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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 6:43 am | Fair 42º

 
 
 
 
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Ron Fink: Can Republicans Provide Long-Overdue Leadership?

To begin this commentary, I will acknowledge that I align myself with the Republican Party's view on how to approach most problems facing the nation today. That said, we need to take a sober look at what faces them in the next couple of years.

Now that the campaigns are over, the confetti has been swept away and all those campaign signs have been tossed in the trash, it’s time to govern.

Many say that the reason the nation’s forward movement was gridlocked was because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wouldn’t allow any legislation from the House of Representatives to come to a vote in the Senate. This seems to have been a juvenile approach to governing and one that probably cost Democrats the most stunning political defeat in several decades.

In the days following the election, President Barack Obama seemed to be in denial about the outcome. He maintained that he would continue his strategy of circumventing Congress by issuing Executive Orders to implement his partisan progressive agenda. This is no way to reach out following the historic rejection of his administration’s strategy and policies.

Obama’s logic was that Congress wasn’t doing anything. Well, the Reid strategy had been to do just that — nothing. By not sending any legislation forward, Democrats were isolating their president from making any decisions and setting the stage for unilateral action.

So Obama’s complaint that Congress wouldn’t send him any legislation should have been directed at fellow Democrats and not Republicans. I am sure that he won’t have the same complaint in the next couple of years since I am sure that many pieces of legislation will land on his desk. The only question is, will Obama sign them or be an obstructionist?

So, what should Republicans do to get things moving? Yogi Berra once said, “You have to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” The Republican leadership should plot their course carefully or they may not get there either.

Pundits have speculated and offered their guidance, and much of it was fairly sound advice. Senior Republican members of Congress have also added their voices to the discussion, and we should listen to them. The hard-right voices should temper their rhetoric for the moment — confrontation will not work. What’s needed is adult leadership that provides solutions that correct problems and don’t cause any new ones.

The first thing they have to do is start moving legislative proposals to the president’s desk. There are scores of important measures that have stagnated over the last six years. Among them are what to do about Obamacare, the budget, tax reform, economic growth through employment, national defense, and immigration and tax reform, to name a few.

The stock market may be up for the moment, but those in the lower and middle economic class need jobs. The best thing legislators can do is examine the workplace and determine if any of their previous legislation may have caused the loss of so many better-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector. Two areas come to mind: environmental restrictions and taxing new medical device technology.

Another is the international trade agreements that allow the seemingly unrestricted export of manufacturing jobs out of America. Ross Perot, once a candidate for president, said that “sucking sound you hear is American jobs leaving the country” because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He may not have been much of a presidential candidate, but he was right about this issue.

Putting Americans to work has to be a priority. We need to pay people to work, not sit at home watching daytime TV. The nation’s public infrastructure is in awful shape and major construction projects are needed to fix it.

The tax system is so complex that the average person cannot understand it. Our immigration laws and their enforcement are nearly nonexistent as millions of illegal aliens are allowed to enter undeterred and then remain in our country even after they have committed serious crimes — including the killing of police officers.

The Defense Department is underfunded and understaffed; protecting the nation from people who are intent on destroying our way of life is critical. It is only through a robust military presence that aggression against the United States can be deterred.

Each of these issues and many more deserve some serious thought, and while a bipartisan consensus is important we should remember that during the first two years of the Obama presidency, Republicans were totally shut out of the debate as the Pelosi-Reid-Obama machine created chaos within the government. And it was the Obama administration that refused to negotiate on any issue, and that’s how we got to where we are today.

Maybe Reid got the message. He is allowing a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline project this week. This project will provide many short-term construction jobs and long-term, well-paying oil industry jobs.

We gave them a majority. Can Republicans provide long-overdue leadership?

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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