Sorry Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Your predictions a GOP Congress would result in a epic disaster has not come to pass. Why, it seems Republicans in a year have gotten more done in a year than Democrats have in 4. Let’s review the evidence shall we.
The Doc Fix: In early to mid 2014 John Boehner made a stunning pronouncement. He had a deal to permanently fix the Doc Fix. A little history is in order. Since Medicaid was created doctor reimbursement rates have been pegged to inflation. However, inflation does not come close to the real cost of care. Individuals on Medicaid thus would have seen doctors turn them away if “fixes” did not occur every year because doctors would have been reimbursed far less than the cost of the service. Short of major reform of Social Security and Medicare this is the biggest reform of a major entitlement in decades.
No Child Left Behind: This issue united both Democrats and Republicans. Fed with the right’s loathing of Common Core and education unions and suburbanites distaste for make or break tests the end of No Child Left Behind was going to happen at some point. The question was when? Republicans worked with Democrats to create a bill that have states greater control over testing standards as well as rolled backed the Dept. of Education’s role in education. Ironically, such a rollback did not phase big government liberals who overwhelming backed the final package.
The Budget and Tax Cuts: This one pleased nobody but it did get Republicans over a major Presidential hump. From now until 2017 the budget will not be a major issue giving the ultimate GOP Presidential nominee some wiggle room when it comes to how they would govern. It’s also true he/she can rail against the deal to rally the base but also not have to worry about moderates being turned off by crisis governing.
The budget deal fulfilled many requirements. It ended sequestration, pumped billions more into the defense budget and finally made permanent many of the decades old end of year tax breaks Congress has approved annually. Republicans might have lost the battle on spending for now but it is a step in winning the war.
Transportation: A major initiative to clear the decks for the 2016 legislative session was the catalyst for the effort. States were in danger of losing their federal funding for roads, bridges, etc. if a major transportation bill was not passed. Republicans did not want to increase the gas tax. Democrats did not want to find a pay for.
In the end Republicans gave up on the pay for and Democrats relented on a tax increase. Notably the 5 year bill was the first multi-year long transportation funding effort since Bill Clinton.
Surveillance: This split the Caucuses along ideological lines. Libertarian leaning Republicans in the House and Senate combined with liberals killed the bulk data program. However, leadership, along with the President is likely to bring it back as both McConnell and Ryan support the program.
There were numerous other items that came and went this year. The Export-Import Bank was killed last year but brought back up and funded as a policy rider to an unrelated bill. Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood failed and stringent requirements to ban (not vet) refugees from several Mideastern nations failed.
Contrast this with a Democratic efforts. Democrats passed the ACA and Dodd-Frank. They signed equal pay legislation. Yet, they failed to reform entitlements, fund transportation, curb spending, etc. This with four years of unfettered control of Congress.
Republicans have proven they can govern. Only the most diehard liberal would deny this reality. Now Congressional Republicans have to sell this message in purple states and districts if they want to continue to govern beyond next year.
Note: Harry Reid now looks like the worst leader in modern history. Not only did he prevent popular legislation from coming to the floor for 4 years but he let his arch-rival claim more legislative victories in a year than he did in 4. Nice job Harry.