Freedom Caucus sinks Trump-Ryan plan
Fred Barnes, over at the Weekly Standard, has described the situation perfectly in his post "Sand in the Gears."
First he says the turbo-conservatives (my term, not his) demands perfection in the world as they envision it.
There's a simple reason for this: They insist on what cannot be achieved. Anything short of that, such as the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, triggers fierce opposition by the group's thirty or so members. And if they stick together, they can prevent Republican legislation from passing, as they did at least initially in the case of killing Obamacare.
The extra-pure, left or right, can be every bit utopian, equally. They don't live in the real world.
Next Mr. Barnes says the Freedom Caucus were gunning for Ryan, the "Establishment" leader.
That's not all. The Freedom Caucus specializes in making things difficult for House speaker Paul Ryan. Its members treat this as a duty. They regard him as a member in good standing of the political establishment who's been Washingtonized and is no longer a legitimate conservative.
The extra-pure have been gunning for the elusive white whale (the "Establishment") for a long time. So far they have not been able to kill it. But they surely can injure it and then cheer.
The purpose of keeping the framework of Obamacare was to ensure that the GOP didn't need a brand new plan, which would require 60 votes in the Senate.
The AHCA is designed to circumvent a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. That means it can sweep away only the parts of Obamacare dealing with spending and taxes. The broad framework of Obamacare would remain. By invoking a procedure known as "reconciliation," the measure can pass by a simple majority – 51 votes – with no filibuster allowed.
The Dems would never go for a brand new plan. Ryan was trying to allow Trump and other GOP members to keep their promise of repeal and replace. Now the extra-pure have (temporarily?) torpedoed their realistic promise.
But why do the Freedom Caucus need to worry? They're in safe districts.
In one sense, the Freedom Caucus has the upper hand over Trump and Ryan. Most of the members are in safely Republican districts and unlikely to be threatened by a primary opponent – that is, unless Trump drops in to campaign against them.
Obamacare has distorted the insurance markets, and the "Establishment" GOP tried to work within an imperfect world.
Apparently, the utopian Freedom Caucus intended to teach the rest of America what conservatism (or their brand) looks like. They believe in a streamlined government. Fair enough, in the world of Jefferson of 1804. But we don't live back then. We live today.
The Freedom Caucus (and most of talk radio) can't seem to come to grips with this part of human nature: self-interest + government benefits = love for government.
After eighty years of Big Government, beginning with FDR and reinforced by LBJ and some liberal Republicans (Reagan tried to stop it, but he could never go around the Dem House), people must have their government handouts. For the Freedom Caucus to demand that regular folks out in the real world give up government benefits overnight is misguided. It can even be harmful. One doesn't take candy from a baby. Bad image, even though sugar is bad for the baby.
Now Obamacare is still the law of the land. (And now I will have to pay another $700.00 fine, or more, next tax season.)
In my view, Trump gave a perfect press conference and refused to blame anyone (Fred Barnes didn't hold back, and neither did I). Where things go from here and health insurance is unclear. But tax reform is a worthy goal, as the president said. He and the GOP need a win.
Do the Freedom Caucus see it?
James Arlandson's website Live as Free People, where he has posted The GOP 'Establishment' Will have to Save Trump and Country.