The Republican Majority Must Play Offense or They'll Lose

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds has an excellent list of suggestions at USA Today for an early salvo of bills the Republicans could fire off when the new Congress comes into session.  As he puts it, there are three kinds of bills they can pass: “those Obama will want to sign; those he won’t want to sign but will have to; and those he’ll veto, but where a veto is unpopular.”  His six suggestions cover all three categories, including some wonderfully outside-the-box ideas that will make the entire Democrat Party squirm and sweat when the President is obliged to knock them down.  I especially like ideas Number 5 and 6.  As Insty himself would say, read the whole thing.

It should be obvious to everyone from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner on down that the GOP Congress is doomed unless it plays offense.  If they let themselves get pushed around by the media, share power with the defeated Democrats, and spend the next two years cutting deals with Obama, they’ll be wiped out in a 2016 Democrat wave that looks an awful lot like the 2014 wave that swept Republicans into power.  There is absolutely zero appetite in America for an “opposition party” that delivers hated Obama policies with a slight discount.

The Republicans also cannot be content with merely opposing Obama in the passive sense, i.e. knocking down whatever he sends their way.  They have a golden opportunity to do something they could never do while friendly Democrat media was complicit with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s quiet murder of legislation: they can take the initiative.  As Reynolds suggests, a great deal of political capital can be drained away from Obama (and his increasingly marginalized, nervous Party) by dropping bills he has to veto on his desk.  Obama’s strategy has always involved amassing political capital without actually spending it – Harry Reid protected him from having to use that veto pen.  The vulnerability created by the loss of the Senate’s Crypt Keeper is enormous.  And since the American people just handed Obama the most stunning repudiation any President has received in the modern age, they clearly expect Republicans to take aggressive action.  It has to be done carefully… but there’s no reason it can’t be both vigorous and careful.

In the spirit of Reynolds’ suggestions, I would add a security-only immigration bill to the list.  It’s something the American people clearly want, and they seem to understand that we’ll never get real improvements to border security and immigration law enforcement from any deal that lets Democrats have their amnesty goodies today, with vague promises of securing the border somewhere in the “out years.”  We’ve been down that road before, and it didn’t work; that’s why we have an illegal immigrant crisis today.  It’s just common sense to take measures that will ensure the problem doesn’t get any worse before discussing concessions to the illegal aliens who are already here – even many people who remain sympathetic to the “dreamers” understand that argument.  Obama will be strongly tempted to veto a security-only bill, and Republicans can clobber him with that veto for years to come, stressing to the electorate that border security is an issue Democrats won’t even pretend to address unless they get paid off with other concessions first.  “Vote for us and we’ll do our duty” would make for a nice 2016 campaign theme.

Update: I think Obama understands the danger of Republicans taking the initiative and pushing him on defense over the immigration issue; that’s why he reportedly got snippy with Vice President Joe Biden when Biden tried to engage Republicans under the old-fashioned Senate deal-making customs during their Friday lunch meeting with congressional leaders.  

Biden wanted to know how long it would take for them to put together an immigration bill, and Obama “gave him a look that ended that line of discussion.”  Obama really wants to burn the Constitution down and divide America with those amnesty executive orders, in part because he knows he can’t afford to let the Republican Congress take the initiative on this issue.