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Wall Street Journal | November 05, 2018

Republicans Reach for the Moon

If voters return us to the House majority, we will continue to govern in the spirit of Apollo 11.

Next year marks the beginning of a new Congress—and the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Both events are tremendous opportunities to reflect and recommit to our American cause.

Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” completed the work of hundreds of thousands of Americans, from the military test pilots who pushed the limits of flight over my district in Kern County, Calif., to the workers who built the Apollo 11 spacecraft and the Saturn V rocket. The “giant leap for mankind” was made possible by decades of American industrial and scientific advances powered by men and women of all backgrounds striving behind the scenes for a goal greater than themselves.

The moon landing is the story of what makes America great: our determination in the face of challenges, our industrial might, and the ties that bind us together. If America is to achieve great things in this century, it will be because of those same strengths. The conditions for greatness are still present in our country, but for years many Americans have been haunted by the feeling that we have lost our way since the thrilling days of Apollo.

Yet today we face many of the same problems that our parents and grandparents faced 50 years ago. As in the late 1960s, we are seeing a surge of political violence. Last year, a man angry about politics opened fire on a baseball field of Republicans. Last month, another man sent bombs to Democrats through the mail. Then an ancient hatred reared its ugly head in Pittsburgh, where an anti-Semitic terrorist killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

America also faces a drug-abuse problem of an even greater scale than in the late ’60s. In the past two decades alone, drugs have claimed more lives than the Civil War. This drug epidemic is causing terrible carnage in our communities, killing more than 100 people every day.

On the world stage, the U.S. is locked in a struggle with a great rival and enemy of freedom, as we were during the Cold War. Today the adversary is China, an authoritarian nation that has supercharged its rise by stealing American technology and manufacturing, too often with the cooperation of U.S. businesses. We also have to confront regional bullies like Russia, Iran and North Korea, which sow division and chaos across the globe and even in our elections.

Those are a few of the challenges we face. They have contributed to concern that America is slipping. We hear this concern in the common refrains that “America is divided,” that “America doesn’t build things anymore.” But we also heard it in the presidential campaign in 2016, where only one candidate spoke bluntly about the challenges facing our country. He promised to “Make America Great Again,” and the American people gave him the job.

America has recovered some of its greatness since President Trump and Republicans won that election. When Mr. Trump entered office, his critics warned he could “destroy the world economy,” in the words of a Washington Post editorial. Others, including President Obama’s top economic adviser, scoffed at the idea of 3% annual economic growth.

But the Republican Congress and the Trump administration got to work, cutting red tape and passing the largest tax cuts in a generation. This powerful combination ended the weak recovery of the Obama years and sparked a boom. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since the Apollo astronauts walked on the moon. Wages are rising at the fastest rate in a decade. Manufacturing jobs are growing faster than they have since the expansion of the 1990s. America is now on track to achieve 3% annual growth for the first time since 2005.

We also passed bipartisan legislation to heal the wounds of opioid abuse. We enacted a law to give terminally ill patients the right to try potentially lifesaving treatments. We passed the biggest defense budget in history to rebuild the military strength the previous administration diminished. And we bolstered national-security reviews on foreign investment—the first time Congress has reformed those protocols since China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization.

On Tuesday, the American people vote in the midterm elections. This election will be a referendum on the strength of our results. It will also be a referendum on two visions for America’s future.

If the Democrats win, they will paralyze the government in an attempt to impeach President Trump. They will attempt to roll back the tax reform that has energized the economy. They will use identity politics to divide Americans further into warring tribes. If the Democrats win, expect to have all the dysfunction of the late 1960s with none of the greatness to redeem it. The project of rebuilding America will grind to a halt.

If, on the other hand, the American people return Republicans to power, we will continue to implement the America First agenda that has made our nation stronger and more secure.

We will continue to make strategic investments in our military. We will make last year’s individual tax cuts permanent and fulfill President Trump’s promise of an additional 10% tax cut for the middle class. We will pass trade deals like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which increase the nation’s industrial capacity and protect good American jobs. We will defend America’s position as an innovation powerhouse, preserving the conditions that will help American companies win the race to develop 5G wireless internet, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies. We will build the wall along the southern border and enforce America’s immigration laws.

Republicans will accomplish these goals using the same collaborative leadership style that produced our past successes. Our efforts will be strengthened by fresh talent leading more than half of all House committees. Outside Congress, we will draw strength from the sources that have made our nation great from the beginning: the American people and the institutions of a free society.

More than any single agenda item, we Republicans want to galvanize the nation so that we can reach new horizons and unsettled frontiers. That is the Republican vision for America’s future, but it is a choice. Which vision we choose in the coming days will determine whether our nation rises closer to greatness or fails to launch.

Mr. McCarthy, a California Republican, is House majority leader.