Less than a week into the new year, most dieting and exercise resolutions have already been shattered (try again in 2018). But the 115th Congress convenes January 3rd, with Republicans exercising the combined power of the House, Senate, and Presidency for the first time in ten years. This sudden rise in power after the polls predicted certain liberal victories comes as somewhat of a surprise to pundits and political operatives alike, and ushers in an era of a new brand of politics. The coming year promises Congress pivoting from a ‘Do-Nothing’ to doing quite a bit, tackling both President-Elect Trump’s campaign promises and Speaker Ryan’s Better Way agenda. These seven policies should take top priority in Washington during 2017.
1. Repeal Obamacare
Opinions of Affordable Care Act on the right range from dismal to abominable. The law sold as something that would reduce healthcare cost and insure those who couldn’t afford coverage resulted in hiking premiums as much as 100% and in some cases forcing more middle class workers out of healthcare coverage. This repeal should be considered a given following Trump’s incessant to the law, but one question remains – what will replace Obamacare?
Trump has indicated that Obamacare should be replaced with some sort of broad system, and Congressional Republicans waver between instating a modified universal system or opting for a complete free market approach. Republican leadership and President Trump must agree on what comes after Obamacare so that the repeal can move forward immediately.
2. Fill Supreme Court Vacancy
Ten months has passed since the death of Justice Scalia, and the Supreme Court should not take a backseat one day longer. Vetting and confirming Trump’s nominee will prove to be a long and arduous process in a Senate where Republicans hold only a two vote majority, and conservatives must regain control of the (currently) split Court as soon as possible.
3. Cut EPA, OSHA, and FDA Authority
Trump assumes the presidency with a pro-business focus and Ryan’s record is that of an economics hawk. Nothing has damaged business growth in the U.S. in recent decades as much as executive bureaucracies creating ad hoc laws that are just as (or more) binding as Congressional legislation, without half as much common sense. EPA regulations have limited free market business growth across the nation, OSHA remains a bane to employers with restrictive and unnecessary safety protocols, and the FDA limits the U.S. competitiveness in food and medicine markets.
Obviously, these agencies have a role to fill in a limited capacity, but should be restricted to a proper place (aka, not operating with legislative authority). An excellent first step was made with Trump’s nomination of limited government proponent Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, but Congress should take action to make sure that reductions in the bureaucracies remain permanently.
4. Tax Reform
In the same vein as reducing regulations to help business, the 115th Congress should tackle the U.S. Tax Code on two fronts: corporate and individual. Currently, the U.S. corporate tax is the highest in the world at 39%. Ryan’s Better Way proposes a reduction to 20%, which would attract all major producers in the world to build in the U.S., exploding the job market. And for individuals, reduce the seven-bracket tax code to a simple and flatter two- to three-bracket tax code, with slightly lower rates and no loopholes.
5. Secure Southern Border & End Welfare to Illegal Immigrants
President’s Trump original popularity hinged on his hard-line approach to immigration. The specifics of his plan remain as hazy as ever, with the wall in question still an vague uncertainty. However, with Trump at the helm and a unified Congress, Washington should make major strides towards better securing the border in some fashion during 2017. And even more importantly, Congress should consider a number of proposals to diminish the incentives of coming to the U.S. illegal – revoking the anchor baby loophole and barring anyone without proven citizenship from receiving any type of welfare benefits.
6. Refocus U.S. Energy
By appointing the longest-serving governor of the largest oil-producing state (Rick Perry of Texas) to head the Department of Energy, Trump clearly indicates where his energy preferences lie. The modern economy still relies on oil first and foremost, and Congress should remove all restrictions that currently limit the production of oil here in the U.S. (particularly offshore drilling restrictions).
Recent estimates show that the U.S. is sitting on more untapped oil reserves (264 billion barrels) than any other nations – bureaucratic regulations are the only thing stopping us from energy independence. After removing these choking regulations, Congress must stop subsidizing failing Green Energy products until they prove to be a practical source of energy, and should reconsider developing safe production of nuclear energy.
7. Considering Withdrawing U.N. Funding
After last week’s insult to the Israeli state, President Trump hinted at leaving the United Nations altogether. This is most likely to radical of a change for even Trump to make at this point in time, but Washington should seriously consider withdrawing the U.S.’s monetary funding of the U.N. Every year, American taxpayers fund $3 billion, or approximately 30% of the U.N.’s operating budget, which is more than 185 other nations contribute combined.
The U.N. has strayed from its own stated goals, evidenced by allowing rogue states (such as Venezuela or Senegal) the opportunity to sit on the Security Council and control the narrative on human rights. As long as such hypocritical absurdities dominate the processes of the U.N., the U.S. should cease funding the lion’s share of its budget.
What do you think of these seven resolutions for Congress in 2017? Are there other issues you think should be included in this list? Let us know in the comments section!
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