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After a sweeping Republican win in the 2014 midterms, some at The Heartland Institute are reluctant to take a sigh of relief. With the Republican party in firm control of congress, many new challenges and concerns face those who advocate limited government.
If recent history has taught us anything, it is that both major parties in the United States increase the size and scope of the federal government. While this time it may be different, small-government proponents are not holding their breath.
In a press release by The Heartland Institute, many contributors expressed their concerns. Research Fellow Steve Stanek states:
“The federal government and national debt grew under Republican Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Republicans have repeatedly used limited-government rhetoric to get elected and then have embraced big government when they have controlled it. I expect the same thing to happen this time.”
Recently, Republicans have held themselves as being the small-government party when competing with the Democratic party. So far however, they have yet to prove themselves as such. Senior Fellow Benjamin Domenech highlights this when he says, “Now they have an opportunity to prove they’re not going to make the same mistakes. Be humble in victory, Republicans – and don’t screw this up by returning to your old way.” Some are only slightly more hopeful.
You can tell Policy Advisor William Briggs isn’t sold when he states, “Congratulations to the Republicans, the party of slightly smaller government. Now, at least for the next two years, the rate at which regulations increase, taxes become more burdensome, and government intrudes into our lives will be marginally slower.”
The capturing of congress by Republicans also raises another issue. The potential for President Obama to use executive orders has increased. Director of Government Relations John Nothdurft states, “The president is likely to spend the next two years ruling by executive order rather than choosing to work with Congress.” With the past several years resembling a battle between Obama and the Republicans, it is unlikely the president will pursue bipartisan legislation.
Policy Advisor David L. Applegate highlights a major worry of republicans when he states, “Obama will double-down on his Constitutionally suspect practice of ruling by executive order and will try to legalize some six million-plus ‘undocumented immigrants’ in time to have them eligible to vote in the 2016 elections.”
While many are still wary of the Republican victory, most are still hopeful for the future. Multiple staffers from The Heartland Institute listed goals for the new congress. Senior Advisor Larry Kaufmann states, “If they really want to be bold, Republicans should begin to tackle entitlement reform, even though it will remain a political football.”
Those that support the ideas of limited government and free markets should take these election results as only a move in the right direction. A lot more work needs to be done. The newly elected Republicans have to be reminded that those who voted them in can easily vote them back out.
[Link to Official Press Release]