Steve's Blog

Republican Disgruntlement

Republicans should be feeling pretty good about things right now. There’s a Republican in the White House. There’s a Republican majority in the Senate (albeit a narrow one, 52 to 48.) We have a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and a Republican Speaker. The U.S. Supreme Court leans conservative, with a very good chance that it could get far more conservative with the retirement and replacement of Justices Kennedy and/or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

At the state level, Republicans control more than twice as many governorships and legislatures as the Democrats do. Using an expression that my Southern colleagues often use, Republicans ought to feel like we’re “in high cotton.” But we don’t.

Here’s my take on things. First of all, the Democrats, liberals, progressives, The Left, whatever you want to call the opposition, still hasn’t recovered from losing the last election. They’ve pretty much recovered from being shell-shocked, and now they’re on the warpath. They’re energized, they’re angry, they’re organized, and they hate us, and everything we stand for.

Our base, conservatives, are also angry. But the usual targets of their enmity, are gone. Barack Obama is no longer President. Hillary Clinton lost, and is mostly gone. Nancy Pelosi is no longer Speaker. Democrats in Congress are in the minority, and therefore aren’t really seen as much of a threat anymore.

So who is the Republican base mad at? They’re mad at us, just like the Democrats are. We’re not getting enough done. We’re not supporting President Trump enough (or we’re supporting him too much.) We’re not draining the swamp.

Why is this? Well, first of all, the public for the most part doesn’t differentiate between the House and the Senate. They don’t care that the House actually voted to repeal Obamacare. The Senate didn’t. So CONGRESS failed to keep its promise. They don’t care that the House has passed over 200 bills, that the Senate has just sat on. The CONGRESS isn’t doing anything.

The problem is the Senate’s rules. They’re stupid. They allow the minority to block a vote on anything and everything, unless 60 Senators say nope, let’s vote. Since there are only 52 Republican Senators, the Democrats can block a vote on anything and everything they want, and usually do.

The one exception is a usually once-a-year process called Reconciliation, when you only need a simple majority to have a vote, not 60. That’s the process that was being used to get a vote on repealing Obamacare. Unfortunately, a couple of Republican Senate prima-donnas felt they knew better than all their Republican colleagues, and voted with the Democrats to block the repeal of Obamacare. And we all got the blame for the actions of a few Senate malcontents.

Now we’re trying to keep our commitment to overhaul and simplify the income tax code. I’m confident that the House will overcome any differences we have, and pass tax reform. However, after the Senate healthcare debacle, I can’t say I have a lot of confidence in their ability to do much of anything.

The Senate Democrats will ACT like they are willing to work together in a bipartisan fashion, blah, blah, blah. But none of them will actually VOTE for the plan, unless their votes are not needed.

As for Senate Republicans? God only knows. They might offend someone. Somebody might get mad at them. Oh no, there’s an election coming up. It’s just too hard. We’ll see. The irony is, if the Republican Senate blows it again, like they did with healthcare, the House is more likely to feel the pain. That’s because only a third of the Senate is up for re-election next year, and 10 of those Senate seats up for grabs are Senate Democrats who are in states that Donald Trump won. So Senate Republicans should do pretty well next year, despite their lousy record.

In the House on the other hand, all 435 seats are up for grabs (as they are every two years.) Republicans currently have a 24 seat majority over the Democrats, and Republicans hold 23 seats that Hillary won last time. So if there’s blowback from disgruntlement over lack of progress, it’s more likely to be felt in the House than in the Senate (even though that disgruntlement is the Senate’s fault.)

Of course, no one ever said it was going to be fair, or easy.

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