Tag Archives: Paul Ryan

It’s for real: Trump is a RINO

I’m a bit slow to pick up the beat on this, so I’ll acknowledge that right up front.

It’s been clear for a quite a while that Donald John Trump Sr. is a Republican In Name Only. Yep, he’s a RINO. He owns the pejorative term that true-blue Republicans hang on imposters, those who pose as members of the GOP.

The most glaring piece of recent evidence comes from the dozen or so Republican U.S. senators who are lining up behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s embroiled in a dispute with the president.

Trump blames McConnell for every legislative failure that’s come along. He has chastised at various times the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (another Republican), Sen. John McCain (he’s an R, too), and the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions (a former Republican U.S. senator).

Oh, sure, he’s gone after Democrats as well.

The president, though, is playing exclusively to the 35 percent or so of Americans — his political “base” — who continue to stand by their man. They adore the president not because he’s a Republican, but because he, um, “tells it like it is.” 

Hmm. It just occurs to me: They love Trump for the very same reasons millions of other Americans — including yours truly — detest him.

The man has no ideological grounding. He doesn’t have a core set of principles. He has no understanding of government, nor any interest in learning about it.

Trump ran for president as a “populist,” a friend of the Little Guy. Yet he jets off to his decadent resort properties in Florida and New Jersey where, I’m quite sure, he spends zero time talking up close with rank-and-file middle Americans who are the only political allies left on whom the president can count.

The president’s appeal has nothing to do with party, or ideology, or governing principle. The president is a RINO. Pure and simple.

Congressional shooting produces a glimmer of hope

It’s only a glimmer, a flicker, a slight flash of light.

It might not last past the first serious floor debate in either chamber of Congress. However, the two leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are saying something about unity, about common good, about patriotism and love of country.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today pledged to get the House to work more closely together, to set partisanship aside whenever possible. Their pledge came in the wake of that frightening shooting in Alexandria, in which House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured critically by a gunman who wounded four others before being shot to death by Capital police officers.

A ‘kumbaya’ moment?

Dear reader, we have entered a dangerous time in American political history. The shooter reportedly was highly critical of Donald J. Trump; he also reportedly had some sort of hard feelings against Rep. Scalise, who appeared to be his primary target at that baseball practice field where Republican lawmakers were preparing for their annual charity game against Democratic colleagues.

As near as I can tell, this about the only good thing to come from this terrible event. I am praying, along with the rest of the nation, for the victims’ full recovery. Yes, the police responded with valor and gallantry; the lawmakers who rushed to Rep. Scalise’s aid also performed heroically.

I will await the outcome of Ryan and Pelosi’s pledge to work together, to put the bitterness aside, to argue civilly but maintain respect for each other’s side, their point of view … and appreciate the other’s love of country.

What a shame, though, that it took an even such as this to possibly make them reach this point.

Speaker rises to the need to calm an edgy nation

Paul Ryan has taken a lot of hits of late over some of his political missteps.

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, though, today delivered comments containing precisely the correct political tone in the wake of the shooting in Alexandria, Va., involving Republican members of Congress.

House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured in the shooting. He will recover fully and the nation should be grateful for that — and for the recovery of the other individuals who were wounded.

“An attack on one is an attack on all of us,” Ryan said in a House floor speech. “We feel so deeply about the things we fight for and believe in. At times, our emotions can get the best of us,” he added.

Ryan also said, “I ask each of you to join me in resolving to come together…to lift each other up…and to show the country—show the world—that we are one House.”

The shooter is dead. The authorities are investigating what might have motivated him to apparently take aim at Scalise, who was standing at second base during a baseball practice, for crying out loud.

The political rhetoric of late has gotten extremely overheated, overblown and overstated by pols of all stripes, persuasions and philosophies. It well might be that the shooter’s actions this morning was a terrible result of that rhetoric.

Speaker Ryan has sought to calm his House colleagues. The president offered his own words of support and encouragement to the families of those who were wounded by the shooter.

Let us all calm down, take a deep breath and try to reflect on what we all have in common: the love of our country.

Presidency no place to ‘learn how to do the job’

I damn near spit my coffee at the TV screen this morning when I heard U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan give Donald J. Trump a pass on the utter chaos that follows the president around.

Ryan said Trump “is new at this,” meaning he’s new at governing. No kidding, Mr. Speaker? He’s so damn new he continues to blunder and bluster his way through mistake after mistake.

And what do you suppose is the cost? It’s the loss of credibility among our allies; it’s the fear this man generates among Americans who cannot depend on the president to do or say anything sane.

I am trying to imagine how the speaker would react if Hillary Rodham Clinton would make the kind of mistakes that Trump has made. He’d be drafting articles of impeachment immediately. To be fair, Democrats likely would give a President Hillary Clinton a pass, too.

But here’s the thing: She’s not the president. Donald “Smart Person” Trump occupies that office. It should go without saying that being elected president creates a steep learning curve even for those who have years of experience in government. Trump came to the presidency with zero experience in any form of public service.

Trump hasn’t appeared to learn a damn thing about the office he inherited on Election Day 2016.

Hey, that’s OK, according to Speaker Ryan. The president of the United States is “new at this.”

Good … grief!

Get set for next fight over health care overhaul

Congressional Republicans kept their vow to vote — no matter what — on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

It was a squeaker, 217 “yes” votes to 213 “no” votes. Every congressional Democrat voted “no,” which gives the minority a faint claim of bipartisanship, as some moderate Republicans joined them in voting against the Trumpcare health bill.

I want to make only a couple of observations about this effort.

First, Republicans yapped and yammered that Democrats shoved the ACA down the GOP’s throats in 2010. The GOP response was to do precisely the same thing to Democrats. Payback is a bitch, right?

The GOP throat-shoving, though, took on a little different tone than what the Democrats did in 2010. President Obama tried to get Republicans to sign on, but was unsuccessful. Donald J. Trump didn’t make that effort; neither did House Speaker Paul Ryan. Oh, no. They relied on their healthy Republican majority to win the day — barely, it turns out — in a now-or-never vote on the House floor.

Second, the initial effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act, ran into a Congressional Budget Office “score” that told a grim story of 24 million Americans losing their health insurance under the new plan.

This time the GOP didn’t bother to wait for the CBO to “score” this latest rendition of the replacement bill. Republicans forged ahead anyway. Damn the scoring! Who needs to know how this is going to affect Americans?

Oh, and the polls around the country indicate a growing base of support for the ACA. Hmm. Imagine that. The House of Representatives isn’t exactly representing its constituents.

The AHCA now heads to the Senate, where it faces an even steeper climb than it had in the House. The GOP majority in the upper chamber is pretty skimpy and the Republicans cannot afford to lose any support among their ranks. The initial signs don’t look good for final approval in the Senate.

House Republicans sought to win over reluctant conservatives by sweetening the pie for them; then they assuaged some moderate GOP concerns by tossing in some money to pay for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

What say you, senators?

Now it falls on the Senate to decide what to do with this legislation that doesn’t yet have any analysis on how much it will cost and how many Americans might lose their insurance.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are back-slapping each other like crazy. They said they’d cast that vote to repeal President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

They got the job done. Now they can go home for their 11-day recess. I would bet real American money they’re going to run into a good bit anger among the home folks.

Health care overhaul? Kaput! Tax reform? That’s next!

Let’s see if we can figure this one out together.

Donald J. Trump and congressional Republicans botched a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a law that took about a year of tough negotiation and dickering to enact in the first place.

Trump and his pals in Congress tried to do it in the span of 17 days. They failed to muster enough support from, oh, just about any faction within the GOP. TEA Party, Freedom Caucus, party moderates all hated the American Health Care Act, which the Republican congressional leadership pulled out of its backside in the dead of night.

ACA repeal and replace? Gone. Finished. As House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “(The Affordable Care Act) is the law of the land for the foreseeable future.”

What, then, do Trump and the Trumpkins — the gang that cannot legislate its way out of a wet paper bag — want to do now?

Tax reform. Tax reform!

ACA repeal and replacement was complicated enough. Indeed, the president admitted he didn’t realize it could be so complicated. No kidding, Mr. President.

I’ve got your “complicated” right here, though. If you’re going to take on the big stuff, you’ve decided to go after the biggest of them all: reforming the federal tax code.

Presidents of both parties have been saying for decades that the tax system is too complicated, too cumbersome, too this and too that. What have any of them accomplished? Damn little!

The tax system is a monstrous entity that requires careful study, analysis, expertise and patience to repair. Does anyone really think that the president of the United States — based on what we’ve just witnessed — is capable of learning the nuts and bolts of tax policy? Does he really and truly even give a crap about it?

And what about the speaker of the House, who presides over the congressional chamber where all tax policy must originate. How well do you think Paul Ryan did in engineering the House’s role in the cluster fudge that resulted in the ACA replacement meltdown late this past week?

Good luck, gentlemen. You will need all of it you can find if you have any chance of succeeding in this monumental effort.

Back and forth, the political fortunes keep changing

First, it was Democrats who were smiling smugly at Republicans for nominating a TV celebrity/carnival barker/real estate mogul as their presidential nominee.

Then the Republicans had the next laugh as Donald J. Trump actually got elected over the Democrats’ presidential heiress apparent, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

One party is up. The other is down. Then the roles flipped.

What in the world then happened? The “up” party — which now controls Congress and the White House — produced a health care overhaul plan that couldn’t get enough support within its own ranks, let alone from the folks on the “other side of the aisle.”

That’s right, Republicans drove their repeal of the Affordable Care Act straight over the cliff.

Who led the suicide mission? Was it the carnival barker/president? Was it the speaker of the House of Representatives, the so-called “policy wonk”? Both of them appear ready to throw the other one under the proverbial bus.

This much appears certain: The party that sought to govern has been revealed to comprise a bunch of folks who cannot hit their backside with both hands.

As Frank Bruni writes in today’s New York Times: “For the entirety of his campaign, Donald Trump crowed about his peerless ability to make deals, one of which, he assured us, was going to be a replacement for Obamacare that would cut costs without leaving any Americans in the lurch. Last week proved that there was no such swap, that he hadn’t done an iota of work to devise one and that he was spectacularly unprepared to shepherd such legislation through Congress.”

Bruni skewers Trump.

These change of fortunes are giving me a case of vertigo. I can barely remain upright while watching the new Big Men On Campus make a mess of what they promised — repeatedly and with maximum boastfulness — to do once they acquired the keys to the White House.

I won’t take much, if any, of this to the bank just yet. The fickle winds of political fate have this way of changing course in an instant.

Still, Republicans across the land drooled at the prospect of a Trump presidency to go along with GOP control of Capitol Hill. I must wonder today if they regret seeing their wish come true.

Yep, 2 + 2 still equals 4

Let’s try to add a couple of things up and see if we agree on the result.

Donald J. Trump puts a tweet out Saturday morning after he and congressional Republicans fail to enact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

In the tweet, the president encourages Americans to tune in to the Fox News Channel and watch former prosecutor — and current Fox host — Jeanine Pirro’s show.

Pirro goes on the air and demands the resignation of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

But wait! Didn’t the president praise his new best friend Ryan for working so very hard to push through the ACA repeal legislation? And didn’t the speaker return the compliment by telling us that Trump busted his butt to close the deal with balky conservative GOP lawmakers? Aren’t these fellows friends for life now?

The way I interpret Trump’s tweet, however, I have discerned quite another point of view from the president about the speaker.

He implored Americans to watch a TV talk show in which the host calls for the speaker to quit. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like much of a “bromance” to me.

The sum of what happened adds up to what many of us believe: The president wants to blame the speaker for the two men’s joint failure to make good on their No. 1 campaign promise.

Trump is no Obama as a negotiator

Donald J. Trump’s reputation as a first-class “dealmaker” is now in shambles. It’s been trampled by his own ego and his own petulance.

The deal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act became a victim of the president’s inability and unwillingness to even talk to Democrats. Let’s forget for a moment that the replacement bill couldn’t get enough Republican votes in the House to approve it. It was cobbled together virtually overnight, in secret, by Republican congressional leaders who handed it to a president who didn’t know — or care — about the details it contained.

How did the ACA come into being?

Its author, President Barack Obama, sought out congressional Republican leaders. One of them happened to be now-Speaker Paul Ryan, who at the time was chairman of the House Budget Committee. He sought out Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would become majority leader in the upper chamber. He talked to Republicans and implored them to come up with a better plan than the one he and his administration had assembled.

The GOP didn’t budge. The president then was left to rely on his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate to approve the ACA. They did. Republicans howled about having the bill “shoved down our throats.”

What happened this past week bears little resemblance to what happened in 2010. What the current president and the current speaker sought to do was foist a bill on the public that didn’t have the support of most members within their own political party.

There. That’s my take on it.

Do not believe the baloney that Donald Trump is a master “dealmaker.” He’s nothing of the kind. The president has been schooled by politicians who don’t like being bullied.

Trump told us that “I, alone” can repair the things he said need to be fixed. No sir. You alone cannot.

***

I want to share with you a hilariously astute column by one of the best columnists in America. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd has peeled the bark off the president, someone she says she knows quite well.

Dowd speaks a blunt, brutal truth in her “letter” to the president of the United States.

GOP fluffs chance to make good on promise

All the commentary in the wake of the monumental failure of the president and his Republican congressional colleagues on health care overhaul has produced many fascinating observations.

Two of them stand out to me.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday that “doing big things is hard.” No kidding, Mr. Speaker. He then added that Republicans have been the opposition party for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern.

Donald Trump and Ryan failed to get enough conservative Republican House members to sign on to a health care plan they said would replace the Affordable Care Act. Rather than suffer the greater embarrassment of having their new health care plan fail in a floor vote, Ryan pulled the measure. Done! No vote!

Then he went about trying to explain how the GOP needs to know how to actually govern rather than be a political party that gripes continually about a president from the other party.

Which brings me to another point I’ve heard.

It came from Jeffrey Lord, a CNN contributor and a strong supporter of Trump and his agenda.

Lord said today that congressional Republicans had nearly eight years to come up with a plan to replace the ACA. Eight years!

Instead, they focused on repealing a plan they detested. They had no plan to replace the ACA.

Lord noted that on Inauguration Day, GOP leaders should have been standing on the steps of the Capitol Building waiting for the new president with a draft replacement plan in hand. After all, Lord said, they had all that time to come up with something. They could have hammered all their differences out with various party caucuses within the GOP: TEA Party, Freedom Caucus, more moderate elements.

They squandered their opportunity to deliver on that promise they made during the 2016 election campaign, which was to deliver an ACA replacement plan to the president on “Day One.”

What’s the message? Quit your yapping!