The Spectacle Blog

Learning from the 111th

By on 12.23.10 | 9:27AM

Agree or disagree with their policies or tactics, one thing that's for sure is that the 111th Congress was one of the most productive ever -- the $862 billion economic stimulus package, national health care, financial regulation and repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" are just a few of the significant pieces of legislation to get through. Democrats and the Obama administration realized that political power was fleeting, and they decided to push through as many liberal priorities as they could during that short period in power. They put real points on the board during that time. ObamaCare alone is the most significant achievement since the creation of Medicare in 1965. Contrast this with the way Republicans operated when they had unified control. President Bush was able to get temporary tax cuts passed which we now know will require continued bargaining with Democrats to maintain. When Bush proposed to actually do something real on Social Security, Republicans in Congress ran scared under Democratic demagoguery, and ended up losing power the next year anyway. In their defense, Republicans did not have a 60-vote majority in the Senate like the Democrats had for that window before Scott Brown's victory. Yet that still doesn't explain why when he did flex his legislative muscle, Bush did so to fight battles on liberal turf -- passing the "No Child Left Behind" law that increased the federal role in education and the Medicare prescription drug plan that had been the largest expansion of entitlements since the Great Society (until the passage of ObamaCare). While conservatives are celebrating the end of the ram and jam ways of the 111th Congress, they should also hope that Republicans learn something from it, and actually advance conservative policies when in power.

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