Now that House Democrats are on the verge of plunging the nation into an impeachment crisis, America is about to learn what President Obama was talking about when he lectured frustrated Republicans that “elections have consequences.”
Boy, do they.
A quick comparison of this session of Congress with the last clearly illustrates the point. By any measure, the 115th with about a thousand bills passed out of the House was, as then-Speaker Paul Ryan said, “One of the most productive sessions of Congress in a generation.”
Fast forward a year and there is little in the way of accomplishment, as some of us forewarned, in the 116th Democrat-controlled House. Not even a budget resolution. By contrast, the 115th passed three budget resolutions (I was senior freshman on the Budget Committee), and for the first time in over two decades passed nearly 80 percent of its appropriations on time.
About the only thing the 116th is guaranteeing in next year’s spending bills is a repeal of the Hyde Amendment ban on taxpayer funding of abortion.
Of course, the biggest achievement of the Trump administration and its work with the last session of Congress was a return of 3 percent economic growth with wages growing faster than at any time over the last decade. In fact, it’s been so successful that Joe Biden is trying to take credit for it.
But, as Bill Clinton used to say, that dog won’t hunt.
The truth is the Obama-Biden administration presided over the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression averaging just 1.5 percent annual GDP growth. All the while massively raising taxes and doubling the debt. The Carter-style malaise wasn’t lifted until tax and regulatory reform took place under the Trump administration and the 115th Congress.
Indeed, as important as tax reform was, freeing the economy from the Obama-era regulatory bender of some 600 “major” (having an economic effect of $100 million or more) rules was what really jumpstarted growth. By the end of 2016, there were over 95,000 pages in the Federal Register — the most since 1936, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Even after the election on Nov. 9, 2016, the Obama administration released another 145 regulations, costing more than $16 billion. The total compliance burden was the economic equivalent of the federal income tax costing Americans roughly $15,000 per household.
That’s why in the first 100 days of the 115th Congress we passed, and the president signed, a record 14 Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions successfully overturning these costly federal mandates — immediately saving at least $3.7 billion and 4.2 million hours filling out federal paperwork.
In Minnesota and across the country, this meant a resurgence in mining, logging and manufacturing jobs resulting in the US becoming a net energy exporter for the first time in 75 years. Contrast that with the $93 trillion “carbon tax” known as the Green New Deal seeking to retrofit every building in America and all of a sudden the infamous “bridge to nowhere” starts to look like a bargain.
There’s more work to be done with so-called agency “guidance letters” that have the force of law but get around congressional oversight. I introduced the Reforming Executive Guidance (Reg) Act in the 115th to make these documents subject to the CRA as well as the Administrative Procedure Act and just recently the administration put agencies on notice that all regulatory actions should be subject to review.
Finally, as Democrats refuse to fund border security, their $32 trillion “Medicare for All” scheme aims to provide benefits for undocumented immigrants and remove restrictions on taxpayer funded abortions — even late-term ones. Indeed, on health care, the Pelosi Democrats seem committed to finishing the job of socialized medicine that Obamacare started, even flirting with the idea of eliminating private employer-sponsored insurance.
And in case you thought the 115th was just a partisan exercise, think again. For the first time in decades, criminal justice reform was signed into law with the First Step Act as well as the bipartisan Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. I was proud to sponsor the latter with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), giving nonviolent offenders a second chance instead of lengthy or lifetime prison sentences.
Again, the contrast is striking with House Democrats now in control obsessed with never-ending investigations and partisan witch-hunts after $25 million, 500 subpoenas and a million-and-a-half documents found no evidence of collusion. Then again, if they really believe they were hired to start a full blown impeachment crisis in the middle of an economic expansion, they should take the vote.
Republicans in 2020 may just be sitting back channeling Clint Eastwood’s famous onscreen line: “Go ahead, make my day.”
Jason Lewis (@Jason2CD) represented Minnesota as a Republican in the 115th Congress.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.