the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) of 1947, inaugurating federal control of pesticides, and the Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, the federal entry into that policy realm; it was still a program-building era, even if many initiatives failed.
As for the Taft Republicans' distinctive policy agenda, three enactments deserve mention. The 22nd Amendment limiting presidents to two terms--the "term-limits" formula of those times--cleared Congress easily in early 1947. A sizable tax cut lost out twice to Truman vetoes in 1947, but a third version attracted the needed votes for an override in the spring of 1948. Most important by far, the promanagement Taft-Hartley Act, which rolled back the Wagner Act and has regulated labor relations for the last half century despite energetic union efforts to repeal it under Truman (in 1949), Johnson, and Carter, won passage over Truman's veto in mid-1947.
By conservative standards, that was quite a successful two years. It is not entirely clear that the current 104th Congress will surpass it, though probably it will.
At any rate, long-term electoral prospects for the Republicans are scarcely as grim today as they must have looked back in 1947-48. Republican winners in 1946 included no Senators and only 2 House members from the still solidly Democratic South, which meant that the GOP needed to win immense--and, after the New Deal realignment, unlikely--victories outside the South to organize Congress. House delegations from the North in 1947-48 had Republican edges as extreme as 8-1 in Minnesota, 10-0 in Wisconsin, 14-3 in Michigan, 20-6 in Illinois, 9-2 in Indiana, 19-4 in Ohio, 12-2 in New Jersey, and 28-5 in Pennsylvania. All 6 Philadelphians were Republicans. Numbers like these were not Rely to last very long. Today, given the Republican surge in the South, they are no longer needed.
And beyond this, we now have Gingrich and the Contract with America. The 80th Congress's Robert Taft, for all his pugnacity and energy, his analytic capacity, his encyclopedic knowledge of policy areas, his ability to bore in day after day with telling critiques, amendments, and counterproposals, never made much of a mark as a dramatizer, stage manager, or salesman--as witness his failed presidential drives. Gingrich, like some Presidents, possesses exactly those merchandising capabilities--as witness the contract and the programmatic House drama built on it in early 1995. At the least, this should guarantee that we won't hear a great deal about a "do-nothing 104th Congress."