President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have a behind-the-scenes agreement by and between 28 members of the 36-member Freedom Caucus to blame for the embarrassing need to pull their bill before a vote and to admit defeat on the repeal of ObamaCare at least for now…and maybe forever.
I have blogged about the Freedom Caucus before and not in very generous terms. This group has support from some of the really conservative organizations in the country, and those groups apparently were only too happy to see this effort thwarted. That would seem to fly in the face of what a conservative group would be after unless maybe the Trump/Ryan effort was deemed not conservative enough.
The Freedom Caucus 28, as I’ll name them, agreed that not one of them would change their opposition to this bill without the courtesy of discussing that potential change with the other 27 members who had signed on for this effort. Of course, if one were leaning, the other 27 would lean even more heavily to convince that wayward soul from deviating from their mutual pact unless all agreed to end the pact and vote for the bill.
Reports indicate that the Republicans were 25 votes short of passage so the blame for non-passage can be laid squarely at the feet of the Freedom Caucus 28. There are some, likely non-fans of Ryan and maybe of Trump, who are gloating over this result. This could ultimately end Ryan’s Speaker-ship; that will remain to be seen in the next few days or weeks. This has apparently ended, at least for now, any effort to overturn ObamaCare. The two leaders of the Freedom Caucus are Rep. Mark Meadows, Chairman, and Rep. Jim Jordan, Vice-Chair.
So, this ugly (my definition) ending was the result of a seven-year effort to overturn ObamaCare, according to the Politico publication. The group behind the Freedom Caucus is the Club for Growth and Heritage.
President Trump has indicated that he is fully behind the Speaker, but time will tell us if that was heartfelt or simply felt to be politically necessary. Rep. Ryan (R-WI) has enemies within the ranks of Republicans. It is impossible to have such a leadership position and not have made enemies if you are effective in that role. It is not likely that Ryan’s supporters in his Wisconsin district will change their opinion of his suitability for the House. There has not yet been anything approaching an effective challenge to him from his district; although things such as this can breed a challenge quite quickly. If someone sees ‘blood in the water’ now that this defeat has occurred, he or she can mount a pretty effective campaign and likely attract the money necessary to run the race. I’d still put my money on Ryan, but that doesn’t help him since I don’t vote in that district.
This shows us that it is not only the liberals who can muck up a move in Congress. Conservatives did just fine at that last week. I will await the longer term impact that this action might have on members of the Freedom Caucus, and certainly on Paul Ryan.
It might also prove to be a turning point for conservatives in this session. I certainly hope that is not going to be the case BUT stranger things have happened. We have a U.S. Supreme Court seat to fill. What if the Freedom Caucus is told by its funding organization that they need to oppose a Supreme Court candidate who is not ‘conservative enough’? Would these same 28 to 36 see their way to doing the bidding of that organization again because without that organization they’d individually lose a lot of the contributions necessary to be re-elected? We’d like to think that wouldn’t occur, but then again no one thought this would occur when we all dislike ObamaCare and what it has done and continues to do to health care in this country.
There is a line in the story published by Politico that refers to this group as “ideological purists” and that is probably the best way to describe the group. The problem with ideological purity is that it means this group will be largely dysfunctional and that it will find it virtually impossible to get anything with its fingerprints on it passed simply because of its ideological purity.
The art of governing, certainly in this Congress, seems to be the art of negotiating to get the best bill possible from the group’s perspective without sinking the ship. This group grievously miscalculated whether or not it even understands that at this time. This group may prove to have been the driving force for assuring that Obamacare survives; that would be the complete reversal of what they thought they were doing, but it could well be the outcome.
They each will have to stand for re-election given that House terms are only two years long. They can rest assured that this debacle will hang over their individual and collective heads for some time to come, as it should. You can only twist the tiger’s tail a bit before that tiger consumes you. They might succeed in unseating Rep. Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House. That, in and of itself would be sufficient reason for unelecting them. They forget that they have stepped on the President’s foot in a very public and demeaning way.
I’d personally not want to have that albatross hanging around my neck come election time. So, Freedom Caucus 28, enjoy your time in the spotlight, and maybe you should give thought to registering with a good employment agency. Time flies.