Lost amidst the back-and-forth of Republicans bickering over Paul Ryan’s awful healthcare bill came some good news from the Justice Department on Friday. No, they didn’t confirm that Obama wiretapped President Donald Trump’s campaign – but there are indications that some of those involved with the legally questionable investigations into Trump may be out of a job soon.
Kelly Cohen of the Washington Examiner reports, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday asked the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by President Obama to resign.
“According to the Justice Department, those resignations will ‘ensure a uniform transition.’
“’Until the new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutions in our U.S. Attorney's Offices will continue the great work of the department in investigating, prosecuting, and deterring the most violent offenders,’ said spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores in a statement Friday afternoon.”
Cohen’s article further notes similar house cleanings took place under the Obama and George W. Bush administrations and that Sessions himself was asked to resign by Bill Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno in 1993 (when 93 of 94 politically appointed U.S. Attorneys were let go, setting a precedent).
This somewhat innocuous report highlights a greater problem within the now 50-plus day old Trump administration: cleaning out the bilges of Obama leftovers.
Thanks mostly to stalling from Senate Democrats, Trump has had a very difficult time getting his people in place to implement very necessary changes (at time of writing three of his cabinet appointees remained unconfirmed and it’s mid-March). This has left department heads and the few who have managed to receive the Senate’s official blessing to shoulder the brunt of the workload. Sessions himself complained during his news conference last week that there’re a lot of things going on and not enough people to see to them.
After writing that the pace of confirmations is somewhat behind previous administrations, Jim Stinson of Lifezette reported, “There are, apparently, culprits beyond the usual suspects of politics. The truth, according to experts, is that the federal transition system of replacing an older government with a new one is bogged down by the Senate itself, a bloated, unreformed bureaucracy, and Capitol Hill’s inability to fix the process.
“…[E]arly nominees tend to have to wait 30 days on average for Senate confirmation. After August, when senators are more distracted by policy, a nominee could have to wait between 150 and 210 days.”
Herein lies the problem with every administration, not just Trump’s. The formidable institutional barriers to change in Washington were put in place by the establishments of both parties to ensure that special interests and political agendas are protected well beyond their time in power. In this way the unelected bureaucracy is able to sink deep roots that can’t easily be yanked out.
Every four years candidates for president talk a lot about changing Washington, but until the system itself is corrected little improvement will take place. Needless to say the political process is hopelessly broken. Democrats certainly realize the longer they stall in the confirmation proceedings due to excuses like “incomplete paperwork” or fears of “Russian meddling” or “racism” the more likely they’ll be to stave off real reform of the federal government.
There already have been a number of instances where Obama holdovers negatively affected implementation of administration policy, the most notable being acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ refusal to enforce Trump’s initial travel restriction executive order in late January.
Trump fired her. Thankfully it looks like Sessions is also emptying the Obama appointee dustbin. This is exactly what needs to happen at all levels of government if progress is to be made. If the swamp creatures remain, so does the swamp.
Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review wrote, “It is only natural, then, that a president will want his power wielded by his own appointees, whom he trusts to carry out his policy program. And it thus follows that, when there is a transition between administrations that see the world, and the Justice Department’s role in it, as differently as the Obama and Trump administrations, there will be sweeping turnover, carried out rapidly.
“That is as it should be.”
Good for you, Attorney General Sessions.
In trying to move the healthcare debate Trump hints he may get involved in Republican primaries
Oh no, he went there.
On several occasions in the past week President Donald Trump indicated he’s willing to negotiate with conservatives on Speaker Paul Ryan’s non-repeal-and-replace of Obamacare bill, but he’s apparently changed his mind. Trump is now seeing conservative opponents of the legislation as disobedient and lost friends rather than principled advocates of an alternative view.
Even worse, it looks like he’s prepared to do something about it. The “p” word has emerged.
David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reported, “President Trump has told Republican leaders that he's prepared to play hardball with congressional conservatives to pass the GOP healthcare bill, including by supporting the 2018 primary challengers of any Republican who votes against the bill.
“Sources told the Washington Examiner that Trump made that threat in a White House meeting on Tuesday with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and other members of the House GOP whip team that helps line up votes.”
Longtime observers of the political Trump figured the president would eventually threaten to punish intra-party opponents of something he favors. We just didn’t know it would come this soon.
“If negotiations don't reach fruition as the bill readies for a floor vote, Republican insiders said, watch Trump's tweets and travel schedule for signs that he's dispensed with the carrots and brought out the stick to try to get wayward members on board,” Drucker added.
Drucker’s article mentions Rep. Mark Meadows as one of Trump’s potential targets, since the North Carolina representative and chairman of the Freedom Caucus is seen as one of the leaders of the conservative resistance to Ryan’s bill. The Freedom Caucus along with numerous conservative grassroots groups have expressed reservations about the proposed “reform” of Obamacare, arguing that the bill basically just swaps one set of federal subsidies for another.
Everyone knows Trump has “threatened” Republican opponents in the past by suggesting he’ll support primary challenges. Trump did it last July when Senator Ted Cruz failed to endorse him during the Texan’s now infamous speech to the Republican convention.
Cruz subsequently came around to endorsing Trump – and now the two almost appear to be friends again. But we all figured Ted would do so considering the only other choice in the 2016 election was Crooked Hillary.
The current situation is different by leaps and bounds. There are several reasons why:
First, this matter involves an intra-party disagreement over a piece of legislation. This doesn’t concern support or non-support for President Trump’s agenda; it’s about a difference of opinion on whether a bill keeps or does not keep the promise all Republicans made to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that will actually improve the country’s healthcare system.
Second, there are many indicators that the grassroots is on the side of the bill’s opponents. Conservatives and tea partiers trust groups like the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation to provide learned opinions and positions on complex legislation like Ryan’s healthcare bill. If there are already a healthy number of conservative opponents to the bill it is much less likely any naysayers will be punished at the ballot box in a primary race.
Third, Trump is certainly popular with the Republican base, but so are the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus. It doesn’t benefit the president to test that individual popularity since it’s basically a lose-lose situation for both him and the conservative congressman. Trump doesn’t want to anger people who are principally opposed to Ryan’s healthcare monster and at the same time doesn’t want to stir up resistance to congressmen who otherwise will be more than helpful in passing most of his major agenda items (including defense spending, immigration enforcement, trade legislation, etc…).
If anything, Trump should be pushing for conservative alterations to the bill and visiting the districts of the mushy moderates in the party who don’t really represent the views of his base. These establishment/swamp supporters are exactly the type of politicians who Trump ran against in the first place.
In other words, siding with Paul Ryan in this matter is not a smart political move for the president. Trump should realize this.
Fourth, we’re still well over a year out from any primary elections for the 2018 cycle. An awful lot is going to happen between now and then. Threatening a primary challenge now really doesn’t mean much in the larger scheme of things because the president could and likely will change his mind several times on the merits of any particular congressman between now and then.
Lastly, if anything, the most serious threat to Ryan’s bill in its current form is found in the Senate where the loss of three Republican senators will kill the whole thing. No Democrats are likely to go along, so Trump will need to hold nearly all the Republicans. Several have already signaled they have issues with it; Trump can’t threaten to primary everyone, right?
President Trump is no fool. He knows he’s gone out on a limb to get Ryan’s bill passed as part of the larger effort to reform the healthcare system but he also knows he’s walking a delicate political line.
If Trump goes over the top with discussion about primary challenges, everyone loses – except for maybe the Democrats and those who want to sabotage his mission to “make America great again.”
Democrats think the healthcare winds have turned in their favor; they’re wrong
If President Donald Trump does carry through with his threat to support primary challengers of those Republicans who oppose Paul Ryan’s healthcare bill, he’ll only be joining Democrats in fighting principled conservatives who are trying to hold the line against big government.
Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle of Politico report, “With the GOP in charge of Washington — and charging ahead with their own remake of the health care system — the Democratic Party is convinced that the politics of the ever-potent issue is shifting dramatically in their favor.
“House Democrats are angling to make the GOP’s plans to reverse Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and slash insurance subsidies the defining issue of the 2018 midterms. Some party officials privately say Democrats could ride a backlash over Obamacare repeal all the way to control of the lower chamber — and, in the Senate, stem what are expected to be heavy losses thanks to a Republican-leaning map.”
In essence, they’re dreaming; and as long as you’re dreaming, you might as well go big, right?
Apparently all Democrats in both the House and Senate oppose the Ryan plan and they also believe they’re winning the public relations war over Obamacare. Somehow Democrats actually think Obama’s big government takeover of the health industry is really popular and that the elections of 2010, 2014 and 2016 were just anomalies.
It’s almost like the Democrats are saying, “Hey, we lost all those elections because people haven’t realized yet how great Obamacare is.” As usual they’re providing their best and most sincere political advice for Republicans on how to handle healthcare reform. Maybe conservatives and Republicans should send them a fruit basket as a thank you.
It reminds me of all the times Democrats said Republicans needed to adopt amnesty, same-sex marriage and abortion on demand or else face being permanently relegated to electoral purgatory. It was nonsense then and it’s nonsense now. The only thing worse than conservatives listening to warnings from establishment Republicans is taking to heart what the Democrats say.
In anticipating upcoming electoral success due to Republican discord the Democrats are making the same mistake they always do. They believe Republicans will suffer from a promise to remove an entitlement. Unfortunately establishment Republicans seem to be making the same argument. They’re both wrong.
Republicans don’t lose power because they’re not liberal enough. No, Republicans lose when they fail to act like Republicans. Using the 2006 election as an example, Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress because the people had lost faith that they would actually keep their promises on the conservative agenda.
In their article the Politico journalists also note there’s a split in Democrat messaging on the issue as well, with Senate leaders set on labeling Ryan’s bill as “Trumpcare” and House Democrats preferring the slogan “Make America sick again.”
It’s continually amazing to me how clueless Democrats are. Four months ago they lost an election that all the consultants and pundits said was in the bag for the establishment Democrat against a man who they unanimously claimed couldn’t win. He did. And they’re still making ridiculous assertions like Obamacare is popular and Republicans shouldn’t tamper with it.
These are the same people who opposed Judge Neil Gorsuch before he was even appointed to the Supreme Court and rest on the prospect that Jeff Sessions is unqualified because he’s a racist.
All they have is hot air. The public isn’t stupid.
And neither is Donald Trump. Trump knows the public mood and will hopefully do the right thing in this matter. Politics ain’t easy, but it’s not that complicated when you present your ideas and set a clear distinction with the opposition. Trump just needs to realize who his friends are.
Republicans only lose when they act like Democrats.