“Finally in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, the GOP has proven gun-shy. Afraid of a strident reform that upsets anyone, they’ve put forward a timid reform that upsets everyone.”
Where Are the Republican Party’s Leaders?
From National Review: By IAN TUTTLE, March 9, 2017
The House Republican conference has unveiled a health-care bill that pleases just about no one. Ross Douthat, writing in the New York Times on Wednesday, described the “American Health Care Act” this way:
- It’s a piece of legislation caught betwixt and between: It includes enough in the way of tax credits and regulation to be labeled “Obamacare lite” by the party’s would-be ideological enforcers, but it also promises to throw many people off the insurance rolls — many Trump voters included — for the sake of uncertain policy goals. . . . So it’s a bill that nobody on the right much likes: Not libertarians and not reformocons, not right-wing donors and not mushy moderates, not the Tea Party senators who promised full repeal and not the swing-state senators who well know that their own voters want the coverage expansion to endure. As for Americans who aren’t ideologically committed, forget about it: Passing the bill would be an invitation to a political beheading.
It’s difficult to explain charitably what is taking place. It’s not as if Republicans had cloaked their intentions toward Obamacare. House Republicans voted several times during the Obama administration to fully repeal the former president’s signature law. They passed dozens upon dozens of measures to cripple the law. Time and again, in no uncertain terms, they promised repeal and a better system — better than Obamacare, and better the regulatory patchwork that preceded it.
Nor was time short. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law seven years ago this month. There has been no lack of debate during that time about the best strategies for reform, policy-wise and politically. Republican legislators have proposed several alternatives, and they have had ample time to hammer out a pleasing compromise.
But something else has happened: Finally in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, the GOP has proven gun-shy. Afraid of a strident reform that upsets anyone, they’ve put forward a timid reform that upsets everyone.
This is the kind of thing that happens when a party has no leaders. Under normal circumstances, that would be Donald Trump. But the president forged his path to the White House by unabashedly smashing certain conservative idols — not all of which needed wrecked — and alienating allies, and he has expressed little interest in figuring out how to marry his unusual electoral coalition’s interests to conservative principles. Erratic, undisciplined, and self-absorbed as he is, he is not well-equipped to envision, or shepherd, an agenda that can bridge that divide.