Susan Young is the opinion editor of the Bangor Daily News.
In campaign ad after campaign, Republican candidates for office in last month’s election have denounced the dire state of the economy. They have blasted President Joe Biden, governors like Maine’s Janet Mills, and other Democrats for mismanaging the economy and causing record-high inflation that has pushed up the prices of many goods and services. Notwithstanding that inflation is a global problem, the war in Ukraine, the aftermath of the COVID pandemic and ongoing supply chain issues are playing a major role in shortages and price increases.
And the Republicans used the typical campaign slogan that the Democrats are criminals and want an open border, neither of which is true.
Now that the Republicans are in control of the US House of Representatives, what is their plan to fix the economy? Will they offer sweeping immigration reform and a border security law?
It’s hard to know, because so far Republican House leaders have expended their energies making virtue signals, promising to investigate the Biden administration and family, and promising to kick some Democrats out of House committees.
US Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the US House of Representatives, has promised one of his party’s first actions will be when it takes over the chamber in January Read the entire US Constitution on the floor of the house. This is apparently intended to show how patriotic the party is.
The announcement came after McCarthy proudly announced that House sessions would begin with the oath of allegiance and a prayer with the Republicans in charge. It turned out that this is how the sessions begin now. That’s in the house rules. Therefore, McCarthy’s virtuous proclamation was essentially meaningless.
McCarthy has pledged to remove three Democrats who have had major disagreements with Republicans from House committees. However, he does not have sole power to do so; it requires a vote of the whole House.
McCarthy has also pledged responsibility for the Biden administration, with a potentially lengthy list of investigations. Of course, if members of the administration have done illegal things, they should be held accountable. The same goes for the President’s son, Hunter Biden, who is already under federal investigation.
A fresh look at the US withdrawal from Afghanistan might be helpful, as might a review of US border policy and operations.
However, if these investigations are just about embarrassing Biden and members of his administration – which seems likely – McCarthy and his team have already signaled that they are not serious about governing. Looking back can help, but it won’t solve inflation and the other problems Republicans have promised to fight.
Shortly after the November 8 election, in which there was no red wave, Republicans in Maine or across the country lamented their losses or lack of more and greater victories. What went wrong, they wondered.
In Maine, some members of the GOP suggested voters had not heard their message.
But here’s a thought: Maybe voters heard the message but didn’t buy it?
Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, for example, slammed Gov. Janet Mills for her handling of Maine’s economy when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat her. He’s fixed Maine’s economy before and would do it again, he said proudly. The problem is that LePage had woefully few details on how he would bail out the economy. He promised to lower prices but didn’t really say how. He promised to reduce government spending but gave few details. And, of course, he said he wanted to cut taxes but didn’t offer any realistic ways to make up for the lost revenue.
Republicans — both those who will take the lead in next year’s tightly-divided US House of Representatives and those who are in the minority in the Maine legislature — are having a tough time. They must be more than just opponents of the Democrats. They must show people that they have real solutions to the very real problems Americans are facing.
Reading the Constitution will not lower food prices or fill oil tanks.