The GOP and Custer
- Military tribunals. In Hamdan, the Supreme Court invited Congress to rewrite the rules for military tribunals for terrorists, and Republicans can help President Bush and the war effort by doing so.
- Spending restraint. Republicans can lighten that blot on their record by passing reforms that stem the worst abuses -- namely, more transparency for special-interest "earmarks," and a line-item veto to allow a President to delete specific spending pork.
- Health insurance. The latest Census data finds that 46.6 million Americans lack health insurance, with the cost of coverage rising. The House has already passed a popular bill to let small businesses and associations offer lower-cost insurance the way that Fortune 500 companies can. Liberals in the Senate are blocking it precisely because it might reduce the ranks of the uninsured and thus reduce the demand for government health care. Why not force Democrats to vote up or down?
- Gas prices. Gasoline prices are falling nationwide, but with oil prices still near $70 a barrel now is the time to open new sources of domestic energy supply. The House and Senate have both passed bills to expand drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, and there's no reason they can't be reconciled in conference. The House has also passed faster permitting for new gas refineries, and Senate Democrats should also be forced to kill that if they dare.
- Property rights and judges. The Supreme Court's Kelo decision has provoked bipartisan outrage against the taking of private property for private development. But Congress still hasn't taken the popular opportunity to do something about it. The House long ago passed a measure to block federal dollars from financing local projects invoking eminent domain. But the Senate has sat on its hands, thanks mainly to Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter.
- Taxes. Democrats who oppose making the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent are arguing for one of the largest tax increases in American history. The average family with children would see its tax payment rise by $2,084 a year. A vote in both houses on making these permanent is good policy and politics. Ditto for another vote on repealing the death tax, to remind voters in red states about where their tax burdens will head if Democrats take control.
- Immigration Reform. This may be for the best because anything that passed in the current environment would only throw more police at the border or further harass employers. But if Republicans lose the House, their demagoguery on immigration will be one reason.
It should also be stated that "Liberal" Republicans like George Voinovich (R-OH), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Lincoln Chaffey (R-RI) block progress and aid obstruction objectives coming from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).