GOP vot­ers blame US Congress, not Trump, for lack of progress

Let’s give pres­i­dent the ben­e­fit of the doubt

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

In firm con­trol of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his Repub­li­can Party have so far failed to de­liver on core cam­paign prom­ises on health care, taxes and in­fras­truc­ture. But in New York’s Trump Tower cafe, the Gen­try fam­ily blames Congress, not the pres­i­dent. Like many Trump vot­ers across Amer­ica, the Alabama cou­ple, va­ca­tion­ing last week with their three chil­dren, says they are deeply frus­trated with the pres­i­dent’s GOP al­lies, fault­ing them for de­rail­ing Trump’s plans. As the fam­ily of five lunched in Trump Tower, Sheila Gen­try of­fered a pointed mes­sage to those con­cerned with the GOP’s abil­ity to gov­ern five months into the Trump pres­i­dency.

“Shut up. Get on board. And let’s give Pres­i­dent Trump the ben­e­fit of the doubt. It takes a while,” said the 46-year-old nurs­ing ed­u­ca­tor from Sec­tion, Alabama. “They just need a good whoopin’,” said her hus­band, Travis Gen­try, a 48-year-old en­gi­neer, liken­ing con­gres­sional in­fight­ing to un­ruly kids in the back seat of the car. As Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans de­cry Trump’s lat­est round of Twit­ter at­tacks, Repub­li­cans on the ground from New York to Louisiana to Iowa con­tinue to stand by the pres­i­dent and his un­ortho­dox lead­er­ship style.

For now at least, rank-and-file Repub­li­cans are far more will­ing to blame the GOP-led Congress for their party’s lack of progress, send­ing an early warn­ing sign as the GOP looks to pre­serve its House and Se­nate ma­jori­ties in next year’s midterm elec­tions. In­side and out­side the Belt­way sur­round­ing the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Repub­li­cans worry their party could pay a steep po­lit­i­cal price un­less they show sig­nif­i­cant progress on their years-long prom­ise to re­peal and re­place Demo­crat Barack Obama’s health care law.

Even more dis­turb­ing, some say, is the Repub­li­can Party’s nascent strug­gle to over­haul the na­tion’s tax sys­tem, never mind Trump’s un­ful­filled vows to re­pair roads and bridges across Amer­ica and build a mas­sive bor­der wall. “It’s a prob­lem for Repub­li­cans, who were put in place to fix this stuff. If you can’t fix it, I need some­one who can,” said Ernie Ru­dolph, a 72year-old cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­ec­u­tive from sub­ur­ban Des Moines, Iowa. There is no easy path for­ward for the Repub­li­can Party.

Health care plan

The non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice pre­dicts that health care leg­is­la­tion backed by House and Se­nate Repub­li­can lead­ers - and fa­vored by Trump - would ul­ti­mately leave more than 20 mil­lion ad­di­tional Amer­i­cans with­out health care, while en­act­ing deep cuts to Med­i­caid and other pro­grams that ad­dress the opi­oid epi­demic. In some cases, the plans would most hurt Trump’s most pas­sion­ate sup­port­ers. Just 17 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port the Se­nate’s health care plan, ac­cord­ing to a poll re­leased last week, mak­ing it one of the least pop­u­lar ma­jor leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als in his­tory.

The pres­i­dent on Fri­day in­jected new un­cer­tainty into the de­bate by urg­ing con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans sim­ply to re­peal Obama’s health care law “im­me­di­ately” while craft­ing a re­place­ment plan later, which would leave tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans with­out health care with no clear so­lu­tion. That shift came a day af­ter sev­eral Repub­li­cans in Congress con­demned Trump’s per­sonal Twit­ter at­tack against MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezin­ski and Joe Scar­bor­ough, which was viewed across Wash­ing­ton as an un­wanted dis­trac­tion in the midst of a sen­si­tive pol­icy de­bate.

Trump’s na­tion­wide ap­proval rat­ing hov­ered be­low 40 per­cent in Gallup’s weekly track­ing sur­vey, even be­fore the tweet. At the same time, just one in four vot­ers ap­prove of Repub­li­cans in Congress, Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity found. Democrats, mean­while, re­port sus­tained en­ergy on the ground in swing dis­tricts where Repub­li­cans face tough re-elec­tion chal­lenges. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to win the House ma­jor­ity next fall, a goal that op­er­a­tives in both par­ties see as in­creas­ingly pos­si­ble as the GOP strug­gles to gov­ern.

A for­mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion na­tional se­cu­rity aide, Andy Kim, is among a large class of fresh Demo­cratic re­cruits. “Peo­ple are fired up,” said Kim, who’s chal­leng­ing Rep Tom MacArthur, R-NJ. “It’s not just about the health care bill. It’s not just about Trump . ... They’re con­cerned about the abil­ity of this gov­ern­ment to put to­gether any cred­i­ble leg­is­la­tion go­ing for­ward.” Repub­li­cans are also con­cerned. In Iowa’s Adair County, GOP Chair­man Ryan Fred­er­ick fears that Repub­li­can vot­ers will be­gin to lose con­fi­dence in their party’s plans for taxes, in­fras­truc­ture and im­mi­gra­tion should the health care over­haul fail.

“Ev­ery­one I know looks at try­ing to get Oba­macare re­pealed and says, ‘If we’re mak­ing this much of a pig’s break­fast out of that, what are we go­ing to do with tax re­form?’” Fred­er­ick said. “We’ve dreamed of killing Oba­macare for seven years. And we have the House, the Se­nate and the pres­i­dency, and we can’t do it?” he continued. “What’s the deal, guys?” Louisiana Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Roger Villere be­moans “fac­tion­al­ism” in his party. In­tra­party di­vi­sions are hold­ing up health care, he says, which in turn keeps the GOP-led gov­ern­ment from tack­ling other pri­or­i­ties.

He’s look­ing to Trump for lead­er­ship. “He’s the ul­ti­mate ne­go­tia­tor,” Villere said. “We’ll see how good he is.” Back in Trump Tower, Sheila Gen­try con­ceded that Trump’s tweets some­times make her cringe, but she still has con­fi­dence in her pres­i­dent. She can’t say the same for con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans. “The Repub­li­cans who are in there now that aren’t be­ing very sup­port­ive, they’re go­ing to find them­selves with­out a job soon if they don’t step it up,” she said. —AP

TEXAS: Kyle Chap­man, pres­i­dent of the Texas Alt-Knights, is held back by his fel­low Trump sup­port­ers from con­fronting Trump pro­tester Nevin Ka­math (far left) at the im­peach­ment march at the Capi­tol in Austin, Texas, on Sun­day July 2, 2017. Ka­math tried to get into the Trump sup­port­ers’ group photo and put his arm around Chap­man. — AP

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