Is the GOP serious about governing?

We are now almost six months into the new administration with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the White House. There is plenty of activity at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A conservative Supreme Court justice. Regulation roll backs. Renegotiation of lopsided trade deals. Walking away from nonsensical global warming treaties. Reassertion of American and Western values. Putting the brakes on a reckless, destructive immigration policy. And finally, a long overdue, well deserved beat back of a hostile, partisan media.

What’s happening across town in the hallowed halls of Congress? Obamacare repeal and/or replace? Tax reform? Infrastructure? Anything?

Congress too has had six months to work, to create legislation. Meaningful bills that the President is likely to sign into law. Unlike the past six years where anything from Congress would be struck down by the Obama veto pen.

Anyone need a reminder? Congress couldn’t stop the Democrat agenda without first controlling the House. Delivered. Then they told us they needed the Senate. Delivered. But wait, everything we pass will be vetoed by the White House. Delivered last November. So now what? I thought the GOP was serious about what they needed in order to govern.

Now we hear about the filibuster excuse. The Senate needs 60 votes to overcome the filibuster. Which they could do away with easily should they choose via a rule change. Anyone want to bet that there would be a new excuse if the Republicans were fortunate enough to have a 60-seat majority after the 2018 midterms?

The House, to their credit, did pass something in an effort to get rid of Obamacare. Not quite the repeal and replace they campaigned on. More of hair trim and blow dry rather than an extreme makeover. But I give them at least a small bit of credit for doing something. Unlike their teammates in the Senate.

From the Senate, we hear excuses and whining. Rather than excitement over fulfilling a campaign promise while holding once in a lifetime majorities in both the executive and legislative branches of government, all we hear is pessimism.

Hand it to the Democrats. When given the majority, they got stuff done. Tax increases and Obamacare. And they are ready should good fortune smile on them again in the future. Senator Bernie Sanders has his “Medicare for All” bill ready to introduce into the Senate. It won’t go anywhere but he is ready with an actual bill.

Not only in the Senate, but also in the House. A similar bill has been percolating in the House since 2003 when Representative John Conyers first introduced it. As of 2015 it had 49 cosponsors. Still not going anywhere, instead waiting in the wings.

Any bets that if Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and Madame Pantsuit was in the White House that these two bills would have already been passed by both houses of Congress, any filibuster attempt nuked with a rule change, and the legislation signed into law by Madame President?

Why can’t the Republicans get anything done? Several reasons.

Most didn’t expect Donald Trump to win, as Senator Pat Toomey recently explained. Unsaid is that most didn’t want Trump to win either, but that’s another story. They never expected to have to actually govern. They were content with their Congressional majorities, controlling the committees and lining their reelection coffers from the largesse of the donor class.

They would always have their excuse if a Democrat was in the White House, just as they did with President Obama. They could pass anything they wanted, knowing it would be vetoed. Like putting your $200,000 house on the market for $10 million, pretending to be a high roller, understanding that the sale price will be only what the house is worth.

It’s fun to be a Monday morning quarterback, criticizing the coach and starting quarterback. Then they are suddenly put into the game without a clue of what to do. Talk is cheap. Action is hard.

Another reason is that they don’t really want to repeal Obamacare. Fearful of what the New York Times and Washington Post will write about them and how the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC will savage Republicans for setting up death camps and exterminating tens of millions of Americans by repealing Obamacare, they do nothing. Hoping voters won’t notice. But we do.

Hey GOP, I’ve got news for you. You will be accused of all these things and worse by the Beltway media simply for existing. Dream on if you think you will ever get favorable media coverage unless you all change parties, join the Democrats putting Pelosi and Schumer in charge of Congress. And help them impeach President Trump.

Not only are they afraid of the media, but also the donor class. The top priority of members of Congress is not legislation, but reelection. If big donors want Obamacare, then why would Congress rush to repeal it and face the wrath of their sugar daddies?

Lastly, perhaps they believe, as they did a year ago, that the voters hate Trump. That he is as popular as herpes. That he will cost Congress the midterms, and lose the White House in 2020. They don’t want to be tied to a sinking ship. They would rather oppose Trump and keep their Congressional seats, even if in the minority. The gravy train flows less to the minority party members, but it still flows. Perks, money and power.

Are they oblivious to the reality that Trump won in November with coat tails for Congressional victories as well? Do they believe the prognostications of Nate Silver and CNN or their own eyes? Hard to know.

What’s easy to know is that if they do nothing, there will be payback in November 2018. Not that Republicans will vote for Democrats instead, but that they will tune out and close their wallets when the NRCC and NRSC come calling for contributions.

C’mon boys and girls and Congress. If you are serious about governing, then show us. Otherwise go away. We will be happy to assist you in about a year and a half.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

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