A new, pro-growth U.S. Senate

The Detroit News

Come January, Mitch McConnell will be majority leader of a new GOP-controlled U.S. Senate. He must lead newly energized Republicans in tackling the pressing policy issues the last Congress failed to address.

GOP Senate candidates campaigning in states throughout the country didn't need to articulate bold plans or propose clear policy agendas to win. The anti-incumbent platform and disappointment with the direction of the country were enough to carry them to victory.

But now that they've won, the work of pushing a pro-growth and reform agenda begins.

Voters Tuesday expressed frustration with government-centered policies that have stunted a struggling economy, negatively impacting their lives. It's up to Republicans to prove they have smarter plans, and can get some of them enacted.

The wave of GOP wins in states across the country was also due to the public's frustration with gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, D.C. This new GOP-led Senate must take a different approach.

McConnell said Wednesday his body will start "working more." Perhaps just as important is that the body starts working smart.

Reshaping and simplifying the tax code is an issue that has bipartisan support. That should be within the reach of a Senate that is at least voicing a desire to work together. President Barack Obama said Wednesday he's open to "closing loopholes" while making it more attractive for businesses to headquarter in the United States.

Retiring Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Midland leaves behind a comprehensive plan for creating a more reasonable and straightforward tax code. The new Congress should take it up.

Likewise, expanding trade agreements is on Obama's to-do list, and that should certainly be something Republicans want as well.

Infrastructure upgrades fall into the same category. Bridges, roads and tunnels need repair. The president said it's a priority for him, and the Senate should lead in finding an effective way to fund these needed projects without boosting taxes on Americans.

This Senate must also be more responsible than the last, fulfilling one of its main duties to the American people in passing a budget. It should focus on reducing the deficit without such dramatic gestures as shutting down the government.

The GOP-controlled body will also have an opportunity to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline and support domestic energy production. The pipeline has been in limbo for more than six years already. Republicans in the Senate should send the issue to the president's desk.

Reforming Obamacare will be a bigger challenge. If Republicans recognize that repeal is a futile exercise while Obama is in office, they may be able to get agreement on key reforms that address the impact of the health care act on employment.

Immigration reform will be the stickiest issue. But both parties should recognize the need for more visas for highly skilled immigrants. Jobs are leaving this country because of a lack of trained workers.

Perhaps less prescriptive than other priorities, the Senate must take a serious look at the federal bureaucracy. Incompetency, a lack of transparency and wasteful spending are the only results Americans have seen from many agencies in the past year.

There's no shortage of work for this new Senate, and the voters who gave them this chance expect them to get it done.