If Congress and Biden do ‘nothing’ for the next 2 years, the country will be better off

The day after the midterm elections, President Joe Biden said something curious about the outcome.

When a reporter at a news conference asked Biden what he would do to address the three-quarters of voters who had said they believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, he said: “Nothing, because they’re just finding out what we’re doing. The more they know about what we’re doing, the more support there is.”

I’m not sure that’s the message the country was sending the White House, but I think the president hit on something worth pursuing.

If the Biden administration and Congress simply do “nothing” the next two years, the country will be much better off. After several years of record spending to combat COVID-19, the national debt hit a whopping $31 trillion this fall.

Record high national debt: $31 trillion may seem a fanciful number, but U.S. debt will soon hit your wallet hard

Thank you, gridlock

Congress is under divided control after Republicans won a narrow majority in the House. This effectively means an end to the Democratic spending spree – for now, anyway.

In fact, no one will get much done, legislatively speaking.

While a reprieve from costly legislation and oppressive regulation is welcome, this does not give Republicans a free pass to avoid doing the hard work of offering solutions to stubborn inflation and rising interest rates. Americans made it clear the economy and high costs topped their list of concerns heading into the election, and most voters said they trusted the GOP more to handle the country’s financial woes.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters on Nov. 15, 2022, after the House Republican Conference voted for him to be its nominee for speaker of the House.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters on Nov. 15, 2022, after the House Republican Conference voted for him to be its nominee for speaker of the House.

Republican candidates who did not address these worries head on – and offer solutions – missed a huge opportunity. Voters made it clear they wanted serious elected leaders they could trust – not ones obsessed with the 2020 election and other delusions.

Now that GOP lawmakers will hold power in the House, they need to make the economy their No. 1 priority. Even though bipartisan consensus is unlikely on any major policy solution, Republicans should show they have concrete ideas to tackle inflation and offer safeguards to soon-to-be-insolvent Medicare and Social Security.

Do Republicans want to cut Social Security?: GOP won't touch your Medicare benefits. But insolvency looms without changes.

New congressional investigations, already?

Yet it seems that the incoming GOP majority has other plans. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who is likely to become the next speaker, noted that Republicans are eager to get back at Democrats and their incessant investigations into former President Donald Trump and the U.S. Capitol riot.

That means as a first order of business, they’re planning to launch investigations into the Biden administration and Biden's family, including into Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop and his foreign dealings.

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McCarthy also wants to prioritize securing the southern border and investigating the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

And he has rightly said that a GOP Congress will rein in out-of-control spending.

Republican Party must lead on the economy

While the investigations are flashy and might appeal to the far right of the caucus, they should come after the House first does substantial work to address the most pressing issues facing the country.

More from Ingrid Jacques: Hey Mr. President, you can’t rule this country with ‘a pen and a phone’

Luckily for any American concerned with flagrant spending, high inflation and spiking interest rates, the gridlock alone will prove helpful.

The country is facing tough months ahead and a recession seems inevitable. That means the fears citizens had ahead of the midterms won’t go away. And they’ll be paying close attention to what Republicans actually do now that they have regained some power.

They shouldn’t squander the opportunity.

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at ijacques@usatoday.com or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House Republicans should not make Hunter Biden a high priority