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While Washington bickers, Republican governors solve problems

With frustration building over Washington's refusal to behave in the public interest, perhaps it's worth noting a drastic solution tried by the Irish.

Last Friday, Irish voters cast ballots on a referendum to abolish the country's Upper House, known as the Seanad. Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Ireland didn't need all of its politicians and they should be made to suffer along with everyone else as the country continues to struggle economically.

The measure to abolish the Seanad lost by just 42,500 votes out of more than 1,226,000 cast (51.8 percent to 48.2 percent).

While many Americans might wish they could abolish Congress, it is unlikely, unless voters take a page from the Declaration of Independence and "institute new government," so another approach by Republican governors to break the cycle of systemic ineffectiveness in Washington might work.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) has produced a video (rga.org/americancomeback) in which five Republican governors highlight successes in their respective states. Given the dysfunction in Washington, the video provides some powerful reasons for people to turn their backs on the nation's capital and begin to look to states that have succeeded in solving many problems Washington is unwilling to solve. The featured Republican governors are:

•Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) wants you to know that his state's GDP has grown by $36 billion since 2008, nearly twice the national rate. That puts Louisiana eighth best in the country and third best in the South. According to Mr. Jindal, other categories in which Louisiana has succeeded while Washington piles up debt include: unemployment (below the national average with new jobs being added); per capita personal income (increased more than $3,600 since 2008); charter schools — Mr. Jindal says his state has become a "national leader" in charter schools with 80 percent of New Orleans students enrolled in them.

•John Kasich (Ohio) closed an $8 billion shortfall without raising taxes and cut taxes by $3 billion. He eliminated the "death tax," modernized Medicaid, eliminated the bureaucratic Department of Development and created a private, nonprofit corporation — JobsOhio — to "respond to job creators' needs at their pace instead of at 'the speed of statute.'"

•Susana Martinez (New Mexico) boosted funding for education and Medicaid without raising taxes; cooperated with a Democratic legislature, passing the New Mexico Jobs Package, which reduced the tax rate on businesses from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent; moved the state from 38th in the nation in export growth three years ago to first today; turned a structural deficit into a surplus and enacted comprehensive tax reform.

•Nikki Haley (South Carolina) pushed through tax reform on small businesses, which she claims resulted in South Carolina having the fastest growing manufacturing sector on the East Coast, creating 38,000 new jobs, which have contributed $9 billion in new investment.

•Scott Walker (Wisconsin) reversed a $3.6 billion deficit he inherited and turned it into a surplus. He provided nearly $1 billion in tax relief for families and businesses that sparked a two-year record of job growth, which he says is the best in the state under any governor in 10 years. Oh, and those "controversial" union reforms that caused demonstrations at the state capital two years ago? Governor Walker says those reforms saved the state more than $2 billion.

More can be seen on the video.

The "American Comeback" campaign should resonate with those who long for an economically, politically and culturally sound America, something we do not have under the Obama administration. It isn't that we don't know how to solve problems; it is that too many Washington politicians refuse to solve them, preferring instead to lobby for positions of power and curry favor with special interest groups that hand them cash, stroke their egos and promise them votes on Election Day.

Real problem-solving is taking place in states headed by Republicans. If you're tired of the bickering, turn away from dysfunctional Washington, follow their lead and emulate their successes.

Maybe then Washington will be forced to pay attention. Republican governors might even be able to teach Ireland a thing or two.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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