Like many Americans — heck, people everywhere — this is a stressful time of year for me. I’m not talking about the normal holiday stress; I mean the annual exercise of reviewing the past year and the hopeful forecasting of the year ahead.
Really, how many of you are looking forward to 2019? Irrespective of possible personal landmarks, and our family has several, it is hard to feel optimistic about the world around us, given the stifling dark cloud of Donald J. Trump.
Supposedly, ratings for The Hallmark Channel have surged because of viewers seeking refuge from the incessant barrage of Trump news, and while I don’t mind all the sweetness to be found there, it’s not my thing. So I have spent a few holiday hours finding solace in old episodes of “The West Wing,” and then last week I rewatched the great movie, “The American President.”
Ah, Andrew Shepard, the president everyone wants to be real. Who can forget the iconic press conference speech in which he finally hits back at his nemesis challenger Bob Rumson? When I heard it again, for the 500th time, I realized that one only needs to substitute Trump’s name for Rumson’s, and we have a perfect example of art imitating life.
“We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Donald Trump is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-age, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time … ”
OK, I know what you’re thinking: There are a few other things that Trump is interested in, like playing golf, making money, applause, watching FOX News and cheeseburgers.
But as we look forward to 2019, I know many of you are wondering how you can survive another year of Trump anxiety. I wish I could reassure you, but I can’t. I have been (sort of) joking that since Trump entered the White House, happy hour in Washington now begins at 1 p.m. Next year it might be 11 a.m.
But even though 2019 is going to be a wild ride, there is some good news. There is a new sheriff in town, and it is the Democratic House majority. We will not be able to stop the Trump insanity, but we should be able to corral it. Certainly, we will start providing the oversight of the Trump administration that has been nonexistent for the last two years. House committees will be investigating not just the scandalous, self-serving financial activities of Trump and his team, but policies — such as the separation of immigrant families — that have been blindly and callously condoned by many in his party.
And, depending on what the Mueller investigation report finds, and other factors, we may initiate impeachment proceedings. I’m not promising — I know many of you want me to — but it is definitely not off the table. In fact, I believe we are nearing the point at which the only reason not to impeach would be a political calculation that it might hurt Democrats’ chances in 2020. That would be the wrong calculation. A decision to impeach should be based solely on whether Trump’s remaining in office poses a clear and present danger to our country and citizens.
I am sure that Trump and his antics will continue to be the top stories in American media, but like a paddling duck, plenty of action will be going on below the surface. The House Budget Committee, which I now proudly chair, will be holding hearings on many of the critical challenges facing the United States and world, and how they will impact the federal budget, and, therefore, present and future taxpayers. Those hearings will consider climate change, immigration, tax policy and even artificial intelligence. Hopefully, they will help citizens understand how a fast changing world could impact our financial health.
The new House majority will also be actively legislating. We will pass sensible gun safety reform legislation. We will pass a comprehensive election reform measure that will help restore credibility to our electoral process. We will deal with climate change. We will pass a major infrastructure program to help rebuild and modernize our roads, bridges, water and communications systems. And we will pass significant immigration reform bills. While it is highly unlike that many of our proposals will be passed by the Republican Senate and signed by the president, we will offer a different direction for the country to embrace.
So fasten your seat belts for a wild and crazy ride in 2019. In the meantime, drink some good bourbon, hug your loved ones, and watch a good movie. Just not “The Manchurian Candidate.” •
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, founder of LEO, has represented Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District since 2007 and is now chairman of the House Budget Committee.