Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 27, 2017


  • Who’s to blame for the GOP’s health care debacle, and what should be done now?
  • Education has gotten so unaffordable that even the upper middle class can’t afford it.
  • What’s the real agenda for the transgender movement? It’s not just media style guides.
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.


“Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.” —Benjamin Franklin (1771)


Who’s to Blame for the GOP’s Health Care Debacle?

By Todd Johnson

The Grand Old Party’s failure Friday to even hold a vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was a shock to veteran political observers and Republican voters alike. This weekend, many of the party faithful began to contemplate what went wrong and who should be held accountable. Blame is one thing; what to do next is another. To take that next step, though, we need to know how we got here.

Considering the size of the mess, there is a lot of culpability to go around. Some point to President Donald Trump, saying that his low approval ratings, along with his neglect of any guiding framework about health care policy in general, caused the efforts to collapse. His cajoling, threats and ultimatum failed.

Reason’s Peter Suderman argues, “This is the danger of a president who is so disinterested in policy particulars, especially when, like Trump, he expects to maintain a central role in the process. Trump’s character — his personal style and his habits of mind — prevent him from effectively negotiating complex legislation. And in this case, it meant that even with control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Republicans couldn’t put together an Obamacare repeal bill that could pass, or was worth passing. It’s a problem that is likely to continue to haunt conservative policy goals for as long as Trump is president.”

And just as we warned Friday, Trump blames conservatives. “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” he tweeted.

Others also blame the recalcitrant Freedom Caucus (which would gladly take credit for defeating a bad bill) and “moderate” Republicans, who often times have seemed more interested in starting an internecine war with one another than in passing comprehensive legislation.

But let’s take a look at the sizeable role House Speaker Paul Ryan played in this debacle. Ryan was not only the public face of the effort to pass the AHCA but also served as the primary architect of the plan and, in his role as speaker, he controlled the legislative calendar. Throughout key times in the process, Ryan made questionable judgments about his own caucus and the bill itself, and in the end, it was his failure to lead that brought about catastrophic results.

The Federalist’s Ben Domenech asserts, “Yes, AHCA failure is a failure for the president, but it’s much more a failure for House leadership and Paul Ryan. They had seven years to prepare for this moment, and they failed to do so sufficiently.” Not just that, he marvels, “How do you end up with, after seven years, a bill opposed by every major conservative, elderly, and doctors groups?” Indeed, the GOP bill had almost no public support.

Now, some may feel this criticism of Speaker Ryan is unwarranted and that the seeds of dysfunction in the Republican Party were planted many years ago. It is true that the party of Lincoln has had its share of infighting over the last decade, most recently when Ryan’s predecessor, Congressman John Boehner, resigned from the speaker post in 2015. However, when the 45-year-old Ryan took the gavel becoming the youngest speaker since the 19th century, he was a 17-year veteran of Congress so he had full knowledge of the atmospherics on Capitol Hill and that he was going to be dealing with an unruly and divided House GOP conference.

That’s why it’s surprising that Ryan didn’t seem to take the concerns of the Freedom Caucus and the centrist portions of his party more seriously over the last year. His initial misstep was the release of “A Better Way” back in June 2016. He hoped that the document would serve as a uniting policy document for the Republican Party. While the portions focused on tax reform and national security were embraced by many conservatives, the same could not be said for the health care section. It wasn’t clear on how ObamaCare would be repealed or how the proposed solutions would be funded. It also seemed to be a continuation of the Republican message that ObamaCare was so bad that any proposal would be better. It was a disappointing first step for a leader who had spent the previous six years criticizing the Affordable Care Act.

Ryan’s next major gaffe was the poorly constructed bill he showcased in early March. The initial legislation was panned for different reasons by members of his party and, of course, Democrats. It wasn’t just politicians in the nation’s capital who had real issues with his work. It was Republican governors, think tanks, and the Congressional Budget Office. All of these distinct groups had significant concerns over the proposed legislation, ranging from the number of people who would be without health insurance to cuts in Medicare spending.

Ryan and Trump initially tried to stem criticism of the initial bill by saying that the criticisms were unwarranted but they soon realized that their antagonists’ messaging was gaining traction and that they would have to react. On March 20, House Republicans modified their original bill but it did little to assuage the fears of their opponents. The new CBO numbers showed that Ryan’s revised plan would only cut the federal deficit by $150 billion (instead of twice that much) and still not provide coverage to 24 million Americans. In the end, those changes didn’t swing undecided Republican voters — at least not toward the bill.

Still, while many critics are already starting to produce requiems for Paul Ryan and the Republican Party, those assessments are premature at best. However, going forward, Ryan must learn from his grievous miscalculations and do a better job of leading his fractured party.

Ryan now says, “We’re going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future.” And Trump has promised to just move onto issues he actually cares about, while dismissively saying, “[T]he best thing we can do politically speaking is let ObamaCare explode.”

The effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare cannot end with this defeat. Conservatives shouldn’t lament this bill, but we also shouldn’t let our elected representatives give up. Too much has been given over the last seven years to achieve this goal to let this be the end.

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The Astronomical Cost of Higher Education

To demonstrate the outrageous nature of college education costs, consider a new study from the Institute for Higher Education Policy as reported in MarketWatch: “The study took 10 fictional students with incomes ranging from $2,706 for a student living independently from his parents to $162,995 for a student living with her family and calculated whether they could afford the net price — tuition minus any grant and scholarship aid — at more than 2,000 schools. What did they find? Even a student from a family earning more than $100,000 a year could only afford 41% of the schools. Students from poorer backgrounds couldn’t afford more than 90% of the colleges.”

Unfortunately, leftists keep pushing the wrong prescriptions for addressing this. Even “free” enrollment doesn’t cut it for some. In California, for example, lawmakers’ solution to escalating debt is to expand aid coverage. According to Fox News, “California lawmakers are pushing what could be the most comprehensive college aid program in the country, pitching a bill that not only covers tuition payments but other expenses like books and transportation.” That’s a horrible way to make higher education more “affordable,” because it just means taxpayers pick up even more of the tab. And once that happens, tuition inflation is free to run more wild than it already has.

We could begin rectifying the problem by first recognizing that government involvement is the problem. Taxpayer dollars function as fuel for an out-of-control fire — that fire being escalating college fees. As economist Thomas Sowell has noted, “In a normal market situation, each competing enterprise has an incentive to lower prices if that would attract business away from competitors and increase its profits.” Universities function quite differently, and the result is enormous tuition. Students will need to determine if their safe spaces are worth it.

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Forcing ‘Gender’ Conformity

On Friday, the Associated Press further embraced the transgender revolution via an email released to subscribers in which it listed updates for its style manual. These included an official redefinition to its understanding of the term “gender.” The AP has concluded that “gender” is not “synonymous with sex,” stating, “Gender refers to a person’s social identity while sex refers to biological characteristics.” The AP continued, “Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender, according to leading medical organizations, so avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders as a way to encompass all people.” This has continued a long trend of redefining terms.

But it’s not just style manuals. It’s forced conformity in life.

At a high school in Jasper, Indiana, a creative student produced and displayed copies of a flier entitled “Straight Pride.” The flier humorously and pointedly stated, “Celebrate being straight at JHS by not annoying the heck out of everyone about your sexual orientation! It’s easy! Just come to the JHS, then you go about your day without telling everyone about how ‘different’ and ‘special’ you are!” School officials quickly removed the fliers, and superintendent Tracy Lorey told parents that the fliers did not represent the majority of the students: “It is our intent to provide students opportunities to express themselves in a way that helps them to be understanding of the unique qualities of all individuals.” In other words, they only allow expressions of “diverse” thought which they find acceptable.

And of course, there is no room for freedom of speech or religion when it comes to the Left’s sacred cow of sexual deviancy. They seek to get one fired for holding the wrong opinion, whether it’s Mozilla’s Brendan Eich or the celebrated firing of an old coworker who wouldn’t bow to using the “right” pronoun. They pressure companies and sports leagues to boycott an entire state over a common-sense bathroom law as in North Carolina. They shut down a mom and pop bakery for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. They demand language usage be changed to accommodate the delusions of “non-binary” sexuality. Conformity, not diversity, is what the Rainbow Mafia and the Left demand.

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Top Headlines

  • Intelligence reports reveal improper political surveillance of Trump, transition team. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Kushner to lead new WH office focused on using business ideas to fix gov’t bureaucracy. (Fox News)

  • We don’t have to choose between Vladimir Putin and George Soros. (The Daily Signal)

  • Kentucky becomes second state to add police to hate crimes law. (Reason)

  • Democrat Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards pays women $12,000 less than men. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • North Dakota legalizes constitutional carry. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Seattle gun tax fails to generate projected revenue, succeeds in burdening rights. (NRA-ILA)

  • Palestinian terrorist who led women’s march will be stripped of citizenship. (Hot Air)

  • In 24 states, 50% or more of babies born on Medicaid; New Mexico leads nation with 72%. (CNS News)

  • College “diversity council” posts fake racist flyers. (Campus Reform)

  • Policy: The consequences of immigration for America’s public schools. (The Daily Signal)

  • Policy: House GOP has three options on health care. (Bloomberg View)

For more, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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For more, visit Right Opinion.


Peggy Noonan: “What politicians, those hardy folk, don’t understand about health care is how anxious it makes their constituents. Not suspicious, not obstinate, but anxious. Because unlike such policy questions as tax reform, health care can be an immediate life-or-death issue for you. It has to do with whether, when, and where you can get the chemo if you’re sick, and how long they’ll let you stay in the hospital when you have nobody, or nobody reliable and nearby, to care for you. To make it worse, the issue is all hopelessly complicated and complex and pits you as an individual against huge institutions — the insurance company that doesn’t answer the phone, the hospital that says ‘I’m afraid that’s not covered’ — and you have to make the right decisions. It’s all on you. Politicians don’t understand all this, in part because they and their families are well-covered on a government insurance policy, and they have staff to put in the claim and argue with the insurance company, which, when it’s a congressman calling, answers the phone in one quick hurry. They don’t know it’s not easy for everyone else. Or rather they know on some abstract level but forget in the day-to-day, as one does with abstractions. … People need simplicity and clarity. They deserve it. They’ll pay for it as best they can, a lot if they have to. But they need not to be jerked around anymore. And that is what Congress doesn’t know.”

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The Gipper: “With all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams.”

Donkey fight: “Do I regret not being president? Yes. I was the best qualified.” —Joe Biden, with a clear shot at Hillary Clinton

Village Idiots: “It is wrong to describe [last week’s terrorist attack] as ‘Islamic terrorism.’ It is ‘Islamist terrorism.’ It is a perversion of a great faith.” —British Prime Minister Theresa May

For the record: “[Republicans] picked the wrong issue at the wrong time and pursued it in the wrong way. (‘Constituent, should we focus on a better tax system or on health care?’ ‘Um, if you go with health care can it include suicide coverage?’)” —Peggy Noonan

You’re not helping: “Of course, ObamaCare has serious problems. Deductibles are too high. Premiums are too high. The cost of health care is going up at a much faster rate than it should. Ideally, where we should be going is to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right. And that’s why I’m going to introduce a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.” —Bernie Sanders

Braying Jackass: “As long as they say no more repeal. That’s a loser. Seventeen percent of Americans liked Trumpcare. That’s it. They didn’t want it. And stop undermining ACA. And we’ll work with them. We have ideas, they have ideas, to try to improve Obamacare. We never said it was perfect. We always said we’d work with them to improve it. We just said repeal was off the table.” —Chuck Schumer’s conditions for working with Republicans on health care

And last… “Congressional Republicans would do well in the future to assume that the president’s only real role in health-care reform is going to be signing the bill in a big, beautiful Rose Garden ceremony.” —Kevin Williamson

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