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3-31-17





Adulting is Hard, GOP Realizes

By John-Walt Boatright  — johnwaltboatright@gmail.com


The unlikely, if not laughable, scenario of the Republican Party controlling Congress and the Presidency in 2017 has been a reality for nearly three months now. And America is not impressed.


The GOP had become well-practiced and skilled in being the minority party, the reflexive “No” for any of the big-government ideas that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid could conjure. This was an immense source of pride for conservatives. They were more successful at certain times than others, but congressional Republicans were largely effective using the tools they had with the numbers they had at any point during the Obama administration.


However, Republican leaders deeply erred in a big way in the past eight years by not developing and coalescing around a viable SCOTUScare alternative. (I prefer this title of the Affordable Care Act over any other; it was coined by Antonin Scalia in his dissent and accurately assigns ownership of this flawed law to the Supreme Court). Strategically, it has perpetually placed the GOP on defense, which is not an advantageous position to convince others to support them. Furthermore, the uncertainty stirs the public into a frenzy and provides fodder for the media and Democrats to constantly squawk “NO PLAN” on the airwaves instead of addressing a plan’s merits.


So, when Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the American Health Care Act several weeks ago, it was finally a welcome and reassuring sign that true healthcare reform was in sight. We thought.


Until Trump and Ryan dictated no amendments or modifications to the bill. Until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 26 million Americans would lose coverage under the plan. Until we reflected on how this bill was concealed from public view, under lock and key within the recesses of the Capitol. Until we realized this was not reform; it was a cheap, desperate alternative.


If you have a “glass half full” perspective, you could characterize the GOP conference as a bevy of independent thinkers who do not receive their marching orders from the White House or party leadership, a stark contrast with the Democrats on virtually every issue. It shows the Republican Party is a big tent of ideas.


I admire congressional representatives who stand on principle and make a decision that is in the best interest of the American people. Isn’t that what they are elected to do? Rep. Ted Yoho was a courageous spokesman against the bill, perhaps knowing a target would be painted on his back by the White House. Yet, Yoho spoke truth to a bill that did not enhance the healthcare system, expand access, or reduce costs. Fortunately, enough Yoho’s were in Congress to roadblock another mistake.


I hope the next item on the GOP agenda – comprehensive tax reform – will not suffer the same fate as their healthcare debacle. If they consider the lessons of the immediate past, they will realize when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. The people elected GOP majorities in the House and Senate for a reason.


To criticize the court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, Scalia used the definition of hubris as “o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall.” America saw this same hubris in the Democrats’ shameless push for the Affordable Care Act in 2010.  And they fell from power. And we just witnessed GOP hubris in attempting to remedy it with the same medicine. The GOP will also fall if they fail to unite behind tough decision-making for the sake of the republic that necessarily includes tax reform, entitlement reform, immigration reform, deficit reduction, and improved government efficiency.


Adulting is hard. But it is no excuse to shy away from the hard decisions that must be made.