One of the most exciting things for conservatives after the election was that they had a quasi-Republican president, and, more importantly, a GOP-controlled Congress. With House Speaker Paul Ryan at the helm — the Randian wonk with a powerpoint budget plan — the federal government could be a lean, mean, fiscal machine, cutting spending and shrinking the government in no time. But alas, when they had their chance, Congress failed to cut the bloated behemoth that is Planned Parenthood and didn't even slice a comma off the Affordable Care Act. This is, as they like to say, "How we got Trump."
What the GOP promised
Political Twitter is a toddler's playground wrapped in a group therapy session inside an insane asylum but sometimes it's so spot on:
While you were sleeping the GOP funded Planned Parenthood and failed to repeal even part of Obamacare. Thank goodness Paul Ryan is handsome.— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) May 1, 2017
Indeed, Ryan is a stud, but after shenanigans like these please wait while I roll my eyes to California and back. "Pretty is as pretty does" my mama used to say, and Ryan has failed to do as he promised the American people he would. The most fiscally hawkish of them all knows full-well Republicans as a collective group promised to defund Planned Parenthood, repeal all or most of Obamacare, and a litany of other things. We the American people are not so enraptured with Ryan's dapper appearance that we believed all those things, but c'mon now: Those were the basics. And with a Republican majority in Congress, they should be feasible.
What this means
The ACA is a complicated leviathan, but it's politicians who made it that way: You can't be a mechanic for Ford and pretend not to know the basics of how a Chevrolet works. They can tinker with partisan bills and repair what's ailing it. That's literally what they're supposed to do. No one believes this charade that it was too hard — everyone thinks Republicans are either liars or wusses. Republicans had years to cobble together ideas, research, policy proposals that could replace parts of, or repeal all of, the ACA. When their moment in the spotlight came, they drove the broken-down Chevrolet to the Ford dealership and said, "We don't know what to do."
Pro-life Americans will have even less sympathy when they discover Republicans didn't bother to defund Planned Parenthood while negotiating their budget. For starters, the House Oversight Committee found two years ago the organization was sufficiently funded without the $500 million it takes in federal taxpayer funds. Second, most pro-lifers disagree with its primary activity (performing abortion) so this should have been a one-two punch: It's immoral, and it's a poor use of taxpayer dollars. Yet it too remains fully-funded. Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's CEO, is laughing so hard on her yacht right now, for a moment she's forgotten she spearheads the nation's largest abortion shop.
What Ryan should have done
Of course, Ryan's political excuse is that he won't be able to get votes from the moderate wing of the party to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare completely, so they have to negotiate with them, moving the GOP to the Left in the process. What the leadership should do is hold a hard line on these items. Republicans that don't go along with defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare, and cutting taxes will find themselves in a primary, challenged by more conservative members of the party. Sure, the Democrats will take the opportunity to pick off some vulnerable moderate seats where a conservative challenger is able to knock off a moderate Republican, but overall it will shift the party to the Right. Then he may find it easier to accomplish some of the things they said they would do.
In the meantime, people will still ask, "How did we get Trump?" It's because politicians never do what they say they would. So the people didn't elect one, for better or for worse.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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