TAMPA, Fla. – With the tropical storm now in the rearview mirror, House and Senate Republicans joined Mitt Romney surrogates in breaking out their crystal balls to forecast what could realistically get done if the GOP claims the White House this fall.
Reps. Mary Bono Mack (Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) shared their wish lists for which of the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign promises they would like to see move forward in the inevitable lame-duck session and early next year at a “Path to Power” powwow hosted by National Journal and the Atlantic.
Romney aides Glenn Hubbard and Ed Gillespie weighed in as well, offering up nebulous schedules and guarded answers as to what a Romney win would mean for America.
A rotating panel of veteran political reporters peppered the would-be prognosticators with “what ifs” and “where do we go from here” scenarios, all the while stressing that Romney stands to inherent multiple crises – scheduled sequestration cuts, expiring tax breaks and Medicare insolvency – that current lawmakers have struggled to contain.
Gillespie and Hubbard said job creation was priority one, designating proposed waivers relieving individuals from conforming to President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul, lower individual and corporate tax rates, and the green-lighting of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline as low-hanging fruit.
Everyone agreed that plotting a new course on retirement security was a much dicier proposition.
“My guess is that’s not part of his first 100-day agenda,” Kyl said.
Gillespie echoed those reservations, noting that the type of fundamental reform the Medicare system requires would not be a pain-free process. “This is not about more or less. It’s about are we going to have this program or not,” he advised.
Chaffetz, one of the most reliable conservatives in the chamber, held up the wholesale changes to Medicare that vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) wove into his budget blueprint as a roadmap toward that ultimate goal. Most surprisingly, though, was that he warned against pursuing a purely party-line solution.
“I think it would be shortcoming by us plowing forward without a single Democrat,” he said.
Chaffetz also pushed to give either president some much-needed breathing room, lobbying for a continuing resolution that would forestall action on pending spending or tax issues before March.