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Outsiders vs. Insiders: With Priebus’s exit the establishment is left on the outside looking in

You could almost sense the anxiety as Republican members of Congress boarded their planes for the long or short jaunt back to their respective districts at the end of last week. Ahead of them certainly lie days and weeks of angry confrontations with people who aren’t happy…about something.

Naturally the party’s failure to address the flailing Obamacare situation will receive the lion’s share of attention Trump and Priebusbut the GOP’s problems likely go much deeper than just one issue.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reports, “House Republicans left Friday for a five-week break from the Capitol to face constituents who are expected to be frustrated by the lack of big agenda accomplishments.

“The House hasn't passed a tax reform bill, no repeal of Obamacare was sent to President Trump's desk, and with only weeks left to the fiscal year when the House returns after Labor Day, a stop-gap spending bill will likely be needed to save the federal government from a shutdown…

“A Morning Consult/Politico survey last week said 45 percent of voters, including GOP voters, said the Republican-led Congress has accomplished less than expected since taking office in January.”

My first impression upon seeing this was, it’s only 45 percent? That’s less than half. Does that mean a majority of voters believe the GOP Congress has accomplished at least as much as they expected?

In her article Ferrechio relays the Republican House members’ frustrations with the Senate and its inability to act on a number of measures the lower chamber has already given its assent to. Representatives also conveniently blame the non-stop media turmoil swirling around the White House for the lack of public acceptance for the party’s accomplishments.

In other words it’s the same old passing of culpability that always ensues when a host of promises made during the heat of the campaign are broken as soon as the nation’s collection of politicians assembles to supposedly address the people’s business. While it’s true the House has acted on a number of things, including barely passing an Obamacare fix-it bill, the leadership has been slow to move on the “big” issues that will grab the citizenry’s attention.

For example, it sounds like tax reform is moving along but there isn’t exactly any out-front leadership on the issue. And has there been any major movement on school choice? How about immigration enforcement? A public-private partnership on infrastructure, perhaps?

It only makes sense the House would draw more coverage of its accomplishments by focusing on the most attention-grabbing issues. The leadership could also be out front in investigating and pursuing the leakers who are keeping the ridiculous Russia probe alive despite an utter lack of oxygen. The truth is there are any number of matters where Republicans can go on offense if they’d only take the initiative and stop passing the blame buck to Trump for all of their shortcomings.

As for the Senate, the leadership needs to stop playing footsie with senators like Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and…John McCain. Add Dean Heller, Rob Portman and Shelley Moore Capito to the pile of losers as well. Call them out publicly. Deny them help from the NRSC for their re-election efforts. Yank their committee standing. These weak-kneed wimps don’t have the right to hold up the reasonable compromises forged between all the other ideological groups of GOP senators.

Yet another option is to move to ditch the filibuster for regular legislation (so passing bills would only require 51 votes), but such a proposal would likely face fierce resistance from the moderate establishment senators within the GOP Senate caucus. Can you imagine stodgy old John McCain agreeing to get rid of the filibuster?

Such a proposal almost certainly wouldn’t pass but the more information the public receives on the holdouts and obstructionists the greater the likelihood of serious primary challenges for the wayward few who are damming up the process.

President Trump is also happy to highlight the dilemma. On Saturday he sent out a series of Tweets, reading:

--“Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW! It is killing the R Party, allows 8 Dems to control country. 200 Bills sit in Senate. A JOKE!”
--“The very outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget reconciliation is killing R's in Senate. Mitch M, go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT'S TIME!”
--“Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don't go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time....8 Dems totally control the U.S. Senate. Many great Republican bills will never pass, like Kate's Law and complete Healthcare. Get smart!”
--“If the Senate Democrats ever got the chance, they would switch to a 51 majority vote in first minute. They are laughing at R's. MAKE CHANGE!”

Trump makes great points but McConnell must first worry about getting 50 votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaker) on the “normal” course of business. He’ll certainly receive no assistance from the Democrats. The Democrats are unanimous on so many issues because the party leadership demands it. In a lot of ways it’s corruption but their party discipline is admirable, too.

And there are signs from the White House that things will be changing down Pennsylvania Avenue as well, starting with the ousting of establishment chief of staff Reince Priebus on Friday. Priebus was perhaps the last vestige of the Washington GOP ruling class to remain in President Trump’s inner circle.

With Priebus now looking for another job, a new breed of “outsider” will be participating in the show around Trump.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner wrote over the weekend, “The people most likely to seek employment in the Trump White House going forward are ambitious and self-confident; they will either be true believers in the president or will convincingly pretend to be through their aggressive pro-Trump arguments; they will be filling jobs bigger than what jumps off their resumes; they will be betting on Trump — and themselves…

“Of course, Trump has given his generals — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Priebus' replacement as White House chief of staff — a wide berth. And he has held his family close even as the Russia investigation has seemingly closed in.

“But Priebus is the latest example that Trump's early adopters inside the Republican Party aren't always built for the long haul.”

Though it’s far too early to state for certain, having the door barred to the Republican elites can only be a good thing. Gone are the amnesty supporters, Muslim refugee apologists and “moderate” voices of perpetuating the status quo. Gone too are those consumed with telling Trump that something can’t be done or it requires more time to work with interest groups.

In other words, Trump is now free to be Trump and bring in the people he wants to implement his agenda. We can only hope it includes a healthy contingent of conservatives; but we also need to remember Steve Bannon still has Trump’s ear as does Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway.

As expected, the naysayers from #NeverTrump weren’t impressed with Priebus’s removal. Preibus friend Ed Willing wrote over the weekend at The Resurgent, “While Kelly’s arrival is not a partisan coup, the ouster of Preibus completes a takeover of sorts by lifelong progressives dedicated to assuming as much power in the White House as possible. Preibus was the last remaining strand of Republican Party faithful of having a steady, experienced political hand in the President’s circle.

“While Gen Michael Flynn did not last because of his being caught lying to the authorities and the Vice President, he was a registered Democrat until he served under President Trump. Steve Bannon, himself an outspoken defender of liberal causes like progressive taxes, major Eisenhower-style infrastructure projects and protectionist policies was made Senior Advisor to the president on day one. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, like every other member of his family, has donated to, and supported larger government, New York- and Jersey-style. Anthony Scaramucci and his wife (although she filed for divorce TODAY) have long been Democrat socialites and donors in NYC.”

This line of argument has been hashed over since the beginning of Trump’s candidacy and many conservatives, myself included, worried about the possibility Trump would turn out to be a secret liberal plant in the White House.

Trump has been far from perfect in his advocacy of a down-the-line conservative agenda yet he’s on the right side of nearly all the issues and his appointments thus far have been decidedly conservative.

His instincts are clearly in the direction of getting government out of people’s lives, lowering taxes and creating a better economic environment so people can get jobs and take care of themselves. If it means completely purging the Republican establishment from the White House to accomplish these ends, so be it.

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