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100 Days of Trump: The key to future Trump legislative wins is to go to conservatives first

Everyone in America is still talking about what happened on Friday in the House of Representatives as the GOP establishment’s first attempt to deal with Obamacare went down in flames in spectacular fashion.

There weren’t any final vote tallies to analyze but still everyone unmistakably understood it wasn’t a victory for the GOP.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reported, “The American Health Care Act was pulled from the Trump healthcareHouse floor when it became clear that the Republicans were well short of the 216 GOP votes they needed to clear the bill and send it to the Senate.

“After seven years of promises to repeal Obamacare, Republicans and the president failed to orchestrate a deal to replace the law, casting a shadow over Trump's leadership and the party's ambitious legislative agenda.”

Some of us don’t necessarily see that “shadow.” This isn’t Groundhog Day. It was just another day in the life of the American republic and people will move on to the next issue. Six weeks – or even six days -- from now, no one’s going to be talking about this anymore.

That said, with the dirty work of killing the Ryancare bill out of the way conservatives should be prepared for the wave of blame that’s certainly headed their way from virtually all sides.

The Democrats are already mocking President Donald Trump as a failure for his inability to push Republican conservatives to vote for the bill on his say-so alone. They’ll soon begin comparing him to his predecessor and make all sorts of wild assertions that Obama was a more effective leader, more knowledgeable on policy, etc…

Meanwhile, the Republican establishment will secretly blame Trump for the same reason why also pointing a public finger at the Freedom Caucus for disloyalty and an unwillingness to go along “for the good of the country.” Some conservatives who bought into the bill because of these arguments will also condemn their fellow party members for granting Democrats a “free” victory without spending an ounce of political capital.

They will contend the Freedom Caucus essentially did what John Boehner used to do – join with the Democrats’ side on a very important bill. Only this time it was to kill the legislation rather than pass it.

All of these rationales are wrong. Period.

The winner here is America, which didn’t fall victim to another piece of bad legislation just because the current House majority felt it necessary to jam something through knowing there’s a friendly signature waiting down the street at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The legislative process was also a winner. Why? It worked. Legislators – at least some of them – ignored party labels to vote their preferences on a bill.

What’s so terrible about that? Isn’t that what the Founding Fathers envisioned prior to the formation of the two-party system? Aren’t representatives supposed to assess each bill individually and vote accordingly?

Beyond theory, here’s what conservatives and Republicans should do going forward:

First, use regular order to craft a bill with provisions that will gain enough votes to pass it.

Start with the Freedom Caucus. It’s time for conservative members to put together their own version of a healthcare bill, complete with a full repeal of Obamacare and free market solutions to lower premium costs. The Freedom Caucus has acquired an undeserved reputation as being against all legislation and only being relevant when killing bad bills.

It’s time for them to change the narrative. In addition to saying “no” to the Republican establishment’s relentless big government leanings, conservatives should put their own vision forward by writing bills that serve as the starting point for new issues or at the very least, counter what the establishment’s produced on the day a new proposal is revealed to the public.

“Paul Ryan has brought out his bill. Here is our alternative.”

Two, no doubt President Donald Trump learned a lesson in this episode and he’ll be more likely to start advocating for the winning side right from the start next time.

It just so happened the president’s position on healthcare was closer to the Republican establishment’s in this case. Trump discovered that conservative grassroots groups weren’t going to go along with the notion of change for change’s sake just because of his presidential leadership. Trump was elected to bust up Washington, not join it.

I predict Trump will realize that Ryancare died because it was part of the swamp culture that he ran against. I don’t see him making the same mistake again.

Three, if Paul Ryan is unwilling to see the writing on the wall and stop producing the most liberal version of legislation right out of the gate and then declare the bill is in its final form, he needs to be replaced as Speaker.

Ryan better get the message that he needs to go to the conservatives first if he wants to keep good order in his caucus. The establishment “moderates” are the true minority in the GOP. It’s about time pressure is put on them to bend to limited government ideals rather than the other way around.

Four, politics isn’t everything. There’s no reason to swallow bad legislation simply because you think it will help you stay on top politically. Republicans will be rewarded for keeping their promises. If they do what they say they’re going to do political victories will follow.

The Republican leadership must cease doing everything according to political calculations. That’s what Democrats do. They should devise a set of ideas, sell them to the public and let the political chips fall where they will. Republicans can’t control everything and it’s folly to even try.

The American People aren’t stupid. They instinctively ignore most of what politicians say because they know it’s usually just spin covering a core of lies. This must end if the swamp is to be drained and the system reclaimed.

Lastly, once and for all Republicans need to learn that they won’t lose their majorities because they’re not liberal enough. During the early years of the Obama presidency Democrats ran roughshod over traditional America and suffered a backlash when good citizens rose up to throw them out.

Republicans will not share the same fate unless they adopt the Democrat strategy of trying to be the best keepers of the welfare state. Democrats are much better at bribing people for votes; Republicans must understand it.

Americans want good, accountable, fiscally responsible government, not more goodies. Raining “free stuff” on Democrat constituencies isn’t going to buy off enough of them to make a permanent Republican majority.

Most of all, Republicans need to stand for something. If Ryan – and to some extent, President Trump – didn’t garner this from the failure of Ryancare, I’m not sure what’s going to teach them.

The way forward: Get back to the table, hammer something out, make it work

Whenever the blame game finally ends Republicans will be left wondering how to move on from here.

There are already signs that some are wanting to give up on the healthcare issue entirely and just start working on familiar GOP topics like tax reform.

Still others believe it’s an opportunity to take all the time necessary to let the process work.

The Editors of National Review wrote, “House Republicans could try to pass an aggressive bill without much regard for whether it can pass the Senate: At least they would have outlined and stood for a set of health-care policies that make sense, that offer something for conservatives and moderates, and that can serve as the basis for future action. Or they could work with the parliamentarian and with senators to see whether they could get a bill better than this week’s past the finish line.

“If they went this route, Republican leaders would not spring a new bill on their followers and allies and tell them they have to vote for it posthaste. There would have to be more patient cajoling and less last-minute bullying. We know many Republicans on the Hill and inside the White House feel that they have already spent enough time on this issue. But we have no sympathy for this complaint. They have spent seven years saying they were going to replace Obamacare. They didn’t say they were going to spend a few weeks on a half-baked plan and then give up. Back to work, ladies and gentlemen.”

As I suggested above, the good people of the Freedom Caucus need to be the genesis of new legislation on healthcare since they seem to have the best understanding of what it will take to pass a new bill.

And in doing so the new effort better not be called “Ryancare 2” or even “Trumpcare 2” because that’s another ticket to failure. Winning the public relations battle will be tantamount to succeeding on this issue because it’s the only way a bill is going to pass through both houses of Congress and make it to Trump’s desk for his stylish signature.

But I agree with those who say healthcare cannot simply be dropped now. The genie’s already out of the proverbial bottle and he’s not going to be stuffed back in it easily.

There shouldn’t be a need to remind Republicans that it’s only the end of March in 2017, a little over two months into Donald Trump’s presidency. There’s no reason to set aside the issue and hope people just forget about it. That won’t happen.

Besides, as the National Review editors point out, there was a lot accomplished in just the past three weeks of negotiations. Overall positions were established. A breaking point was reached because there wasn’t enough attention paid to the “must haves” of the competing Republican factions. More time and some concessions could easily find that sweet spot of agreement.

The Republicans should go all-out in passing a full Obamacare repeal and see what the Senate parliamentarian says in terms of putting in new reforms. As we always tell our kids, “the worst they can say is no.”

And when the bill ultimately passes – perhaps months from now or even next year – the whole country will forget about what happened on March 24. People will praise the GOP for taking principled stands and still finding a way to get things done.

The press will no doubt hammer the final product; but we know that already. Republicans will have kept their promise to get rid of Obamacare. Democrats will howl; predictions of doom will follow. And in November of next year there will be an election. The voters will determine who’s right.

With Ryancare now in the trashcan, time to retrain the rhetorical guns on the real enemy

Even in the wake of an event that most certainly qualifies as a setback for the party, Republicans should be grateful that there are forces on the left constantly at work to distract the country from the real issues at hand.

With Republicans still licking their wounds over healthcare, now liberals are taking off after presidential daughter Ivanka Trump.

Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner reports, “At an event Saturday morning, [Reverend Al] Sharpton echoed several ethics experts in complaining about Ivanka Trump's new informal role at the White House, which reportedly will include a security clearance and an office in the West Wing.

“’Giving a office on the West Wing of Ivanka Trump, somebody explain to me how you can give security clearance, access to classified material, and a office to somebody that don't have a title or job?’ Sharpton said. ‘They say now she ain't got no title. She ain't got no role. We ain't payin' her no money. But she can see everything classified.’”

Nice grammar, Al. No wonder most of the country thinks you and the #BlackLivesMatter crowd are functionally illiterate.

Beyond the obvious stupidity at play here, what could liberals possibly fear from having the president’s business-leader adult daughter in close proximity to her dad?

Maybe it’s because the name “Ivanka” sounds kind of Russian. Yeah, that’s it – they think Ivanka’s a Vladimir Putin-inspired Russian plant who will manipulate her father behind the scenes to give more favorable treatment to the Ruskies.

The nutcase Democrats are already claiming the Russian hacking of the DNC and John Podesta was an “act of war.” It’s true – you can’t make this stuff up.

Morgan Chalfant of The Hill reports, “Democratic lawmakers are publicly calling out Russia for engaging in war by meddling in the presidential election.

“The Democrats have been particularly bullish in the wake of FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure that the bureau is investigating whether there was coordination between Trump’s associates and Russia in the influence campaign, which involved leaking hacked personal emails from Democratic operatives to damage Hillary Clinton.

“The warfare accusations fit into a larger narrative pushed by Democrats that casts President Trump as weak on Russia and plays up the damage done by Moscow through the electoral interference.”

Well, to be fair, Republican John McCain called it “war” too back in December. But he’s a doddering old fool, not to be taken seriously.

It could be war on the Democrat party perhaps but if Democrats think what the Russians allegedly did was “war” by the traditional definition they have apparently forgotten what “real” war is like.

The only casualties in that conflict were Democrat dreams of Hillary being president. But that was more like liberal suicide than war.

The Democrats’ ridiculous whining over Ivanka Trump getting an office in the White House and claiming the Russians committed an “act of war” with their hacking is yet another indication that there is a real political enemy out there worth battling for the Republicans.

They don’t need to fight among themselves. Al Sharpton and company provide all the incentive to point the rhetorical guns in the proper direction.

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