The GOP's New Year's Resolutions
Despite the GOP's initial distaste towards now President Elect Trump (see: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney), party members seem to have come around to the idea of a Trump presidency and are willing to work with him to forward their policy goals.
One week after election day, Ryan told reporters, "Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government. This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump's victory into real progress for the American people."
While the Obama administration races to solidify his legacy by any means possible, the GOP is writing up its list of New Year's resolutions. There has been a lot of buzz about what might be expected from the GOP in the new year. The following items are at the top of their list:
1. Massively overhaul the nation's tax system
The LA Times reports "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have vowed to pass a tax package in 2017 that would not add to the budget deficit." That means that for every tax cut, there needs to be a tax increase somewhere else. Some Republican senators may resist a GOP takeover style tax overhaul, and want to opt for a more bipartisan solution. However, Ryan and McConnell are undeterred, and have stated that they "plan to use a legislative maneuver that would prevent Senate Democrats from using the filibuster to block a tax bill." The House has released a plan to reduce the top individual income bracket tax rate from 39.6% to 33%, and reduce the number of tax brackets from 7 to 3. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center believes this plan would reduce revenue by $3 trillion over the first decade. The Senate has not yet released a plan.
2. Defund Planned Parenthood
Politico reports that according the GOP sources on and off the Hill, "Congressional Republicans are aiming to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood early next year." Conservatives believe that it is only a matter of time before the 2015 budget bill eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which was passed in the Senate and was then vetoed by Obama, is passed under the incoming Trump administration. Lobbying groups are pushing to make the defunding of Planned Parenthood a provision of the Obamacare repeal -- using a fast-track budget procedure to push the bill through without the possibility of a filibuster.
3. Overhaul medicaid
With the election of Donald Trump, the GOP has the opportunity to finally pursue their goal of overhauling medicaid, the program which currently provides health care to tens of millions of lower-income and disabled Americans. The goal would be to switch to what are called block grants. This means the federal government would send an annual fixed amount of money to each state to cover their costs, as opposed to the current agreed upon percentages. The aim of this is to rein in spending by incentivizing states to spend smarter. The AP reports that "Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump's pick for secretary of health and human services, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, want to switch to block grants." The Republicans will need to consider how the funding will be structured and how much flexibility the states will have under the block grant system.
4. Repeal and replace Obamacare
There is a general consensus among Republicans that Obamacare should be repealed as soon as possible. The question at this point is not whether to repeal Obamacare, but how to replace it. It is possible that the GOP may repeal Obamacare with the plan that it will remain in place for three years. This would force the Republicans to come up with a replacement within that time frame. The GOP are hoping that the delay will help them solidify a plan before 20 million Americans lose their health insurance. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) says "We’re talking about a three-year transition now that we actually have a president who’s likely to sign the repeal into the law. People are being, understandably cautious, to make sure nobody’s dropped through the cracks." There is also the possibility, according to some aides involved, that parts of the law may be repealed quickly, while others are never repealed.
The Republicans are now in a unique situation to push forward the agenda items they have been promising their constituents for years. These are some of the biggest, and are the most likely to be acted upon quickly. If history tells us anything about what to expect in the new year, it is that "When the White House and Congress have been controlled by the same party, Washington has produced some of the most sweeping — albeit politically polarizing — legislation aimed at shifting the political trajectory of the nation toward the cause of the party in power." At this point we can only speculate on what 2017 will bring.