Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ditched the Senate’s plan to vote on the healthcare repeal bill before the July 4 recess. This move was not replete with tactical wisdom. It was a desperate balk that will ravage the GOP’s chances of getting rid of Obamacare, one of the worst pieces of legislation in the recent times.
The GOP’s unforced error derails Republican momentum, provides room for Democratic entrenchment, and unnecessarily leaves conservative legislators vulnerable to public ire during the break. But most worryingly, it reveals a leadership abyss in our Republican-led Congress.
I’ve met with high-ranking Trump administration officials and key members of the Congress — and what I’ve witnessed is mounting frustration and disappointment. The effort to repeal and replace Obamacare seems to have been an effort in name only. Behind the scenes, there was little organization and coordination. And in front of the curtain, there was virtually no messaging strategy, no attempt to communicate with the American people.
Where’s the energy on Capitol Hill? Where’s the creativity? Where’s the courage? What do GOP leaders need to get results? Healthcare was at the center of Georgia’s much-hyped 6th congressional district special election, and the American people made it clear they’re ready to get Obamacare off the books. And that’s saying something, given all of the deception, misinformation, and castigation that’s been hurled at President Trump and his healthcare agenda by liberals and their partners in the mainstream media.
Democrats deliberately turned Georgia’s special election into a national election. For months and months, the media spotlight burned brightly on the northern suburbs of Atlanta. Money poured in, making the House race the most expensive in American history.
But by directing so much attention to the election, Democrats also made it a referendum on the White House’s campaign to save Americans from a collapsing Obamacare framework. Just before voters headed to the ballot box, polling revealed that 80 percent of likely voters deemed healthcare “extremely important” or “very important” in their forthcoming decision to vote for either Republican Karen Handel or Democratic Jon Ossoff. And as Frank Bruni of the New York Times noted, “Handel sided with [Trump] and Ossoff pilloried her for it.”
We must not forget that for nearly a decade the GOP has pledged to roll back the Obama administration’s sloppy and dangerous handiwork. So when will this start in earnest? Since the campaign, Trump has been intent on axing Obamacare, yet he’s received little genuine support from our Republican-controlled Congress.
These days, conservatives enjoy saying their political adversaries haven’t learned lessons from the 2016 election; that liberals haven’t come to grips with reality; that Hillary Clinton lost because she was an irreparably flawed candidate. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Republicans are similarly in denial as to why they won.
Americans were tired of their elected officials shipping off to Washington, only to become bureaucrats concerned first and foremost with building up their own careers. Leading up to his historic triumph, Trump literally shouted at the top of his lungs in town after town and city after city that the system was broken — and the country resoundingly responded.
So what are congressional Republicans doing now? They’re reverting to their typical state — a dismal one that’s somewhere between hibernation and overly-careful planning. They’re eyeing 2018, trying to figure out the bare minimum amount of effort needed to keep warm their cushy, tufted-leather chairs up on Capitol Hill. Conservative opponents of the current bill, like Sens. Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul, need to be rallying their party around substantive, creative, and viable policy ideas rather than just obstructing.
Congress doesn’t return to work until next week. While home and gorging on overcooked leftovers from July 4, our elected officials ought to block off some alone time to consider why they were elected and what legacy they wish to leave in their communities and in the history books.
Dan Weber is the president and founder of the Association of Mature American Citizens, a seniors’ organization with 1.2 million members.
From - Washington Examiner - by Dan Weber