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A time for Republican unity

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Speaker of the House John Boehner pumps his fist as he emerges from a meeting with Republican House members in the U.S. Capitol in Washington October 16, 2013. (Reuters)

In recent weeks, the national media have been obsessed with highlighting divisions and disagreements among Republicans on Capitol Hill. It’s time for GOP lawmakers to remind the American people of what unites us.

Republicans are united in our desire to dismantle President Obama’s health care law and replace it with patient-centered alternatives that reduce costs, expand quality insurance coverage, and improve access to care. 

It’s time for GOP lawmakers to remind the American people of what unites us.

We’re united in our desire to simplify the U.S. tax code and encourage job creation by lowering marginal rates and broadening the base. 

We’re united in our desire to abolish misguided regulations. 

To expand domestic energy production. 

To end Wall Street bailouts. 

To save entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security before they collapse. 

To appoint constitutionalist judges who will faithfully uphold our founding document.

In other words, what unites Republicans is far more significant than what divides Republicans.

The disagreements of the past month have mostly been about tactics rather than policy. But those disagreements are now behind us. 

Moving forward, if Republicans want to maximize our leverage and achieve conservative policy gains, we must remain united and focus on issues where President Obama and the Democrats are clearly vulnerable.

For example: The administration spent more than $400 million to get the ObamaCare health exchanges up and running by October 1, but so far they’ve been a total disaster. 

Across the country, people have found it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to sign up. Indeed, only a tiny fraction of all visitors to the official Obamacare website have successfully enrolled. 

Polls have consistently shown that most Americans want to delay ObamaCare’s personal health insurance mandate.

Republicans agree that, at the very least, Washington should delay the mandate for individuals and families, especially since President Obama has unilaterally delayed the corresponding mandate for employers. 

We also agree that health-care reform should not (1) impose a trillion-dollar tax hike, (2) discourage full-time hiring, (3) drive up insurance premiums, (4) cause large numbers of Americans to lose their existing coverage, (5) weaken Medicare and Medicaid, or (6) hamper medical innovation. 

ObamaCare does all of these things. 

In the months ahead, Republicans should continue making the case for alternative reforms that would expand quality insurance coverage while simultaneously lowering costs and improving patient access.

In addition, we should continue pressing the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Amid the worst unemployment crisis since the 1930s -- at a time when millions of Americans have been jobless for more than six months and our labor-force participation rate has fallen to a 35-year low -- there is no good reason to oppose an energy project that would create thousands of well-paying middle-class jobs and reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern, Russian, and Venezuelan oil.

Speaking of job creation, Republicans should keep up the drumbeat for pro-growth, revenue-neutral tax reform. Americans now spend roughly 6.1 billion hours each year complying with IRS filing requirements. That represents a massive waste of time, money, and energy for businesses and individuals alike. 

Republicans overwhelmingly support a simpler, more logical tax system with lower marginal rates and fewer loopholes. That’s a winning message, and it’s one we should aggressively promote.

Finally, Republicans should remain united in blocking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is America’s second-most-influential judicial body. 

Senator Reid has made no secret of his intent: Over the summer, he told Nevada Public Radio that Democrats were hoping to “switch the majority” on the D.C. Circuit to make it a rubberstamp for big-government liberalism. Republicans have objected to this power grab, and we should continue to do so. 

Based on its caseload, the D.C. Circuit simply does not need more judges at the present time.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of appellate courts that are overburdened and do need more judges. Our priority should be to fill those vacancies, not to let Harry Reid stack a single court.

Republicans will always have internal debates, but -- more importantly -- we share a determination to reverse the destructive policies of the past five years. 

The results of Obamanomics speak for themselves: Since June of 2009, we have experienced the weakest economic recovery and the longest stretch of high unemployment in postwar history.

The president claims to be deeply troubled by income inequality. And yet, as the New York Times reported in late August, the trend of rising income inequality “appears to have accelerated during the Obama administration” (my emphasis). 

Indeed, according to one measure of the income gap, inequality has increased about four times faster under President Obama than it did under President Bush.

Republicans want to restore the economic and constitutional principles that made our country the envy of the world. 

Conservative health-care policies would help all Americans obtain quality insurance coverage and quality care. 

Conservative tax policies would make it easier to raise families, start businesses, and save for retirement. 

Conservative energy policies would create thousands of jobs and bolster national security. 

Conservative regulatory policies would end “too big to fail.”

With President Obama sitting in the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate, these policies face an uphill battle. No question about it. 

Yet by remaining united behind common values and common interests, Republicans have a chance to win substantial short-term victories -- and set the stage for much bigger victories in the future.

Republican John Cornyn represents Texas in the United States Senate where he serves on the Judiciary Committee. He is a former state attorney general.