Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Same party, different page

In a time of Republican control of Congress and the White House the only thing that may keep us from total destruction of the government and country may be their inability to give an inch to those they oppose, regardless of which party they belong to.
Six weeks into unified government, Republican leaders are back to where they were in the Obama years — under fire from conservatives for giving too much ground on major policy issues.

In particular, the party push to undo the health care law while avoiding major disruptions in coverage — a priority reinforced on Tuesday by President Trump in his prime-time address — is encountering major resistance from the right. The determined opposition has thrown the party’s repeal effort into confusion and created uncertainty over what to eliminate and how to pay for any alternative.

Three Republican senators this week said they would vote only for a straightforward repeal of the law despite reluctance to do so on the part of several colleagues worried about cutting off health insurance to their constituents. With Senate Republicans holding only a 52-seat majority, those three alone — Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah — could doom a Republican measure opposed by all Democrats. House conservatives are also lining up against emerging repeal-and-replace proposals in numbers that could deny House Republicans the needed votes to deliver on a top priority.

“We are a force to be reckoned with,” declared Mr. Paul, who has orchestrated the coordinated resistance with the ultraconservative House factions.

Conservatives are also showing some unease at sudden indications from Mr. Trump that he might be willing to embrace an immigration overhaul that could lead to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants. And quick rejection by Republican leaders of many of Mr. Trump’s proposed budget cuts as unachievable is not likely to go down well either.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2006. They were certain they would now have the muscle to carry out their agenda. But just as Mr. Trump has discovered that revising the health law is “unbelievably complex,” Republicans are finding that being in charge doesn’t mean being on the same page — or even reading the same book.

The developing situation is reminiscent of the challenges faced by John A. Boehner, the former speaker, when he tried to corral recalcitrant conservatives to vote for compromise spending and immigration packages. His inability to do so helped break up a major spending deal, caused a government shutdown and ultimately ended up with the conservatives forcing him out.

Despite his retirement, Mr. Boehner might have helped fuel this latest revolt. Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and leader of House conservatives who clashed repeatedly with Mr. Boehner, noted caustically on Tuesday that the former speaker is now predicting that Republicans won’t be able to kill the law, and Mr. Jordan seemed eager to prove him wrong.

“This is what we told the voters we were going to do,” he said of the straightforward repeal effort.
Politics has always included an element of cat herding but with the large number of teabaggers and other ultra right dimwits who see their only function as saying NO, the cats are in control and the herders have been driven out. While they ultimately may agree on some things, the more extreme items may never get enough support do their damage.


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