As MLB teams across the country gear up for spring training, I keep replaying last year’s World Series. As a heartbroken Indians fan, I’m still hurting over my team’s loss to the Chicago Cubs. But I’m finding solace in a strange place – Congress.
Congress has the opportunity to make up for Cleveland’s loss, but it’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs. The bases are loaded: Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House. They can sweep out any remaining Chicago influence left over in Washington from the past eight years. However, the Senate majority is slim, and midterm elections will be here sooner than we think.
Conservatives have a small window of opportunity to make the changes our country urgently needs. They must take advantage of this moment and bring home several key policy achievements.
Here are some possible grand slams:
Repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Americans cannot afford the Affordable Care Act: premiums have gone up and many cannot pay for basic care. But a simple repeal would leave millions without coverage and cause a major backlash from Democrats in midterm elections.
That’s why Republicans must support the ObamaCare Replacement Act recently introduced by Senator Rand Paul. The Replacement Act includes several strategies that will return control to the patient.
First, it expands health savings accounts (HSAs), a tax-deductible savings account much like a 401(k) that will encourage the average American to save for their health care. An account holder would be able to apply its benefits to their dependents and spend it on nutritional and fitness programs not included in the current concept of care.
Second, it would permit Americans to buy individual or group health care plans apart from their employer, but still grant employers the ability to offer health care. By loosening the current restrictive regulations on association health plans, groups can work together to find the plan that best suits their needs.
Third, it will ensure citizens with pre-existing conditions access to care by reinstating the HIPAA law that guaranteed coverage before ObamaCare. It also allows patients with such conditions a two-year period to sign up for coverage.
By simultaneously repealing ObamaCare and passing Senator Paul’s replacement act, Republicans can give Americans free-market health care options that keep costs low and allow them to have the final say about their own health care.
Address our federal debt. The federal debt is now approaching $20 trillion. This crushing figure comes in large part from spending under the Obama administration, during which the federal debt almost doubled.
These numbers are, to put it mildly, unsustainable. Congress must begin to chip away at the debt, or else future generations will collapse under the burden we pass on to them. Republicans should actively seek out creative and original ways to reduce it.
Reforming entitlements. One good way to start would be to reform entitlements. Entitlement spending is through the roof, and the most egregious offender is Social Security. The program is on the road to implosion, with a potential $11.4 trillion deficit. If we are to protect our seniors past 2023 and 2035, when the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund will respectively dry up, Republicans must act quickly.
Fortunately, just as with the replacement of ObamaCare, Republicans are better prepared than the Democrats and the press would have us believe. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas) proposed a possible plan in the 114th Congress that provides an excellent spring board for the 115th Congress as they reform Social Security.
The plan doesn’t increase taxes; it just reworks how benefits are totaled and distributed within the current budget. It expands the benefits for low-income workers and scales down those for high-income workers and their dependents. It also increases the age at which workers can receive benefits to age 69.
Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of Social Security, estimated that Johnson’s bill would turn the projected $11.4 trillion deficit into a reserve of $0.6 trillion. The plan unsurprisingly failed to pass under Obama in 2016, but in 2017 Social Security can undergo the overhaul it needs.
I know the frustration of seeing my teams squander amazing opportunities.
I watched the Indians lose the World Series in 1995, 1997 and 2016.
I watched Republicans fail to advance conservative legislation time and time again.
I do not want to see that happen again in 2017, and neither do the millions of freedom-loving conservatives across the country who elected President Trump in a historic victory.
Republicans gathered in Cleveland just a few weeks after the Cavaliers won the NBA championship. They must continue to follow in the team’s victorious footsteps and vindicate the Indian’s failure to defeat Chicago.
Adam Brandon is president and CEO of FreedomWorks.