The real rea­son why the health care bill failed

Democrats ma­nip­u­late Se­nate rules to block the Trump agenda

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Trent Franks

“Our best shot at stop­ping the Repub­li­cans has al­ways been to let them can­ni­bal­ize them­selves, and this proved that,” Caitlin Le­gacki, a Demo­cratic strate­gist, said of the health care fight.

Half of Congress and 99 per­cent of the Amer­i­can peo­ple are obliv­i­ous to one of the pri­mary forces that has so of­ten caused Repub­li­cans in Congress to “can­ni­bal­ize” them­selves.

The present con­fig­u­ra­tion and prac­tice of the 60-vote “no-de­bate” rule of the Se­nate left House Repub­li­cans with two op­tions: ei­ther over­come the im­ped­i­ment of what Pres­i­dent Trump called the “very ar­cane rules” in the Se­nate to re­peal­ing and re­plac­ing Oba­macare, or rad­i­cally al­ter­ing the orig­i­nal and very clearly stated ob­jec­tive of fully re­peal­ing and re­plac­ing Oba­macare.

With good in­ten­tions, in­stead of ar­tic­u­lat­ing this co­nun­drum to the pub­lic, or forthrightly ad­dress­ing the Se­nate rules, House lead­er­ship chose to of­fer a bill that al­tered and fell far short of the orig­i­nal ob­jec­tive.

House Repub­li­cans at­tempted to re­peal Oba­macare through rec­on­cil­i­a­tion (to cir­cum­vent the 60-vote “no-de­bate” rule). How­ever, that meant the leg­is­la­tion

had to fit through the “Byrd Rule.” The present con­strual of the Byrd Rule sim­ply did not al­low for full re­peal or full re­place­ment be­cause it would not al­low the in­clu­sion of the re­peal of the Ti­tle I Oba­macare man­dates. These man­dates were the heart of Oba­macare and the driv­ers of in­creased pre­mi­ums and deductibles. The vast ma­jor­ity of the Repub­li­can con­fer­ence wanted to in­clude the re­peal of these man­dates, and if this could have been in­cluded in the bill, it would have passed the House with north of 225 Repub­li­can votes.

One of the great ten­den­cies in the po­lit­i­cal world is that we of­ten at­tack each other rather than the prob­lem. It as­ton­ishes me that the foren­sics of the re­cent health care bill de­bate in the Congress is fo­cused upon who did what rather than on the “why” and the physics of the process that caused the out­come.

Se­nate rules ob­scured and sub­or­di­nated best pol­icy con­sid­er­a­tions, and once again brought and will con­tinue to bring chaos and ruin to the best pol­icy in­ter­ests of the na­tion. Fail­ure to ad­dress the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem will only in­vite its re­turn again and again. Pres­i­dent Trump and the Repub­li­can Party ig­nore this at their peril.

Iron­i­cally, at this rate, a change in the Se­nate rules is on its way sooner than many might wish. When he thought Democrats would gain the ma­jor­ity in 2016, Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Harry Reid said, “The coun­try can’t be run this way, where noth­ing gets done. … Un­less af­ter this election there is a dra­matic change to go back to the way it used to be [be­fore the ‘no-de­bate stealth fil­i­buster’] the Se­nate will have to evolve as it has in the past. … But it will evolve with a ma­jor­ity vote de­ter­min­ing stuff. It is go­ing to hap­pen,” mean­ing that the ma­jor­ity, not 60 votes, would rule.

Democrats know Neil Gor­such will be con­firmed to the U.S. Supreme Court one way or the other. How­ever, they des­per­ately want to keep both main Se­nate fil­i­busters in place so they can grid­lock the Se­nate again and thereby re­gain con­trol, at which time they will abol­ish one or both. It is the equiv­a­lent of say­ing, “Nice doggy, nice doggy” — un­til they can find a rock. Con­se­quently, they are now float­ing a plan to sug­gest that they will not fil­i­buster Neil Gor­such if Se­nate Repub­li­cans will agree not to change the fil­i­buster rules for the re­main­der of the Trump pres­i­dency. This would give Se­nate Democrats the abil­ity to stop the re­main­der of the en­tire Trump leg­isla­tive agenda along with the next Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion when it will mat­ter even more.

This Demo­crat plan is a bla­tantly ob­vi­ous ploy of the first mag­ni­tude, and if “so­phis­ti­cated” mod­er­ate Se­nate Repub­li­cans agree to it in or­der to ex­tract them­selves from the present co­nun­drum, they will be re­mem­bered for cow­ardly be­tray­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion and fu­ture Amer­i­can gen­er­a­tions.

Democrats have a de­ter­mined plan to make sure the agenda of the left ad­vances in the U.S. Se­nate when they gain the ma­jor­ity again. The ques­tion that re­mains is do Repub­li­cans have a cor­re­spond­ing plan in these fleet­ing days of be­ing in the ma­jor­ity?

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY GREG GROESCH

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