Tag Archives: Senate GOP

GOP plans to read tax bill eventually

Let’s call it the same song, second verse … or just the same ol’ same ol’.

U.S. Senate and House Republican leaders have cobbled together a tax cut bill that the rest of their GOP colleagues haven’t yet read. They say they plan to examine the legislation before voting on it.

Gosh! What a concept!

The tax bill is drawing some independent analysis, however, from those who tell us it will jumpstart an economy that’s already moving along pretty well. Others say it helps the rich more than it helps the middle class.

Donald Trump calls it the biggest tax cut in U.S. history.

What I find most amazing/amusing/troubling is that the GOP plans to rush this bill through before Thanksgiving. I am not alone in wondering about the wisdom of such a fast-track effort. The most recent landmark tax reform package took months of debate and hearings before it went to President Reagan’s desk in 1986. How in the world does this version of GOP leadership plan to enact the nation’s most historic tax cut in such short order?

The idea that legislators haven’t read it, of course, isn’t new. Democrats said much the same thing before they brought the Affordable Care Act forward in 2009 and 2010. Yes, the ACA had some serious hiccups during its rollout, but it is working — despite what GOP leaders keep saying to the contrary.

Congressional Republicans are feeling the heat to do something of substance. They couldn’t repeal and replace the ACA; they haven’t secured money to build the president’s “beautiful wall” across the southern border. Now they’re hanging their fortunes on tax reform.

They haven’t read the bill. They aren’t commenting on its specifics.

I keep wondering the same thing that I asked about the ACA repeal/replace effort: Why can’t — or won’t — these majority congressional members work with Democrats to get their input in legislation that affects all Americans?

Buh-bye, latest GOP effort to kill the ACA

Well, here’s where we stand with the persistent Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a goner. Kaput. Finished. Party’s over, man.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, today announced she won’t vote for the latest Senate GOP-engineered effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with an abomination that we’ll call Trumpcare.

You know what interests me about this latest death knell being run over the GOP’s ACA repeal effort: The three senators who’ve announced their opposition to it have done so for wildly varying reasons.

Collins opposes the bill because it cuts too much money from state Medicaid assistance programs for Americans who cannot afford health insurance. Sen. John McCain of Arizona hates the partisan process that brought this bill forward; he wants Democrats to be involved in this effort. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky doesn’t like the block grant provision, which he says simply renders the replacement as an “Obamacare light” version of the ACA.

There might be more Republicans who’ll abandon this effort. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has strong reservations. So does Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who contends that his buddy Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also might vote “no.”

That all might be a moot point. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said today he doubts the bill will get to a vote. Senate Republican leaders have conceded likely defeat.

The Senate GOP has until Saturday to repeal the ACA with a mere 50-vote (plus one) majority; after that the rule shifts back to the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule.

What now?

Hey, here’s an idea: How about sitting down with congressional Democrats to work out ways to repair the ACA? Are congressional Republicans so hell bent on removing President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement from the books that they simply won’t look for common ground with their Democratic “friends”?

Premiums are too high. Health insurance isn’t as “affordable” as it was advertised. Surely there are ways to tinker, tweak and fine-tune the legislation to make it better. Aren’t there?

We aren’t re-inventing the wheel here, folks. Members of Congress did that very thing more than 50 years when they approved Medicare legislation. It wasn’t perfect, either, but they sought — and found — common ground to improve it to older Americans’ satisfaction.

That, I submit, is a sure-fire formula for furthering the cause of good-government legislation.

Is the party over for ACA repeal? Let’s hope so

On the day earlier this summer when he voted “no” on a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made an impassioned plea for the body where he has served for three decades to return to “regular order.”

Meaning that both parties, Democrats and Republicans, need to work for common ground, to seek compromise, to actually get things done for the good of the citizens they all serve.

The Vietnam War hero’s plea fell on deaf ears. Senate Republicans decided — against logic and good judgment — to proceed yet again with a GOP-only repeal of the ACA.

Sen. McCain has stuck the shiv into the GOP’s efforts by announcing he plans to vote “no” once again on this ACA repeal effort. It likely blows the effort to smithereens. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will vote against it because it doesn’t go far enough in getting rid of the vestiges of the ACA; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is a likely “no” vote, as is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Senate Republicans — who have hardly any room for defections given their slim Senate majority — face a Sept. 30 deadline to get this deal done with a 50-vote plus one (Vice President Mike Pence) majority; after that, Senate rules return to a 60-vote supermajority requirement.

So, what about that “regular order” thing that McCain sought earlier this year?

The ACA isn’t perfect. It likely isn’t even a good piece of legislation. Barack Obama’s signature bill needs work. It needs to be amended, nipped and tucked. To do that, though, requires that “regular order” that McCain wants to see restored. That would mean bipartisan cooperation, the search for commonality.

That’s how legislation gets done.

President Lyndon Johnson knew how to legislate. He employed his overpowering persuasive skills to bring Republicans along. President Richard Nixon was no slouch, either, at working with Democrats. Nor were Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton or Bush 43.

President Obama needed to work better at developing that skill. Then again, the Republican intransigence was too big a hurdle for him to overcome.

Sen. McCain has called repeatedly for a return to the old way of legislating. His decision today only drives home that call even more deeply.

The question now becomes: Is anyone in a leadership position going to heed those calls ever again on Capitol Hill?

Grassley tells ‘truth’ about ACA repeal effort

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said this about Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered … But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

Well now …

The GOP rush to repeal and replace the ACA is meant to fulfill a campaign pledge. Does it not matter, then, what the Republican bill does? Or who it harms? Or whether it’s an actual improvement over the ACA?

The Senate Republican caucus is up against the wall on this one. It has until Sept. 30 to get this bill approved with just 50 Senate votes; a tie would bring in Vice President Mike Pence to cast the deciding vote. After that date, Senate rules roll back to a 60-vote supermajority requirement, which the Republicans don’t have.

I’m going to give Sen. Grassley kudos for candor, though. There’s been so little of it as it relates to this discussion. It’s rare to hear a leading U.S. lawmaker speak the truth about political motives.

Not that it makes it any better …

GOP launches ACA repeal 2.0

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot grasp this notion that congressional Republicans keep insisting on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

They don’t want to fix what’s wrong with it. They want it gone. They want it tossed, ground up, thrown onto the trash heap. Why? I only can gather it’s because it has the name “Barack Obama” on it.

The GOP-run U.S. Senate is scrambling now to get a second run at tossing the ACA out. They’re trying to round up enough votes to approve repeal with a simple majority; after Sept. 30, according to a Senate rule, they’ll need 60 votes to do the job.

The Senate fell a vote short of the majority it needed earlier this summer. ACA repeal was thought to be a goner. It’s back.

What does the new bill look like? I understand it looks a lot like the old one. It diminishes Medicaid benefits for low-income Americans; it gets rid of the cost reduction subsidy that the ACA provides for those who seek health insurance under the government plan.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who cast the deciding vote that killed the Senate effort before the August recess, called for a return to “regular order.” He wants Republicans to work with Democrats; he wants bipartisan cooperation, if not buy-in.

He’s preaching to no one within his Republican Senate caucus.

Senate Republicans are intent on doing precisely what they accused Senate Democrats of doing in 2010 when the ACA was approved and signed into law by President Obama. They’re going to shove it down the other party’s throats and make Americans like what they’re doing … no matter what.

I remain baffled by the idea that they cannot find a way to fix the ACA. Indeed, the former president offered to work with Republicans if they could find a solution. They stiffed him.

They could do the same thing now, with a Republican in the White House.

Indeed, it now appears that Donald Trump is showing some sign that he’s beginning to learn one of the lessons of governing in Washington, D.C.: Legislating is a team sport that works best when both political parties are sitting at the same table.

Shut down the government … over a wall?

So much grist poured out of the president’s relentless and reckless rant in Phoenix …

Let’s take a nibble at this tidbit: Donald John Trump Sr. says he’s willing to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t approve money to pay for the wall to be built along our nation’s border with Mexico.

Yep, the guy who said this past summer that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems now is blackmailing congressional Democrats to provide money to build the wall. If they don’t, he said, the government shutdown is on their hands.

But wait!

Trump has vowed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto says “no … we won’t!” Trump reportedly has zero relationship with the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who has declared there is “zero chance” the government is going to shut down; “We are not going to default,” said McConnell.

The president is insulting congressional Republicans as frequently as he insults Democrats. He is destroying — one insult at a time — any chance of getting anything done once Congress returns from its summer recess.

So now the guy who wants to “unify” the country, who declares it is time to “heal our divisions” is now threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t do something he has promised never would happen.

I believe former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — a serious and sober man — has it right. Donald Trump is unfit for the job to which he was elected.

Top Senate Republican drops yet another bomb on Trump

Thank goodness for the media, which are doing their job in ferreting out information pertinent to the future of our national government.

The latest media bomb comes in the form of a New York Times story that reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — the Senate’s top Republican — doubts whether Donald John Trump can salvage his presidency.

The president and McConnell haven’t spoken in weeks. They have exchanged angry phone calls. The Times reports that the relationship has gotten even more complicated by the presence of Elaine Chao in Trump’s Cabinet as transportation secretary; Chao is McConnell’s wife.

What we have here is a serious breach reportedly developing between a top-rank legislator and a president with zero experience or understanding of how government works.

They appear to have let their differences fester into a serious boil.

The Senate Republican caucus couldn’t approve a health care overhaul. Trump blamed the Senate, even though he has shown hardly any interest in the nuts and bolts of what he kept saying should be approved.

Right here, dear reader, is yet another example of how the president lacks any kind of political capital. He has no capital to spend to do anything. Why? He has no relationship with anyone on Capitol Hill prior to his taking office as president.

Like it or not, the political world is built on relationships, be they friendly or contentious. Trump had none of that. He assumed public office after working his entire professional life in search of personal aggrandizement and enrichment.

Trump calls the Times part of the “fake media.” He keeps suggesting the newspaper is “failing.” Something tells me the newspaper has this one right.

GOP senators lose patience with RINO in chief

Donald John (RINO in chief) Trump’s lack of any association with the Republican political machine may be starting to take its toll on the man’s presidency.

Actual Republican senators are standing up to the man who bills himself as a member of the GOP, but who in reality is a Republican In Name Only.

GOP U.S. senators are now tweeting, writing essays and saying things out loud that suggest that the president’s “agenda,” whatever the hell it is, appears to be teetering on the brink of oblivion.

The president keeps attacking his “fellow Republicans.” He called Sen. Jeff Flake, author of a new book that tears into Trump, a “toxic” lawmaker; moreover, Trump has hailed the GOP primary challenger who has emerged to take on Flake.

The president’s attack on the Arizonan has prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stand squarely behind Flake.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said publicly at a Rotary meeting in Chattanooga that he wonders if Trump is “competent” to continue as president.

Senate GOP gangs up on Trump

Then we have the usual cast of Trump critics within the GOP — Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — continuing to oppose him on policy matters as well as chastising him for his hideous conduct in the wake of the Charlottesville riot.

This is what happens when you get a president with no political history, no public service record on which to draw, no demonstrable commitment to understanding how government works.

It’s as if — as some have suggested — that we have formed a third major political party: We have Democrats, Republicans and the Trump Party, which feeds off the cult of personality developed by the “party” leader, Donald John Trump Sr.

If the president is going to insist that he’s a real, actual Republican, then I am among those who will wait with bated breath for the Goldwater Moment to arrive. As the late Sen. Barry Goldwater was able in 1974 to deliver the sobering news to President Nixon that the president had no support in the Senate and that impeachment would surely result in his removal from office, is there someone to deliver the same kind of news to the current president?

Donald Trump needs to shape up, get rid of the white supremacists/alt-right clowns remaining in his administration and start acting like the Leader of the Free World.

If he doesn’t, his presidency is going nowhere but straight into the trash heap … which wouldn’t be a bad outcome. I fear the collateral damage this RINO in chief is going to inflict along the way.

Take the hint, Mitch: Nation hates Trumpcare

Memo to Mitch McConnell: Give it up on trying to resurrect the Senate Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The word now from the U.S. Senate majority leader is that he is going to reopen negotiations on the failed GOP plan. He is trying to woo Republicans who (a) oppose the legislation or (b) are straddling the fence.

McConnell could not muster up the 50 votes he needed to approve the Senate plan. GOP conservatives hate it because it too much of the ACA; GOP moderates hate it because it casts too many Americans off the rolls of the insured.

The nation’s Republican in chief, Donald Trump, is refusing to “own” the GOP caucus failure.

One final point: Public opinion polls show a 17 percent approval rating for the Republican plan.

Hey, who needs those stinkin’ polls, right, Mr. Majority Leader?

McConnell is fueled by this desire, or so it seems, to rid the law of anything with Barack H. Obama’s name on it. Recall that he said right after Obama’s election that his “No. 1 priority” was to make Obama a one-term president.

He’s now gunning for a consolation prize, which is to toss the ACA into the crapper.

Pay attention, Mr. Leader: Your plan is no better in the eyes of Americans who now have health insurance for the first time in their lives. You and your fellow Republican senators work for them — for us, sir! You need to do our bidding.

Yep, Trump isn’t your ‘normal’ president

Donald J. Trump more or less vowed to be an unconventional president while he campaigned for the office. Man, he’s made good on that one, eh?

Consider what he said after the failure of the Republican caucus in the Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I won’t own” the failure, he said. He wants to let the ACA fail and then he’ll swoop in to clean up the mess — assuming, of course, that it even happens.

How disgraceful.

President Truman famously had that sign on his Oval Office desk: “The Buck Stops Here.” President Kennedy told us after the Bay of Pigs disaster in 1961 that “victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan”; he took the hickey for the invasion’s failure. President Reagan admitted to making a mistake during the Iran-Contra controversy, that he didn’t believe “in my heart” that he was trading arms to a hostile nation; he “owned” it eventually.

The current president? He’s not standing by the stumble-bum effort in Congress to enact this legislation. Republicans had seven years to come up with an alternative to the ACA, which they despise largely — or so it seems — because it has Barack H. Obama’s name on it. They call it “Obamacare” as a term of derision.

They blew it. As head of the Republican Party, so did the president. He owns this mistake, whether he cares to admit it or not.

Presidents Truman, Kennedy and Reagan all knew how to stand behind their failures. They all understood that the terms of the office they required them to do so.

Aw, but what the hell. They were just your normal run-of-the-mill politicians who played by the rules. The current president doesn’t operate under the same precept of full accountability.