William F. Buckley, Jr. ran for mayor of New York City in 1965, he was asked, “What will you do if you win?” His reply: “Demand a recount.” Of course, he was being flippant. The young Conservative Party of New York had no chance of winning even a plurality in the liberal bastion of New York.
I would not have been surprised to have heard Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell utter those words in October of 2016. Not only did they expect Trump to lose to Hillary Clinton in a landslide, they were counting on it. In a divided government, with a Democrat in the White House and Republican majorities in the Senate and House, governing the country was a matter of bipartisan deal-making – and they were in the driver’s seat. No one could hold them accountable for actually governing the country—what a deal!
What a creepy bunch of establishment swamp denizens the Congressional Republicans have shown themselves to be. Precious days are being wasted by them because every passing 24-hour news cycle makes it more difficult to advance the President’s agenda. And they know it.
And I think they are okay with that because it is not their agenda. They are wallowing in the swamp Trump is trying to drain. Of course, there are a few true believers who would brave the slings and arrows of the irrational ninnies in the media who live only to see Trump and his agenda be sent to the ash heap of history. However far too many of those calling themselves Republicans are no more than Democrats who have perfected their ability to obfuscate. It is clear to me that some Republicans in Congress secretly embrace the “resistance” and are hoping Trump will quit or be impeached.
It seems Democrats are always eager to enact the Democrat agenda. What’s so frustrating is that so are many Republicans!
Republicans have maintained their House majority since the turnaround election of 2010. In November of 2016, besides sending Donald Trump to the White House, Republicans maintained their majorities in both the Senate and House and also won control of a majority of governorships and state legislatures. The Republican Party now controls 69 of 99 state legislative chambers (Nebraska is unicameral) and 33 governorships, the most it has held since 1922. Republicans will have total control of government (legislative chambers and governorship) in 25 states, the most since 1952.
Consider this startling fact: with Donald Trump in the White House, the Republican Party today has more control over Congress than Eisenhower had in 1953, Nixon in 1969, or Ronald Reagan in 1981. Reagan never had a Republican majority in both houses of Congress!
These amazing numbers send a clear message: it is now time to govern! If not now, when? But to judge by Republican behavior since November, the Grand Ol’ Party can’t handle success and seems to be working hard to surrender the reins of power. In the last month, we have heard Senator McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan say they don’t think they have the votes for repealing Obamacare, reforming the tax code and securing the borders. Translated, that means they believe they don’t have the Republican votes to pass landmark Republican bills.
My 10 years of experience in the Congress tells me that this is total hogwash. When you have both houses of Congress and the White House, there is no excuse for failure — even when you don’t have a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. Besides the various parliamentary rules that can be employed when you have the majority on every committee as well as the floor, the sausage factory model of legislation is always available.
A good example is the Republican enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug Act of 2003. That historic expansion of Medicare was a horrible bill and every Republican knew it. But President Bush wanted it and the Republicans held both Houses, albeit by only one vote in the Senate. That 2003 battle is described here.
The bill came to the floor for a vote late in the evening, but when the vote was called, what was supposed to be a 15-minute vote turned into an all-nighter — because leadership did not have the necessary 218 “Yeas.” Democrats didn’t want to give Bush and the Republican Party the win, and about half the Republicans saw the bill for what it was – the single biggest increase in government since Medicare. It stunk.
That was when the real lobbying – that is, the arm twisting — started. The president was calling members about 5 a.m. and badgering them—mainly with yummy carrots but also some big sticks. Every Cabinet member was dispatched to the House to lobby members with whom they had influence. The House Republican leadership team was actually calling the largest donors to the recalcitrant members and asking them to call their reluctant representatives and urge them to change their vote. A colleague of mine who was a subcommittee chair had his chairmanship threatened. Sufficient golden promises and nasty threats were made, and by 6:30 a.m., they had the 218th vote. I was a “No” vote, but I still wanted to throw up.
Apparently, keeping Republican promises made in every national election since 2010 by repealing Obamacare is not as important to the Republican Party leadership in 2017 as expanding Medicare by $400 billion was in 2003.
And these geniuses wonder why Republican voters chose Donald Trump over Jeb Bush, Lindsay Graham and John Kasich? Gimme a break! If Republicans cannot unite to repeal the single biggest federal power grab of the last 50 years, why should anyone have faith they will have the courage to tackle other looming crises?
The message being sent to Republican rank and file voters across the country is pathetic: Elect us and we will slow down the growth of the leviathan state but we lack the courage to reverse course. That, my friends, is a suicide note.
Senate Republican leadership is also skeptical they can find the money Trump has requested for the first stage of a border wall. They have put off a decision on the matter until September. The truth is they don’t want a border wall! That leadership and many of their lemming-like caucus members are happy with the status quo when it comes to immigration. Cheap labor will satisfy the Chamber of Commerce Republicans and thereby keep the donations from big business flowing to their reelection campaigns.
But it is not just Trump’s immigration plans that they secretly want derailed, it’s the whole conservative agenda that they speak so glowingly of to their constituents at home but work so hard to avoid implementing when they are back in the swamp.
It was just reported that the Republican National Committee has raised far more that the Democrats in this election cycle. So, why has not a penny of that money been spent to combat the anti-Trump messaging and commercials that flood the airways 24/7? Could the reason be that when these Republican swap critters see the Democrats and the media flooding the airwave with fake news and anti-Trump invectives, they secretly say “right on!”