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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Enough, Mr. President – time to walk
I was reading an article on how Paul Ryan is schooling President Trump on politics. My first reaction is always to defend the president, but as I read it, I realized it's true. Paul Ryan's behind the wheel; President Trump's in the passenger seat.
Proof that Ryan's in the driver's seat is his health care bill. Paul Ryan has managed to get the president on board for a bill that is essentially Hillarycare. During the campaign, Trump promised to repeal Obamacare; Hillary wanted to keep it and fix the bad parts. Well, hello!
How did we get here? How did the most powerful man in the world, a genius, a man devoted to the American people, get conned into working on Hillary's plan and worse, promoting it as his own?
President Trump went to Washington an outsider – no knowledge of congressional process, no time to learn. To compensate, he surrounded himself with "experienced politicians" to guide him through the legislative maze. That was his first mistake.
His second mistake was to embrace said establishment, to accept them into his inner circle. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and others in leadership are part of the GOP establishment (GOPe) that worked to defeat Donald Trump in the election. These people reviled Trump, insulted him, spent millions to defeat him. These are Republicans who risked a Hillary Clinton presidency to keep Trump out of the White House.
Turns out they needn't have worried. President Trump appears to think he needs them more than they need him. Sensing weakness, the establishment leverage their role in passing legislation to destroy the president's agenda from within.
And if the president questions their approach, they warn that he'll never see his precious tax reform if he doesn't let them butcher the Obamacare repeal first. Everyone knows that tax relief is Trump's baby, so this ransom strategy works like a charm.
Why would they do this? Where to start? There are billionaire socialists who don't want to relinquish their gains towards single-payer healthcare, corporate and technology giants on the "cheap labor express" who will pay for open borders, and "free traders" who want to keep selling America to the lowest bidder. So many special interests, so little time.
Now President Trump seems to honestly believe that the GOP leadership wants to make America great again. So he tasks Speaker Ryan to draft what will arguably be the most important legislation of his term: Obamacare repeal and replace.
Ryan jumps right in, huddles behind closed doors, delays showing the bill to Congress for as long as possible, then dusts off the "Better Way" plan and sells it to the president. The "leaders" are all smiles when Ryan rolls out his bill, assured that it will sail through Congress. Of course, it doesn't. In fact, a Republican civil war breaks out.
These conservatives are absolutely right to reject this bill. President Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, not fix it. That was Hillary's line. He campaigned on starting over with a free market, the ability to purchase plans across state lines to encourage competition and lower premiums, not government health care – again, Hillary's choice. And the president never talked about keeping Obamacare, tweaking it, or making it more palatable.
So Paul Ryan takes a page from Democrats' playbook to save Obamacare and passes it off as President Trump's pledge to repeal it. Yeah, conservatives aren't so happy about that.
Speaker Ryan comes under pressure to defend his bill, so right after his fundraising breakfast with insurance lobbyists, he holds a press conference and gives a PowerPoint presentation. He says full repeal's not gonna happen, that Ryancare's as close as we'll ever get. Then he informs us that this is a binary choice, as good as it gets. Translation: take it or leave it – the Better Way or the highway.
Speaker Ryan's pitch has a familiar ring to it – have to pass as is, no time for real debate, get used to it. Oh, yeah: Ryan's 1.1-trillion-dollar omnibus, the bill that hadto pass to avoid a (shudder) government shutdown. That budget checked off every box on Obama's list of demands and screwed conservatives in ways we didn't know were possible.
Now it's déjà vu with Obamacare repeal, but this time, conservatives are standing their ground. This isn't another budget; it's 20% of the economy. It's health care for 100% of Americans. The people didn't elect a Republican president, House, and Senate for more of the same. The President promised to blow up the system, to give us a voice, and to never let us be silenced again. Conservatives are standing by that promise.
The GOPe have the advantage in this standoff because they'd rather snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and surrender all our gains from the 2016 elections than allow their power structure to be dismantled. As usual, they say it's their way or the Democrats will win. But that's a false choice, every GOPe victory has been another defeat for the voters, another victory for liberals.
The establishment have successfully boxed in the president on Obamacare. They've told him repeal's impossible, that the ability to buy insurance across state lines won't happen, that it's legislatively impossible. They've advised him that if he pursues those objectives, he'll end up with nothing. His promise to repeal Obamacare will fail.
But that's not true, Mr. President – quite the opposite. If you sign this bill in any form, you will break your promise to the people. You never promised to fix Obamacare; you swore to repealObamacare, blow it up, get rid of it, kill it, and drive a stake through its heart. You promised to get government out of our healthcare, not to let them reposition so they can expand it down the road, so they can finally get their single-payer, just later than they'd hoped.
I know the president is a deal-maker who takes pride in bringing people together, but that's not what's happening here. He isn't negotiating with CEOs who built empires on their word, or executives who negotiate binding agreements and sign ironclad contracts. These are scheming, power-hungry politicians who do whatever's necessary to keep and expand their power, promises be damned.
Now is the president's best chance to win for the people. He has the political capital, the leverage, and a Republican trifecta to negotiate his agenda. But if the politicians are right, if we can't repeal Obamacare with a Republican president, House, and Senate, then fine: let it implode. Then maybe we can get to a full repeal.
If the president lets the establishment win this round, it will be the first failure of his administration but not the last. They'll use his tax reform legislation to pay back donors, to fund their interests, to buy votes. They'll exploit his willingness to deal to give us yet another omnibus, necessary to get his military increases, his VA allowances, his infrastructure – but another blow to conservatives, to the debt, to our children and their future.
This bill is bad news, and it's just the beginning. The president is dealing with swamp creatures who are circling for the kill. He ought to save himself and climb out of the muck, save us, and take back control of his agenda.
A wise man once said:
Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive. –Donald Trump
Walk away from the fake repeal, Mr. President. Enough is enough.