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100 Days of Trump: Is Trump playing with fire by siding with Ryan on the healthcare bill?

As we near the halfway point of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days it’s become evident that the first major disagreement between conservatives and the president has developed over Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Obamacare 2.0” healthcare plan, which the president has endorsed and is now touting at every opportunity.

Up to this point conservatives have been mostly pleased (and pleasantly surprised) at the conservative orientation of Trump’s campaign and administration. From his choice of Mike Pence as his running mate to Trump tweetpromoting Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to manage his campaign to firing Chris Christie as leader of his transition to his appointment of conservatives to nearly every cabinet post to his naming of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to his full range of executive orders, Trump has earned praise as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan.

But this week the kind words have stopped, at least temporarily. Ryan’s secretly contrived behind-closed-doors healthcare proposal has chilled the warm feelings to a degree.

Conservatives have vowed to fight the congressional leadership – and the president if necessary – to defeat the bill as it is written today. And all eyes have turned to one particular group as the focal point of the conservative “opposition” (I didn’t want to say “resistance”).

Rachel Bade of Politico reports, “The House Freedom Caucus is used to bullying Republican leaders. But can the far-right rabble-rousers do the same to President Donald Trump?...

“Emboldened by outside groups blasting the newly released alternative as ‘Obamacare 2.0’ or ‘Obamacare-lite,’ caucus members are demanding changes to the measure drafted by Speaker Paul Ryan and other top House Republicans in consultation with the White House. They want to scrap the Obamacare taxes more quickly and ditch health care tax credits for Americans from low- and middle-income households, a key pillar of the GOP replacement.”

As always, you have to love Politico. Since when does making a principled political stand make one a “bully” or a “rabble-rouser?” Are the Democrats bullies for opposing nearly all of Trump’s cabinet appointments? Are they rabble-rousers for trashing Ryan’s healthcare bill as well?

The Freedom Caucus didn’t “bully” John Boehner into resigning as Speaker in 2015; they simply suggested they’d use House rules and procedures to determine the level of Boehner’s support. There weren’t any shakedowns, threats or intimidation. It was all by the book.

And that’s the way it will be with trying to change or stop the Ryan healthcare plan as well. Essentially all conservatives are asking for is input, amendments and regular debate on the controversial aspects of the plan. Trump himself signaled it was just the starting point for “negotiations,” but it isn’t clear whether he meant talks with Democrats or members of his own party.

Trump said further reforms would take place in “phase 2 & 3 of the healthcare rollout.”

Meanwhile, some conservatives are using a little starker terminology to describe the establishment’s work.

Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner reports, “Thomas Massie does not mince words. For more than six years, Republicans have promised to repeal Obamacare and after reviewing the long-awaited replacement package for a few hours, the Kentucky libertarian wasn't impressed. Massie thinks ‘it's a stinking pile of garbage.’

“Many of the provisions within the bill that he finds so objectionable, Massie explained, aren't bugs. They're crony features of a product designed by, and for the benefit of, the insurance industry.”

You had to figure the GOP establishment would reemerge at some point. Up until now President Trump has been able to accomplish a lot just through affixing his signature to executive orders and directing federal agencies to start deconstructing the regulatory state. These actions are largely beyond the influence and control of the Washington establishment and so-called “moderates” in the Republican congressional caucus.

But when bills are drawn up in Congress the “swamp creatures” crawl out of their holes to make sure the special interests get their federal welfare checks and maintain their stranglehold on the political process. It could very well be as Massie suggested -- that the insurance lobby is behind Ryan’s bill. Or the Chamber of Commerce. Since the bill was prepared in secret no one knows who might have had a say in the final version.

Whatever the case, conservatives will continue to try and bend Trump’s ear to the truth. There won’t be any “bullying” and the rabble-rousing is best left to the Democrats and their stupid “day without a woman” type protests. The Republican base – aka, the voters -- is likely on the conservatives’ side on this one, so Trump will certainly recognize the reality and could change his mind in the coming weeks. Thank the lord for populism, right?

 In the meantime it will be interesting to see how the first potential intra-party battle plays out.

Trump could be the greatest president people should sometimes tune out

Should we take what Donald Trump says literally?

It’s a question the country has been asking since June of 2015 when Trump announced he was running for president. In the many months since the lifelong real estate developer and TV celebrity has said an awful lot of off-the-cuff things that caused people to wonder whether he really meant what he just uttered.

Along the way Trump has almost daily demonstrated his fondness for Twitter and social media, becoming perhaps the first politician ever to prefer communicating directly via short messages rather than rely on official statements, windy prepared speeches or trusting the media’s liberal echo chamber to represent him fairly to the public.

That being said, Trump’s tweet “storms” are seemingly random and as difficult to forecast as the touchdown point of a tornado. In the course of getting to know Trump the politician, many of his supporters, myself included, have learned to see his social media habit as something other than his “official” issue positions.

Does that mean we shouldn’t take him literally? Maybe so.

Ben Shapiro wrote in National Review, “Here’s a suggestion. Instead of treating Trump’s rhetoric seriously, wouldn’t America be better off if we did ignore it? What if instead of going nuts over a half-baked Trump tweet for a week, we all just recognized that the tweet is what it is: a half-baked Trump tweet? What if we returned to the notion of the president as a constitutional officer with prescribed duties?

“In fact, that’s happening on a practical level. Most Americans don’t care about Trump’s rhetoric any more. He and the media have been shouting at each other so long that it all sounds like white noise now. Instead, many Americans have been treating Trump as a guy to ignore except when he bothers them, an approach that seems pretty reasonable at this point.”

It should be noted that Shapiro claimed membership in the nebulous group of misguided conservatives known as #NeverTrump. Because I basically already knew what Shapiro was going to say ahead of time I didn’t follow his material during the campaign.

In other words, it’s pretty obvious Shapiro never took Trump seriously at all – at least the candidate’s policy proposals, his naming of Mike Pence as his running mate or the fact Trump surrounded himself with conservative advisers.

But in this case I think Shapiro is on to something. If ever there was a president who truly speaks with actions rather than words, it’s Donald Trump.

Perhaps I should qualify: Trump’s formal speeches, such as last week’s address to the joint session of Congress, should be taken seriously and literally. Every word. But for anyone looking for the true epicenter of administration policy, Trump’s social media posts should be (mostly) ignored.

Why? Because there’s no way anyone can fully articulate an argument in 140 characters or less. That’s more like a shout or a rant, not a platform for drawing out your thoughts. A tweet is like opening a window and yelling “I’m mad as h—l and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

You can almost say social media was specifically invented for brainless liberals to annoy people, such as actor Samuel L. Jackson’s comment on Ben Carson’s “slaves were immigrants” claim the other day.

Jackson tweeted, “OK!! Ben Carson....I can't! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom.”

Pardon the language but I couldn’t make the point here without it. I used to think Twitter was a very valuable tool for disseminating quick messages and information but it’s really devolved into a silent mass screaming match with lots of capital letters and exclamation points. Who needs real conversations between a group of friends when all you have to do is type and press send? It’s sad.

President Trump’s messages aren’t vulgar like Jackson’s but they do tend to shout at you.

In his article Shapiro also talked about how the country and the world first started paying attention to what presidents actually say (verbally) after radio was invented and FDR used it to give his “fireside chats.

Prior to that, it was all written statements and news reports – about policy.

In a sense, Shapiro is right. With President Trump, we should be paying much more attention to what he does rather than what he says (both in tweets and informal comments). There’s a lot more to be learned about what Trump really thinks from his actions instead of his daily Twitter habit.

Part of Trump’s charm is his impulsive and somewhat unfiltered nature. You never quite know what you’re going to get from him. From observing Trump all this time, his heart seems to be in the right place. And his millions of supporters certainly think so even if they’re willing to “ignore” some of his Twitter statements.

Trump may eventually go down in history as the first great president who people sometimes tuned out. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Media is up in arms because Trump isn’t playing nice with Obama’s legacy, but why should he?

While we’re on the subject of history, many Democrats and their friends in the media feigned enormous outrage at President Donald Trump’s tweet storm this past Saturday, saying it was an unprecedented (and false) attack on a former president. Trump did not mince words in accusing Obama of tapping his phones during last year’s campaign.

Time and congressional investigations will hopefully get to the bottom of Trump’s claims. But the fact the president isn’t allowing Obama to fade peacefully into the sunset has some people very upset, claiming it breaks precedent to be so personally critical of a former commander in chief.

Niall Stanage of The Hill wrote, “Presidential historians are among those startled by Trump’s rhetoric toward Obama, which they view as significantly outside the recent norms.

“’It is extraordinarily unusual,’ said Russell Riley, an associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs.

“’Now, that doesn’t mean that presidents have not had their issues with their predecessor — and on occasion, they have felt free voicing their objections to them through private channels,’ Riley added. ‘But I personally cannot think of an instance where a president has made such an open attack on his predecessor.’”

We can forgive Riley for his poor memory but Obama talked often about the economic collapse he “inherited” from George W. Bush, basically assigning the blame for the sluggish economy to the Republicans deep into his second term.

Every time there was bad economic news – which basically encompasses his entire eight years – Obama would cite the mess left over from Bush’s tax cuts and the disaster that was the Iraq War. If that weren’t the case, then why would there be a need to “fundamentally transform” the country?

Trump may be a little more direct in his criticisms of Obama but he’s not venturing into territory that’s never been explored here. Every president indirectly criticizes his predecessor to some degree whenever he calls for policy change. The most glaring current example is the hubbub over Obamacare. Trump frequently calls Obama’s signature legislation “a disaster.”

Democrats, including Obama, said George W. Bush’s tax cuts were “for the rich.” Is that not criticism?

This all appears to be a lot of smoke with very little fire. Obama himself has not retired to his home state (as if he had one) to write his memoirs and oversee the floorplans of his presidential library – or even paint portraits like George W. Bush supposedly did in his post-presidency years.

No, Obama moved two miles down the road to Georgetown, invited his pal Valerie Jarrett to move into his rented mansion with his family and is not-so-secretly working with Eric Holder and other Obama cronies to undermine Trump’s presidency.

Apparently Obama is also planning to maintain homes in California, Chicago and Hawaii. Not bad for a guy who’s never really had a real job. Who says politics doesn’t pay? Liberal donors will shower money on the former president as long as he stays active in touting liberal causes.

As for Trump, we can only hope he continues to blaze new trails in setting the public record straight about Obama and the Democrats’ crooked dealings. If that means he’ll be looked on negatively by historians and the media for doing so, so be it. I’m sure Trump wouldn’t have it any other way.

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