April 20, 2018

RICH LOWRY: Why has the Republican Congress given up on doing anything?

In a gift for the ages, Republicans won all elected branches of the federal government in 2016. They had no reason to expect Trump to win the presidency, and, in fact, very few of them expected it. The initial ecstasy over Trump “signing their stuff” has given way to the reality that they don’t have stuff to send him.

Republicans couldn’t roll back ObamaCare, in part because the party hadn’t thought through what the Republican alternative was — even though anyone could have known this would be the central question if the GOP ever got a legitimate shot at repeal.

They passed a tax cut that included important reforms that even the Democratic repeal bills don’t want to completely undo and that are boosting the economy.
That’s all to the good. But tax cuts aren’t a magic political elixir.

First, Trump is right, as he said at an event a couple of weeks ago when he tossed away his script, that they are boring. They don’t have the emotive appeal of issues like trade and immigration. Second, there are limits to how effectively you can run on the one big thing you accomplished last year (and as of this November, it will be almost exactly a year ago).

This is the truly extraordinary aspect of the current situation. Republicans are content not to do anything else of significance in Congress this year. They passed an omnibus spending bill that was rightly denounced as a disgrace by Trump even as he signed it, and the Senate is working to confirm Trump appointees.

That’s pretty much it.

I keep saying the GOP should legislate like there’s no tomorrow. Instead, they’re legislating (or rather, not legislating) like they don’t care if they have a tomorrow.

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