THE BLOG
11/07/2014 09:15 am ET Updated Jan 06, 2015

Alright GOP, Time to Put Up Or Shut Up

Congratulations Republicans, you've won control of Congress. Now it's time to put down the talking points, stop your OCD obsession with ObamaCare and prove that you can actually do the following:

Close the U.S. Border to Illegal Immigration.
Instead of merely talking tough to keep the Tea Party nativists at bay, while keeping the border semi-porous in order to reward your Chamber of Commerce pals with cheap, easily abused illegal labor, spend $50 billion truly securing our southern flank. That would mean hiring ten thousand returning vets -- many of whom struggle to find work -- so that we can finally stop the flow of all illegal immigrants (and the drug and human traffickers and would-be-terrorists that ride on coattails). Your overpriced border fence isn't going to cut it, okay? The swing voters who came out for the GOP in droves on Tuesday will never say this in exit polls, but they are sick and tired of having our generous and welcoming nation gamed by opportunists. You need armed military on the border to send a clear message to all trespassers: Ir Inicio.

Oh, and while you're at it, close the loophole in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 that allows Central American families to sneak into the country and then permanently stay here while deliberately skipping their deportation status hearings. You talk a good game about illegal immigration. Now prove it.

Make Sure the Border Is Genuinely Secure before Agreeing to Amnesty.
As I made clear in a previous post on this head, if you agree to amnesty first or simultaneously, then our southern border will be overwhelmed by refugees from all parts of the planet trying to cross illegally before the enforcement provisions of "immigration reform" kick in. It will be the Central American border crisis of last summer writ large.

And if our electorally tone-deaf President goes for unilateral amnesty via executive order - which he shockingly vowed to do Wednesday, only a day after voters unequivocally rejected his pattern of unconstitutional overreach -- have the cajones to impeach him.

Put that Bigoted, Homophobic Nutball, Vladimir Putin, In His Place And Preserve Ukraine As a Democratic Nation Free of Russian Interference. Without Causing WWIII.
You did it under Reagan, when the Kremlin had many more nukes pointed our way. You can do it again now. If you can't solve the Ukraine mess using the war powers granted to you by the U.S. Constitution, you will do us zero good occupying the Oval Office come 2016. Keep your eye on the ball: Putin is the major threat to U.S. interests globally. Not Isis. Not Iran. Not Cuba. Not North Korea. Not Yemen. Not Syria. Putin. Get it?

Defeating Putin in Eastern Europe starts with fulsome high-tech support of the Ukrainian armed forces. This should be followed up by an energy policy that enables fast-track construction of LNG ports, so we can export large amounts of the stuff to Europe. Heck, we're just burning off excess natural gas in the Bakken Formation right now. Once we've liberated Europe from its dependence on Russian gas crack, it can be more proactive in helping us deal with the corrupt and criminal Kremlin.

Win the War against Islamic Extremism without Bogging the US down In Another Mideast Quagmire.
I don't want to hear anymore of your chicken-hawk whining about what our President is failing to do in fighting ISIS. You have ultimate control over the purse strings now. If you want to send in U.S. troops, make a transparent, empirical case free of Cheney-level disinformation. Frankly, I think this is the Arab world's and Israel's fight. You need to do whatever it takes to get all countries in the region involved collectively to solve this problem without putting sizable U.S. combat troops on Mideast soil. We've seen that narrative several times now. And, as Rand Paul consistently reminds us, it invariably ends in disaster.

If a collective strategy means working with distasteful Syrian strong man, Bashar al-Assad, so be it. If we've learned anything over the six years of Obama's Mideast non-strategy, it's that secular strongmen, however criminal, are sometimes the best antidote to anarchy - Islamic extremism thrives on anarchy - and, thus, the best regional partners we can currently hope for. Democracy is slowly coming to the Middle East in fits and starts, but not overnight. Be patient and realistic.

Stop Your Absurd and Embarrassing Denials of Global Warming, And Get Busy Implementing A Fossil-Free Energy Future For This Country.
Yes, that can include throwing a few bones to your campaign donors in nuclear and biofuels (Iowa's farmers will remember come caucus time). And, yes, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, you can loosen some of those coal regulations, so your constituents feel you delivered on your dunderheaded campaign promise to bring back an industry that has as much relevance to our clean energy future as the telegraph does to 21st century telephony.

But, for the love of John Muir, get off this obsession with the Keystone XL Pipeline. This much-touted boondoggle will not add more than 35 full-time permanent jobs, according to the State Department's own analysis. Moreover, the environmental risks are too high against the backdrop of more promising energy alternatives. If you must, pass some legislation regarding the pipeline - to save face with your gullible constituents and oil industry backers - and then live with the inevitable Obama veto.

Get Busy Rebuilding the Infrastructure of This Nation, Including The Construction Of High-Speed Regional Rail Networks.
Republican Ike built the U.S. interstate system. You band of ideologues should at least be able to build high-speed rail. It's outrageous that in our most populous state, California - which, if it were a country, would have the 8th largest economy on the planet - we can't quickly, comfortably and safely train from LA to San Francisco in under three hours, LA to San Diego in under one hour, and downtown L.A. to the growing hubs of Ventura and San Bernardino in less than thirty minutes.

This is the perfect area for bipartisan compromise. You want to know why California bucked the national midterm trend? In part because a broad cross-section of Californians really like Governor Jerry Brown's courageous and vociferous backing of high-speed rail. Republicans, get behind the Governor and help make this thing a reality in the next six years. Then repeat the effort in the Midwest, where my hometown of Omaha -- corporate HQ of the Union Pacific railroad -- should be connected to major regional hubs like Minneapolis, Denver, and Chicago in less than four hours, and nearby hubs of Des Moines and Kansas City in under one hour. A regional network like that would cause economic growth to explode in the Heartland.

Dramatically Expand Marine, Wetland and Forest Protection, So Your Right-Wing Base of Fishermen and Hunters Will Actually Have Wildlife to Kill in the Future.
Remember that GOP President George Bush, Sr. passed the Clean Water Act. You don't need to take an adversarial stance on environmental issues in order to remain true to your free market principles. Pick areas where bipartisan consensus is possible. Remember "conservative" is drawn from "conserve." Be the party of conservation, and, thus, remain true to your conservative bona fides.

Over 100 years ago, Republican Teddy Roosevelt showed how environmental and workplace protection could be winning conservative issues. Follow his example, and win over huge swaths of independent voters, who could be yours in 2016 if you were not so stubbornly backward on sensible environmental protection.

That's my take. Let me know what you think in the Comments area below.
-- Crotty