The optimistic GOP story everyone is missing

The vast majority of political journalists — and I include some of my conservative colleagues — are missing a very big story.


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The Republicans are going to recapture the Senate, picking up more seats than most any forecaster expects. And the House GOP is going to add to its majority. But then comes the big story: The beginning of a new conservative revolution.

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The idea that nothing much will change if the GOP captures the whole Congress is just plain wrong. The politics and policies in Washington are about to change in a major way.

Obama may still be president. But he is going to be immediately confronted with a flood of new bills that will change the debate on tax reform, energy, health care, education, international trade, and regulations.

Obama will no longer be able to hide behind Harry Reid, who has stopped all voting on these matters. And Mitch McConnell, as Senate majority leader, will be able to move forward the reform ideas of his caucus and House policy leaders like Paul Ryan, Jeb Hensarling, Kevin Brady, and many others.

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Obama's head will spin with all the new paperwork on his desk. He may even have to cut back on his golf game.

Of course, because of his left-wing ideology, Obama may veto everything. But if he does, he's setting up a new Republican agenda for the 2016 presidential race. Either Hillary Clinton completely jumps the Obama ship, or she's pulled way left by the Democratic party's Bill de Blasio/Elizabeth Warren/Sandinista wing. Either way, she's in trouble.

And maybe some Senate Democrats vote to override Obama's vetoes, with some even converting to Republicanism. An Angus King or a Joe Manchin may cross the aisle after the likely midterm GOP landslide.

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Unfortunately, the current GOP never put together a clear national-policy election agenda. Not even a downsized Contract with America. But I suggest two Big Think thoughts for the first 100 days of the new Congress.

First, is optimism: We know what the problems are, we know what the solutions should be, and we can make these changes quickly. Second is a re-energized evangelism by the Republican party for pro-growth, market-oriented, consumer-driven, pro-family policies.

"We all see this coming," House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan told me in a recent interview. "Energy and tax reform are going to be at the top of the list." And House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling told me, "It's time to put up or shut up for tax reform. Fairer, flatter, simpler, so the American people will at last know what the GOP would do for economic growth to rescue the country from the worst recovery since World War II."

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Hensarling also emphasized the need to expand the energy revolution and to stop the massive overregulation that has stunted growth. "The regulatory red-tape burden, which violates the Founding Fathers' Federalist paper 47 by diminishing the rule of law and increasing bureaucratic power in the executive branch at the expense of the constitutionally mandated legislative branch, has got to be stopped."

Let me weigh in on the first two bills that the GOP should put on Obama's desk.

The Republicans should start with energy by legislating a Keystone Pipeline Authorization Act (this is how the Alaska pipeline was approved in 1979), and include energy reforms that would open federal lands to development and drilling and remove all restrictions to energy exports.

More energy supply means lower energy prices and more overall economic growth. Everybody benefits. Who loses? Our enemy, Vladimir Putin, and his client state, Iran. And if Obama kowtows again to the left-wing enviros, so be it. It's a 2016 GOP agenda item.

Second, would be a business tax-reform plan that would slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, stop the double taxation of foreign profits, and allow small business S-corps (including unborn start-ups, which are America's real job creators) to take advantage of the new lower corporate tax rate. This tax cut should also be scored with a reality-based economic-feedback model.

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But the key here is that the GOP regains its footing as the party of optimism and growth. A new Republican Congress should message that they're tired of obsessing about Obama's mistakes. Everybody knows about those. The trick now is to focus on solutions. On change. On saying, "We can do this. We can fix this."

Harkening back to Ronald Reagan, Republicans should also remind everyone that a nation that's strong at home is one that becomes strong abroad. Not only can we put people back to work in the U.S., with real take-home pay, but a new recovery will gather new respect from our allies, and new fear from our enemies.

This is the potentially huge story that so many in the media are missing.

Commentary by Larry Kudlow, a senior contributor at CNBC and economics editor of the National Review. Follow him on Twitter @Larry_Kudlow.