As it’s become increasingly obvious over the past two weeks that Paul Ryan’s non-fix for Obamacare has devolved into an intra-party squabble that most likely will end with no acceptable resolution for anyone, people are starting to question why the Republicans are even addressing the healthcare issue at all – at least right now.
Many are saying the emphasis of President Donald Trump and Congress should be on what concerned voters the most in last year’s election – jobs and the economy. Instead, Republicans appear stalled on an important though lower-tier issue that’s only pulling attention and focus away from where it should be in putting Americans back to work.
Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote, “[I]n the middle of his first 100 days in office, Trump has gotten bogged down in a complex, time-consuming, and unpopular fight over another issue — repealing and replacing Obamacare — that, while a key Republican priority and a Trump campaign promise, is not at the very top of the public's concerns.
“New to Washington and with no experience in public office, Trump has become a prisoner to the House Republican leadership — or more precisely, to the complicated procedural requirements of the House and Senate, and the judgment of the GOP leadership that must operate within those boundaries.”
After all the rancor and back-and-forth nature of last year’s election when Speaker Ryan couldn’t make up his mind on supporting his own party’s nominee (and then finally declared he wouldn’t campaign for Trump at all), one wonders whether Ryan is deliberately steering the legislative calendar away from the subjects where Trump would receive the lion’s share of the spotlight – and credit for success.
York agrees that repealing and replacing Obamacare was and has been a major promise for the GOP for years, but at the same time, the voters who put Trump in office and gave Republicans majorities in both houses of Congress last year did so because they wanted action on the faltering economy first and foremost.
“Republicans are working on the wrong thing. And the Republican president is allowing himself to be distracted from delivering early and often on his core campaign promise of improving the economy and bringing jobs to millions of Americans,” York wrote.
York’s and others’ treatment on the subject brings up an important question: who is setting the agenda, the new president elected nationally by conservatives from coast to coast or Paul Ryan and the establishment who came to power because they sucked up to all the right special interests and made promises they never had any intention of keeping?
Trump brings no such concerns. Sure there are lingering questions on Trump’s true motivation for running for president but now that he’s in office there is hardly anyone (including most of the #NeverTrumpers) who still wonders why he’s acting the way he is. Trump’s brief “I will never let you down” inaugural address and well-received speech to the joint session of Congress together with his multitude of executive orders has dispelled almost all doubts as to his real intentions.
What at one time looked like a pure ego trip from a reality TV star has merged into an American crusade to become great again.
That’s not to say Trump doesn’t have his faults. Most would agree he could lay off the Twitter button a little more; but as to whom most conservatives and Republicans trust to set the direction of the agenda, Trump is unquestionably number one.
I don’t know the statistics but I’m guessing Paul Ryan is well down the list of “most trusted” Republicans. Ditto for Mitch McConnell, though the Senate Majority leader has certainly won himself more good feelings for his move to bar hearings for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee (Judge Merrick Garland) last year and for his steady handling of confirmations for Trump’s cabinet.
Which brings me back to Obamacare. Why here, why now? There are those who think Democrats either need to take part in fixing the problems they created or take sole blame for the law’s inevitable failure.
Charles Hurt of the Washington Times wrote, “Force these Democrats to take part in cleaning up the mess they’ve made. Meanwhile, principled conservatives in the Republican Party who are opposed to Obamacare or Obamacare-lite should be given a free pass.
“It should be up to the people who invented Obamacare to fix it. In the end, if Democrats refuse to fix the mess and millions of poor people suffer the dire consequences of Mr. Obama’s and congressional Democrats’ failed policies, then Mr. Trump and Republicans can say they made a valiant and selfless effort to fix it.”
True enough. The effort has been made by congressional Republicans and Trump – we’ve already spent the better part of a month on the issue. To pass a bad bill now would force Republicans to own the awful consequences, most of which were brought on by the original Obamacare law.
David Catron wrote at the American Spectator, “Government can’t fix the insurance market; all government can do is destroy it. It so happens that’s what the Democrats are counting on. Obamacare was designed to collapse into single-payer socialized medicine, so they’re going to do everything they can to resist efforts to alter the current trajectory. Don’t fall into that trap.”
A trap it is and Democrats realize it. That’s one of the reasons they’re largely sitting back and snickering while Republicans bicker about subsidies and statistics that 99 percent of the public doesn’t understand nor really care about until it’s time to write the checks.
Obamacare must go; but unless a solution can be found that satisfies conservatives (the ones who best represent the people), the issue should be put aside so Republicans can concentrate on matters such as tax reform and immigration. These are areas that will improve the economy in tangible ways – and better yet, Republicans are trusted to handle them.
President Trump needs to walk out of the trap…or at least start changing the conversation.
Are the Republicans really panicking over the midterm elections already?
Speaking of traps, signs are emerging that the Republican establishment is terrified they might be falling into one by even trying to fix the healthcare system.
Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico reports, “The party in power has twice attempted to overhaul health care in the past quarter-century. And both times it ended up with politically catastrophic results. Now, the GOP attempt to replace Obamacare is shaping up to be the defining issue of the 2018 midterm elections — one big enough to rattle the foundations of Donald Trump-era Washington and beyond.
“The GOP-controlled House and Senate aren’t all that’s at stake if the president and congressional leaders can’t deliver, nor sell the American public on the new plan. If the 1994 and 2010 midterm elections are any guide, the blast radius of failure could also reach deep into the statehouses.”
Such talk is utterly chilling to the GOP establishment which in its paranoia is looking everywhere for signs that the sky is about to fall on the party’s congressional majorities. If I didn’t know better I’d say they’re searching for the nearest crystal ball reading fortune teller to forecast the future or perhaps looking to purchase an Ouija board for the executive conference room.
I doubt anyone at RNC headquarters is walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, buying black felines or stepping on any cracks these days. They’re nuts.
The main difference between now and 1994 and 2010 is both efforts were being conducted by socialistic Democrats with big dreams of a single payer government controlled healthcare system and both were closely associated with one particular arrogant political figure. In 1994 it was first lady Hillary Diane Rodham-Clinton who had plenty of names and scholarly degrees but didn’t have any particular expertise or legitimacy to justify taking over healthcare.
Hillary’s overreach was obvious. Her conceited smug face was on every newscast and listening to all the Democrats drone on about how brilliant she was turned the entire country off.
Ditto for Obama in 2010. He was basically just picking up where Clinton left off, portraying himself as the savior for those who didn’t have free healthcare but desperately wanted it.
The only problem is the rest of the country was at worst mildly dissatisfied with their health insurance. A small tweak – such as fostering health savings accounts – might have been welcome. A complete overhaul of the system was not.
If anything, the “trap” Republicans are falling into is giving the impression that they’re going to “fix” a system that was broken by someone else. Why they would want to take ownership of Obamacare and healthcare in general is beyond me.
In David Catron’s American Spectator article referenced above he suggests four fixes. For the sake of brevity, you can access them here. All seem fairly simple and doable under the rules of reconciliation if worded properly. Instead of throwing together a monster one-size-fits-all healthcare bill like the Democrats tried to do in ’94 and did in 2010, Republicans could settle for a straight repeal and a few easily passable solutions – and then let the system try and correct itself or fail under its own weight.
In other words, Republicans will only suffer if they hurriedly pass something that on the surface is viewed as some sort of magic solution.
Unlike in 2010, the people who will be most upset over healthcare will be the ones who’ve gained an entitlement under Obamacare. If the Republicans passed a few market oriented solutions that would bring down costs and included something like health savings accounts, the Republican base would be happy.
Let the liberals scream at the town halls. The only way the Republicans are going to lose big in the midterms -- over a year and a half away -- is if they screw up something they shouldn’t have been messing with in the first place. Newt Gingrich is right: healthcare is too large and too complex to rush into.
If Republicans end up doing just that – and pass Ryan’s bill as is – then the GOP will have deservedly earned the “stupid party” label all over again.
Trump chooses jobs and competition for the auto industry over fantasy Obama fuel standards
While the distracting healthcare battle rages in Congress President Donald Trump isn’t waiting to act on other promises he made during last year’s campaign.
One of his reoccurring themes concerned reducing the job crushing regulatory burden on American industry as imposed by the radical environmentalists in the Obama administration. The EPA ran wild during the past eight years; Trump is moving quickly to stop the bleeding.
Timothy Cama of The Hill reports, “President Trump will sign an order Wednesday to formally evaluate the Obama administration’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars.
“The action, a top request from the automaker lobby to the new president, is the first step toward potentially weakening the aggressive standards that set a goal of a 54.5 mile-per-gallon auto fleet in 2025.
“Trump will make the announcement during a trip to Michigan, the center of the domestic auto industry. He is expected to frame the action as a way to help auto industry jobs and consumer choice.”
All the liberal hybrid owners must be looking on in horror as the new president appears willing to let the market and consumers decide the winners and losers in the auto industry. Make no mistake – many Americans will still choose smaller more efficient cars because they’re less expensive to own, but for those who enjoy a lot of horsepower under the hood, at least there’s a choice.
One of the areas Trump has been most aggressive thus far in his presidency is in reducing environmental regulatory restrictions on American industry in the form of the deceptively labeled “Clean Water Rule” and “Clean Power Plan.” Though such things sound great in theory, in practice they’re unnecessarily harsh on energy producers and businesses because they make the cost of their products too expensive to compete against cheaper forms of energy and foreign competition.
In the case of the auto industry, overly restrictive regulations force companies to move production overseas where labor is cheaper and let’s face it – the environmental laws are much less strict.
This isn’t a matter of not caring about “climate change” or wanting dirtier air and water. It isn’t about favoring deep pocketed corporations who can afford to pay off politicians to allow them to pollute the environment. Nobody wants filthy air and undrinkable water. And even most conservatives would agree the issue of “climate change” deserves more study and debate.
But there’s a balance to be found between all the differing interests to put in place common sense policies that permit American businesses to compete and still keep the environment clean. President Trump isn’t even completely ditching the Obama administration’s fuel standards; he’s merely giving the industries the original amount of time Obama promised to review the proposed rules.
Who’s being unreasonable?
Regardless, expect to hear the Democrats claim Republicans don’t care about children and old people because they’re trying to dirty up the land. Like most of the rest of what they say, it’s all nonsense.