I’ve read article after article containing hand-wringing, breathless commentary about President Trump’s deal last week with Democrats and Republicans to secure hurricane aid funding and to raise the debt ceiling. Personally, I think it was a pretty good deal. I hope it is a harbinger of things to come.
My biggest hope for Trump has always been that he cares far less about party politics and far more about solving the big problems that plague this country. I have said over and over that Trump is no partisan Republican, he is a doer. He wants to accomplish things, and so do I.
Despite the rancor and fury that is preached hourly on the news, there are only a few really big problems holding our country back: tax reform, the federal debt, regulatory reform, illegal immigration, infrastructure, and the solvency of Social Security and Medicare.
I didn’t say they were easy to fix, I just said there aren’t that many!
The truly sad fact that I have discovered in my four years in Washington is that even when Republicans and Democrats agree that we face these few big problems, partisanship and the next election too often prevent compromise to a viable solution.
We tried to pass Obamacare repeal with only Republican votes, just as Democrats passed the law with only Democratic votes. We narrowly passed it out of the House of Representatives, but it has yet to clear the Senate. If we only get Republican senators, we need 50 out of 52 yea votes – 96 percent agreement. You can’t get 96 percent of people to agree that the sky is blue.
If we continue to pursue complex legislation such as tax reform with only Republican votes in the hopes of getting 96 percent, we are fools. I hope Trump has seen enough of that.
This country has historically been governed from the center-right. There have always been loud voices on both extremes. But those voices did not govern in the past, and will not in the future. If we are to move forward, grow our economy, and restore this land of opportunity, we must get back to governing from the center-right with compromise on both sides.
President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, as well as President Bill Clinton and Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, crafted meaningful bipartisan legislation that moved our country forward. While bipartisanship was an endangered species under President George W. Bush, it became extinct under President Barack Obama.
I believe that our wonderful country was ordained by God. I believe in 1776 He brought together precisely the right group of brilliant, flawed men at precisely the right moment in history to lay the foundation of a country where all men are created equal. Their grand experiment has become the greatest land on Earth, and is a beacon of hope for the entire world.
Right now we are in a rough patch. But we’ve had rough patches before.
Could it be that the American voter got it exactly right? That a bull-headed, hard-nosed deal-maker is exactly what we need? Perhaps Trump, with all his foibles, is precisely the right man at the right time in history. Perhaps he can break the bonds of partisanship and help us solve some of our most difficult problems.
The debt ceiling deal he brokered last week was a good start. If he is able to continue to bring people together, instead of tearing us apart, this imperfect man may just be able to lead us out of our current morass and into a new era of American prosperity. And I’m going to do everything I can to help us get there.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Examiner. Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., represents South Carolina’s 7th District in Congress. You can follow him on Twitter: @RepTomRice