came this year from my fellow Virginian, Bob Goodlatte, and the Judiciary Committee he chairs, including five bills that address our immigration crisis as well as reforms of the visa and refugee resettlement programs. Many other bills will help to reduce the regulatory burden on small business.
The free-market and Republican principles championed by Adam Smith and James Madison, whose home is in my district, are values that stand the test of time. These are the principles that made our nation the greatest on earth and we need to keep it that way. Saying no to King George was not easy. But it led to a giant yes for We, the people. Today, we have new kings that rule from the top down and dictate policy and party patronage. This is not the American way. Every policy should put the American people front and center.
It is wonderful to see leadership in Washington, D.C., beginning to acknowledge the forgotten men and women who have been pummeled by poor policies and a stagnant economy — and we continue to fight for you there. The goal is to get to yes on good policy.