When Do You Compromise?
By Alex Saitta
April 18, 2017
The ObamaCare repeal and replace fiasco provided good insight into a few things, but mainly when conservatives should compromise and when they should not. First weíll talk about the issue and then the principle of compromise.
I wrote this on my Facebook timeline before the ObamaCare repeal and replace effort started and it turned out to be right on target, unfortunately.
Excerpts from the March 8th Comment:
There are three challenges Donald Trump faces. One, the Republican Party is not unified like the Democrat Party. You can see that with ObamaCare and the new Republican/ Ryan healthcare bill. With ObamaCare all the Democrats got behind it, sold it and passed it. With the Republicans, you can see the factions fighting right off the bat.
Two, Trump and the Republican leadership is going to have a tough time finding support from conservative Republicans in the House AND at the same time moderate Republicans in the SenateÖ Unfortunately, the conservatives are so principled they want the entire loaf now, and if they donít get it, theyíll sit on their hands screaming louder. Democrats in that sense are smarter taking a half loaf here or even a quarter loaf where they can get it, knowing they can come back later and get more then. That is what Democrats did with gay marriage ó a 1/10 of a loaf at a time. Republicans sadly are not that smart and this is why the country has moved to the left since the 1980ís.
Three, Trump has proven he is a very good executive [but] his Presidency now enters a new phase. He has to get others to agree with him. Can he grow into being a leader who can push an agenda through a legislative body? EVERYTHING IS RIDING ON HIS ABILITY TO DO THAT. I mean everything -- his Presidency, the future of the Republican party and probably our nation as we knew it.
My take on this new healthcare plan is nothing will be passed, surely not by Easter because Republicans simply do not know how to unify around a cause. Theyíll fall back to the obvious and comforting position that ObamaCare collapse on its own.
Fastforward To The Present:
Gosh, sometimes I hate when Iím right.
I thought the Ryan bill would pass in the House but die in the Senate. It didnít even get passed the first hurdle. What a disaster. I was disappointed the conservatives (Freedom Caucus) insisted on a full step to the right now and when they didnít get it, they sat on their hands and screamed a lot. All as predicted. Moving the ball half or a quarter step to the right isn't in their playbook. Foolish.
I was also disappointed Trump attacked conservative Republicans. He isnít going to get any Democrats to support his agenda, he'll need most all Republicans. Attacking Republicans shows he has no clue as a legislator, as I was concerned about from the start.
In the end, Trump had a fallback position as mentioned on March 8th and he is taking it -- ďTheyíll fall back to the obvious and comforting position that ObamaCare collapse on its own.Ē And when it gets worse, Trump can say I told you so, we had a plan, you didnít and blame those that didnít go along.
What I didn't foresee was how such a failure would slow Republican momentum, send his domestic agenda adrift, and how it has pushed conservative Steve Bannon to the second tier of Trump advisors.
My Personal Opinion:
I wanted to see a complete repeal of ObamaCare and go back to the free market for healthcare we had 20 years ago. That was never going to pass the Senate, though, so I would have taken a quarter or half step to the right on the issue, voted for the Ryan plan or something close, then passed tax reform, immigration vetting, Keystone pipeline, confirmed Gorisch and hopefully won more seats in the Senate in 2018.
I would have come back again and tried to move healthcare further to the right. A few swings at a time. That plan was totally derailed when they failed (and I mostly blame the Freedom Caucus, Mike Lee, Rand Paul) failed to pass the Ryan bill or something close to it.
The Ryan Bill Did Move The Ball To The Right:
Some on the right will argue the Ryan bill did not move the issue to the right. I disagree with them.
Ryanís bill eliminated the individual and corporate mandates for healthcare insurance, and the individual penalties for those with no insurance and companies that didnít provide insurance. It eliminated the ObamaCare taxes. CNBCís Larry Kudlow counted 13 different tax cuts in the Ryan bill. It had Medicaid reform and phased out the Medicaid expansion. It eliminated funding for Planned Parenthood. It boosted HSA thresholds. All those are steps to the right.
Republicans Can Not Unify:
In the end, like Iíve said many times. The Democrats know how to unify, but they have the wrong answers. Republicans have the right answers, but canít unify to move the ball to the right.
Two years ago I made a bet with a friend that Hillary Clinton would not win the Presidency. To me it was a slam dunk. Hillary was a crook and Republicans had 5 or 6 candidates that I thought could beat her. His thinking was even with all their advantages, the Republican leaders, officials and voters will find a way to screw it up.
There are good bets, bad bets, winning bets and losing bets. In hindsight he made a good bet, but it turned out to be a losing bet.
Even though I he lost and I won bet, I learned he was right. The Republican Party, its leaders, most of its elected officials and too many of their voters simply do not know what is required to unify and move an issue to the right. Even with many things on their side, usually Republicans will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as they say.
On the surface, repeal and replace looked like a slam dunk, but again, Republicans simply do not know what is required to unify. Learning from my friend, this failure was an easy prediction for me.
Canít Create Winning Strategies:
There are a lot of reasons why Republicans have trouble unifying. One is the leadership does not know how to create winning strategies and if they happen to the rank and file have trouble following them.
As I mentioned above, this was the winning strategy:
1) Trump has brought a euphoria to the top of the ticket Republicans we had not had in decades, and that excitement benefits all Republicans and the conservative cause. The reason we are here is not Rand Paul, not Mike Lee, not the Freedom Caucus.
2) Trump has turned out so far to be more conservative than most thought ó Gorsich, Keystone pipeline, rolling back school transgender bathrooms, pro-tax credits for school, cutting regulation 2 to 1, and his pro-life decisions.
3) The weak link for passing a conservative agenda right now is razor thin majority in the Senate and that at least 4 Republicans in the Senate are moderates.
Now, what is the strategy to exploit some of these things and move the Senate to the right?
1) The Freedom Caucus, Mike Lee and Rand Paul should have supported the Ryan bill with the changes the Caucus won in negotiation, claimed some victories on eliminating the mandate, penalties and taxes. Then got assurance from Trump, Ryan and McConnell to bring this back up again later (after the 2018 Senate elections).
2) Republicans should then worked to pass the Trump agenda to keep the Trump excitement alive until 2018. There are many things they could all have gotten behind. Tax reform, national school choice plan, energy independence, budget/ infra-structure bill, defense build-up.
3) In 2018 Democrats have 23 seat up in the Senate, and Republicans only 8. With most of the Trump agenda passed by then, the President, House and Senate would have a good chance of working together to pick up seats in the Senate and move it to the right. At that point, the Freedom Caucus, Mike Lee and Rand Paul would have been in a better position to pass more of its conservative initiatives, and then re-addressed and moved healthcare further to the right.
Instead the Caucus, Lee, Paul and the rest got what they wanted ó a defeat of the bill. Not only did they torpedoe the Presidentís #1 agenda item (Repeal and Replace), they killed a good bit of Trump excitement in the electorate. Once a leader loses that euphoria/ excitement, it is hard to get it back. The Caucus, Lee and Paul (and those who support them) simply don't realize what they've done to derail Republican political momentum.
I think this will harm us in the long run because the collateral damage to our cause has been great. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I doubt it.
When To Compromise. When To Not Compromise:
If a plan moves the issue a quarter, half or full step to the left. You oppose it. No compromise. Never vote for a plan that moves an issue to the left.
If a plan moves the issue to the right, negotiate for a full step to the right. If that is not possible, and a plan that moves the ball a quarter or half step to the right and it is the best you can do, you vote for that, and come back later and try to get the rest.
I realize the Ryan bill wasnít a full step to the right, but it was a move to the right. I would have taken the half or quarter step to the right and came back later to try and move the ball again to the right.
Surely, it was better than were we are now. Dead in the water on healthcare and tax reform.
In sum, I see this as the Achilles Heel of the Republican Party. Too many are unwilling to take the half or quarter step to the right, so overall we fail to move the ball to the right even when we have an opportunity to do so like we did here.
The public will tire of Republicans being in control, without seeing sweeping change and we'll lose our majorities, and the Democrats who are willing to compromise in order to move the ball to the left will be back in power and our nationís decline will continue. Add this to long list of the reasons why I see our nationís glass as half empty.