HILL: Memo to new Republican congressmen from North Carolina

The first thing any serious legislator has to do to solve a public policy issue is decide what they really want to do while in Congress

(Greg Nash / AP Photo)

There are going to be at least five new freshman Republican congressmen from North Carolina in the 119th Congress. Maybe six depending on what happens in NC-1.

Tarheels in Congress have a long history of being independent sorts when it comes to big issues. North Carolina was the first state to not ratify the U.S. Constitution without the Bill of Rights attached.

There is no reason for our Republican congressional delegation to go against those rebellious political bloodlines and follow the crowd just because everyone else is following the crowd. Especially when the incumbent “crowd” on both sides of the aisle has done so little to solve the big public policy questions since at least 2001.

Here’s a memo to help them hit the ground running when they get sworn in Jan. 3, 2025:

Dear New Congressional Representative:

You are about to start the most difficult job in our democratic republic. You are being asked to be a humble public servant serving constituents while being a bold leader on big important issues at the same time. It is a tough tightrope to walk.

Please don’t waste your time getting on Fox News or talk radio all the time. Being on TV is like flicking a square of Jell-O on a plate and watching it wiggle for a while but it never goes anywhere.

Don’t take your cues or direction from the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado or Matt Gaetz of Florida. If they are your heroes and you want to showboat like they do instead of doing the serious work we have elected you to do, then just resign and come on back home.

The first thing any serious legislator has to do to solve a public policy issue is decide what they really want to do while in Congress. You don’t have a long time to do it anyway ― if you are a true citizen-legislator in the tradition of what our Founders intended, 10 years should be enough time to do what you can and then let someone else try to finish it if you run out of time.

Thomas Jefferson wanted his tombstone to list three things he wanted to be remembered for: the Declaration of Independence; the Virginia Statutes of Religious Freedom and founding the University of Virginia. Make your time in Washington amount to something equally memorable.

Here are three major issues you can help solve and have chiseled on your tombstone which will earn you the eternal thanks of a grateful nation: protect the border; unleash the free enterprise system and balance the budget.

If you want to balance the federal budget, it is going to require most of your attention while you are in Washington, D.C. Saying you won’t raise taxes is the easy part ― however, not raising taxes does absolutely nothing to reduce federal spending. That is the hard work no one in Washington has done since 1997, so you have a blank canvas on which to paint your masterpiece.

Believe it or not, budget deficits have been this high before. In 1983, it was 26% of federal spending. In 2023, the budget deficit was 27%. The relative magnitude of the budget deficits can’t be used as an excuse to do nothing.

By 1998, there was a $69 billion surplus which was used to pay down federal debt. That did not happen by magic. It happened because serious legislators figured out a way to hold overall federal spending below 2% annually during the 1990s.

You can do the same thing. Hold federal spending down enough to allow the economy to grow and throw off enough tax revenue and the budget can be balanced by 2038. With any luck and a change in administrations from Biden to Trump, maybe the economy will grow a tad bit faster and get to balance sooner than that. You don’t even need to be there to watch it happen.

You are going to be presented with a major vote about the expiration of the 2017 Trump tax cuts in your first year. They will sunset due to current law at the end of 2025 which CBO estimates will bring in $3.8 trillion in marginal new tax revenue over the next decade. Just know if you vote to extend the Trump tax cuts, you will have to find an additional $3.8 trillion in spending reductions to keep deficits around $2 trillion annually for the next decade without any other spending restraint.

You ran for Congress to make a difference. Starting Jan. 3, you are going to get that chance to be a true statesman and American hero.

We the People are depending on you to do just that.