Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Obamacare "Fail"? Really?

Obamacare “Fail”? Really?
P. Schultz

            Below is a link to an article published by “The Federalist” entitled, “3 Non-Stupid Strategies for Republicans to Reverse Their Obamacare Fail.”

            It is an interesting article that makes a lot of sense as posing ways for Republicans to govern while ending Obamacare. In fact, these proposals make so much sense that one has to wonder why the Republicans didn’t adopt these strategies before their alleged “failure” to repeal Obamacare. About the only explanation that seems plausible, at least to me, is that the Republicans did not adopt these strategies because they did not want to repeal and replace Obamacare.

            Why not? Well, just as interestingly, the Federalist author explains why: “Well, like most other parties, the most important thing for Republicans, as with most political parties in the world, is to stay in power.” That is, most politicians in power are devoted to maintaining the status quo because that is the way they stay in power. So, the alleged “failure” to repeal and replace Obamacare was no such thing. In fact, it was precisely the result that the Republicans wanted, with one caveat.

            What the Federalist guy doesn’t mention is that the Republican Party, like the Democrat Party, is composed of at least two factions, the mainstream Republicans and those being labeled “the Freedom Caucus,” or the insurgents. Of course, the insurgents are trying to take over the Republican Party and the mainstream Republicans are trying to stay in power. Hence, the latter, the mainstream Republicans didn’t mind “failing” to repeal and replace Obamacare so long as they could attribute this “failure” to the insurgents, the Freedom Caucus. The choices that the Republican leadership made were geared to this end, meaning they moved toward the demands of the Freedom Caucus without going far enough to satisfy them, thereby forcing them to vote “no” on repeal and replacement. In this way, the mainstream Republicans hoped that they could stigmatize the insurgents as “extremists” who stood in the way of repeal and reform because they, the insurgents, refused to compromise.

            Additionally, by “failing” to repeal and replace Obamacare, the mainstream Republicans delivered a message to Trump: You are not in charge. Your power is limited and you had better learn how to play the game we play here in D.C. or your presidency is kaput. This is the advantage of the separation of powers the original Federalists adopted, and it is being used for precisely the reason it was adopted: To control a president who might confuse himself with a monarch or a despot. The original Federalists not only granted power and did so generously; but they also limited that power because they knew that government power is almost always abused. They knew that power corrupts and was not to be trusted.

            It is important in assessing what is going on in D.C. to focus, not on the motivations of those politicians, but on their actions, what they actually do. When they “fail,” especially when they “fail” despite the existence of alternatives that seem more sensible and more likely to succeed, it is more than likely that that “failure” was anything but a “failure.” There is little more successful than what is called “political failure” that helps to preserve the status quo.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Republican Defeat? Don't Be So Sure

Republican Defeat? Don’t Be So Sure
P. Schultz

            The headline in Politico: “Republicans Yank Obamacare Repeal Bill: It’s a Staggering Set Back for President Trump and Speaker Ryan.”

            Well, maybe so or maybe not. Certainly it is setback for Trump but whether it’s a setback for Ryan and the Republicans remains to be seen and depends on what the Republicans wanted to achieve. If, for example, they wanted to perpetuate the status quo and to corral Trump, who has a tendency to think that he dictates what is going to happen, then this eventuality is anything but a setback for them.

            While is commonly thought that political parties are most interested in putting forward an agenda and then enacting it, because they are convinced that that agenda is in the public interest, it is just as commonly overlooked that our politicians are most interested in staying in power, which means very often perpetuating the status quo. Ask yourself: What interest did Republican members of the House of Representatives have in voting for the Trump supported Obamacare replacement legislation when they couldn’t even be sure that it would pass the Senate? Hence, they were put in the position of voting for a replacement that seemed anything but an improvement on Obamacare and which was and would cause them quite a bit of constituency dissatisfaction, when they could not be assured that their votes would be ratified by the Senate. So, they would put themselves on the line, put their offices on the line, only to be left swinging in the breeze by the Senate.  This is not a scenario that self-interested politicians embrace, whatever their “principles.”

            And they are no worse off for having opposed the Trump supported legislation. The only one worse off is, I am happy to say, the president. And it looks like Trump is going to have his hands full, to say the least, in successfully navigating or “dealing” with the political waters in D.C. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Government and How It Works

The Government and How It Works
P. Schultz

            The above piece, which appeared in Rollcall, is an excellent illustration of how our government, controlled as it is by an “establishment” that spans both political parties, works.

            As the article points out, Trump was overruled by “rank and file Republicans” when it came to deciding whether Jeff Sessions, the newly appointed attorney general, should recuse himself from any investigation about Russian involvement in our last presidential election, with or without the help of the Trump campaign.

            And, although the article does not mention it, this situation illustrates how the “establishment” is working to “discipline” Mr. Trump, teaching him how Washington works and that that establishment does not simply roll over and play dead simply because an outlier has been elected president. Whether Trump will “get” this message is far from certain. But if he doesn’t, then he, like Jimmy Carter, will wind up being perceived as one of our worst presidents.