Are Conservatives Tired Of Winning Yet?



As a candidate, Donald Trump promised Republicans that “We are going to win so much that you may even get tired of winning.” Over the past year, I’ve noticed that the president’s supporters and conservative critics don’t seem to share the same definition of “winning.”

A few times recently the different views of winning have come to the surface. When Donald Trump tweeted, “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen,” Trump supporters erupted in cheers and celebrations on social media. Several lists of Trump’s accomplishments making their way around the internet, such as this one on Conservapedia, point out the areas where Trump supporters believe he is winning.

From my analysis, President Trump’s accomplishments seem to fall into three main categories. First is the appointments of conservative jurists to positions throughout the judiciary. Second, Trump has used his executive authority to enact a number of promised reforms. Finally, Donald Trump uses his “bully pulpit” to fight back. The duration and effect of these accomplishments varies wildly.

In my view, President Trump’s most important and – so far – only lasting accomplishment has been his effect on the federal judiciary. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is only the tip of the iceberg. Working with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who many Trump supporters view as an establishment foe, Trump had appointed 44 federal judges and had eight confirmed by August. These conservative judges will have a lasting effect on the judicial branch.

The same cannot be said of Trump’s executive actions. Many of President Trump’s executive actions overturn President Obama’s executive actions. A successor could erase President Trump’s executive legacy just as easily.

The quality of President Trump’s executive actions varies as well. His executive actions range from the excellent, such as cutting bureaucratic regulations and reinstating the Mexico City policy to ban federal funding for abortions in other countries, to the ineffective, such as his travel bans that would likely have no effect on fighting terrorism.

Some of Trump’s executive actions, though they fulfill campaign promises and are applauded by his supporters, are actually harmful to the country. In one of his first acts as president, Trump withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership. The lack of American participation did not kill the trade deal, however. Other parties to the treaty are continuing to move forward on the agreement. If the deal goes forward without the United States, it will be American businesses, workers and consumers who lose.

The third category of Trump accomplishments is the most meaningless and illusory. Trump supporters love his snarky tweets and insults. They like the fact that he fights back and consider this an accomplishment. Essentially, Trump’s tweets and insults make Republicans feel good about themselves.

The problem is that Trump has the opposite effect on the rest of the country. An ABC News poll found that 70 percent of the public thinks that Trump does not act presidential and 68 percent don’t see him as a positive role model. The president’s behavior is now directly linked to electoral losses in which voters say that they are voting for Democrats specifically because they oppose Donald Trump.

Another commonly cited accomplishment is the surging stock market. While stocks have hit record highs under Trump, they did the same under Obama. In fact, a look at the stock market over the past 10 years shows that the market has been climbing since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Supporters have difficulty pointing to any specific Trump policy change that could explain the surging market since Republicans have scored so few victories on fiscal and economic policy.

On the other hand, my definition of “winning” relies heavily on legislative victories that would be difficult for Democrats to reverse. As the Trump Administration prepares to close out its first year and enter a midterm election year, it has not scored a single legislative victory.

The repeal or reform of Obamacare would have been a major legislative victory since Republicans had been campaigning against the federal health law since 2010. Donald Trump campaigned against Obamacare as well, but when the chips were down, the president’s erratic behavior and attacks on Republican senators almost certainly contributed to the reform effort’s demise.

Likewise, Trump began the tax reform effort with a war against Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate budget committee. Trump insisted that, in contrast with conservative fiscal doctrine, that the tax reform not lower the rates of the wealthiest taxpayers. The top 20 percent of taxpayers pay 95 percent of taxes per the Office of Management and Budget, but taxpayers in the top bracket won’t get a lower rate, if tax reform actually becomes law, thanks to President Trump.

While Trump supporters may argue that the president has accomplished more than any president except FDR, most Americans understand how little has been done in the past year. Without the passage of a single piece of legislation that is part of the Trump agenda, Republicans seeking reelection have few accomplishments to run on. As a result, many Republicans are deciding that 2018 is a good time to retire.

Donald Trump has not ushered in an era in which conservatives have grown tired of winning. In fact, winning has been in short supply over the past year. What President Trump has lacked in winning, he has more than made up for in whining, but that makes a poor substitute.

Obama Calls GOP Attempts to Repeal Obamacare “Aggravating”

In a speech in New York City on Wednesday, Barack Obama admitted his aggravation with the GOP’s continued attempts to repeal Obamacare, the former president’s signature legislative achievement.

“Those of you who live in countries that already have universal health care are trying to figure out what’s the controversy here,” Obama told his audience at the Gates Foundation event.

“It is aggravating,” he continued, “And all of this being done without any demonstrable economic or actuarial or common sense rationale, it frustrates.” He condemned the “people trying to undo that progress for the 50th or 60th time.”

Of course, Obama makes no mention of the men and women who were dumped into Obamacare exchanges when their insurance was canceled, despite being promised repeatedly that their health insurance wouldn’t change.

Millions of Americans found that aggravating.

The former president makes no mention of how the law’s employer mandate pushed companies to replace full-time employees with part-time workers to avoid the extra cost of providing expensive health coverage.

American workers found that aggravating.

Obama seems to forget the scorched earth legal battle he fought to force all groups to cover contraception, including abortifacients, regardless of religious liberty objections.

Groups like Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor found it aggravating.

Americans in the Obamacare exchanges saw their premiums rise by an average of 25% last year.

That’s aggravating.

Those same Americans are also seeing their deductibles increase by double digits as well. For example, deductibles went up by about 17% for those with a silver plan.

That’s aggravating.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare will be one of the main factors increasing the national debt to $30 trillion over the next decade.

That’s aggravating to tax paying Americans. And their children. And their children’s children.

After all of this money and effort, only 12.2 million people signed up for Obamacare in 2017. Those numbers were slightly down from 2016, and way off of the 21 million predicted when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. In all, 28.2 million Americans opt to pay the penalty for not having health insurance rather than paying for Obamacare. The stated goal of the legislation was to make sure every American had health insurance, and that goal is nowhere close to being achieve.

How aggravating.

If one wasn’t already used to hearing such audacity from the former president, it would be astonishing to hear this man attack Republicans for not being properly aware of the “economic” and “actuarial” realities of healthcare reform. Time has proven that Obama, despite his feigned certitude, was making it up as he went along.

Americans watched in powerless horror as Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid forced this monstrosity of a law on the country. They suffered the consequences as they were forced to buy plans they didn’t want at prices they couldn’t afford. And despite Obama’s assumptions to the contrary, they have never seen socialized medicine as “progress.”

American voters responded by sending more Republicans to Congress than at any time in the last 90 years, with a clear mandate to fix the mess Obama left of our healthcare system. Despite difficulty, they continue to try to achieve that objective.

For this, Obama is aggravated. Good. It’s his turn.

NEW: Cassidy Responds To Attack By Jimmy Kimmel

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has responded to Jimmy Kimmel’s charge that Cassidy “lied right to my face” about health care reform. On MCNBC’s “Morning Joe” and a separate CNN interview, Cassidy claimed that the Graham-Cassidy bill does meet the “Jimmy Kimmel test.”

“I’m sorry he does not understand,” Cassidy said. “More people will have coverage and we protect those with pre-existing conditions.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill allows states to apply for waivers from Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement. The bill would require that states exercising waivers to show that coverage would still be “adequate and affordable” for those with pre-existing conditions. Kimmel and other critics argue that this requirement is too weak and vague to offer protection.

“The counterargument will be pre-existing conditions will be up to the pricing of the particular state and market,” countered CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “So, the protection is not the same, senator, on that one point.”

“The protection is absolutely the same,” Cassidy answered. “There is a specific provision that says that if a state applies for a waiver, it must ensure that those with pre-existing conditions have affordable and adequate coverage.”

Cuomo argued that people with pre-existing conditions would pay more, based on a schedule of rates being circulated.

“I think the price will actually be lower,” Cassidy responded. “What is being circulated is by those that wish to preserve Obamacare and they’re doing everything they can to discredit the alternative.”

The Congressional Budget Office is currently scoring the bill, but because the budget resolution must be passed before the end of September, the analysis will be incomplete. “CBO will not be able to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks,” the office said in a statement.

“There will be more people covered under this bill than under the status quo,” Cassidy claimed.

GOP Moves the Goalpost on Health Care

Fresh off a complete failure to keep their signature campaign promise to deep-six Obamacare, the GOP is dropping beaucoup bucks with an advertisement targeting Democrats in several key districts in states across the country.  I know what you’re thinking:  I’m still trying to forget about the LAST election, and now you’re already talking about the 2018 mid-terms?  Just shoot me, already!  But that’s not even the good part.  Care to guess the subject of the new advertising blitz?  It’s health care.

Yes, health care.

And if you just fell out of your chair doubled over with laughter, rest assured that you’re not the only one.

Given the tremendous flop that was repeal and replace, you’d think that the GOP would be dodging that particular subject the way Hillary Clinton dodges grand juries, but no.  The National Republican Congressional Committee is actually pulling out all the stops in an attempt to highlight Democrat support for single-payer health care.  Most days on planet Earth, the response to that kind of accusation would be a resounding, “Duh!”  But given the GOP’s recent fumbling of the issue–not to mention the ham-handed, tone-deaf execution of the ad itself–the results are spectacularly hilarious:

First off, the background music–was that something they cribbed from The Dark Knight?  I half expected Batman to show up halfway through and pull off Nancy Pelosi’s mask to reveal the Joker underneath.  And what gives with that voiceover?  It sounds like the movie trailer for a 70’s era grindhouse horror flick.  Fellas, if you want to scare everyone, can’t you at least try something a little more original?

But even all that can’t compare to the comedy gold of the actual content.

Big government has destroyed the American health care system as we know it.

Yup, Obamacare messed everything up so badly that Congress still couldn’t find the cojones to get rid of it, even with a Republican House and Senate, and a president ready to sign.

But it gets worse.

Like when Mitch McConnell signaled that he’d keep the illegal Obamacare subsidies to the insurance companies going?

A new plan brought to you by the same Democrats who gave us Obamacare…

And this ominous statement is followed by the disco remix version of a bunch of Democrats saying, “Single Payer.”  This might have worked as a bit in a Mel Brooks musical (Single payer, what a show!  Single payer, here we go!), but here it just comes off as lame and contrived–kind of like Republican excuses for not repealing Obamacare in the first place.

What does this mean for you?  Trillions in higher taxes.  Government control of your doctor, hospital, and even prescriptions.

Again, tell me how this is different from Obamacare?  Or is this just an implication that the current system that y’all refused to repeal is terrible, but an acceptable level of terrible that we’ll just have to live with?

Tell Nancy Pelosi and California Democrats that we can’t afford single-payer health care!

Funny how you guys used to say the same thing about the ACA.  But that was just when you were trying to get us into bed.  Now that you’ve had your way with us, you won’t even return our calls.  Don’t you know the old saying about fury and a voter scorned?

In any case, it’s a terrible ad–and not just because it serves up the usual political cheese in a way so obvious that it almost plays like a parody.  No, the maddening part is how the GOP thinks its voters are so stupid that they even won’t notice how the party is trying to move the goalposts on health care.  For the last seven years, it’s been all about repeal, repeal, repeal–but now that Congress has been caught with their fly unzipped, all of a sudden it’s about holding off single payer.  Of course, that Obamacare was designed from the beginning as a vehicle to get the country to single payer seems to elude them.  That, or they’d just rather not talk about it.

So go ahead and waste your money with this ad campaign, GOP.  Just don’t count on us getting fooled again.

DR Radio

DR Radio: The White House Circus

Welcome to Dead Reckoning Radio! In this edition of DR Radio, the team looks at the ObamaCare repeal debacle, musical chairs in the White House, and the temptation to compromise our faith for a seat at the table or power. Also, Jay also takes the reins in the latest installment of DR Recommends.

For full show notes and to subscribe to our podcast, visit our website.

Nobody Wants to Own It

It’s been said that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan, but in the case of Obamacare repeal it appears as if failure has more daddies than Freddy Kruger, the bastard son of a hundred maniacs.  Ramesh Ponnuru from National Review has a pretty good roundup of how a signature GOP issue somehow couldn’t make it past a GOP-controlled Congress, placing some of the blame on the Democrats’ demagoguery of the issue.  The real problem, however, was the inability of Republicans to refute their specious claims.

Ponnuru writes:

In a well-run, coordinated campaign for a health-care bill, they would have challenged each and every news story that said Republicans were taking away insurance from 14 million-plus people, or that talked about coverage-change numbers while burying the role of voluntary decisions in driving them. They would have prodded reporters to do fact-checks when Democrats said Republicans would “kick tens of millions off insurance,” instead of just relaying Democrats’ misinformation. Republican press secretaries would have called the outlets that said they were rolling back the Medicaid expansion and walked the reporters through why they were wrong.

Nothing like that happened this time. A few Republicans made the point about voluntary departures from the insurance rolls — but only sporadically, rarely with numbers, never in a sustained way.

In other words, they just allowed the Democrats to control the narrative.  Granted, it’s very difficult to Republicans to break through when the news media are pushing the exact same narrative–but with the millions of dollars the GOP spends on consultants, you’d think at least one of them would have some ideas on how to get the message through.

Then there’s the White House.  The Trump administratition obviously wanted to claim victory on a campaign promise, with the president signaling that he had pen in hand and was ready to sign pretty much any repeal-and-replace bill that Congress sent him–even the “skinny” option that would leave Obamacare largely intact.  Still, when it came down to actually doing the hard sell on repeal–doing the work of actually getting out to the public and hammering every day on why it’s necessary to get rid of this horrible law that is already collapsing private health insurance–the White House has also been strangely absent.  Sure, the president let loose with a few tweets here and there, but it’s not like he was burning up the phone lines to pressure Congress and making speeches every day on the subject.

So what gives?

It’s simple.  Nobody wants to own repeal.

Congress doesn’t want to do it.  In fact, a lot of Republicans are perfectly happy with Obamacare in place.  They just never expected Donald Trump to win the election and bring the curtain down on their theater votes, where they could make it look as if they favored repeal knowing full well that any bill would be dead as soon as it hit President Hillary’s desk.  Meanwhile, the true conservatives who do want Obamacare gone can’t see themselves voting for repeal in name only, making an already dysfunctional system even worse–and putting a GOP label on it to boot.

The White House doesn’t want to own it either.  The mere fact that Donald Trump has said he’ll sign whatever Congress sends him signals  loud and clear that he doesn’t care about the substance of the legislation–but with that attitude comes a significant risk.  What if the bill that will inevitably become known as Trumpcare sucks?  Trump values his brand a lot more than that, and I seriously doubt he wants that kind of stink to follow him around for the rest of his presidency.  Maybe he figured out that Congress, divided as it is, was never going to pass anything anyway–which was good, because then he wouldn’t be put on the spot.  That would also mean that he could pretend to be acting on his campaign promises without having to taint himself with some half-assed repeal.

It would also serve another one of Trump’s managerial methods:  keeping his people in conflict with one another.  So far, most of his fights have been against the media–but a do-nothing Congress that wants to torpedo his agenda could also serve to consolidate support amongst his base.  He avoids signing a repeal that he never really wanted in the first place, while blaming Congress for its failure.  In Trump world, that’s a win-win.

It’s just too bad that the rest of the country has to lose.

Ted Cruz: “No Party Can Remain In Power By Lying To The American People”

Ted Cruz is right.

After seven years of the repeated promise that Obamacare would be repealed once Republicans had the power to do so has come to naught, conservative voters feel betrayed.

Cruz, who voted in favor of the “skinny repeal,” is correct in saying that Americans who voted for Republicans based on this promise now feel a sense of anger.

“There are going to be a great many Americans who tonight feel a sense of betrayal — feel a sense of betrayal that politicians made a promise,” Cruz told Fox News directly after the latest repeal effort failed.

“I’ll tell you this, if you stand up and campaign and say we’re going to repeal ObamaCare and you vote for ObamaCare, those are not consistent,” he added. “And the American people are entirely justified in saying, ‘Any politician who told me that and voted the other didn’t tell me the truth; they lied to me.’ ”

The “skinny repeal,” a measure dedicated to repealing parts of the Obamacare early Friday morning, failed with three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John McCain (Ariz.) — voting with the Democrats to reject the bill.

All three Republican Senators who voted against the “skinny repeal” campaigned on the promise to repeal to Obamacare. Last night, they once again voted against doing so.

Cruz, who has consistently supported a full repeal, said last week that Republicans would “look like fools” if they failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“You can’t have your central promise for seven years be we’ll repeal ObamaCare, and then you show up and vote not even to take up the bill to consider repealing ObamaCare,” he said.

“I’ve said many times, if we fail to get this done, I think, collectively, Republicans will look like fools,” he concluded.

BRILLIANT: GOP Senator Wants Democrats to Go on Record Supporting Single-Payer Healthcare

One Republican senator has devised a genius strategy to call out Democrats who support single-payer health care: by forcing them to vote on it. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) wants to add an amendment to the Obamacare replacement legislation that would implement single-payer healthcare. By doing so, Democrats who support it will go on record, even though the measure is as doomed as the rest of the health care bills so far.

Daines’ single-payer amendment is a carbon copy of one offered in the House by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

The Conyers bill, with more than 100 Democratic cosponsors, proposes to create a program the legislation describes as “Medicare for All.” According to the bill’s language, “all individuals residing in the United States would be covered.” To pay for the program, Conyers proposes raising income taxes on the top 5 percent of earners, plus hiking taxes on payroll and self-imployment income, unearned income, and stock and bond transactions.

It’s pretty shrewd when you think about it – especially when it comes to calling out the senators who are up for reelection in 2018.

But will the Democrats take the bait? Or will they see Daines’ plan for what it is – a political trick? Either way, it will be entertaining to see what happens.