Thom Tillis, the "conservative" GOP senator from North Carolina, has had a breathtaking week. First, he penned an op-ed piece in the Charlotte Observer that argued the national party must move to the middle of the political spectrum. And then, with much fanfare, he filed a bill that would deliver amnesty for illegal immigrants. This bill was announced before Trump could even begin construction on his wall; and before any other administrative controls could be instituted to prevent and reduce illegal immigration.
Tillis was so excited he could barely contain himself.
Of course, as Greg Brannon suggested this week, Tillis is a progressive. And we are stuck with him for at least four more years.
Tillis is also a Labor Supply Republican. His chief purpose in Washington is to expand the supply of workers on behalf of corporations so that labor costs are driven downward. If native born Americans whose families have been in this country for hundreds of years are hurt because of it, well, those are the breaks.
But Tillis is merely illustrative of many GOP members of Congress. His craven, conflicted, self-interested approach is shared by many of his contemporaries. It defines a subculture.
Many of us observing Donald Trump's first week in office are fairly satisfied so far. While we might not agree with everything, he is much better than Obama. There is no comparison.
The issue of Obamacare, however, is quite sticky; and the national Republicans are struggling with it.
Tillis-like GOP members of Congress are intensely fearful of taking an entitlement-- a charity program-- away from the American people. They also exceedingly fear an unstable interim period after repeal during which people might lose their coverage or perhaps cannot obtain replacement plans.
In addition, some within the GOP seem to be stuck on the issue of pre-existing conditions. But they fail to understand that forcing insurers to accept pre-existing conditions via guaranteed issue completely distorts the insurance markets, and blows the roof off the premiums for everyone else. It doesn't work... because it can't work.
Moreover, only some parts of Obamacare can be repealed with a reconciliation bill in the Senate. But large parts of it cannot be.
Repeal was supposed to be completed by tomorrow (Friday). But that has been delayed. The Republicans are getting cold feet:
Republicans in Congress said Wednesday that they probably won’t have a repeal bill by Friday, a deadline they’d previously said they’d meet.
It’s clear that Republican leaders have no intention to repeal the main insurance regulations of Obamacare and pursue simple free market ideas. Thus, they are twisted into knots trying to find excuses not to repeal the law but come up with some sort of package that gives the veneer of reform.
And today we learn that Paul Ryan is hoping to deal with Obamacare over the "next few months":
The next few months will include a continued focus on the GOP’s effort to repeal and replace the health care law. Ryan said Wednesday the goal was to complete that effort this spring, members and aides said.
“It’s got two or three pieces,” Collins said. “Repeal and some part of replace can be in reconciliation. There’s 1,400 different items within Obamacare that can be done by [Health and Human Services Secretary-designee Tom Price] once he’s in, in that group, and then there will be other potential replacement pieces that aren’t appropriate in the reconciliation that can roll out one by each.”
Congressman Collins was referring to the fact that the Secretary of HHS can invalidate or neuter many aspects of Obamacare through administrative action and rule-making. That is a hopeful message, but it would only last as long as Trump is in the White House. Some details are found here.
At least one of the national Republicans seems to have considerable courage and the capability for wily maneuvering-- the President. I hope he utilizes these strengths because they are in short supply elsewhere in Washington.