The Daily Signal

The GOP’s Work Has Just Begun. Here’s What Should Top the Agenda in 2018.

House Speak Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Donald Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence gather to celebrate the passage of tax reform legislation with congressional leaders. (Photo: ABA/Newscom)

Conservatives, we have our work cut out for us this year.

Mind you, 2017 definitely had its ups. Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court. The war on terrorism moved in the right direction, with the prime minister of Iraq declaring victory over ISIS.

The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement and is working to reduce regulations. We also have a much-needed tax cut in place.

On a more personal note, we welcomed a new president at The Heritage Foundation: the immensely talented Kay Coles James. Director of the Office of Personnel Management under President George W. Bush, and a senior member of President Donald Trump’s transition team, James was the Heritage board of trustees’ unanimous choice after an extensive search.

The nation’s leading think tank couldn’t be in better hands.

Good thing, too, because there’s plenty to do in 2018—and beyond.

Take health care. Despite Trump’s claim to the contrary, repealing the individual mandate does not “essentially” repeal Obamacare. Key provisions, such as the expansion of Medicaid, remain in place.

“Repeal of the individual mandate is certainly a significant victory for congressional Republicans,” writes David Sivak in The Daily Signal. “Yet the change is modest compared to prior Republican attempts at repeal.”

Indeed, he points out, “Some predict that repeal of the individual mandate may actually lead Republicans to shore up the Obamacare exchanges.”

Or take spending—please. It continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Budget expert Romina Boccia, in a review of federal spending in 2017, notes that the deficit reached $666 billion (how appropriate), the debt hit $20 trillion, and Social Security spending topped $1 trillion.

This is unsustainable. No wonder we’re always told we can’t “afford” tax cuts. The money we send to Washington flows out at such a prodigious rate that policymakers naturally howl at the thought of even a modest reduction.

The problem is that freedom requires constant work and vigilance. There are no permanent victories or defeats. It’s like weeding a garden. Policymaking is never a “one and done” situation. There will always be something to do tomorrow. And the next day.

With that in mind, here’s a six-question test that I introduced in my 2006 book “Getting America Right.” My co-author Doug Wilson and I wrote that, if followed, “it could well become the bypass operation that restores Washington’s failing political heart to normal functioning.”

The questions we should ask of any policy prescription:

We should certainly be optimistic about 2018. We have the tools we need to make things better. The question is, will we have the courage to act?

Originally published by The Washington Times.