Conservatives packed 2017 with victories — push 2018 even further

Conservatives packed 2017 with victories — push 2018 even further
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With a wild 2017 behind us, conservatives looking to 2018 face typical electoral headwinds for a midterm majority party in the White House and Congress. That’s why building on successes and learning from difficulties this year are key to preserving a policy agenda that protects our free and open society.

Whether it’s stellar judicial nominees (at all levels), tax reform, Internet freedom, energy policy and foreign policy developments like defeating ISIS, Jerusalem’s embassy designation and North Korea sanctions, the Trump administration repeatedly made right policy calls in 2017. I hope these policy calls continue in 2018.

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In 2017, we also saw conservatives paring back an unwieldy regulatory state, a state which my former colleague Wayne Crews at the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates took a $1.9 trillion drag on the 2016 economy. Through the leadership of Neomi Rao at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, as well Congress’ efforts through the Congressional Review Act, the Trump administration estimates the economic regulatory cost savings will be $9.8 billion in FY 2018. As The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “The deregulation effort ranks with judicial confirmations and tax reform as the main Trump achievements of the year.” Let’s hope this progress continues in 2018 and beyond.

Conservatives now have the task of explaining how these policy changes will improve voters’ lives heading into 2018 elections. They can add to their street cred through 2018 policy victories on infrastructure rebuilding (while ensuring its doesn’t add to the deficit via cuts elsewhere), entitlement and immigration reform and education system overhaul.

Yet 2017 also saw conservative stumbles like failure to fully repeal and replace ObamaCare. The tax reform law included a positive step to repeal the purchasing mandate of inefficient and costly health care plans, but more health care work remains in 2018.

In his new book, “The Economics of US Health Care Policy,” Charles Phelps from the University of Rochester offers innovative health care changes such as eliminating the favored tax treatment for employer-paid health insurance premiums, improving the operations of health insurance exchanges, and leveling the playing field for competitive alternatives to Medicare fee for service coverage. These are the sort of policy changes smart conservatives will be pushing for in 2018.

The manifold lessons of Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreGeorge Will says Trump doesn’t inspire ‘cult’ in GOP: ‘This is fear’ RNC mum on whether it will support Trump-backed Corey Stewart Loyalty to Donald Trump is new normal for the Republican Party MORE’s Senate loss in Alabama are a warning signal for conservatives to better vet 2018 congressional candidates and avoid letting the anti-establishment impulse — however valid in many respects it may be — to cloud their better judgement.

It’s time to put racial division behind us and come together as our national motto, E Pluribus Unum, implores. Conservatives need moral clarity to mend the wounds of racial division in our country. Under President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday Shows preview: Lawmakers, Trump allies discuss Russia probe, migrant family separation Seth McFarlane: Fox News makes me 'embarrassed' to work for this company  'Art of the Deal' co-author: Trump would act like Kim Jong Un if he had the same powers MORE’s first year, black and Latino Americans have seen historical improvements in their employment levels. Trump and conservatives can come together across the aisle to work with progressives on criminal justice reform, reportedly an early 2018 policy priority for Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPrison reform, peace, and pardons: Jared Kushner's bold and lasting portfolio UK planning international meeting with Kushner to talk Mideast peace plan: report Natalie Portman: Kushner, a former friend, has become 'a super villain' MORE, whose family has personal experience on ways to reform our penal system.

Politically, as The Hill’s Ben Kamisar and Lisa Hagen report, the 2018 Senate map is good for Republicans, looking at the sheer numbers. Republicans must only defend eight seats while Democrats must defend 26 seats (with two independents caucusing Democratic), including 10 in states that Trump won in 2016 (five states by double digits). And the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had $6.3 million on at December 1st, compared to $40 million with the Republican National Committee. The DNC’s November fundraising haul was its worst month in a decade.

This doesn’t mean Republicans can be complacent in the wake of challenging approval figures for both the White House and Congress, as well as a constant barrage of the liberal cultural trifecta of media, academia and Hollywood. And the House has more competitive seats in play against Republicans, with 23 GOP districts where Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSunday Shows preview: Lawmakers, Trump allies discuss Russia probe, migrant family separation Giuliani: FBI, prosecutors investigating Trump belong in the psych ward Des Moines Register front page warns Iowa could lose up to 4M from Chinese tariffs MORE beat Donald Trump (with just 12 Democrats in seats where Trump defeated Clinton). The House money game is tighter, where Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $34.2 million ending November vs. $42.3 million at the National Republican Campaign Committee.

While political correctness had reared its pernicious head in abundantly manifested ways, the corresponding bombastic, overheated political rhetoric of the past two years needn’t overshadow our discourse in 2018. The political sea change that was Donald Trump in 2016 created an opening for solutions-oriented conservatives to unabashedly show American voters how limited government, competitive markets and robust but realistic foreign policy will make us freer, safer and and more prosperous.

Carrie Sheffield, a conservative commentator, is the founder of Bold, a digital news network committed to bipartisan dialogue. Follow her on Twitter @carriesheffield.