2016 Election • California • Democrats • Donald Trump • Healthcare • Post • taxes • The Constitution • The Resistance (Snicker)

In California’s War on Trump, Everybody Loses

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For a state so enamored with passing laws, California can seem awfully lawless sometimes. Our progressive Legislature and elected leaders have decided to make political and litigious war on the duly elected president of the United States.

The Resistance is here!

Truth is, Donald Trump has driven them all a bit batty. Our legislators have become so unmoored that even Gov. Jerry Brown—who just the other week signed the self-destructive “sanctuary state” law—had to step in and veto legislation requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Brown said that as politically appealing as such a law might be, he was uncomfortable with California setting election policy for the country.

It’s nice to see the light of reality break through the progressive miasma once in a while. If only some of that light could break through the state attorney general’s office…

Read the rest at the Sacramento Bee.

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America • Cultural Marxism • Democrats • Healthcare • Hollywood • Obamacare • Post • Republicans • The Media

Tears of a Clown

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Jimmy Kimmel, you dissimul-
-late so poorly, that it’s crim’nal –
Cloaking activism in
A disguise supremely thin.

“A sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal”
Singing from the lib’ral hymnal –
Weeping your tears crocodilian –
Can that truly be fulfillin’?

Are your viewers’ lives so grim, they’ll
Applaud those tears, Mr. Kimmel?
Is that what they tune in for?
Will they ask for an encore?

Going out upon a limb, I’ll
Suggest to you, Mr. Kimmel:
No one needs another spokesman!
Why not simply tell some jokes, man?!

 

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Congress • Conservatives • Healthcare • Post • Republicans • The Leviathian State

Why Graham-Cassidy Failed—And the Hard Slog Ahead

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With the announcement by U.S. Senators Ron Paul (R-Ky.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) declaring their refusal to support the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill, the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has met with failure yet again. Lest we repeat the procedure in an endless loop, there is a lesson to be learned from this debacle about the insidious cunning of modern liberalism. It’s time for friends of American liberty to learn it.

Why do Republicans shy away from repealing manifestly unpopular expansions of government like Obamacare once they are enacted? It’s an old story. Simply put, liberals know what they are doing. Every new government program, and every new line in the budget, creates a constituency—call it a “special interest”—that thereafter will bitterly oppose the revocation of whatever preferment they have received.

Obamacare is no different. It unleashed a vast new revenue stream for the states, which receive federal money to support their health insurance exchanges, and which receive even more large amounts of federal money to support the expansion of Medicaid. Any attempt to dismantle Obamacare thus endangers the fiscal well-being of the states and, by extension, the profits of doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies. Not surprisingly, craven politicians are loath to take this risky step.

Say what you will about Obamacare, at its heart is the expenditure of gargantuan sums of taxpayer dollars for the alleged purpose of subsidizing medical care for poorer Americans. On some level, this is a noble cause. It accounts for the rhetorical success of popular advocates like Jimmy Kimmel, who can appeal to that noble instinct in Americans to look after the neediest among us. But the political and financial reality is that Obamacare did not fundamentally alter the dysfunctional dynamics of our healthcare system. It merely poured more money into it to expand access to an already broken system.

Thus, Obamacare has had the effect of enriching many constituents, like doctors, hospital administrators, and insurance executives, all of whom were already rich, but, naturally, could stand to be richer. This is the pattern for all modern government programs. Even the most well-meaning of social services ultimately serve to transfer government funds into the hands of the private-sector providers of food, housing, child care, counseling, cell phones, and, yes, medical care, to the relevant beneficiaries. True, many—even most—Americans support shrinking government in the abstract. But their tepid support for government cutbacks cannot prevail in the face of the much more passionate and organized opposition from the constituents—that is, the recipients—of government spending who, of course, aren’t just the poor or the needy.

The designers of Obamacare surely knew this. New entitlement programs once created are almost impossible to destroy. The millions of people who had gained access to health insurance, and more importantly the handful of multi-millionaires and billionaires who had gained new profits, wouldn’t stand for it. And here we are. This is why government spending, as a percentage of GDP, has been growing in a nearly continuous fashion since the beginning of the 20th century, and why all the hot air from politicians about cutting the size of government has led precisely nowhere.

The sad truth is that Americans need to accept two harsh realities if we are ever to make any progress in reversing the tide of government expansion. First, the Democratic Party will never cooperate with efforts to restrain government, because government spending is the bread and butter of Democratic politics, and an ideological commitment to finding governmental solutions to every conceivable problem is a defining characteristic of modern liberalism. Democrats will reflexively oppose any and all attempts to cut government spending, and they will inevitably describe such proposals as “inhumane” and irresponsible.

Second, Republican politicians, despite their rhetoric, are by no means reliable “yes” votes on bills that aim to cut federal spending, return power to the states, or otherwise dent the growth of government. Republican congressmen and senators are invariably afraid of being labeled as “heartless” for seeking spending cuts (or even for opposing spending increases). In reality, government largesse benefits Republicans almost as much as it helps Democrats. These politicians are every bit as tied to rent seekers as are the Democrats. Every politician, even President Trump, seeks to gain popularity by showering the needy (and sometimes just the grasping) with public funds. This is how Washington works—nay, how America works—whether we like it or not.

The solution isn’t just to elect more Republicans, although we have a golden opportunity (especially in the Senate) to do exactly that in 2018. It’s also to elect conservatives with stiffer spines, and for the voters to stiffen in their resolve, too. First and foremost, we need to remember who we are as a people—a free people, who reject socialism in health care and every other domain—and act and vote accordingly.

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America • Big Media • Congress • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Economy • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Healthcare • Post • The Constitution • The Media

Roy Moore Won by Speaking for the Middle Class—Just Like Trump

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According to reports, President Trump went to bed “embarrassed and pissed” after learning that he had backed a loser in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary.

One can hardly blame him. At the urging of Republican wise men (try not to giggle) the president threw all of his substantial influence behind Luther Strange: He tweeted for him, he held a raucous rally for him in Huntsville on the Friday before the election, he even gave him a nickname, “Big Luther.”

The nickname reminds me of Margaret Thatcher’s arch observation: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

Still, in a deep red state that the president won by 28 points, where, barring the intervention of venomous fate, the Republican primary is the election that picks the next senator, the candidate Trump backed took a beating. In fact, it wasn’t close.

Judge Roy Moore’s victory in Alabama closely resembled Trump’s own win in November: He was opposed by the Republican establishment and their corporate and D.C. allies, he was the object of scurrilous ad hominem attacks on himself and his family, and he was dramatically outspent. Some sources say the Republican leadership and their friends spent $30 million to Moore’s roughly $2 million. Yet, the race was never really competitive. Moore pulled away from Strange early and never looked back.

So how did Moore win and what does it mean for the future of the Republican Party? He did what Trump himself did last year: He made the case for a populist-nationalist agenda that respects and protects the middle and working class and that honors this country’s history and her.

Read the rest at The Hill.

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America • American Conservatism • Big Media • Congress • Conservatives • Donald Trump • Healthcare • Post • Republicans • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

Conservatives Have Many Fronts But Little Fight

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With the announcement that John McCain will not be voting in favor of the Graham-Cassidy bill that would repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act, conservatives raced to Twitter and talk radio phone lines to express their outrage. “Woe is us! John McCain has ‘betrayed’ us again!”

Conservatives shout these words into the ether and to those who are paid to listen to (and stir up) their rage. Sadly, conservatives did not take to Twitter or flood the congressional phone lines in support of Graham-Cassidy in the days leading up to McCain’s “betrayal.” It seems that in the policy battles where the stakes are highest, conservatives want to complain about the establishment rather than complain to the establishment.

The primary reason for this isn’t that conservatives don’t want to fight, or that it’s hard to know when to fight. It’s because conservatives have to fight on so many political battlefields at once. Just this past week, we’ve seen many political and pop culture battlefronts where conservatives have had to engage.

As always, there is the Trump front. How many resources were conservatives forced to expend in order to defend the president’s discussion of the mythical African nation of Nambia? Nevermind that there is a country called Namibia to which the president was expressly referring. The Left were ready with their “look at how dumb Trump is” memes and conservatives were more than ready to spend time and resources responding to something that would best have been ignored. Mockery only works when you give it legitimacy by acknowledging it and conservatives fell over themselves to do that when they chose to fight on this front.

Added to the Trump gaffe front was the Left’s love affair with anti-semitism. While the mainstream press does everything it can to connect Trump with Nazis, it is the Left that has and has always had the real problem with anti-semitism. The latest example of the Left’s casual anti-semitism was Valerie Plame Wilson’s casual linking on Twitter to an argument that Jews were responsible for America’s wars. To those of us who endured over a decade of references to evil “neocons” who are behind all of the ills of the world, this flippant anti-semitism was nothing new. The Left is rife with anti-semitism in the guise of peace movements and divestment movements. Conservatives were rightly incensed by Valerie Plame Wilson’s comments and were quick in their attacks against her.

Add to these events the articles insinuating that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was having the government pay for her private jet, Maxine Waters’ continuing cries to impeach Trump, and the anti-Trump rant that was the Emmys, and you can see that there are any number of places for conservatives to use their political capital in frivolous spats.

Frivolous? Yes, frivolous.

Every one of these events is a distraction from what is really important. The articles on DeVos are not about who funds her travel and security—for the record she’s footing the bill—they are about how she’s moving against the star chamber Title IX kafkaesque shadow courts that were established under the Obama administration. If the media can undermine DeVos’ credibility, they can win on an issue that might disproportionately affect minority students and that removes constitutional protections from all students.

But manipulative attempts to protect Title IX non-trials weren’t the biggest battle that conservatives were being distracted from fighting. That battle was the battle to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While conservatives were tweeting away about Valerie Plame Wilson, my twitter feed was filled with Leftists sharing the phone number of the congressional switch board, places to text that would send anti-repeal faxes to key legislators, and links to the “Indivisible Guidebook.” While conservatives were barking at squirrels, the Left was orchestrating a targeted attack on repeal legislation.

The Left has finally learned the most valuable lesson that political science teaches about how politicians behave. Politicians first and foremost respond to the reelection incentive.

Though David Mayhew wrote about this phenomenon in the 1970s, most organizers on the Left and Right ignored it. They trusted elite pressure from the media, activists, donors, and party organizations to do the work necessary to get their preferred policies passed or scuttled. It’s more lucrative for voters to think that your radio show is the means of shaping opinion than it is to spend your time tweet storming phone numbers to the public. It’s more profitable to complain without solutions than it is to spend time in the trenches. The Occupy Movement taught the Left this lesson, but the Right has yet to learn it.

Politicians have no better means of knowing how to vote than from direct communication from constituents. Let me repeat that. Politicians have no better means of knowing how to vote than from direct communication from constituents. They don’t vote based on ideology or promises, they vote based on pressure. Mobilization matters, it’s all that matters.

No better example of how the Left is willing to genuinely mobilize, rather than complain for fun and profit, exists than Jimmy Kimmel’s personalized and political “kill the bill-athon.” He was doing more than complaining, he was telling people who agreed with him what to do. He was telling them to call Capitol Hill and flood the phone lines. He even told them which offices to target: Heller, Murkowski, Collins, Moore Capito, and McCain. He know this matters.

It’s right there in the “Indivisible Guidebook,” a guide of equal use to conservatives if they would only use it. Instead, conservatives are content to complain to the professional cash-servatives like Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro. Let me clue you in on something. The only time Ben Shapiro tweeted the congressional hotline was when he retweeted a Guy Benson joke that included the phone number to ABC executives. Shapiro is perfectly content to help his friends pay their mortgages by selling books filled with blank pages. His job, like the rest of media conservatism, is to complain about how bad things are. It’s what gets people listening and what brings them advertisers, but it isn’t what mobilizes change.

If conservative media were serious about repealing Obamacare, they’d be flooding my Twitter feed with contact information and multiple means of contacting my legislators. Instead, they are content to complain about being betrayed. Conservatives need to be more targeted in their efforts. I know that it’s a target-rich environment and that we want to shoot down every lie or exaggeration that the Left brings up, but we have to focus on the big ticket items and we have to shoot true. Instead of calling the Mark Levin show, or your own favorite host, try calling the congressional hotline. Let’s use more political capital on the important fights, and use less in skirmishes.

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America • Americanism • Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • Democrats • Healthcare • political philosophy • Republicans • self-government

“Dude, You’re in My Garage”: Why Socialism Blows

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“It looks good on paper” is an timeless phrase used to describe an appealing abstract concept unworkable in practical application—or worse. To avoid wastes of time, money, and energy, in the real world the phrase is often heard and heeded. In the political world, however, it is seldom heard and almost never heeded. Why? Because politicians can use governmental coercion to happily waste the time, money, and energy of others—namely, you.

Simply compare and contrast two examples: In the real world, the Titanic looked great on paper, but has come to symbolize the dire consequences of human hubris; in the political world, Obama Care remains the law of the land.

Presently—alas, perpetually it seems—the quintessential example of a failed political idea said to “look great on paper” remains socialism. As previously noted, much of the misplaced faith in the concept stems from socialist politicians’ ability to finesse abstract theories and impose their real world failures upon others. (President Obama can still choose his own doctor). Obviously, it’s understandable why Leftist politicians retain their dogmatic insistence that socialism is both feasible and desirable. Less obvious is conservatives’ seeming inability to persuade vast swaths of the public that socialism is neither.

Conservatives too often play on the Left’s turf. In endeavoring to counter the Left’s lullabies about socialism, conservatives stray into the political world’s abstract arguments and talking points; and, ever a practical people, real world Americans tune out this debate and turn on Netflix. How, then, to explain to practical people the undesirability of an infeasible theory that “looks great on paper?” (After all, practical people ordinarily don’t mind “free money” as long as it is coming from somebody else.)

Typically in such conversations, conservatives start at the end by citing socialism’s failings and failures abroad: “Anybody here remember the Soviet Union? . . . No?” But, because most Americans have never experienced the ravages of socialism, this approach leaves the Left the luxury of retaining sundry, false arguments not only as to why socialism failed in other places but also as to why it could work here.

Taking a different tack, many conservatives do try to address socialism’s unworkable means rather than unattainable ends: “They’re going to give some bum your money!” This approach does prove more efficacious when applied to those practical folks who deem themselves at risk of becoming the Left’s piñata for funding a socialist spending spree; however, given the decades-long stagnation in real wage growth, this argument can expect an increasingly diminished return.

In addressing socialism’s unworkable means, conservatives are on the correct path but in too narrow a lane. Conservatives’ arguments against socialism must be enhanced by real world examples possessing concrete salience to a broader audience—and there are a plethora of possibilities. From these, I offer three that explain what socialism means to you and me.

  1. “The Man is going to pick my iTunes?” Amidst the communications revolution, no one would allow the government to program their iPod, choose their Facebook friends. or select their Twitter follows. Why in God’s name would anyone let government choose their doctors and treatments?
  2. “Dude, you’re in my garage.” Insidiously, government has rendered taxation as painless as possible by taking your money before you touch it. But money, being fungible, translates into concrete expenditures people have felt—for example, their new car. Who among us would let the government saunter up our driveway and speed off in our new SUV in the name of “social justice”?
  3. “Merge, [expletive of choice]!” Speaking of cars, the greatest argument against socialism is the humanity’s failure to merge. Be it getting in line for Kid Rock tickets, scrambling for Black Friday bargains, or rotting in rush hour traffic, practical people don’t dig ceding ground just so some jackass can get ahead at their expense. Ergo, if a socialist thinks his  ideology “looks great on paper” because everyone will be enamored of forking over their hard earned bread so all can feast in an arbitrary and illusory Nirvana of economic squalor, it’s likely that the socialist in question rarely descends from his ivory tower of abstractions.

Conversely engaged in the real world, Americans daily perform practical acts they pray will advance their pursuit of happiness by enhancing their hearths at home. Therefore, if conservatives simply provide such concrete, real world examples debunking the mountebanks and mendicants of socialism, an ever practical people will scrap it in favor of ideas that “look great on paper” and have proven their benefits in the real world:

Those written in the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution.

 

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America • Americanism • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Healthcare • Immigration • self-government • Steve Bannon • The Leviathian State • Trade • Trump White House

Picking Up the Pieces of the Trump Agenda

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Donald J. Trump campaigned on a necessarily radical approach to governing: he would listen to the vast majority of the American people and enact policies that would benefit them. The most important elements for Trump’s agenda were tougher immigration laws; revitalizing the economy and renegotiating bad trade deals; an America-first foreign policy; and repealing Obamacare (the failure of which is a blot on the president’s record thus far). Trump proposed radical departures from the accepted political orthodoxy to each of these issues when he campaigned for president in 2016. His innovative outlook on these issues gave Trump the momentum he needed to overcome the more conventional candidates in both parties while keeping the press in a perpetual state of confusion and outrage.

To achieve these policies, Trump named unorthodox leaders—most of them “economic nationalists”—to advise him throughout the campaign and once he became president. Men such as retired U.S. Army General Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Sebastian Gorka were instrumental to Trump’s success.

And now they’re gone. While Trump’s success is mostly his own, the presence of people like Bannon and Gorka helped to ensure that Trump’s agenda would be implemented effectively. Their departure may herald a fundamental change in course for Trump’s administration.

 

Foreign Policy

As a candidate and early on as president, Trump (advised by Flynn, Bannon, and Gorka, among others) was unafraid to call out radical Islamic terrorism by name. That’s changed. In his recent speech announcing the “new strategy” in Afghanistan, the term never appears (as Gorka pointed out in his resignation letter). That’s quite a turn from the president’s speech at the beginning of the year, when he purposely called out radical Islamic extremism as one of the greatest threats facing the nation. (In fact, I’ve argued that the president’s entire Afghanistan policy is a serious deviation from the principles of his campaign.)

Equally striking is Trump’s turnabout on the Iran deal. During the campaign, Trump called the Obama Administration’s executive agreement with Iran on its nuclear program “the worst deal ever negotiated” and “the worst deal I’ve ever seen.” Yet he has now recertified the agreement not once, but twice! He was right in the first instance: it was a bad and dangerous deal that should’ve been abrogated on the president’s first day in office.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has taken an increasingly harsh stance on its relationship with Russia—which is a deviation from what both Trump and Flynn outlined in the campaign. While the view often does change from the Oval Office, the fact remains that the view in question did not change until after former campaign aides, like Flynn, were forced out. These changes are not only antithetical to what the president promised us, but they are also dangerous to America’s national security.

 

Immigration

Reports are now surfacing that the president is backtracking on his previous stands on immigration. Trump has indicated that he’s open to compromise with Congress on amnesty in exchange the border wall he promised from the outset of his campaign. These reports are mostly unsubstantiated, but given the course reversals we’ve already seen, nothing can be ruled out.

Still, it’s hard to imagine such a breach of faith with the base. Millions of voters embraced Trump for his stance on immigration in general and the wall in particular.

Of course, the news is not all troubling. President Trump embraced Senator Tom Cotton’s (R-Ala.) plan for curbing legal immigration—and his stalwart Attorney General Jeff Sessions has continued cracking down on illegal border crossings. But, this is not enough to sustain the momentum that Trump voters demand. Trump needs to stay strong on immigration, the issue that is most responsible for catapulting him to victory in 2016.

 

The Economy and Tariffs

While the economy has experienced marked improvement since Inauguration Day, the fact remains that middle class jobs are still on the decline and those unemployed Americans who have abandoned finding gainful employment remains dangerously high also. In order to begin the kind of middle class resurgence that Trump envisions, he is going to need serious tax reform—particularly in the area of corporate taxes. If the president can accomplish this (and craft a budget that reduces government spending at any level), he will get the 3-4 percent growth in gross-domestic product he wanted. This, more than anything, will be what voters consider in 2020.

Also, Trump’s ceaseless cuts to the onerous regulatory state are vital, but these are being done through executive order. They are not permanent. So, Trump needs to move on tax reform, to ensure lasting victory.

For Trump to be successful, he must continue honoring the wishes and needs of the 62 million Americans who voted for him. 

Then, there is the issue of protectionism. Despite having removed Steve Bannon from his inner circle, the president apparently argued for tariffs at a recent meeting with Gary Cohn, his chief economic adviser (and one of the biggest opponents of trade protectionism). Trump did manage to overturn the onerous Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, saving the livelihoods of untold thousands of  American workers. However, that is but the start of protecting America’s industries. If he cannot enact key pieces of legislation that will protect American workers in the long-run, he will be politically vulnerable. Moreover, the abandonment of TPP occurred early in the administration, when the economic nationalist wing had far greater sway. There needs to be more movement in the direction of protectionism than we’ve had. Given the opposition from both parties (and the Chamber of Commerce) this will be one of Trump’s greatest hurdles. He must stay strong and remain committed to protectionism, and he will need people in the White House who share his vision.

 

Moving Forward

I still very much believe in the president. But, now is the time to recognize that grotesque missteps have been taken the last several months, and the pieces need to be picked up. It is obvious that the economic nationalist wing’s tenure in the White House is over. They will now use their sizable media platform to influence policy from outside the White House. As Bannon himself stated, the presidency we all voted for “is over.”

However, that need not be the end of the discussion. Trump was elected to enact a particular agenda. If he deviates too far, he will lose his critical base of support. Lose too much of that support and the president’s reelection is threatened.

For Trump to be successful, he must continue honoring the wishes and needs of the 62 million Americans who voted for him. He may not always win. In politics victory is not final and defeat is not always fatal. Trump needs to move forward now with intentions of undoing the last several weeks of turmoil. If he can do that, the recent missteps will be undone, and the movement which he leads will continue to batter down the orthodoxies of our self-indulgent political elite. This is how we will make America great again. Trump needs to return to the themes that won him office.

 

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Administrative State • Americanism • Education • Healthcare • Immigration • Obamacare

America’s Ailing Healthcare System Depends Upon Immigration—And That’s a Bad Thing

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Now that President Trump has signaled his support for the RAISE Act, many Americans are being forced to think about the merits and pitfalls of our legal immigration system. One key problem that has received no attention is how the large-scale immigration of foreign physicians has contributed to the atrophying of U.S. medical schools.

Specifically, America’s universities can no longer train enough medical practitioners to meet the nation’s health care demands—America relies on the immigration of foreign professionals to maintain its health care system and standard of living.

In a sense, we rely on imported physicians like we rely on foreign oil.

Before beginning, let’s be clear: there are more physicians per capita in America than at any other point in the nation’s history. The same goes for nurses, physiotherapists, and mental health professionals. This is good. But it’s also worth examining how we got here: was the process organic, or artificial? Do we, as a country, actually have the educational infrastructure to train that many professionals, or are we living in a consumption bubble?

Unfortunately, we are in bubble territory. In 1982-1983, America graduated roughly 16,000 physicians. This number has barely budged since. In fact, in 2015 America graduated just 18,705 physicians—that is, 17 percent more. During the same period, America’s total population increased by 39 percent, from 231.7 million in 1982, to 322 million today.

In a closed system, we would have expected to see the physician-patient ratio deteriorate over the last few decades—but the opposite has happened. Why?

Immigration.

According to data from the Migration Policy Institute, nearly 17 percent of America’s 12.4 million healthcare professionals (including physicians, nurses, dentists, and therapists) are immigrants. They more than make up for America’s training deficit. Out of interest, the percentage of foreign-born surgeons, as a sub-category, is even higher, at 28 percent. For nurses, it is 24 percent. The data is unambiguous: America’s healthcare system needs immigration to function.

Why does any of this matter? The legal immigration of physicians, and medical students, is clearly a good thing, since it provides us with a better quality of life. This is true. But, too much of a good thing can also be harmful. Immigration is causing two large problems: First, the displacement of American students with more profitable foreign students, and, second, systemic atrophy.

The first challenge is relatively straightforward, and doesn’t warrant much discussion. Essentially, there are a finite number of spots in U.S. medical schools, and an increasingly large percentage of those spots are allocated to foreign students, who are often charged extra (and are therefore more profitable).

This denies a large number of American students access to good educations and lucrative professions—all because of profit-incentives. This is, in fact, the main reason why native-born Americans are being locked out of professional programs; it’s not that Americans are dumb; it’s that foreigners out-bid them. My point is that America’s higher education system should work in our national interests, that is the promotion and education of American talent, rather than fleecing wealthy foreigners.

On the second point: America’s medical schools are atrophying, and our health care infrastructure is now wholly inadequate to keep pace with increasing demand. In the time before mass immigration, if America’s population increased, America needed to train more physicians. That meant more investment in universities and education, in better training programs, and so forth.

Immigration provided a shortcut, and because of this our education system is 40 years behind. First, it is relatively small—we should be graduating roughly 30,000 physicians annually to maintain our current physician-to-patient ratio. Second, training programs are becoming dilapidated relative to other Western or even developing countries—there is a strong preference for, say, Canadian or Filipino nurses in U.S. hospitals because our own programs are relatively poor or lack capacity. This is a rather biting fact, but it is a fact nevertheless.

Immigration may be a shortcut to better healthcare, but it’s also a short-term solution. In the long run, we will need to invest in ourselves, and end the addiction to immigrant labor. Until then, we are simply injecting fragility and dependency into the healthcare system.

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2016 Election • America • Congress • Conservatives • Deep State • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Healthcare • Neil Gorsuch • Obama • Obamacare • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Polls Don’t Tell the Tale—Trump’s Support is Deep. Here’s Why…

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As a conservative Republican, I harbored concerns when I voted last November for Donald Trump to be my president. I knew that I had to vote for him, given the unacceptable alternative of an incompetent liar who had placed me in a basket of “Deplorables”; had destroyed 33,000 emails that she covertly maintained on her bathroom server while telling me that the emails all concerned yoga classes and wedding dresses; had lied to me and the families of those who fell in Benghazi about what had really happened there on another 9/11; and really had nothing to show for decades of public activity but a résumé of failure from HillaryCare, Whitewater, and Travelgate to a mediocre tenure in the State Department.

Her “Russian reset” had been a disaster. She had met many dozens of world figures, logged many thousands of miles of air travel, and had eaten well at many state banquets, but she had nothing of lasting substance to show for it all. During her State Department tenure, the “Arab Spring” devolved into a nightmarish winter. ISIS grew from a junior varsity to the major leagues of barbarism and terror. And she even had found the opportunity to scream on the phone at the Prime Minister of Israel, while denying the Jewish right to build without restriction in Jerusalem.

So I voted unhesitatingly for Trump. But, again, I had concerns.

Although I recoiled from the Republicans-in-Name-Only and “Never Trumpers,” I did share some of their bemusement. Would he be a true conservative, or was he really a liberal and a conservative hybrid at once, a man bereft of grounded ideology who simply tilted with the direction of the day’s breeze, capable of being turned by the last voice to compliment him?

Would he truly appoint conservative federal judges and Supreme Court justices, or would his judicial legacy be another Republican flop like the Nixon liberal appointments after Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell, or like George H. W. Bush’s disastrous appointment of David Souter? Would he keep his promises? Would he have a clue?

That was then. Now, six months into Trump’s first term, I could not be more pleased with the president we elected. He is better than I ever imagined, and he is the real thing. That is the reason that voter surveys continue to show that President Trump has not lost any support among the base who elected him, and that he does as well now as before in the counties throughout the country that he carried as his base.

So What? Who Cares?
I do not care a whit about the “Russia stuff.” That is what I call it: the “Russia stuff.” Whether it is about Russian “collusion” or deals that Jared Kushner did or did not negotiate, or whom Attorney General Jeff Sessions met when he was a U.S. senator, or where former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort did business, or the telephone contacts of Michael Flynn—the moment that I see the word “Russia” in a headline about  the White House, I skip the story. Although I am a “news junkie,” I simply do not care. For me, the subject has as much relevance as a soccer game: Yawn.

I even have stopped watching almost all of Fox News, even though Tucker Carlson’s solid conservatism is an improvement over Bill O’Reilly’s softer version, and the network is so much stronger without Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren. I simply have no more interest in wasting my time with “fair and balanced debate,” to sit and listen to some liberal hack named Tarlov or Roginsky recite memorized talking points, or a fool named Marie Harf who used her State Department platform to explain that ISIS beheadings stemmed from a lack of job opportunities. (Remember: #JobsForISIS?)

For my news I have moved to the Fox Business channel, and I treat myself to Stuart Varney, Melissa Francis, Lou Dobbs and insightful conservative guests who do not waste my time. And, although I once was a Johnny Carson and Jay Leno regular, I no longer watch those late night talk shows. Instead, I choose between Ken Burns documentaries, MLB.TV’s “Quick Pitch,” and studying the Talmud. Same for “Saturday Night Live.” The moment the Washington Post began reporting every Monday on that show’s latest political slams against the Trump White House, I decided to turn elsewhere for my Saturday night entertainment. Besides, that show stopped being funny decades ago.

But what about all of Trump’s tweeting? Is Trump a nut? And what about the time he devotes to tweeting and to watching “Fox & Friends” and “Morning Joe”?

I don’t know. Maybe he is a nut. Yet, as an Orthodox rabbi who has counseled hundreds of people over 35 years, and as a high-stakes litigation attorney who has counseled and represented hundreds more, I will share a secret that is not protected by any professional rule of privilege: most people are nuts. (For verification, just ask their spouses, their parents-in-law, and their grown kids.) And most people have side hobbies that “waste time.” I wasted time these past four months watching the Mets. How many hours did President Kennedy waste running after Judith Exner, Marilyn Monroe, and others whom I do not know—and keeping it all secret from his wife? How many hours did President Nixon waste dealing with the Watergate cover-up? How many hours did President Ford need to devote lovingly to his wife as she battled bravely to overcome certain private challenges? How many hours did President Clinton set aside for Paula Corbin Jones, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky, and dealing with the subsequent fallout emanating from them and from Juanita Broaddrick?

It would seem that the only president who initially wasted no time but devoted every moment’s focus to every detail of government was Jimmy Carter. How did that work out? In the end, he was consumed by the Iran hostage crisis, and we were consumed by him.

Does Twitter take more time away from the work day than those distractions? How long does it take to type 140 characters, even in five or six strings?

What Really Matters
We conservatives do not care about these side stories and Democrat smokescreens that aim to divert this president and us from the agenda to make America great again. Rather, here is what we have come to know these six months since Trump took office:

Republicans have won every seriously contested Congressional election since President Trump was elected. It is absurd to think that, when push comes to shove, Republican voters in 2018 would allow Red State Democrats to sweep the U.S. Senate merely because Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren engage in screeds, while in the House, Maxine Waters calls for the president to be impeached or exiled, or both.

We do not mind that the president fired FBI Director James Comey. This is a man who we now know leaked secret internal information to the New York Times. Notwithstanding that Comey did not trust the president, it was just as reasonable for the president to determine that he could not trust Comey—just as the Democrats long before could not trust Comey and also wanted him fired. Comey interfered with the election process more than Vladimir Putin ever did, arrogated to himself the authority to absolve Hillary Clinton despite his own recognition that she had committed serious federal crimes, and never dealt with the Deep State within his department.

President Trump somehow has managed to lead for six months, despite the most hostile media gangland in a century and more, and he has gained important governing experience along the way, just as the neophyte Obama learned his way around after arriving at the White House with little more than a background in community organizing, a pair of Greek or Roman columns, and a paperback copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

President Trump has appointed an extraordinary team of cabinet secretaries, and they are a better and more reliably conservative team than Ronald Reagan ever assembled. While President Reagan not only named Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court but also Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, President Trump has named Neil Gorsuch, and the future names in waiting are likely equally impressive. For all the “Resistance” tactics that the Democrats deployed during the Gorsuch battle, the president did not give ground, and he leveraged Harry Reid’s blunder of ending the filibuster rule for federal judicial appointments to get the nomination through. The president’s team now is working to fill the 129 other open federal judicial seats awaiting judges. As he proceeds, we will see balance return to the federal district courts that conduct trials and the federal appellate courts that ultimately settle most of America’s laws, and his own immediate experiences in seeing his entry ban navigate through the courts has taught him that federal judges matter on all levels.

On the energy front, we no longer awake each morning to learn of new Obama-era regulations aimed at strangling American energy independence. Instead, the Keystone XL pipeline was approved, as promised. Obama executive orders have been reversed at dizzying speed. Although a new era has changed the place of “King Coal” in the energy spectrum, the “War on Coal” is ended, as promised, and America is back on the path to end its partial dependency on the dirty oil produced by dictators and thugs from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia—oil drilled and extracted in tyrannies where environmental concerns are a joke—and we now even are inducing allies like Poland in Europe to consider moving their own energy contracts away from Russia and towards the United States.

Trump promised action on immigration, and he has begun the process of inviting bidders to compete for federal contracts to build that wall. Truth is, most of us do not care ultimately who pays for it; we separate his bluster from his substance. That substance already has driven down illegal immigration markedly. And the “bad dudes” really are being hunted by ICE and are being deported or locked up, not merely released on their own recognizance with a promise maybe someday to show up for an immigration hearing, perhaps.

The Underlying Challenge: Congress
We know that the reality of democracy is complicated, and that our Founding Fathers crafted an elegant system of checks and balances for a reason.

Yes, the Republicans now control the House, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court—for which we all thank Barack Obama daily—but the sophisticates among us also recognize that 52 Republican Senators is too razor-thin a margin for a bold Trump agenda to flourish.

For example, Susan Collins represents Blue Maine, and she simply cannot be a Tea Party senator. We need another half-dozen Red State Republican senators, and contrary to the common wisdom, help may be on the way.

Meanwhile, we know that President Trump has done his best to corral the team to reverse the tragedy of Obamacare, but he has been disrupted meanwhile by a crazy filibuster voting rule, an even crazier series of rules regarding “reconciliation,” a liberal Democrat stationed as the Senate’s “Parliamentarian,” and an utterly incoherent and incomprehensible rule regarding the Congressional Budget Office whose projections repeatedly have proven false and imaginary in health care and everything else. If people are told that they no longer will be penalized and coerced to buy health insurance they do not want, of course millions will drop the plans foisted on them. That is not properly termed “millions losing insurance”; that is “millions choosing of their own free will not to pay for something they do not want and do not value.”

We know this president and this Congress will pass a major tax cut before the 2018 elections because Trump wants it, his economic team has it mapped out, and the House and Senate would not dare go to the voters next year without a tax cut. Watch for Red State Democrats, facing electoral elimination, to be passionate supporters of a Republican tax bill. It will happen, and this president will sign it. Of that we have no doubt.

Cut Through the Noise These Next 18 Months
So we have a very strong determination to stand by this president, to give him more Senators in 18 months, and to give him another four years in Washington before Maxine Waters exiles him.

We do not care that Europeans and their leaders like America less now than they did when Obama was president. Most children like their grandparents more than they like their parents because Gramps and Granny have no rules, feed them candy, and let them stay up all night, while the parents make the kids do their homework, brush their teeth, and clean their rooms. Obama was cheered by throngs in Berlin, giggled with Hugo Chavez, and salsaed in Cuba in front of Castro. Sure they loved him—they even gave him a Nobel Peace Prize, just as they previously had given one to Yasser Arafat, before he did anything.

We want a president who goes to Europe, tells them to pay the bills they promised to pay NATO, and gets results. We want him extricating us from climate pacts and trade agreements that do not serve our interests. Along the way, our allies from Japan to Israel to England know they now have a reliable leader in the White House, not a team of kibbitzers who send James Taylor to Paris to sing “You’ve Got a Friend” as an American response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France.

Americans want jobs, and this president now is forward on rebuilding the nation’s long-neglected infrastructure, while emphasizing the importance of “Buying American” and restoring America’s historical role in manufacturing. We want lower taxes and an America where we pay only for the health coverage options we want. We do not want to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills or Planned Parenthood’s abortions, although many of us are copacetic with their family planning and social counseling. We want trade agreements that protect American jobs and that recognize that international polluters like China and India and the misogynistic Arab oil sheikhdoms need to catch up with our clean-environment practices before we continue marching like lemmings over industrial cliffs while the mass polluters scoop up our forfeited interests.

As the president now begins his next six months in office, we among his supporters have learned to tune out the nonsense that defines the lazy legislators in the Washington Beltway who prefer to mull over Mueller than to craft landmark health legislation that passes.

Yes, we have seen the president mature in office. He has made some important pinpointed staff changes. He is moving away from abiding the daily media circus. For those Democrats who warned with alarm and portents of peril that Donald Trump could not be trusted with the nuclear codes, we have seen that he has assembled a remarkable defense team, that he has authorized a surgical MOAB strike in Afghanistan and the dispatch of 59 cruise missiles to bombard clearly designated Syrian targets without embroiling us in a Middle East war that America should avoid. He has acted with care and delicacy in confronting the serious problem in North Korea, giving the lie to those who argued that he would be hot-headed and unable to lead.

For those of us who voted for Donald Trump last November—many of us with some concern—we support him even more today than we did then. Though we occasionally recoil from the more outlandish, we have come to prefer reading his tweets more than we did reading about Clinton’s sexual harassment scandals. And we have learned to disregard the “Russian stuff” like so much “white noise” that rivals the sound of a tree falling in the middle of a forest for irrelevance.

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2016 Election • America • Congress • Conservatives • Democrats • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Healthcare • Political Parties • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers

Repealing Obamacare Could Spur Much-Needed Bipartisanship

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Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate,” President Trump tweeted last week. “Dems will join in!”

Much as so many Americans like to denigrate the president’s freewheeling Twitter commentary, in this case I believe he is on to something. His advice, if followed, could be a game changer in terms of both healthcare and the toxic political environment we find ourselves in. Let me explain.

Now, I do not discount the possibility that Senate Republicans will ultimately pull themselves together and vote to pass a comprehensive plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Remember, the House of Representatives had enormous difficulty in passing a similar bill, but it got done. That it was hard work should come as a surprise to no one. Every congressman and senator is holding out for the best possible deal, as he or she sees it. That’s just political gamesmanship. No one should dismiss the possibility, therefore, that the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously will still succeed.

But, supposing that “repeal and replace” really is dead in the water, Trump’s plan for repealing now and replacing later has considerable merit.

Of all its potential advantages, though, I want to concentrate on only one: repealing Obamacare now, and presenting Democrats with a fait accompli, is the best way to confront them with the fact that Obamacare really is dead, and starting over is a necessity. It is thus also the best way to convince them to participate in creating a new and better health care plan.

Any conservative will tell you that getting rid of Obamacare has been a necessity, in terms of the national interest, for a long time. That may be true. Politically, though, Democrats are under huge pressure from their fanatically Leftist base to preserve the existing law, for a number of reasons: it is part of President Obama’s (tattered) legacy; it expands access to health care for many Democratic constituents; and, philosophically and practically, it expands government, and what Leftist doesn’t jump for joy whenever government swells in size and power?

Not surprisingly, every Democrat in the House and Senate has so far voted against the Republicans’ bills to repeal and replace Obamacare. Whatever they may think of Obamacare itself, and some must realize its manifold flaws, politically they cannot afford to anger the Democratic base, which loves Obamacare.

But imagine if congressional Republicans followed Trump’s advice and voted to repeal Obamacare in a way that takes effect in, say, 2019 or 2020. Trump would sign the bill, and instantly the political landscape would change.

No longer could Democrats portray their obstructionism as a defense of Obamacare. Obamacare would be history. Democrats and Republicans alike would thus have to turn the page and ask themselves: after Obamacare’s demise, what comes next? Surely, something would come next. It could be something hammered out by Republicans, working alone, no doubt with great difficulty but with a sense of urgency, since Americans do expect some assistance from the federal government in meeting their health care needs.

But it’s much more likely that, instead of Republicans working alone to replace Obamacare in the next two or three years, responsible, moderate Democrats would join them. They would want to put their stamp on “Trumpcare,” as it may eventually be called, and the Republican leadership is likely to welcome Democrats to the table, because passing a replacement health care plan would be immensely difficult, as it has been up to now, without bipartisan agreement.

The long-term result of following Trump’s advice on health care, therefore—of repealing now, and replacing later—may be not only better health care but conducive to more bipartisanship in Washington, something that has been depressingly rare ever since the contentious Clinton years.

Simply put, the shibboleth of Obamacare, alternately adored and despised by millions of Americans, will have been obliterated, and freed of that mythical construct we will all see health care with fresh eyes. Democrats and Republicans may even find that, in cobbling together a new plan, they are in agreement much of the time on what needs to be done. (That, frankly, is already the case.) For those who think this is pie in the sky, consider all the Democrats who voted to confirm various Trump nominees, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. That is a beginning, but much more can be done.

Sometimes, to make progress after a long period of deadlock and recrimination, the old conversation needs to be set aside and a new one begun. Trump’s tweet suggests how this could be accomplished, and how Congress and the president can start governing again. It’s worth a try, is it not?

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Administrative State • America • Congress • Deep State • Democrats • Government Reform • Healthcare • Political Parties • Republicans • self-government • separation of powers • The Leviathian State

Restoring the Republic Means Reimposing ‘Regular Order’

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The Republican congressional leadership’s failure to repeal Obamacare has led to suggestions that, perhaps, they should have approached their task through “regular order.” Since Congress has not operated under “regular order” at all since 2006, and with decreasing frequency in the decades before that, younger readers, especially, may be excused for not knowing what these procedures are. Far from being arcane ephemera, they are the indispensable catalyst that makes American government responsible to the people. Casting aside “regular order” was essential to the rise of the unaccountable administrative state and the near-sovereignty of party leaders, lobbyists, and bureaucrats.

Herewith, a summary of what “regular order” means, what purpose it once served, why and how it was shunned, and of what has ensued.

More than a half century ago, Daniel Berman’s college-level text, A Bill Becomes a Law, the template for K-12 civics courses, described more or less how Congress had operated since the 1790s. Bills introduced in House or Senate would be sent to the relevant committee, and thence to the proper sub-committee. The ones thought worthy—including those funding the federal government’s operations—would be the subject of public hearings.

The committees’ partisan majorities and minorities would try to stage manage the hearings to make the best case for the outcomes they desired on each point. In the process, public support would strengthen or wane for particular items and approaches. Then, each subcommittee’s public “mark up” of its portion of the bill would reflect the members’ votes and compromises on each item.

Once the several subcommittee products had made their way to the full committee, the same process would repeat. Votes on contested items, and on the whole bill, would end the full committee’s “mark up” and send the bill to be scheduled for action on the House or Senate floor.

Just to get to this point, every element of every bill had to be exposed to public scrutiny. Senators or congressmen on the committees offered amendments and had to vote on the record for each part of the bill. On the House floor, amendments would be limited. But in the Senate, there could be—and often were—“amendments by way of substitution.” By the time the “yeas and nays” were tallied on the final bill, just about all members had had as much of a crack at it as they wanted. The final product would be the result of countless compromises “on the record.”

In 2017, it is useful to recall that this process used to apply to each and every government activity that required a dollar from the U.S. treasury, each and every year. For the past 11 years, however, all the money drawn from the treasury have come from single “continuing resolutions” (CRs) or “omnibus” bills, drafted in secret by “leadership” staffers, executive branch officials, and lobbyists, on which there have been no hearings and which few members have ever read, and on which few if any amendments have been allowed. These “Cromnibuses,” served up as the government runs out of spending authority, end up being passed by the majority party’s near unanimity.

While this is consistent with the Constitution’s words, “no money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law,” it wholly reverses their intent. Individual congressmen and senators are cut out of the legislative process. The voters can no longer hold each accountable. When Republican leaders make common cause with the Democratic Party against Republicans who won’t go along, whom they accuse of “shutting down the government,” they create a bipartisan ruling party. That makes both parties equally responsible, and ensures that changing your vote from D to R or R to D won’t make a difference.

Senators and congressmen abandoned regular order because it hinders their craving for power and flight from responsibility. Voters elect them to vote accountably on important matters. But since such matters are almost inevitably divisive, they do their utmost to avoid voting on them.

Associating with the pleasant and avoiding the opposite, they prefer exercising influence and making compromises privately. Regular order had forced them to be small-r republicans—alone, responsible to the voters. They prefer to be safe, indistinguishable, comfortable among courtiers.

Regular order’s death came about in this way. For over a century, congressmen and senators’ procrastination had pressed legislative business into the last weeks before the end of congressional sessions. Members had noted that they could slip items into bills in frenzied times, which would not have survived regular order’s scrutiny. In the 1970s, some committees started to procrastinate on purpose, so that the end of the government’s fiscal year would come without an appropriation for one or more department of government. The Appropriations Committee would then prepare a “continuing resolution” to substitute for the uncompleted appropriations. These were supposed to just “keep thing going next year as in the previous year,” thus avoiding all issues. At the very least, they obviated whatever major changes anyone might want to make. But it was never that simple: from the beginning, these CRs always had riders. The more influence you had, the more you could slip into the CR.

This proved to be catnip for politicians. Party leaders grasped the more that legislation was done by continuing resolution, the more influence they would have on their members. Presidents—and above all their bureaucrats—saw that direct, private contact with the CR drafters was a far more effective means of getting their way than through “regular order.”

The Democrats’ control of the Senate and Harry Reid’s control of the Senate following the 2006 elections changed American government radically. In fiscal years 2007 and 2008, by preventing any committee from producing any appropriation bill for any government agency, Reid made sure that all of the U.S government’s business would be compressed into one CR, the contents of which would be negotiated strictly between himself and President George W. Bush, whom Reid had over the proverbial barrel. Between 2009 and 2015, the same tactic yielded a federal government that was the “cosa nostra” of Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi.

The crumbs for which Republicans scrambled in those years were enough to addict their leaders to the new way of American government. Envying Reid and Pelosi, they yearned to imitate them. Hence, when John Boehner replaced Pelosi as Speaker of the House, his vow to enforce “regular order” amounted to nothing. Same for Paul Ryan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell since 2015 has been a Harry Reid wannabe—minus the competence, plus the pretense.

Understanding the Republican leadership’s addiction to government without regular order is all too easy. We have so much to do. We have tools to do it expeditiously. Why not use them? This, the standard procedural argument for Progressivism, is as valid today as it was when Woodrow Wilson made it in the 1880s.

In fact, Reid and Obama used these tools effectively. But neither Donald Trump nor Mitch McConnell possess the personal or ideological purposefulness to match their predecessors. Most important, while Reid and Obama enjoyed wholehearted support from the bureaucracy, the media, the corporations, and so forth, Republican congressional leaders get only opposition from the establishment.

Merely holding the line against the establishment’s continuously mounting claims on the rest of America—never mind reversing them—will require re-involving the American people in their own business. That means restoring Congress as the American people’s primary representative institution. Making Congress work according to regular order, and only through regular order, is a prerequisite.

Content created by The Center for American Greatness, Inc is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com

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Administrative State • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Conservatives • Healthcare • Obamacare • Republicans

‘Progressive’ Washington’s Obamacare Train Wreck

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Here’s my problem: I’m a Bill of Rights guy in what’s become a Second Bill of Rights country. That’s why I can’t work up much of a pulse over the intramural healthcare debate among Senate Republicans.

The Democrats, the party of Obamacare and the dream of socialized medicine, has for Trump-deranged reasons become the Party of No on the matter of addressing the catastrophe they have wrought. So, the Senate debate, like the GOP-controlled House debate before it, is a family fight. The family is splitting up, though. The dynamic that led to Donald Trump’s election tells us why. The party no longer stands for what it has long purported to stand for: freedom, self-determination, and limited government. Nothing better illustrates this than its  Janus-faced approach to Obamacare.

Republicans, of course, have campaigned full-throatedly on the imperative to “repeal and replace” Obamacare for seven years. They’ve never been serious about it for a moment.

To be trendily trite, I’m old enough to remember when “repeal and replace” was deceptive because it understated the party establishment’s commitment to the GOP’s conservative base. In the beginning, Republicans boldly beat their chests and bellowed that they’d repeal Obamacare root-and-branch. “Repeal and replace” was actually the first moving of the goalpost, the first implicit admission that, in principle, they were all for a government-managed health-insurance system. If you really want to move to the free market, you repeal statism. When you’re talking “and replace,” you’re just haggling over the price.

In a few short years, “repeal and replace” has gone from a subtle understatement of what Republicans conned voters into believing they’d do, to a gross overstatement of what they’re willing to try. No one who has been paying attention can be surprised by this regression.

Obamacare has always been sleight-of-hand, on both sides. From the beginning, Democrats lied about its feasibility: “Like your doctor, keep your doctor,” “like your plan, keep your plan,” plunging premiums, lower costs, etc. All the while, they knew it was unworkable. That was not a flaw, it was the design. The plan was to orchestrate a collapse of the private insurance market, blame the private insurers rather than the death-spiral regulations, and gradually inure people to the need for a complete government takeover—the panacea of “single payer.”

Equally patent is that, at most, Republicans wanted to slow the train down, not stop it. Many of them, after all, have been on it from the get-go. “Repeal!” and, then, “repeal and replace” made for great fundraising and electoral wedge issues. But when it got down to brass tacks, it was always “Maybe the Supreme Court will strike it down,” or “Maybe we can sue Obama over these waivers,” or “Maybe it will collapse of its own weight.”

Republicans have controlled the House, where all spending originates, since 2010, and the Senate since 2014. Not a dime for Obamacare could have been spent had they not approved it. Never did they use the power of the purse as the Framers intended: Congress’s decisive check against ruinous policy.

That is because today’s Republicans do not see government as the Framers did—as a necessary evil that must be limited, its powers diffused so its tyrannical tendencies can be suppressed.

The modern GOP is the party of the Bushes, John McCain and Mitt Romney (the architect of Romneycare, Obamacare’s progenitor). These are fine, patriotic Americans, but limited government conservatives they are not.

“We have a responsibility,” President Bush proclaimed in 2003, “that when somebody hurts, government has got to move.” Government, in the modern GOP telling, is a force for good, not a necessary evil. You start thinking like that, it’s a short leap to convincing yourself that government can get everybody covered—not that the “coverage” would be a mirage and that statism would undermine the system of medical care.

Four years ago, the conservative crusade to defund Obamacare collapsed due to lack of GOP support—actually, due to surfeit of GOP derision. As unrealistic as the Republican establishment portrayed Senator Ted Cruz’s defunding strategy to be, at least it was a strategy— akin to a Hail Mary pass. The desperate aim was to kill Obamacare in the cradle, before its tentacles spread, making its reversal politically untenable.

By contrast, as I contended at the time, the GOP had no strategy to undo Obamacare because it had no intention of undoing Obamacare. To repeat just some of the reasons I outlined back then:

Remember, Republicans are the guys who gave us a new Medicare prescription-drug entitlement when Medicare was already tens of trillions of dollars in debt. They are the guys who ran in 2012 as the saviors of Medicare—even though they well knew that slamming Obama over taking money out of Medicare would make it much more difficult to address Medicare’s unsustainable costs in the future. They are the guys who accept core premises of Obamacare: Republicans do not make the case that health care is like any other commodity in a free market rather than a corporate asset to be centrally managed. The disagreement between statist Democrats and the GOP establishment is about the degree of government intrusion in health care, not the matter of government intrusion in principle. Republicans are also the guys who want to keep some of Obamacare’s core, anti-free-market elements—e.g., provisions that forbid denial of coverage owing to preexisting conditions and that keep “children” on their parents’ coverage until age 26.

The Democrats, the media, and all the Left will tirelessly portray any proposed repeal of Obamacare as a callous denial—a removal—of coverage from millions of underprivileged Americans, including those struggling with sickness. Moderates and “compassionate conservatives” already lecture us about the need to get real and make our peace with the welfare state; what will they be saying four or six or eight or who knows how many years from now? They will be arguing that Obamacare’s prodigious infrastructure is now part of our social fabric—that repealing it at this point (whenever that point happens) would be radical, the very antithesis of the Burkean conservative disposition. The GOP’s will to fight for repeal—which has never been as strong on action as it is on election-season rhetoric—will dissipate.

Well, here we are.

It was inevitable. After all, how many Republicans today would enthusiastically endorse Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights”? In Washington, nearly all of them, I’d wager.

As an up-and-coming “progressive” state senator, Barack Obama berated the Constitution as a “charter of negative liberties.” He was referring to the Bill of Rights, which says what government may not do to you—suppress your speech, deny your freedom of conscience, subject you to unreasonable search and seizure, take your life, liberty or property without due process of law, and so on.

Progressives, to the contrary, champion the Second Bill of Rights posited in FDR’s 1944 state of the union message. It is the wish-list of things government must do for you. It departs radically from liberty’s premise that the sovereign states and people do best when they do for themselves, with minimal interference from Washington. And it conveniently elides mention of the stubborn fact that government—which is a structure, not a guardian angel—lacks the means to do anything for anyone: It can only do for me if it takes from you.

Prominently included in the Second Bill of Rights is “The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” It sounds wonderful—who would want to deny anyone the ability to seek health care? But even where rights were codified, they had never been understood to include the right to have other people pay for our enjoyment of them.

This is why the Second Bill of Rights has never been adopted, at least formally. It is, similarly, why the United States has never ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which purports to guarantee “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” by government’s “creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.”

How many of today’s Republicans do you figure would dare publicly oppose the proposition that there is a right to medical care? If you’re using your hands to count and still have fingers to spare, it is a measure of how unserious we have become about actual healthcare.

Just as our fact-free, narrative-obsessed society has contorted the idea of a “right” into a subsidy, so too have we twisted opposition to federal control of a good or service into a desire to deny that good or service to others – naturally, because we are racist, sexist, ageist, and in the “intersectional” thrall of a -phobia catalogue.

It is simply a fact that centralized Washington control over health coverage, and thus of healthcare, is a disaster. It is unaffordable. It inevitably produces lousy medical outcomes. It drives costs ever higher. It incents the young and healthy to go without insurance, thus making coverage prohibitively expensive for the older and sicker. It stifles experimentation and innovation. It is unsustainable. And it is beyond tinkering here and a band-aid there because the cancer killing the patient is the government’s managerial role.

We do not have a major political party in this country that believes this enough both to say it and to act on it. We do not have a party willing to say that, in our system, health insurance and medical care are supposed to be left to market forces and regulation left to the states—which are best able to address the needs of their citizens. We do not have a party willing to insist that the way to achieve affordable, quality coverage while providing help to people who truly need it is best charted by 50 states free to compete, experiment and imitate; it will never come from Washington.

We need such a party. For now, we have Obamacare Democrats and Obama-lite Republicans—the express and the local, headed for the same train wreck.

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Trump’s Quiet Victories

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It requires a bit of perspective to see the trend in Washington: nothing fails to succeed like success. When presidents have threatened the Washington condominium of Tweedledee liberal Democrats and barely distinguishable Tweedledum Republicans, and then were seen as successes, opposition flaked off in retreat.

So it was with Richard Nixon, who arrived in Washington with all the baggage from the Alger Hiss affair and the Helen Gahagan Douglas Senate election (in which she called him “Tricky Dick” and he called her “the pink lady-right down to her underwear”), and the Chequers smear, but moved with agility abroad and at home. The president ran gradually better in the polls and was widely respected by the moderate and conservative majority of voters. Of course it all blew up when he mishandled the Watergate affair, but for four years the glacial mass of his opposition melted steadily.

Ronald Reagan incited fears of extremism and was represented as a simplistic dolt who should still be selling 20-Mule Team Borax in a cowboy outfit on television. But he was amiable, a magic public speaker; his tax cuts induced an immense economic boom, and his defense build-up culminating in comprehensive anti-missile defense deescalated and ultimately won the Cold War. The alarmists fell silent and he did not really attack the great Washington sleaze factory’s activities, so they endured him and closed in behind him when he returned to California.

As was foreseen, the response of the solid anti-Trump press after the election was not that public grievances against Washington must be based on something, but rather that there were more racist, sexist, gun-happy, Bible-thumping, lager-lout philistines than had been appreciated.

Donald Trump has not just been a distasteful opponent, as the D.C. political establishment generally considered Nixon; or a convivial Californian outsider like Reagan, who changed economic and strategic course but didn’t attack pillars of Washington incumbency. Nixon and Reagan had contested numerous elections as Republicans, and despite the odd rhetorical flourish, weren’t going to do more than make course corrections from their Democratic predecessors, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

But Trump was different. He launched a movement, paid for his own campaign, (no ghastly fund-raisers with the dumb, opinionated rich), dismissed the Bushes, McCain, and Romney as Clinton-Obama sound-alikes, and frontally assaulted Wall Street, Hollywood, the national media, the lobby system, and every adult in Washington D.C. (which voted 96 percent against him).         

Trump’s crushing victory in the Republican primaries was attributed to the weakness of the other candidates―he would hit a stonewall with Hillary. His victory over Hillary was a freakish product of the vagaries of the electoral system (from which John Quincy Adams, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, JFK, and George W. Bush also benefited), and of Russian interference via Wikileaks and otherwise, and the conduct of FBI director James Comey. (Comey was at first praised for his “integrity” for recommending against indictment of Mrs. Clinton after recounting a sequence of her likely illegalities.) As was foreseen, the response of the solid anti-Trump press after the election was not that public grievances against Washington must be based on something, but rather that there were more racist, sexist, gun-happy, Bible-thumping, lager-lout philistines than had been appreciated.

In office, the fallback position of the irreconcilables has been that he could not get anything done. Yet he has dismantled the entire self-garrote apparatus promoting global warming and impeding off-shore and shale-oil production, and is dismantling and reversing the welter of financial regulation designed to promote the Dodd-Frank myth that Congress had lacked the authority to prevent the economic calamities created by official inflation of the housing bubble up to 2008, (with the full approval of the Congress). There is steady promotion of charter schools over the ignorance factories of the state school systems reduced to mockery by the teachers’ unions to which the Democratic Party is bound from sandal to mortarboard. 

In foreign policy, though, it is early. The Iranians shriek that the Americans and Russians are replacing them in the Middle East with the Turks; Assad now knows that gassing civilians can be hazardous; Hamas pretends to accept Israel’s right to exist, and the North Koreans denounce China, which created this Frankenstein Monster and sustained it to irritate the West, and which is now reducing trade across the Yalu. The direction, however tentative, is away from the universal contempt for the Obama policy of simply ordering, like a dancing master, that America’s friends and enemies change roles and places.                   

Now it is Trumpism, and not the corrupt left, that is advancing in ant-like, unpublicized, but constant forward movement, every week. The House health care vote confirms Republican solidarity, just six months after Speaker Ryan declined to share a platform with candidate Trump. Trump’s followers, who knew it would be a slog, are solid at near his electoral result in the mid-forties in the polls. His outnumbered media supporters and talk-show and social media backers are in place, despite some grumbling about the Syrian Tomahawk attack from the magnificent Ann Coulter and some others. The intellectual left has gone all the way to the end of the diving board. Michael Kinsley (as intellectual as left-wing journalists get in the U.S.) declares the president a fascist, as if mentioning the side on which his hair is parted. Christopher Browning in the New York Review of Books, with a few pro forma distinctions, laboriously likened Trump with Hitler, at such length that the unwary might imagine that there was a comparison to be made.

The party of Jefferson and FDR is unrecognizable, but it can still be distinguished from a liberal ISIS. The president’s shortcomings are overly notorious, but his enemies are no longer of this world. He will win, and change the nation for the better.

The bizarrerie of the intellectual right is illimitable. My dear and esteemed friend George Will, after an acrobatic exercise in the columnar snobbery that Trump was unaware that Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the start of the Civil War, (Jackson was concerned about the danger of civil war throughout his presidency, as George knows and Mr. Trump was alleging), has fled into the television embrace of Rachel the Madd and Mika Buzzfeed at MSNBC, the most astonishing flight since Joachim von Ribbentrop went to Moscow. They have all walked the plank; President Trump has induced self-destructive political bilharzia in the deranged effigies of once-serious and important people. I still love them, but I grieve for them.

The rank and file Democrats have plumbed new depths of scatological banality. The party chairman, Tom Perez, occupies a post once held by serious people like James A. Farley and Larry O’Brien. But Perez cannot speak a public sentence without assimilating the president to excrement. The people won’t have it. The self-targeted Democratic torpedoes, which Trump had the tactical intelligence to goad and then to consign to due process, were the lies about collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, and the challenge to the president’s constitutional authority over immigration, (reinforced by ninjas smashing and burning at Berkeley, and the mobbing of travelers at airports around the country and overseas). The torpedoes will come home on those who launched them in the next few months, warhead-first and at high speed. Then, frenzied partisanship will start to give way to the instinct of self-preservation, and the locked-arm solidarity of the Never-Trumpers will start to break up. The party of Jefferson and FDR is unrecognizable, but it can still be distinguished from a liberal ISIS. The president’s shortcomings are overly notorious, but his enemies are no longer of this world. He will win, and change the nation for the better.

Content created by The Center for American Greatness, Inc is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com

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Administrative State • American Conservatism • Donald Trump • GOPe • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Healthcare • Obamacare • Political Parties • self-government • Trump White House

To Be Puritanical or Pragmatic on Healthcare Reform?

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You’ve heard the spin coming from the Left and coming from some elements on the Right. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is reviled by just about everyone. The Left hates it for the obvious partisan reasons and the Right hates it mainly out of an  understandable fear of being betrayed by our own Congressional leaders and their perceived weakness. To be sure, the bill that passed the House of Representatives left much to be desired. It is important, however, to keep in mind that the recalcitrant House Freedom Caucus ultimately voted for this bill. It cannot be all that bad.

I, for one, have never understood why we must repeal and replace an awful law, like the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, I hate the entire idea of replacing Obamacare. Repeal and Replace was a talking point created by Republican strategists back in 2010 to get those much-ballyhooed moderates to swing their votes over to the Republicans. The logic was based on the flawed assumption that no American would ever support ending an entitlement. Many of us on the Right disagree with this bromide of conventional Beltway wisdom.

Yet we would all do well to remember that the bill that passed the House is not the final bill. Rest assured, it is during this iterative legislative process that our leaders will hammer out a much more workable bill. Now, I know what you’re thinking: that isn’t a good thing because it will give the politicians more time to equivocate and to hose We, the People.

What is likely at play is another classic Trump deal. In recent days, the Continuing Resolution now funding the government was extended until September of this year. The fear among the Congressional Republicans was that Trump would be intractable on the budget and a government shutdown would ensue. In the event that had occurred, Beltway Republicans argued that  the GOP would have been blamed for the shutdown and would have been at a disadvantage in the 2018 Midterms. Legislatively, Trump’s agenda would have ground to a halt. Whatever your opinion on this issue is, this is most assuredly what the Congressional GOP believed. Trump likely threw them a bone, giving them the budget that was least controversial—at least until September. In the meanwhile, he clears the legislative deck and allows the Republicans to focus on the prize: healthcare reform.

Whatever our problems may be with the House bill, we must remember that it rectifies the two big bugaboos the Right had with Obamacare: the GOP bill restores consumer choice and it lowers costs on the consumer. At the same time (and this is my problem with the bill), it purportedly appeals to those moderates—the great unwashed—who prefer to see a healthcare bill cover those pesky pre-existing conditions. What’s more, the House bill does this without the imposition of greater taxes on those who refuse to buy into the health insurance system.

This bill is not perfect. It may never be perfect. But, it is infinitely better than what the Democrats gave us. The goal here is to return as much freedom back as possible to the people. This bill already accomplishes that. And we have the ability to make it better.

Whatever does ultimately become law, Congress can tweak it later. But the core of what the Right has desired since Obamacare passed into law is protected. Freedom is the sine qua non of the United States. Choice and competition are essential components to maintaining freedom. Further, the removal of unnecessary and onerous taxes is vital for the preservation of America’s besieged middle class.

We are now moving the ball down the field and are heading toward the end zone. It is up to the GOP and the Trump Administration to make sure it’s a touchdown. In the ensuing days, it is up to every one of us to keep cheering them on to win this victory for us in the way we want it won.

As a former congressional staffer, I can tell you with certainty that elected officials listen to what their constituents say. Do not allow cynicism to get the better of you on this. Whatever pull lobbyists have (and they certainly do have pull); whatever other considerations our political leaders have, at the end of the day, most of them want to be loved by their voters. After all, if they don’t make a large enough group of their voters happy, they’re out of a job. And, believe me, most of our elected officials fear losing their jobs more than anything else.

So, call your senators. Call your congressmen. Call the White House. Send emails. Leave Facebook messages. Tweet your support for a bill that preserves choice, free market competition, and removes the need for more taxation. I guarantee you most of them will listen. It will at least move the needle in our direction. You can be sure that the Left will be doing the same on their end.

This healthcare repeal law is probably the biggest domestic policy issue facing us today. If the GOP cannot turn back the devouring leviathan that is the federal government; if Republicans cannot preserve choice and competition, while lowering taxes for the American people, then the country will be lost.

We could opt for the more obvious route of ideological puritanism. Honestly, I am very tempted to do this. We could throw our hands up and say that we’ve been hosed. Or, we can be pragmatic, and take the bitter with the better. We need to understand that we cannot have legislative victories on points of order for which we have not yet built popular support. We need to work on building that support and, as part of that, we should realize that nothing creates success like success. And, we need a win right now if we hope to persuade in the future. Trump’s legislative agenda needs some momentum. More important, we should see that this is not the end, but the beginning of an ongoing process to make American healthcare great again.

I’m not afraid of being partisan. I’m also willing to buck political orthodoxy (I was an early supporter of Trump, after all). However, I’m also willing to give people a chance—even our elected leaders. We’ve already gotten the core of what we wanted. Let’s not blow the whole thing up because there were some bad elements in there. We can work over time to make it better.

After all, the Left is just waiting for the GOP to self-destruct. Let’s not give them that opportunity. We can—and should—be pragmatic on this issue.

 

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A Retrospective on Trump’s First 100 Days, Part 2

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Author’s note: This article has been proofread by Louise Mensch. Any fake news contained herein is therefore impossible unless Vladimir Putin hacked American Greatness, which he probably did right after faking the moon landing.

In our last installment covering the first 100 days of President Trump’s tenure, we touched on the area where Trump has had the most unquestioned successes: namely, foreign policy. Now, we turn to the area where the media and the Left are fond of saying Trump has been least successful: domestic policy.

 

A Small Potato World Class Villain?

On that front, Trump spent his first few days in office ruthlessly gutting Obama-era regulations, and even authorized the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a move which somehow managed to be both an apocalyptic, unprecedented act of environmental rape, and political small potatoes that only an inexperienced rube like Trump would count as an accomplishment of any weight, depending on which liberal consultant was emailing headlines to press outlets.

In response to this political small ball/villains’ plot from a “Captain Planet” episode, along with the aforementioned anti-regulatory measures (which liberals almost described as child-killing before Planned Parenthood asked what was so bad about that), the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 20,000 for the first time ever and has stayed above that ever since. Democrats responded to this milestone by pointing out that Hillary Clinton would’ve hit a record in the Popular Stock Average, a concept which has just as much meaning as the popular vote.

Nevertheless, the first few weeks of Trump’s term were dizzying in terms of the amount of executive action taken, to the point that many Democrats doubted that anyone would be able to defile their cherished institutions so successfully in the future. They have since concluded that only Bret Stephens is capable of such atrocities.

 

Masterclass Rhetoric

Trump also began to show mastery of the ceremony of statecraft, as in late February he delivered a widely praised speech to a joint session of Congress, even going so far as to bring the Congress to its feet for a record setting amount of time in order to applaud Kerryn Owens, the young widow of a fallen soldier. Democrats in particular were horrified by this, because instruments of American imperialism should never be applauded, and besides, her slain husband was white and male, and therefore his death was a win for progress. Unsurprisingly, these actual reasons don’t play with voters, and so Democrats resorted to accusing Trump of using Mrs. Owens as a prop to justify unjustifiable military decisions. Nakouley Basseley Nakoula could not be reached for comment.

 

Hitting an Immigration Wall

In any case, despite these early successes, all presidents must hit obstacles eventually, and so it was with President Trump. He faced adversity almost as soon as he began to tackle immigration. Specifically, Trump issued a ban on travel to the United States by residents of seven different countries, with the added wrinkle that it extended even to current green card holders from those countries.

[A] district court judge blocked the ban for reasons that can approximately be summed up as, “Trump said things that upset my country club while campaigning, and I care more about that than what the law actually says.” When this order was taken to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges declared that the Constitution and the ban said something different in their safe spaces, and therefore the ban was likely unconstitutional everywhere.

Predictably, the Left went into hysterics over the fact that Trump had taken such a draconian and unforeseeable step that he had been talking about since 2015. As a result, several problems immediately hit the administration: First, demonstrators swarmed airports to protest the ban, an event which the airports were powerless to stop because none of the demonstrators had tickets for United Airlines to steal, and thus there was no way to force them out. Second, a district court judge blocked the ban for reasons that can approximately be summed up as, “Trump said things that upset my country club while campaigning, and I care more about that than what the law actually says.” When this order was taken to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges declared that the Constitution and the ban said something different in their safe spaces, and therefore the ban was likely unconstitutional everywhere.

President Trump reacted, understandably, by blasting both courts for their blatant partisanship and biased reading of the law. At this, every legal commentator on the Left immediately declared that Trump was undermining the independence of the judiciary and seeking to destroy the American system of checks and balances before penning more think pieces arguing for the court to be packed so that Citizens United could be overturned.

Contrary to the fears of his critics that Trump might imitate Andrew Jackson and refuse to obey the courts, Trump decided to reissue the travel ban in more legally sound terms, at which point another judge protested that Trump had also said things that upset his country club, and blocked the second travel ban in retaliation.

Despite these setbacks, the day-to-day enforcement tactics of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly so terrified would-be illegal immigrants that illegal immigration dropped by over 60 percent. Seeing this, Trump decided to keep President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order in place, so that those same childhood arrivals would have an easier time using the interstate highway system to flee to Canada. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, was spotted wandering in the woods of Utah in nothing but a hair shirt, all while muttering “self deportation” and sobbing.

 

Judging the Justice

That said, Trump was clearly angered by the antics of activist judges, because shortly after taking office, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. This met with universal acclaim from both Trump supporters and Conservatism, Inc., though sources tell American Greatness that Erick Erickson privately fretted that it was bad Christian witness to accept a Supreme Court nomination from a man who has appeared on the cover of Playboy.

Sober reflections like this characterized the informed and thoughtful opposition to President Trump’s agenda.

Democrats, meanwhile, energetically began telling the country that Neil Gorsuch had let a man freeze to death in his truck, a move that caused a minor crisis of conscience in their base, who had recently decided that they rather liked chilling effects.

At his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch had the audacity to sound intelligent while white, male, and better informed on the law than certain female Senators, at which point the Left decided that on no account could a man who actually knew about a subject be allowed anywhere near power. As a result, they dug in fiercely against Gorsuch, until Mitch McConnell finally pulled the plug on the judicial filibuster altogether, an act that caused a minor panic in Washington, D.C., as the sound of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s desolate wailing reached the pitch and volume of an air raid siren.

 

Healthcare Ails

Having filled Antonin Scalia’s seat with one of the staunch conservative justices on his announced list (or, as Brent Bozell III insisted on calling Gorsuch, “Trump’s Sister”), the president then moved on to the topic of healthcare. Here things got complicated quickly, as the House Freedom Caucus insisted on a bill that would not merely repeal Obamacare, but also designate a national Obamacare Repeal Day, in which Americans would be encouraged to urinate on replicas of the bill. The moderate Tuesday Group, meanwhile, announced that they would only support an Obamacare repeal bill if Trump were immediately replaced by John Kasich. Unable to fill either of these requests, and lost for ideas, Speaker Paul Ryan instead called the heads of multiple insurance companies and asked, “So we know Obamacare already gave you most of what you want, but anything else?”

Trump was clearly angered by the antics of activist judges, because shortly after taking office, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. This met with universal acclaim from both Trump supporters and Conservatism, Inc., though sources tell American Greatness that Erick Erickson privately fretted that it was bad Christian witness to accept a Supreme Court nomination from a man who has appeared on the cover of Playboy.

The result was the American Health Care Act, a bill which managed to infuriate practically every member of the House and Senate except for Ryan’s staffers. The Democrats, flummoxed as to which angle to attack the bill from first, eventually settled on accusing the bill of repealing a major entitlement for the first time: an attack that, while accurate, somehow did not manage to win it the support of the House Freedom Caucus. Trump, meanwhile, who saw the bill as the fulfillment of a campaign promise and also possibly leverage to get Speaker Ryan to shut up about how we needed to lower labor costs so that the strikers in Galt’s Gulch would come home, tried desperately to get it through, but eventually had to permit the bill to be pulled.

This caused the press to enter a fit of jubilation, declaring that Trump had “failed” on healthcare. Their jubilation was cut short, however, when it was discovered that Ryan could just revise the bill: a concept that doubly horrified the press, because most of them had never encountered the concept of revision before. As of now, the bill is being held up by the Tuesday Group, who remain horrified at the idea of overturning an entitlement because, come on, that’s what Russia would do!

 

Tax Reform For People Who Refuse to Win

Just before his 100 days were up, however, Trump signaled that some form of success could be on the horizon in two distinct ways. First, he released a proposed tax reform package so bold that upon reading it, Grover Norquist had to be carted out of Americans for Tax Reform, sobbing that he had seen the face of God. Unfortunately, as with everything Americans want, Congress likely views the tax cut package as dangerous, dead on arrival, and far too drastic for serious people (read: lobbyists who donate to them) to support.

Secondly, Trump and Congress came to an agreement to keep the government open until September. And while the details of the bill have made both Jeb Bush and John Kasich (unfortunately not kidding about Kasich) crow over being right about what could be done in the policy world, Democrats are taking a big risk because, in signing this bill, they are signing away their leverage on GOP policymaking for the next four months.

However, they likely have nothing to worry about, given that getting something through the GOP-controlled congress is not merely like herding cats, but even more complicated because the cats in question are arguing over which breed is superior.

Thus ends this retrospective on Trump’s first 100 days. With any luck, the succeeding four years will be not only as entertaining, but also at least as good.

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2016 Election • America • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Conservatives • Democrats • Donald Trump • Foreign Policy • Government Reform • Healthcare • Immigration • Political Parties • Trump White House

The President Deserves a Good Solid Pass

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The entire focus on President Trump’s first hundred days was just an effort by the media opposition to proclaim his administration a failure. No president of the United States has accomplished much in his first three months except Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took office in March 1933, with 30 percent unemployment and no direct relief for them, and all stock and commodities exchanges and banks in 46 states closed indefinitely. He had large congressional majorities and a bipartisan consensus to take radical measures, echoed by the unanimous media.

Roosevelt sounded the tocsin—“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”—and the comprehensive New Deal program that followed salvaged 95 percent of the economic system and created a safety net that saw the country through to full employment with vast workfare programs on conservation and what would today be called infrastructure, followed by the greatest rearmament program in history.

In fact, the president deserves a good solid pass since January 20. There was no honeymoon and the war he declared 18 months ago and has conducted against all factions of both parties, the bureaucracy, media, academia, Hollywood, Wall Street and every adult in the District of Columbia, was not even suspended for him to take the oath of office.

Obviously, there is not the slightest valid comparison between those times and these. Unfortunately, the current president referred to 100 days early on, and his opponents piled on, so a worldwide contest ensued over who could most vociferously proclaim the failure of his official start.

To some extent he appeared to cooperate with his enemies by acknowledging it was a more difficult office than he had anticipated, which made him appear naïve in his early ambitions for his term, and defensive about his performance to date. It was as awkward a statement as President Obama’s acknowledgement that he had underestimated the difficulty of finding a Middle East peace formula. Given that even the Roman and Ottoman Empires could only impose such a peace quite temporarily for a few of the last 45 centuries, this was an astonishing admission.

In fact, the president deserves a good solid pass since January 20. There was no honeymoon and the war he declared 18 months ago and has conducted against all factions of both parties, the bureaucracy, media, academia, Hollywood, Wall Street and every adult in the District of Columbia, was not even suspended for him to take the oath of office. He has patched things together pretty well with the Republicans, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) botched health care so badly he owes the president a better standard of service.

Trump has moved to repair relations with the financial community and has held his popularity in the low- to mid-40’s, which is at least manageable. He has also been more tactically skillful than his political and media enemies could have imagined. The president has patiently endured the preposterous overreach of carefully shopped, flaky-Left, West Coast judges trying to restrain his immigration authority, rather than just ignoring them as had been hoped by the Democrats so they could build on the fraud that Trump is a compulsive autocrat. He has filled the vacancy on the Supreme Court so there is no early prospect of the administrative state sought by recent Democrats that would authorize almost any government initiative, no matter how offensive to the authors of the Constitution.

And he has reduced illegal immigration by around 70 percent, instituted his enhanced screening procedures at point of arrival rather than embarkation, and will undoubtedly be sustained by the Supreme Court. The media will go to the customary lengths to withhold from Trump any credit for his substantive and tactical success when that happens, but the Democrats, dulled though their senses are in most respects, will know when the stuffings have been knocked out of them that something is amiss.

The unutterably fatuous canard that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government will wither amid the ziggurat of layered investigations, but the Republicans will be able to ensure that this happens without undue delay and that it receives adequate publicity as it collapses around the ears of the egregious congressman from Hollywood, Adam Schiff.

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof claimed to detect in this nonsense “the whiff of treason,” but it must have been the olfactory ambiance generated by the opinion section of his employer that assaulted and frightened his sensibilities. The president has dismantled the engine of self-punitive disemployment and harassment imposed by the climate change hysterics in the previous administration, and has facilitated increased oil and gas production to start to address the open wound of the current account deficit.

And Trump has started to rationalize foreign policy, with a solid foreign and national security policy team. “Red lines” drawn in evaporating ink have been replaced by well-targeted Tomahawk missiles, and there are the beginnings of renegotiated arrangements with Russia and Turkey over Syria, and with Moscow ultimately over the former Soviet Union republics; and with China over North Korea, a monster which Beijing has nurtured and encouraged. Anti-missile defenses are being deployed in South Korea and allies are being pulled together in East Asia.

It is a pretty good record for such a short time, and the president has not sent out a damaging tweet in many weeks. But the second echelons of the government are still empty and are being occupied pro tempore by chronic D.C. Democrats above their pay grades, many of whom would rather serve the nation by sandbagging the president. It all needs a sharper, crisper execution, and an air of smooth professionalism.

Economic growth has slowed steadily for 30 years, and everything rides now on getting tax reform, which will probably have to include some revenue-raising measures, such as taxes on elective spending and most elective financial transactions. (Wall Street can be compensated by getting rid of 90 percent of Dodd Frank and Sarbanes Oxley.) The president is winning but this loopy opposition is being allowed to do him more damage than they should, and the Democrats will not start cooing about “reaching across the aisle” (physically and verbally awkward), until they have been taken to the woodshed. The Republicans will have to pass tax and health care reform on their own. It can and must be done to end the death watch on the Trump administration and bring the once-loyal opposition back to whatever is left of their senses.

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Big Media • Conservatives • Cultural Marxism • Declaration of Independence • Defense of the West • Democrats • Healthcare • Identity Politics • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

In the Battle for Liberty, Complacency is Retreat

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Another day, another health care debate being dominated by the Leftist opposition. Earlier this week, the Republican leaders in Congress announced that they had come to an agreement with the House Freedom Caucus and would be putting forward a new attempt at repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The reaction from activists on the Right has been as predictable as it is sad. One either hears the sound of crickets from the groups that support the new proposal, or cries of “No Complete Repeal, No Peace!” All the while, the Left is working the phone lines trying to kill any attempt at walking back Obama’s lone legacy.

The new proposal not only reverses large parts of Obamacare, it also empowers individual states to pull out deep institutional roots at the local level. Like other cancerous bureaucratic enterprises, Obamacare dropped deep roots in a short time. These cannot be pulled out in one movement and will require a sustained effort to prevent a resurgence, but the only sustained efforts one can see are those of the obsequious press and Leftist activists like Topher Spiro at the Center for American Progress who are providing “whip lists” to their allies. These are efforts to kill the bill, plain and simple. They are targeted, they are organized, and they are non-stop.

Now we must struggle to merely hold the ground we won last fall, even as we seek to expand the sphere of liberty. This means that we need to fight hard in favor of the repeal of Obamacare, but it also means that we must do so with the long view in mind. We should take any opportunity for victory that we can, but we should never stop in our own march through the institutions.

How are my friends on the Right responding? Many of them, especially those in the cozy confines of Conservative Inc., are complaining that the bill doesn’t do enough to kill Obamacare.

This is a true statement. The bill doesn’t do enough to kill Obamacare, but it does push the lines of battle away from single-payer health care and provides a roadmap for the complete eradication of the stifling and complex regulations associated with the highly unaffordable act. Conservatives, who represent the best of the Western Tradition, have to be mindful not to succumb to one potential strategic weakness of that tradition. We are often looking for the decisive victory, the legislative success that undoes decades of governmental overreach and that in one fell sweep returns power to local government and the people.

Sadly, that is not how wars are won, nor is it how institutions are changed. Battles may be decisive, but war is a prolonged test of wills. Institutions are, as they say, sticky. Once an institution has been created, it immediately begins to affect the legal, social, and political environment. In the case of the so-called Affordable Care Act, the takeover of the individual marketplace transformed independent insurance agents into quasi-government employees almost overnight. In effect, it took over an entire industry of small business owners and independent contractors. People who were once intermediaries in a genuine marketplace were shifted into a new role as form-filers. It turned entrepreneurs into bureaucrats. Add to the long litany of legal changes to the medical system an amendment that allowed the federal government to take over student loans and use that money to pay for Obamacare, and you begin to see that the bill has externalities piled upon externalities that must be overcome. These are deep roots, too deep to be removed in a single piece of legislation.

How does one fight against such a leviathan? Through a long battle of attrition. We must follow the advice of Michael Walsh and adopt the strategy that the Left has used to such great effect and make the long march through the institutions, clawing back every inch until we return to the people control over their daily lives. We need not use the same tools of deception and deceit that the Left has used while implementing this strategy, but we must take the long view and understand that the “Battle of Obamacare” is only one battle in a much longer war of ideas.

It’s a war that is being fought in every corner of society. The battle rages on college campuses where professors have long used their positions of authority to stifle conservative opinions in the classroom, and where conservative speakers need to worry about being physically assaulted. But threats of physical assault aren’t limited to college campuses; we now see these threats leading to the cancellation of family friendly festivals. The battlefield of ideas is everywhere. The Left has won so many battles, both in the open and in the shadows, for so long that the desire for a big win is understandable. This is especially true after last year’s election when Donald Trump demonstrated that it is possible to win even when all the forces of hell stand against you.

What we need to remember is that even though Donald Trump won, he didn’t win by a landslide. He won by securing nail-biting victories within traditional Democratic Party strongholds. His was but the first victory in what needs to be a long and hard fought war against the totalitarian Left. Now we must struggle to merely hold the ground we won last fall, even as we seek to expand the sphere of liberty. This means that we need to fight hard in favor of the repeal of Obamacare, but it also means that we must do so with the long view in mind. We should take any opportunity for victory that we can, but we should never stop in our own march through the institutions.

Even as the Left has created a strategic guidebook to enable perpetual “resistance,” we must use those tools to fight them in every sector. For every “Themed Protest March of the Week ™,” we must be ready to counter-protest. Every time they seek to silence a speaker like Ann Coulter, we need to be there in support of them. We need to let the Young Americas Foundation know it will not have to face the ultra-fascists alone. We need to call our congressmen and senators.The phone lines should be flooded with our voices, not merely the voices of organized authoritarians. The Left seeks our silence; let us give them a clamor.

Yes, our representatives need to do more in the effort to repeal Obamacare, but they are not the only ones who should be fighting the Left. We need to pull our own weight in the battle against an enemy who surrounds us and who never stops.

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Government Reform • Healthcare • Obamacare • Section 1

Repeal Obamacare & Add a Side of Free Markets

When the misnamed Affordable Care Act passed into law in 2009, the GOP promised to repeal it. Finally, in 2016, the voters granted the Republican Party the majorities that it had long sought—as well as control of the White House. In keeping with their promise to overturn the ACA, the GOP focused their legislative agenda on first replacing Obamacare. And, it was a flop. A majority of Republicans cared little for replacing Obamacare. They simply wanted it gone. But, the GOP leadership convinced themselves that the American people wanted more than simple repeal.

You see, according to the thinking of most conventional elected Republicans, it is not enough simply to be opposed to something. Politicians also have to be for something! There is something to this in that voters expect politicians to know and understand their principles and priorities. But it is not always necessary for Republicans to offer a policy just because Democrats have offered one on a subject. Sometimes the best policy can be no policy at all. But too many Republicans believe that once an entitlement takes hold it is impossible to get rid of it. The people would punish the party that dared try to do so.

The Beltway Logic is wrong. Sometimes simply being opposed to a bad idea is more than enough.

But, the Captains of the Conventional Wisdom who command Conservatism, Inc. would press on and say, “we can’t just be the party of ‘no.’” So, they’d rather us be the party of “yes, but…” After all, it’s bad symbolism to simply be opposed to something. As George Carlin would say, let’s leave symbols to the symbol-minded. In all of this talk about replacing Obamacare and Free Markets, we miss the entire point: average folks in America are getting squeezed by the ACA. What’s more, the ACA is set to implode under its own weight very soon, meaning that many more Americans are likely to suffer as they are left without any kind of health insurance whatsoever. And, since the Trump Administration has indicated that healthcare reform is now dead, many more Americans will suffer when the ACA does finally collapse.

Medical caregivers are required to take the Hippocratic Oath which states, “First, Do No Harm.” Similarly, lawmakers should craft laws that do the least amount of harm to the American people as possible. A repeal and replace concept, while it made for fanciful sloganeering, was the worst possible way to go. If what Ben Franklin said about politics being the “art of the possible” is true, then repealing and replacing is simply impossible. It’s one or the other. Especially in today’s toxic partisan atmosphere.

Further, the American people want their healthcare costs to go down. The GOP has maintained that its aim was to lower healthcare costs on most Americans. Repealing the ACA, which caused health insurance premiums to skyrocket would have fulfilled the GOP’s goal nicely. It was also something a majority of Republicans could get behind. What’s more, had Congressional Republicans focused on removing interstate barriers to the health insurance trade, they would have drastically lowered healthcare costs for most Americans. By neither repealing Obamacare outright nor removing the barriers to interstate health insurance trade, the Republicans have betrayed their supporters.

Plus, the bill they were working on passing was shaping up to be one of the most complex, massive bills in history.

When I worked in Congress, we passed the “Read the Bills Act.” Put simply, this was a law that required Congressmen to actually be given a reasonable amount of time to read and understand the bills that Congress voted on (before those bills were enacted into law). Talk about a novel concept! This was in the aftermath of Nancy Pelosi’s mind-boggling statement that Congress had to pass the gargantuan Affordable Care Act “to know what was in it.” On top of failing to reduce healthcare costs, then, the Ryancare bill (Obamacare Lite, as many rightly described it as) defied the spirit of the Read the Bills Act. It was all around bad governance.

In crafting something so complex (and by demanding that Congress vote on it in such short order), Paul Ryan essentially did the very thing that earned such justly deserved opprobrium for Nancy Pelosi seven years prior. Ryancare was the result of Washingtonian “wisdom” getting the better of our elected leaders. It was also a case example of why the Trump Administration cannot rely on Congressional Republicans for much in terms of crafting legislation. Frankly, there are too many divisions among Congressional Republicans. The Ryancare bill was not what Mr. Trump had campaigned on. Next time, President Trump should remember that politics is the art of the possible and it is impossible to get Congress to pass a law as controversial and complex as the Ryancare proposal was.

So, next time, Mr. President: we’ll take the repeal of Obamacare, with a side of the Free Market—but hold the replacement.

 

Administrative State • America • American Conservatism • Big Media • Center for American Greatness • Congress • Conservatives • Democrats • Donald Trump • GOPe • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Healthcare • Obamacare • Republicans • The Left • The Leviathian State • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker) • Trump White House

The Art of the Possible in an Age of Recrimination

 

As Otto von Bismarck several times had occasion to observe, “Politics is the art of the possible.” On at least one occasion he added, “the attainable—the art of the next best.”

Since, as Henry Kissinger once observed in a long essay on Bismarck, the Prussian colossus was a “revolutionary” who sought not to “adapt [his] purposes to reality” but rather “to mold reality” according to his purposes, the boundaries of the possible were for him a fluid if nevertheless calculable restraint.

I thought about Bismarck more than once these last few days, as I watched the chihuahuas go at it following the failure of the RyanCare™ bill in Congress. Here are some of the headlines at RealClearPolitics on Sunday morning:

 

  • Ryan Emerges Badly Damaged
  • Dismantling Obamacare Little More Than Campaign Rhetoric From GOP
  • DC’s Blame Game, Finger-Pointing
  • Long Knives Out for Reince
  • Trump and Ryan Lose Big
  • Party Unready to Govern
  • How Trump Botched Health Reform

And possibly my favorite:

  • GOP Cave on Repeal, The Biggest Broken Promise in History

In history, Kemo Sabe: the biggest broken promise in history.

Meanwhile, back on earth, in the realm of actual possibilities, Donald Trump seems perfectly calm and matter-of-fact. He had always said, over and over, that the politically expedient thing for him to do was sit back and let ObamaCare™ implode on its own and then swoop in and, when people were desperate and the Democrats were busy trying to prise the large omelette off their collective countenance, engineer a fix.

Trump didn’t do that, as he also said repeatedly, because he had promised to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare™ as soon as possible. So he turned to the Republican lawmakers right off the bat, just a few weeks into his administration, and said: What have you got for me?

Different people calculate political possibilities in different and more or less effective ways. On Thursday, March 23, the jury was still out on Paul Ryan. By late afternoon Friday, the jury had reassembled and delivered its verdict. Bad show.

Why wasn’t Trump more upset about this? The chihuahuas were barking their heads off—Republicans can’t govern! Woof!—Trump is a loser! Woof Woof!—Trump’s entire agenda is in shambles! Woof Woof Woof! But there he was, Mr. Imperturbability: We were very close, Paul Ryan worked very hard, we’ll let it implode and come back to sweep up the pieces when the Democrats are ready to negotiate.

Who’s the fall guy? Well, Paul Ryan is not looking so great. The rap: You had seven years to work on this, why couldn’t you come up with a bill that all Republicans, at least, could support? There might be excellent answers to that question. But at times like this interrogatories are not meant to be answered: they are hurled as political hand grenades. No answer is expected. Just humiliation, followed closely by impotence and capitulation.

The chihuahuas of the fourth estate are desperately endeavoring to tar Trump with the same brush. So far it is not working. Why not?

Perhaps the most compelling answer to this question that I have seen comes not from the congregation of chihuahuas but from a lowly cartoonist, albeit one who also happens to be a sort of genius about politics.

I mean Scott Adams, the creator of the “Dilbert” comic strip and also the person who had the best analysis of the truly insane “Trump-is-Hitler” meme that was sweeping the country until Friday. According to Adams, what people were reacting to was not Donald Trump but a malevolent hallucination of their own manufacture that they pretended was Trump. “As Trump continues to defy all predictions from his critics,” Adams observed back on November 23, “the critics need to maintain their self-images as the smart ones who saw this new Hitler coming. And that means you will see hallucinations like you have never seen. It will be epic.” He elaborated:

Before Trump won the presidency everyone was free to imagine the future they expected. But as Trump continues to do one reasonable thing after another, his critics have a tough choice. They can either…

1. Reinterpret their self-images from wise to clueless.
or…
2. Generate an even stronger hallucination. . .

If Trump’s critics take the second option—and most of them will—it means you will see a lot of pretzel-logic of the type that is necessary hold onto the illusion that Trump is still a monster despite continuing evidence to the contrary.

Adams was clearly right about that. And I believe he will be proved right about his next prediction—actually, his next two predictions. With his usual amusing understatement, Adams described the failure of the Republican health care bill as “one of the most important events in political history.” Why? Because with that very public failure “the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler” has been repealed and replaced. Until Friday afternoon, the Trump-is-Hitler meme was chugging along. Then, poof, it suddenly imploded in the face of a tasty new meme: Trump-is-incompetent (pass it on)!

You might say, “Wait a minute! That’s not so good. We don’t want an incompetent president.”

No, we don’t (and don’t worry, we don’t have one—not currently). But Adams’ point is this: “Trump just had one of the best days any president ever had: He got promoted from Hitler to incompetent.”

Not bad for an afternoon’s work. And it will be followed, Adams predicts (and I concur) with an antistrophe: “By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to ‘Competent, but we don’t like it.’”

Of course you don’t. Trump just authorized the Keystone Pipeline. A week or two back he issued an executive order to revamp the entire executive branch, eliminating duplicative or unnecessary program and positions. He is moving fast to enforce our immigration laws. He has already issued executive orders to pare back onerous and unnecessary regulations. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has set about rebuilding America’s military, pursuant another of Trump’s executive orders. And on and on. He is keeping his campaign promises to Make America Great Again. How dare he!

No, the “Trump = Incompetent” meme is not going to last very long. But Adams is right: what it replaces was, though hallucinatory, extremely toxic. Here and abroad the hallucination “Trump-is-Hitler” made the usual business of politics very difficult. A crisis of legitimacy loomed. But all that is suddenly behind us now. In other words, “We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent). Ordinary politics won’t spark a revolution or make you punch a coworker.”

The chihuahuas are barking but the caravan moves on. “This,” as Adams concludes, “is a good day for all of us.”

 

https://youtu.be/QngOPiJFhRY

 

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2016 Election • Administrative State • America • Democrats • Healthcare • Trump White House

GOP Priorities Don’t Resonate With Voters on Healthcare

The debate over the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the House Republicans’ attempt to replace Obamacare, has been revealing beyond all expectations. For many people, nothing is more important about this bill than the number of people it helps to buy health insurance. For the Republican leadership, however, it seems the most important value of the bill can be summed up in one word: money.

Time and again the leadership talks about the bill as if its most salient feature is the amount by which it can cut taxes or reduce the federal budget deficit. Exhibit A in this display was a tweet from Speaker Paul Ryan’s official account. The tweet was in response to a Congressional Budget Office score of the bill that said over 14 million people currently insured through Obamacare would lose their coverage under the AHCA. Ryan could have tried to combat this claim. He could have made the traditional conservative argument that a federal subsidy of health insurance for working and middle class Americans, the main beneficiaries of expanded Obamacare insurance subsidies, was not the proper role of the federal government. Instead, he fell back on the tired old GOP refrain: it will save us money.

His tweet made three positive claims for the AHCA: it would lower premiums by 10 percent; it would cut the federal deficit by more than $330 billion; and it would cut taxes by over $880 billion. Since offering these claims, he has backed them up with an amendment that cuts taxes even more while not increasing the amount of subsidies older Americans who get their insurance through the exchange would receive. This disconnect with the values of ordinary Americans, and especially those of the voters who elected Donald Trump president, could not have been made more glaring.

Despite its control of the Congress, the presidency, and the vast majority of statehouses, the GOP remains what it has been since the Great Depression—America’s minority party. Democrats have outnumbered Republicans in opinion polls in every year but one since 1932, and they outnumbered Republicans again even in the 2016 exit poll.

And that’s not simply a case of California and New York ganging up on “the real America.” Democrats outnumbered Republicans in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—three of the states that pushed Trump into the Oval Office—according to 2016 exit polls. Trump owes his presidency, and Republicans owe their continued control of the Senate, to the votes of Democrats who were willing to give a Trump-led GOP a chance.

It’s not hard to figure out why Democrats have out-polled Republicans for that length of time. For years the polls have also shown that the GOP is viewed as the “party of the rich” and the Democrats as the party that will give the working person a hand up.

But in 2016 the roles were reversed. It was Hillary Clinton who was pilloried as the servant of the wealthy, first by Bernie Sanders and then by the GOP. It was Donald Trump who told working-class Democrats in the Midwest they deserved an active government that stopped unfair economic competition from foreigners (through immigration and through trade) and that he would not touch their hard-earned Social Security and Medicare. Trump took the traditional GOP priority of saving money off the table, and with that removed the traditional Democratic advantage with the voters most strategically placed to select a President.

The GOP’s focus on tax cuts and money threatens to turn the tables back in the Democrats’ favor. Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion was targeted like a laser on the working class voter. Midwestern Republican governors could see this: every one either expanded Medicaid (including Vice President Pence as Indiana governor) or reformed Medicaid so that the other element of Obamacare—the federal exchange—would increase insurance coverage.

But the way the AHCA saves money is by reducing the subsidies that would flow to the newly insured, either by reducing their exchange subsidies or by capping the growth of Medicaid expenditures. Democrats who crossed over, perhaps for the first time in their lives, to vote for Trump may have wanted many things, but losing their health insurance to save a few bucks surely wasn’t one of them.

And those voters won’t even be the ones who save the dough. The taxes that are being repealed disproportionately affect the already well-to-do, especially the 3.8 percent capital gains tax and the additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on ordinary income that applies once a person earns more than $200,000.  Democrats often like to charge that Republicans cut programs that benefit the average person to finance tax cuts for the rich: the AHCA lets them do that with impunity.

Republican politicians need to understand that most non-Republicans do not value the freedom a wealthy person gains from lower taxes more than the spending that directly makes their lives more comfortable and more secure. There’s plenty of government spending that doesn’t fit into that category, and President Trump’s budget placed a lot of that on the chopping block.

But for most voters, money isn’t fungible and saving it certainly isn’t one of the Ten Commandments. A dollar spent on foreign aid programs is much less valuable to them than a dollar that helps them afford the good they most desire, a healthy life.

Donald Trump instinctively gets that. Conservatives mocked him in the primary for spending most of his life as a Democrat or an independent, but I think his core supporters found that a plus. When he says that companies shouldn’t make a buck by shipping American jobs overseas, his voters hear someone who values their lives over his friends’ money. He shouldn’t forget that this belief, the perception that he cares about people like them, was his greatest asset in his race for the presidency. The president should spend the dividends from that investment on this early test and make sure that the Obamacare replacement bill that finally passes values a person’s life more than it values a billionaire’s dollar.