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100 Days of Trump: In next GOP healthcare horror flick, they need to slay the villain

Almost like a horror movie villain that refuses to die, the GOP’s obsession with finding a quick-fix for healthcare doesn’t appear ready to be expunged anytime soon.

The memory of Paul Ryan unceremoniously yanking the doomed Ryancare bill last Friday is still fresh in everyone’s memory, yet it looks like Republican leaders are readying to go back at the issue without even Horror movieobserving a sensible period to mourn its failure.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reports, “Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate aren't ready to walk away from efforts to pass legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare, even if it means compromise among conservatives or working with Democrats…

“Senate Republicans remain eager to tackle health insurance reform after the House failed in its effort last week because they believe the current law continues to disintegrate, particularly in states where insurers have quit the health insurance marketplace and costs have spiraled upwards.”

Hmmm…let’s see. The whole country has been engulfed in this topic for the past month or so and Senate Republicans are only now realizing there’s a serious problem? Ferrechio’s article also indicated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to sit back – again – and wait for the House to act first.

Now that’s leadership for you, isn’t it?

Apparently the decision to give healthcare another shot came as the product of a meeting between Republican leaders on Tuesday at the Capitol. Republicans must have grouped together, talked it over and broke the huddle with a renewed resolve to make it work this time.

What’s not clear is how things might have changed since last Friday. For better or most likely for worse, Republicans are returning to the healthcare public relations ring to receive another sound beating unless they finally get smart and stop messing around with the issue. If they’re listening, they should start with a straight-up repeal of Obamacare.

Freedom Caucus member Congressman Mo Brooks has even crafted a simple 2-page bill to accomplish just that.

Susan Wright of RedState reported, “[I]n a single, to-the-point sentence, Brooks spells out how to enact a repeal of the disastrous Obamacare debacle:

“’Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted,’ the bill states.”

Somehow this seems a little too easy for the Republican establishment leadership to swallow, since complicating the otherwise clear-cut is what they’re best at. The Founding Fathers were great believers in transparency and simplicity suggesting any bill that was lengthier than one page was too long.

Heck, the Declaration of Independence fit on one rather large piece of parchment, didn’t it?

As I’ve suggested a number of times recently, any regeneration of Republican efforts to pass a healthcare bill must begin with finding where the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus are on the issue and working outwards from there. Ferrechio’s story indicated Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows has been talking with “moderates” to see if there are areas where the different factions might find some common ground.

The various interests are also working on a way to avoid the potential procedural snafus waiting for a successful House bill in the Senate if the legislation tries to do more than is possible under reconciliation rules.

At first glance this looks to be a much more temperate approach than the one Ryan took several weeks ago by throwing a bill together in secret, getting President Trump to give his go-ahead and then trying to jam it down Republicans’ throats with thinly veiled threats to “take it or leave it.”

Time will tell how this new effort turns out. The issue is fraught with danger because if Republicans don’t get it right this time the press will eat them alive…and they will own the upcoming healthcare implosion.

Of course, there is a way President Trump could deal with the situation unilaterally from the executive side.

Paul Demko of Politico reported, “The White House could decide at any time to eliminate subsidies relied upon by insurers to lower costs for Obamacare’s poorest customers, as a result of a court win by House Republicans last spring…

“Eliminating the subsidy program would be the most dramatic maneuver but also the highest-risk. House Republicans had sued the Obama administration to block funding for the subsidies that cover out-of-pocket costs for poorer Americans, arguing that administration had paid for it without congressional authority. That argument prevailed in a lower court last year, but was appealed by the Obama administration. The lawsuit has essentially been put on hold while the House and the Trump administration decide how to proceed.”

The Trump administration could simply drop the appeal and the subsidies would disappear under the lower court ruling, to the tune of seven billion dollars. This move would essentially collapse the Obamacare marketplace, which is eventually going to happen at some point anyway.

The public outcry would be enormous and of course the Democrats are warning of doom for any political entity that would dare to take away someone’s federal subsidy. But isn’t market collapse basically what Trump and Republican leaders have been predicting would happen to Obamacare all along? Does that mean the crisis would force them – and even Democrats – to come to some sort of agreement?

I wouldn’t count on the Democrats cooperating. Unhappy entitled people equate to more votes for them and their special interest pals and thus more abortions, more mandated birth control, more trampling on religious freedom, more taxes and more dependent people. It’s quite a cycle.

All of this was easily foreseeable seven years ago when Pelosi, Obama and Reid began this farce of universal national healthcare. Their one-size-fits-all product pleased only those who benefited at the expense of someone else. Most of the rest of us have been stuck with the plague of higher premiums and deductibles.

The political conundrum seems to concern who will be angrier – the people who want Obamacare gone (and are furious that it’s still here) or the ones who have become addicted to it? There is no obvious winner here.

It seems clear that something like Mo Brooks’ simple repeal is the best way to start – just get rid of the monster. As indicated above (in the text of Brooks’ brief bill), full repeal wouldn’t take place until the end of this year. That gives our elected representatives and senators nine more months to figure it out.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and movie monsters don’t die in the first few minutes of a film. This healthcare mess won’t be cleaned up in a matter of weeks. Republicans should realize it.

This is one horror movie villain that needs to finally be extinguished and buried so deep he can’t possibly return to wreak more havoc on the innocent and clueless. End the series. Blow up the genre. Will they do it?

In a political environment beset with chaos Mike Pence provides a stable influence

An old saying goes that opposites attract, which explains why so many married couples feature one spouse who does most of the talking while the other sits by and rolls his or her eyes.

Politics isn’t quite like a marriage, of course, but there’s little doubt the partnerships formed during times of necessity can sometimes function like one. Such appears to be the case for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The impetuous and bold Trump seems to be offset by the steady and calm Pence, a role the second in command takes to nicely.

Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported, “Mr. Pence, a Hill-wise former Indiana congressman who is typically a palliative presence in an administration of piranhas, had been keeping tabs on conservatives, counseling the president not to take anything for granted, and he urged Mr. Trump to take a hard line against his ideological allies who were pushing for a far more radical rewrite of the Affordable Care Act.

“One Republican senator close to Mr. Pence said that his colleagues initially viewed him as an alternative-reality president who would prod Mr. Trump’s presidency toward normalcy — a notion that vanished during the administration’s frenetic first week. Democrats and Never-Trump Republicans still view him as a president-in-waiting, in hopes that Mr. Trump will somehow be brought down by scandal.”

In these days of virtual non-stop political rancor it’s refreshing to see a somewhat reasonable story (at least where Pence is concerned) on a man who’s working hard to make Americans’ lives better. There are certainly millions of people out there who disagree with Pence’s policies, but I’m sure at least some of them appreciate his honest and straightforward way of handling the office.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was a bitter political enemy of all conservatives and Republicans yet not many had issues with his likeable personality, preferring to shoot the breeze with “Uncle Joe” rather than deal with the cold and aloof Obama. I think there’s a similar dynamic for Pence, though he’s depicted in the NYT story as someone who’s not really part of Trump’s inner circle.

If he’s not, the whole group is putting on an awful good show in making it look that way.

As would be expected from the source, the New York Times writers get in subtle and not-so-subtle jabs at just about everyone serving in the White House, including Trump, claiming for instance that Stephen Bannon uses “heavy handed tactics” and calling the president’s son-in-law and close advisor Jared Kushner a “free floating aide” and self-described “first among equals.”

It’s all intended to further the media narrative of a dysfunctional executive branch that’s chock full of infighting and incompetence.

But at least the Times reporters didn’t go after Pence personally, though it’s not exactly clear why he was spared from the harsh scrutiny.

While it could be true that the competing personalities within the White House are still trying to carve out their niche, the “incompetence” charges are proving to be heartily false.

The Trump administration might have failed to push Ryancare through but there are many behind-the-scenes executive actions – such as immigration enforcement, reigning in the bureaucracy and environmental regulatory reforms that have been quite successful.

The person of Mike Pence will help people see the successes for what they are. He’s a steady and principled man who complements Trump in all the right ways.

Media just doesn’t get Trump daughter Ivanka’s White House office

While the New York Times seems puzzled over the role of Jared Kushner in the Trump White House the entire media is downright perplexed over Kushner’s wife and presidential daughter Ivanka Trump’s new office in the West Wing.

When it was recently announced Ivanka was being given an unpaid “job” in the administration along with security clearances and even government communications devices, critics bamboozled themselves trying to figure out exactly what she’s doing there.

Amie Parnes of The Hill reports, “Ivanka Trump is a mystery, even to some people working with her in the White House.

“The first daughter, who will soon occupy a second-floor office in the West Wing, has been at the epicenter of her father’s White House and played high-profile roles in several recent visits with foreign leaders.

“But she’s also taken a hands-off approach on major legislative issues such as healthcare — to the dismay of Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Oddly enough, the rebukes come from both liberals and conservatives alike. Some conservatives wonder why a known social liberal is serving in the White House and liberals question why Ivanka isn’t doing more to tone down her dad’s war on institutional Washington.

At least from the liberal side, such criticism is utterly hypocritical. Liberals didn’t seem to mind presidential spouse Hillary Clinton having a central role in Bill’s administration, why would they sweat an individually accomplished family member of Trump’s doing the same thing?

It’s not like Ivanka is being given a cabinet secretary’s power, either. She’s just being positioned down the hall to perhaps provide a little familiar perspective to Trump’s job.

Conservatives have a right to be concerned about Ivanka’s apparent ideological leanings and close access to the seat of power but there’s never been any indication that Trump has moved left because of his daughter’s views.

In fact, everything he’s done on the issues of foremost concern to Ivanka thus far seems to signify just the opposite.

During last year’s presidential race Ivanka did campaign for her father on issues like federal maternity leave and women’s empowerment/equal pay. Injecting government further into the lives of private citizens and businesses is not exactly conservative, but such things would require acts of Congress to pass, not a few waves of her father’s powerful pen.

In other words, we’ll worry about them when the occasion arises.

In the meantime, Trump has as much right as any president to choose his own advisers, informal and otherwise. What’s to nitpick? The media practically whets itself whenever Chelsea Clinton says or tweets anything about politics or culture. Do you think Chelsea wouldn’t have had an office in the White House if Hillary won?

Oh yes, that’s right, Chelsea would be too busy running the family foundation to serve with her mom. Look how that turned out.

Ronald Reagan’s children (two of them, at least) were widely known to be outspoken liberals yet no one surmised the Gipper would abandon his conservatism because of it. There’s no reason to believe Trump will give up his dream of making America great again because his daughter might not share all of his political views.

Trump’s family should be left out of it…at least until they do something that deserves censure.

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McConnell's "Lack of Leadership," etc.

We can't really fault Mitch McConnell's waiting to see what the House will do next on health care. It's entirely possible that McConnell finally sat down and READ the Constitution, and realized that "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives..." (Art. I, Sec. 7). After all, Chief Justice John Roberts called Obamacare premiums a "tax," so maybe McConnell is for once trying to follow the Constitution. I wouldn't count on it, though.

As for Ivanka's and Jared Kushner's liberal ideology, it appears that once any of the Trump clan gets out of the New York smog and gets some oxygen to their brains, they rediscover common sense. At least until the atmosphere of Washington, D.C. gets in there.