My Rant of the Week: Congress

Sometimes I wish I was clueless.  Indifferent.  Uninformed.  Unfortunately, for me, I am none of these things.  And my poor husband has been subjected to my ranting all week about what’s been happening in Congress.  He is a saint.

All week, I’ve watched Senators posturing, sermonizing, feigning concern for the American people and grandstanding.

I am sick of all of them – both in the House and the Senate.  Using my mother’s favorite expression, “they all stink on ice.”  Using an expression from a good friend of mine, “they’re all rat bastards.”

I agree with both sentiments.  I am convinced, and I doubt anyone can change my mind about this, they’re all in it for themselves.  They couldn’t care less for the American people; they’re all concerned about keeping their little fiefdoms and power.

Whether President Trump is trying to drain the swamp, cesspool or sewer, these guys in Congress aren’t going to let their power slip away from their greedy little hands. They’ve made careers out of politics and President Trump, in my opinion, is in for the fight of his life.  That’s what it’s all about. The Washington machine is very well oiled on both sides of the aisle and they’re not going to let some outsider from New York come in and turn their world of privilege, power and control upside down.

Clearly, John McCain’s vote this week against the “skinny repeal” bill showed me that he hates President Trump more than he loves Arizona or doing the right thing. I firmly believe that.  (Although I wish him well with his current fight against cancer, I doubt he is being treated under Obamacare.)  I saw no reason for the Senate to cut this bill off at the knees and salvage, at least, some good will for the President and Republicans, knowing full well it would go back to the House, which would then make further revisions, and a completed bill could be voted upon based on their supposed consciences.  But no.

The most disturbing thing about this week’s circus atmosphere is the fact that these same clowns in Congress have been promising the American people for SEVEN years they would repeal Obamacare.  In January 2016, Obama, of course, vetoed the bill, Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.  Sen. McCain voted to repeal at that time. So what changed?  Paul Ryan, at the time, said:  “The idea that Obamacare is the law of the land for good is a myth. We have now shown that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law.”  Yeah right.  Think again.

An easy answer to all this would be, of course, “term limits.”  But our truly brilliant Founding Fathers chose not to include such limitations in our Constitution.  Rather, they determined six years for a Senator and two years for a Representative would enable the “people” to vote regularly and frequently and would make those members of Congress responsible to the “people” by being on a short leash.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the Founding Fathers could’ve ever imagined legislators being in Congress for decades, like Maxine Watters, for example, who has, over the course of 40 years represented a Los Angeles Congressional District in which she does not even live, amassed a fortune that enables her to live in one of the wealthiest communities of Los Angeles.

I doubt the Founding Fathers could’ve ever imagined that the populace would become so apathetic, indifferent, uninformed or just plain stupid that a person like Watters, who believes Putin invaded Korea, could be elected over and over and make a career out of politics.

The other day, John McCain, in his speech in Congress, foreshadowing his nay vote, said, “We are not the president’s subordinates. We are his equal.” I hope we all keep that in mind when these self-righteous politicians start losing their next elections and start blaming the President for his “lack of leadership.”  Their loss will be theirs, not the President’s.

I do want to finish with one positive note. Even if President Trump doesn’t get one item on his agenda passed through Congress, I will be forever grateful that he appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.  I am hoping he will have an opportunity to appoint another originalist during his term in office. After all, it is the Supreme Court which interprets statutes under the supreme law of our land – our Constitution.  (I wonder if Rep. Maxine Watters or her constituents even know this.)  For me, the Supreme Court has always been the most important part of America’s political landscape and, particularly, in the 2016 election. So, I say “thank you” to President Trump.

I say “adios” to every member of Congress who has put his or her interests before those of the American people.  You all stink on ice.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Does the GOP Now Own Obamacare?

freedomDuring Republican primaries, we often hear the “Buckley Rule” referred to by conservative commentators. Its popular understanding (which doesn’t quite match up with its literal meaning as put forth by William F. Buckley Jr.) is that Republicans should support the most conservative candidate that is electable.

The concept has always made sense to me. I believe in conservative governance and thus I support conservative candidates, but political viability is crucially important. If the most conservative candidate in the room can’t beat their Democratic opponent in a general election (for whatever reason), I don’t see the sense in choosing that person over a primary candidate that can.

I generally feel the same way about policy. We live under a two-party system of divided government, so when it comes to legislation, we’re rarely going to get exactly what we want…even when the party we align with is in power. Legislators have it within them to present an absolutely brilliant bill that fixes a very serious problem — a bill so great it would draw a tear of pride from every true-blue conservative in the country. But if that bill can’t get enough support to pass through both houses of congress and be signed into law by the president, what good is it other than for symbolic purposes?

Now, let’s talk about an imperfect and partial legislative solution. What if there were an opportunity to take some specific elements of that amazing bill, get them passed and signed into law right away, and then work on additional conservative reforms separately? Wouldn’t it make sense to at least get the ball rolling? Isn’t a bird in the hand worth two in the bush, especially when the alternative may be no birds at all?

Well, apparently the answer to that question is no, based on what happened yesterday with the American Health Care Act.

You see, the AHCA wasn’t the sweeping “repeal and replace” solution to Obamacare that conservatives have long dreamed of. Rather than working off of the false premise that the system could be reverted back to the long-gone insurance market of 2009, it reflected the reality that without a thoughtful transition back to the free market, millions of people currently dependent on Obamacare would be tossed off of their coverage. Furthermore, a full repeal bill would never have made it past the 60-vote majority threshold of the U.S. Senate.

Instead, the AHCA was designed as a compilation of budgetary-related items that would dismantle parts of Obamacare using a reconciliation process which only requires a 50-vote majority. If it had garnished enough Republican support in the House, it would have almost certainly gone on to become law. From there, in separate phases, regulatory adjustments and additional legislation would have been used to achieve increased insurance market competition and other consumer savings.

That didn’t cut the mustard for a lot of conservatives, including some in the media, think tanks, the House Freedom Caucus, and a handful of influential U.S. senators. They refused to even acknowledge the broader plan beyond the AHCA, and instead framed the bill as Obamacare-lite. They joined the Democratic party and much of the media in working to derail the effort. Even after receiving multiple concessions from the bill’s proponents, the Freedom Caucus (a conservative coalition of roughly 30 members of congress) refused to budge.

The result: The AHCA went down in flames, courtesy of the party that created it, and a tremendous opportunity was wasted. After seven years of campaigning against Obamacare, conservative Republicans single-handedly saved it. President Obama’s signature legislative achievement will remain intact indefinitely, while it continues to fall apart, and scores of Americans suffer under its devastating consequences.

Politically, this was a crushing political defeat, not just for President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan (who did their best to save the bill), but for those of us who are more interested in shrinking government and expanding freedom (even in small, incremental steps) than we are simply preaching about it through soaring rhetoric. The GOP looks absolutely feckless right now, despite being the party in control of Washington. President Obama has to be loving this.

While some of the opposition to the bill was earnest and understandable, the unfortunate reality is that some sectors of the conservative establishment are more motivated to spread sanctimonious outrage than actually fix problems. If that weren’t the case, this bill would have received the numbers it needed.

So where do we go from here? Should the Republicans give up their efforts to replace Obamacare? The answer is no, but it’s tough to imagine the situation getting better.

The GOP has sent out the signal that it’s not willing to put forth a serious solution that can actually be signed into law. The party squandered an extraordinary amount of political capital right out of the gate, under this new Republican administration. The shameless demagoguery from both sides of the aisle has again left the public scared and confused. And if anyone thinks that President Trump is going to waste more time on this, they haven’t been listening to his words on health care over the past two years.

The truth is that health care was never a central issue for Trump, and it’s really quite surprising that he backed the bill as strongly as he did (which he deserves credit for). In the primary, he actually campaigned on universal healthcare (very different than the AHCA), and in the general election, he barely spoke on the topic. He never demonstrated any real knowledge of the issue, and one gets the sense that he’d be perfectly happy to move on from it entirely — especially with this debacle earning his long bragged-about deal-making talents are large dose of mockery.

Did Paul Ryan move too quickly on health care? Probably, but he did so because conservatives demanded it (including many of the same ones who eventually left him high and dry). Ryan went to great lengths to seek compromise with the different wings of his party, but some just weren’t going to be happy until the bill was turned into something that couldn’t possibly become law.

So, after seven years of assurances, we’re not going to have a new law — at least not anytime soon. And those among us who are suffering under crippling health care costs (and no choices) will continue to suffer. Obamacare will continue to fail.

The only difference is that now, the Democrats aren’t the only ones responsible for it.

Broken Slate, a Sean Coleman Thriller

There Can’t Be a Reset on Health Care

PriceNo one ever said that dealing with the health care debacle would be easy, and we’re getting our first taste of those difficulties right now with the unpopular reception of the American Health Care Act.

Despite its backing by President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, many in the Republican party are claiming that the proposed U.S. Congress bill is no better than the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature (and fatally flawed) “achievement.”

Conservatives are opposed to the AHCA primarily because it doesn’t, in itself, address a number of problems associated with Obamacare. It also doesn’t propose a number of cost-cutting solutions that Republicans have been promising for some time. Some of the critics’ gripes are certainly legitimate, but some stem from a failure (willful in some cases) to acknowledge a few important factors.

There are Republican constraints that legislators in the House are forced to work with. National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru wrote a good piece last week illustrating the limitations tied to the Senate’s budget reconciliation process, the Democratic filibuster, and even the ideological balancing-act required to successfully navigate through both chambers of congress.  These hurdles keep a number of Obamacare provisions from being immediately addressed, making the AHCA the first phase of what Speaker Ryan has been referring to as a “three-phase plan.” The larger cost-cutting measures are slated to come later in the plan.

Sound complicated? It is, and it was always going to be…even if the slogan “repeal and replace” was rather easy for Republicans to campaign on over the past few years.  The explanation for the complexities: Obamacare went on to become the law of the land, and its rules and regulations are now deeply embedded in our health care system. And even though the law is failing, the role it currently plays cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately, there is no magic reset button. I wish there were.

As Greg Gutfeld recently said on Fox News’s The Five, a government program is like having “bubblegum in your hair. You can’t get it out once it’s in there.”

I’ll amend that sentiment a bit. You can get it out, but it’s a pain in the ass, and the result is not going to look the way you were hoping. This is especially true with government programs that a large number of people have become dependent on, as is the case here.

So, rather than heckling the mother who’s using a jar of peanut butter and a pair of scissors to try and detach a sticky wad from her son’s curls, maybe the Right should work on being a bit more understanding…and pragmatic.

Is the ACHA the best possible answer for replacing Obamacare, even as the first phase in a three-phase solution? It may not be. Some of the conservative opposition to it is quite reasonable. And if the different factions within the Republican Party can shape this or another bill into something better that can still get passed, that’s great. But that’s the trick: getting something passed. If that component didn’t factor in, the ACHA would look much more like a lot of conservatives want it to.

The reality is that Obama and the Democratic party left the country with a huge mess that they’re not inclined to help fix. Unfortunately, that’s politics. Beyond them, there’s a conspiratorial wing of the Right (including people in the conservative media) that doesn’t want any health care reform, believing it’s an “establishment” plan to politically damage Trump for a GOP primary challenge in 2020. And if you don’t think that group has influence, you haven’t been paying attention over the past couple of years.

People are suffering under Obamacare. I personally know families that are paying more for their monthly health insurance than they are on their home mortgage. They can’t afford to sit through more political theater and political non-starters in Washington.

Getting the ball rolling on reform legislation is crucial. Getting something passed that ultimately lowers costs is crucial.

Let’s try to keep those two things in mind as we move forward.

Blood Trade(3)

Catch You Later, GOP

goodbyeOn the night of the Indiana primary, shortly after Ted Cruz had announced the suspension of his presidential campaign, I found myself browsing the voter registration section of a Colorado state government website. By the time Donald Trump was on television, accepting the title of presumptive Republican nominee and praising his former rival (whose father he’d linked to the JFK assassination just hours earlier), I had figured out how to change my political party affiliation.

Switching from “Republican” to “Unaffiliated” was surprisingly easy, and I’m not simply referring to the user-friendliness of the website that facilitated it. My 16-year long relationship with the party one that had lasted through 9/11, the Iraq War, the Great Recession (and its anemic recovery), and two terms of Obama — had come to an end. And for some reason, it didn’t hurt. In fact, I felt more politically empowered than I have in some time.

I really hadn’t expected to take things that far. Months ago, I had decided that I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Trump, should he become the Republican nominee; his chronic dishonesty and lack of principles, relevant knowledge, and common decency forbade it from happening. But I wasn’t quite ready to take my frustrations out on the GOP itself, even with some of the most influential conservative pundits in the country running shameless ideological interference for the man.

Most of the base had rejected the carnival barker’s vulgarian dogma, deeming it disqualifying for the party of Lincoln and Reagan. That was a good thing, and it was encouraging to see a majority of Republicans (including its leaders) refuse to relinquish the party’s platform and dignity to a candidate who had no regard for either.

When Trump proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants, I was proud of Speaker Paul Ryan for standing up and publicly saying that it was wrong, and that it didn’t reflect the values of the party. When Trump dishonestly trashed Colorado’s caucus system and those who participated in it (which included me) as being corrupt, I was proud of party leaders like Senator Cory Gardner and even Reince Priebus, who outright denounced the lies and shot down the narrative.

But as the weeks went by, and I began to see more and more conservative nobles and prominent voices shelve the principles they had long espoused, in favor of a fair-weather ride on the Trump Train, I could see the writing on the wall. When primary states finally began to award Trump a majority of votes, rather than a plurality, I realized that there was no recourse. An unscrupulous, big-government autocrat really was going to become the new leader of the GOP, and the party was going to adhere to his rules. He would be our new standard-bearer. We would own him, and the party would be responsible for all of the ugly baggage he brought.

A flood of respected Republican figures are now swallowing their pride and circling the wagons around Trump, in a show of solidarity. Some are remarkably even going out on national television and openly mocking Republican voters who’ve decided that they can’t support Trump out of principle.

Washington DC mainstays like Newt Gingrich are calling grassroots conservatives “establishment types” and “elites.” Morality preachers like Mike Huckabee are throwing out snide condemnations of those who’ve clung to their deeply held beliefs. Those two don’t matter to me a whole lot these days, but it’s a bit tougher to accept a conscientious conservative icon like Rick Perry (who just a few months ago called Trump a “cancer to conservatism”) now saying: “Can you believe those renegades who refuse to support Trump?”

This is all clear-cut, amassing evidence that I didn’t leave the party… The party left me.

Sure, Paul Ryan is doing his best to express empathy for the disenfranchised portion of the faithful, and give them a voice. He’s demonstrated that he’s not the cheap date that so many others have been. He should be commended for his resistance, not excoriated by a party that up until recently had embraced rugged individualism. I expect, however, that he’ll eventually conform to the Trump brand of Republicanism (from a campaign standpoint anyway) for the sake of a united front going into the general election. Then those who actually believe in the tenets of the party will truly be left without a leader.

We can of course pretend that the regular rules of election-year party unity will apply to the Trump nomination. That timeless tradition of pinching one’s nose and voting for the lesser of two evils typically makes sense. This year, however, is different. Trump rose to the top of the field by successfully harnessing the very real anger of the base, and riding on a wholesale defeat of the Republican status quo. The problem is that he did so by pouring sugar on much of the same Democratic Party garbage that Republicans have been spoon-fed (and grown sick off of) for the past eight years.

If Trump were to somehow manage to pull off what was once thought impossible, and actually beat Hillary Clinton in November, what exactly would the GOP have accomplished? What would be granted to a Republican Party that had for eight years stringently opposed Barack Obama on just about everything?

Will Republican voters have achieved a victory in their rejection back in 2008 of a grossly ill-prepared, political demagogue offering only slogans and ridiculous promises, and attributing the worst possible of intentions to his opponents? Will they have been vindicated in their resistance to a man who won on his personality rather than substance — a man who was treated by the media as a celebrity instead of a serious presidential candidate? No. They will have just helped elect the same type of person.

Will they have achieved a victory in their strong objections to the ever expanding size of government and the $9 trillion added to the national debt under Obama? No. They will have just helped elect a man who had run on a platform of not touching entitlements (the major drivers of our debt), and greatly expanding the size of our military.

Will they have achieved a victory in their unwavering resistance to Obamacare? No. They will have just helped elect a man who has long expressed great admiration for single-payer systems, and advocated just last September for universal healthcare, saying that he’s “going to take care of everybody” and that “the government’s gonna pay for it.”

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Will they have been proven right in their condemnations of Obama’s dangerous naivety on foreign policy, and the administration’s narcissistic micromanaging of military operations? No. They will have just helped elect a man who has demonstrated a breathtaking unwillingness to educate himself in the foreign policy arena, while literally insisting that he “knows more about ISIS than the generals do.”

Will they have prevented liberal Supreme Court justices from taking the bench? I suppose it’s possible, but I would highly doubt it. They will have just helped elect a man who thinks eminent domain is “wonderful,” wants to limit the press’s First Amendment rights, wants to put a religious litmus test on immigrants, and has demonstrated far stronger opposition to gun rights than any Republican nominee in my lifetime. Are we really supposed to believe the he, as president, will nominate liberty-loving, conservative constitutionalists to the Supreme Court? There’s no reason at all to buy that.

Yet, this is the platform and the individual that Republicans and conservatives are now supposed to rally behind in November. This is the candidate that we’re supposed to “get in line, take the medicine” for, as one Fox News pundit recently put it.

I’m sorry, but with Donald Trump being the new medicine for the Republican Party, I felt compelled to change pharmacists. And I’m convinced that the decision has put me on the path to healing.

Catch you later, GOP. Give me a call once you’ve returned to your senses.

Paul Ryan Calls for Unity and Family; Conservatives Outraged

Paul RyanWhen House Speaker John Boehner announced last month that he was resigning from Congress, the GOP was left in a tight spot. They had to find a replacement who could capture the 218 House votes required to lock down the seat. It didn’t take long for congressman Kevin McCarthy — the only leader who seemed legitimately interested in filling the position — to figure out that he wasn’t that individual.

While McCarthy’s careless (some would say asinine) comments regarding the Benghazi committee certainly didn’t help his candidacy, it was the fact that he was a less conservative leader than John Boehner that sunk his chances. The same factions that had long pressured for the ouster of Boehner didn’t view McCarthy as a man who would be any more effective at advancing their goals. McCarthy saw that he wouldn’t b able to secure the votes he needed, so he dropped out of contention.

That’s when congressman Paul Ryan’s name began being tossed around. He was viewed as a potentially unifying figure with enough respect from both the GOP establishment and hard-nosed conservatives to bridge the giant divide that exists within the Republican-led House.

Ryan, however, made it very clear that he didn’t want the job. He outright rejected it several times, and who could blame him? Boehner had thoroughly demonstrated the grueling difficulty of aligning the Republicans in congress on most major issues.

Having already committed himself in recent years to running on a presidential ticket, and serving as the chairman of both the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, Ryan understandably had little interest in taking on perhaps the second most stressful and time-intensive job in Washington.

Regardless, it became apparent that Ryan would likely be able to achieve the elusive number of votes required to take the speakership. Thus, the GOP put an intense amount of pressure on him to reconsider, if even on a temporary basis. Stuck in a desperate situation, leaders, lawmakers, and other influential conservative voices from across the nation virtually begged Ryan to bail the party out of the predicament — the predicament of their own making that left them with few viable alternatives.

After further deliberation, Ryan did right by his party. He announced last night that he would indeed step up and do his civic duty by running for the position.

“This is not a job I’ve ever wanted, I’ve ever sought,” Ryan said in his announcement. “I came to the conclusion that this is a dire moment, not just for Congress, not just for the Republican Party, but for our country.”

He added, “My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up. Of some day having my own kids ask me, when the stakes were so high, ‘Why didn’t you do all you could? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had the chance?’ None of us wants to hear that question.”

But, Ryan had some conditions for his candidacy…

He told his colleagues in the House that he would only run if he received endorsements from all of the major Republican caucuses, as a show of party unity. He said that he would seek to change the rule that allows a simple majority of the House to unseat a speaker. Lastly, he said that he would delegate much of the traveling and fundraising responsibilities that come with the role of Speaker, so that he could spend an adequate amount of time with his wife and school-age children.

“I cannot and will not give up my family time,” Ryan was quoted as saying.

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York summed it up well in a single tweet: “Ryan conditions: 1) Limit rules changes. 2) No motions to vacate chair. 3) Family time. 4) Unity. Give him that, he’ll serve. If not, fine.”

Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst at Real Clear Politics, tweeted his take: “Ryan said he didn’t want the job. Ppl begged. He said ‘fine, if you address why I don’t want the job, I’ll do it.’ Seems reasonable to me.”

Personally, I agree. Considering the circumstances, Ryan’s “take it or leave it” conditions make perfect sense. Prominent conservative commentators, on the other hand, expressed immediate outrage.

Within minutes, the top headline on the Drudge Report read, “King Paul: Pledge Your Allegiance.”

Radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham took to Twitter to call Ryan “spoiled”, “imperious”,  and an “emperor.” She classified his conditions as “demands,” and repeatedly mocked him for prioritizing his family over party campaigning and fundraising.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m old enough to remember when conservatives valued strong families.

Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire began a column he wrote last night on Ryan’s conditions with, “One of two things is true: either Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn’t want the job of Speaker of the House, or he’s got a rather inflated opinion of himself.”

With all due respect, Mr. Shapiro… The former is a well-documented fact, so why the notion that this is about personal ego?

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Breaking: Presidential candidate Donald Trump endorses John A. Daly’s new novel.

Erick Erickson went a few steps further in his column, titled “Paul Ryan Wants House Conservatives To Sign Their Own Death Warrant,” insisting that Ryan’s conditions are a ploy to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Yes, Erick…It’s all about amnesty. Ugh.

Ann Coulter of course compared Ryan to Joseph Stalin, but that’s to be expected. She hasn’t said anything intelligent in years.

The bottom line is this: If conservatives object to Ryan’s conditions (which is a perfectly legitimate position), then they should tell their representatives in Congress not to vote for him and look for someone else. It’s that simple, and I doubt Ryan would even care.

Treating the guy like a dictator consolidating power, just because he answered his party’s impassioned pleas to unify them (while wanting to remain a good father to his kids), is a disgrace and a black eye on the conservative movement.

We must do better.