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Did GOP Leadership Consult Conservatives?

By  |  March 10, 2017, 12:00pm

There is a lot of buzz on the Hill today and it starts with the question: Did the GOP Leadership, lead by Paul Ryan, even consult with conservatives before writing Ryancare?

I’m sure they did talk to everyone. But there’s a difference between “listening sessions” and active negotiations.

To my knowledge there was no SERIOUS discussion ever of: “Here’s our draft plan, tell us what you think and if you see needed major changes and we’ll see what we can do BEFORE we make it public”

To my understanding, all they had were different listening sessions, then went behind closed doors and only allowed leaders and chairmen (most of whom you cannot label “conservative”) the ability to negotiate details.

Also, I would point out that what the whole conservative movement really wanted on repeal is completely public and widely known for years. These are as follows:
  1. Full repeal
  2. Stop Medicaid expansion
  3. Take out the regs that drive up costs
  4. Interstate competition
  5. Supersize HSA’s
  6. Allow people to pay for premiums out of it so they can control their care
  7. Equalize tax treatment (deductions preferred but tax credits could be considered if tightly structured)
This bill literally does none of those things except attempts the tax equalization component and botches even that part of it.
Now, to address Kim Strassel’s column from this morning in the Wall Street Journal.
I don’t think she’s completely off base. Operating with a Republican House, Senate and White House is going to be different than in years passed.
I really believe we have one or two years of opportunity to get stuff done and we need to approach fights differently and drive the policy as close to conservative principles as possible. What we are seeing is that overall is the conservative movement is absolutely acting differently and doing that.
On Ryancare, the movement held its fire until the bill was out then said openly it is willing to work with leaders and White House to improve the bill. Obamacare repeal is a no brainer. It is literally what the GOP ran on (very successfully, I might add) for the last three election cycles. Mitch McConnell promised to “rip it out, root and branch.” President Trump said it would be one of the first things he did when he won.
The really interesting point about this moment is that it is Ryan/McConnell leadership that has changed ZERO from their previous failed strategies. They are still head patting conservatives with rhetoric but catering to moderates with policy. They are still secretly negotiating deals without conservative input then daring conservatives in a “binary choice” to oppose “the best chance to fix health care/taxes/regulations/education” and if you oppose their crap sandwich, you are the problem.
Why can’t Ryan just simply say: I’m hearing some good ideas from our conservative colleagues and we’re going to work with them to address their concerns. Thats what they do with moderates. But no, instead they insist the bill is the most conservative thing ever and anyone who disagrees is a liberal who doesn’t understand conservative policy.
Take a look at Ryan’s interview with Tucker Carlson. He literally says the reason we can’t do repeal the way conservatives want is because of reconciliation and conservatives just don’t understand how things work. Really?! We repealed MORE under reconciliation with Obama in the White House than we are with the GOP holding the majorities in the House, the Senate and our guy in the White House!
Sorry. We know for a fact more can be repealed because we did it already.
President Trump has said he wants to work with conservatives and fight for the people. Conservatives have openly said they are willing to take less than they want. GOP leaders say: you get nothing like always and we’ll just primary you like we did before.
My only contention with Kim Strassel’s column is this:  the conservative movement has grown up and understands the moment. GOP leadership has not and does not.