Coali­tion of Govern­ing

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS -

Nancy Pelosi, the House Demo­cratic leader, wrote to her Repub­li­can coun­ter­parts ex­tend­ing “the hand of friend­ship” and of­fer­ing “to work in a bi­par­ti­san fash­ion” to fix the flaws in Oba­macare.

Let’s hope she re­ally means it. Let’s hope Democrats won’t use the col­lapse of the Repub­li­can health care ef­fort sim­ply to score po­lit­i­cal points against an ir­re­spon­si­bly in­ept pres­i­dent and con­tinue his record of leg­isla­tive fu­til­ity.

The temp­ta­tion is great. Don­ald Trump is clearly un­qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent. His fa­vor­able rat­ings are dread­ful. His new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, prob­a­bly won’t change a 71-year-old man who re­fuses to adapt his im­pul­sive and undis­ci­plined style to the de­mands of govern­ing.

In next year’s con­gres­sional elec­tions, too, Democrats will be ea­ger to ex­ploit Trump’s dis­mal per­for­mance. And the poorer his record of ac­com­plish­ment, the bet­ter their chances of de­feat­ing him in 2020 — as­sum­ing he lasts that long and runs again.

But Democrats must face an in­con­ve­nient truth. They own Oba­macare. They are re­spon­si­ble for it, with all its many ben­e­fits and fail­ings. They made a huge mis­take by pass­ing it with­out a sin­gle Repub­li­can vote. Then they com­pounded that er­ror by un­der­es­ti­mat­ing prob­lems and over­promis­ing re­sults.

And now they owe it to the mil­lions of peo­ple who rely on their pro­gram to im­prove it, to sta­bi­lize the mar­ket­place, to fo­cus on ac­tual pol­icy for a change and not just pol­i­tics.

It won’t be easy. Hard­line left­ists in their own party will call any Demo­crat who works with the GOP a soft-headed traitor. And prag­matic Repub­li­cans will be pressed by ide­o­log­i­cal purists in their own ranks to re­ject Pelosi’s “hand of friend­ship.”

But Democrats must make a sin­cere ef­fort here. And if they help pro­duce a re­form pack­age that can pass the Congress and ac­quire Trump’s sig­na­ture in some splashy Rose Gar­den cer­e­mony, so be it.

Of course, Democrats re­lied on their own votes to pass Oba­macare in the first place be­cause Repub­li­cans re­fused to co­op­er­ate in craft­ing the bill. But now a few GOPers seem ready to defy Trump and the party’s hard-core cra­zies and en­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Three Repub­li­can se­na­tors pro­vided the de­ci­sive votes that fi­nally sank the Oba­macare re­peal ef­fort; a half-dozen Repub­li­can gover­nors also broke ranks and op­posed the mea­sure. Sen. La­mar Alexan­der, who heads the com­mit­tee that han­dles health leg­is­la­tion, an­nounced hear­ings for next month and en­dorsed leg­is­la­tion that sta­bi­lizes Oba­macare at least through next year.

“Any so­lu­tion that Congress passes for a 2018 sta­bi­liza­tion pack­age would need to be small, bi­par­ti­san and bal­anced,” he said.

Cen­trist law­mak­ers from both par­ties, call­ing them­selves the Prob­lem Solvers Cau­cus, have advanced a sen­si­ble set of re­form pro­pos­als. Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Repub­li­can who helps lead the cau­cus, said: “Maybe we look at a sit­u­a­tion where it’s 51 se­na­tors, re­gard­less of what party they’re from, and we put to­gether a coali­tion of the govern­ing who want to solve prob­lems. And to me, that could be a win­ning com­bi­na­tion, rather than just go­ing shirts and skins.”

One key fix that prag­ma­tists of all stripes can agree on: Prop up shaky in­sur­ance mar­kets by in­ject­ing more money into the sys­tem, as per­ma­nent sub­si­dies for low-in­come pol­icy buy­ers and bet­ter guar­an­tees for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies against ex­ces­sive risk.

Trump de­nounces such sub­si­dies as “bailouts” for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and threat­ens to “im­plode” the mar­ket­place by hold­ing them back. But that would be a cruel and cyn­i­cal strat­egy that Repub­li­cans of good­will must op­pose.

“It re­ally would be detri­men­tal to some of the most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens if those pay­ments are cut off,” Sen. Su­san Collins of Maine, a lead­ing Repub­li­can dis­si­dent, said on CNN.

Democrats should em­u­late Collins and Alexan­der. They should take com­pro­mise se­ri­ously and con­sider a range of Repub­li­can pro­pos­als: from giv­ing states more flex­i­bil­ity in im­ple­ment­ing Oba­macare to in­creas­ing the num­ber of work­ers a com­pany must em­ploy be­fore it’s re­quired to pro­vide in­sur­ance ben­e­fits.

At­ten­tion has fo­cused on Sen. John McCain’s dra­matic vote when he joined Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski in killing the Repub­li­can health care pro­posal. But that mo­ment should not over­shadow the speech he made sev­eral nights be­fore on the Se­nate floor, plead­ing for a re­vival of bi­par­ti­san­ship.

McCain, al­most 81 and suf­fer­ing from brain can­cer, urged his col­leagues to pro­duce a health care bill “that will be im­per­fect, full of com­pro­mises, and not very pleas­ing to im­pla­ca­ble par­ti­sans on ei­ther side, but that might pro­vide work­able so­lu­tions to prob­lems Amer­i­cans are strug­gling with to­day.”

He was speak­ing to Democrats as well as Repub­li­cans. They should lis­ten to his words. And act on them.

Steve and Cokie Roberts can be con­tacted by email at steve­cokie@gmail.com.

WASH­ING­TON, D.C. —As many of you may have seen on the news, Pres­i­dent Trump rec­og­nized the last week in July as Amer­i­can He­roes Week.

The week was ded­i­cated to cel­e­brat­ing our Amer­i­can He­roes and the roles they play in our daily lives. From our mil­i­tary to our lo­cal law en­force­ment to our first re­spon­ders and the Amer­i­can worker, th­ese folks were rec­og­nized for what they do each day.

It goes with­out say­ing that the brave men and women who have served or cur­rently serve our coun­try in uni­form are he­roes. Those cur­rently serv­ing de­serve the best equip­ment we can pro­vide them and those who have served de­serve the best care.

Re­cently, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed the Na­tional De­fense Au­tho­riza­tion Act ( NDAA) that in­creased de­fense fund­ing by $21 bil­lion to ad­dress tak­ing care of our mil­i­tary while se­cur­ing the safety of our home­land.

Ev­ery day as our lo­cal law en­force­ment puts on their uni­form, they know they are risk­ing their lives to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe and we can never thank them enough. I ap­pre­ci­ate the re­spect and at­ten­tion Pres­i­dent Trump has shown our law en­force­ment since tak­ing of­fice.

We have to also rec­og­nize our first re­spon­ders. They save lives ev­ery day. Just since Jan­uary, Alabama’s Third Con­gres­sional District has re­ceived over $2 mil­lion in fund­ing to help our lo­cal vol­un­teer fire de­part­ments and first re­spon­ders pur­chase new fire trucks and op­er­a­tion and safety equip­ment. In our com­mu­ni­ties and towns, the first re­spon­ders are our first line of de­fense in keep­ing us safe.

We also can­not for­get the Amer­i­can worker as we list our Amer­i­can He­roes. Pres­i­dent Trump’s “Hire Amer­i­can, Buy Amer­i­can” plan is putting hard work­ing Amer­i­cans back in good-pay­ing jobs and is bring­ing a sense of pride back to the Amer­i­can worker.

This week and ev­ery week, let’s take a minute to thank our Amer­i­can He­roes.

I want to hear from you. Please sign up for my e-News­let­ter by vis­it­ing www. mikerogers.house.gov. To stay up to date, you can also like me on Face­book at Con­gress­man Mike D. Rogers, fol­low me on Twit­ter, Pin­ter­est and In­sta­gram at RepMikeRoger­sAL, on Tum­blr at www.repmikeroger­sal.tum­blr.com and you can also sub­scribe to my YouTube page at MikeRoger­sAL03. From “The Back Nine” sup­plied by a lo­cal reader.

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