Header Image (book)


Thursday, March 30, 2017

The U.S. Senate And The 2018 Midterm Election

Since the AHCA was pulled from the House floor, many GOPers have been in mourning.

But perhaps all is not gloom and doom — except, of course, for those who will have to endure health insurance woes in the form of soaring premiums and limited provider options for those insured by ObamaCare.

From It was a good week for the GOP. But it could have been great (March 25, 2017 opinion piece by Hugh Hewitt, not a diehard Trump supporter)
...Democrats face a potential disaster with 25 of their seats up in 2018 and only eight of the GOP incumbents campaigning....
The entire essay is copied and pasted below the fold for those of you who do not have a subscription to the Washington Post.  All emphases mine
The pulling of the GOP health-care bill this week was a big loss, and perhaps significant beyond its own costs, as it may signal that the “Area 51” sub-caucus within the Freedom Caucus is made up not so much of conservative Republicans as parties of one with no interest in an agenda shared beyond whatever exists in the space between their own ears.

But it was still, the record must show, a very good week for the conservative cause generally and President Trump specifically. He promised a worthy successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, and Judge Neil Gorsuch proved to be that in his hearings. Gorsuch also seems to have triggered the return of the now-Charles E. Schumer-led political madness of the Harry Reid era. Schumer, the Senate minority leader, has promised a filibuster of Gorsuch, which will oblige Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to invoke the “Reid Rule” — which allows the Senate’s rules and precedents to be changed by a simple majority vote. The first application of the Reid Rule allowed Democrats to avoid supermajority confirmation of life-tenured federal appellate and district court judges and executive branch nominees. The second application would break the rule about supermajority confirmation of Supreme Court justices. Originalists have long wanted this result. Now we will get it, along with a great originalist justice in Neil Gorsuch.

So Trump had good reason to shake off the rebuff from the Freedom Caucus and the pulling of the health-care bill, and despite his Oval Office aside about being surprised by the lack of loyalty in the caucus, he was loyal to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, as was Ryan to Trump. This bodes well for the party and for governing over the next 18 months.

What doesn’t bode well is the shared decision of president and speaker to advance next on tax reform, with the twin political death traps of abolition of the home mortgage interest deduction and the state and local taxes deduction. I expect (and hope) for a loss on those Beltway Holy Grails not sought by many, if any, outside of it. A corporate tax cut, yes, and tax simplification, yes, but not two big intraparty squabbles and crackups in a row.

Better to go for infrastructure, including the border wall, and best of all, the fulfillment of the promise of a 350-ship Navy and the general defense buildup that needs to surround that Trump goal.

To that end, though, there needs to be a nomination rush, and soon, in both the Defense and State departments. And those nominees need to be Republicans.

This is the good week that could have been much better. Putting a 30-year-plus originalist on the court would be a history-maker. A legislative loss is an inevitability. The latter is disappointing, but the lessons learned along the way are invaluable to everyone, even the Republican members who will be punished in ways large and small in the weeks, months and years ahead.

I would have preferred the best of weeks. But I’d take a likely SCOTUS confirmation over a one-house-of-Congress win any day. The real pain millions will continue to feel from the accelerating collapse of Obamacare could have been avoided, but as the president and others have noted, “collapse and replace” may have political advantages over “repeal and replace.” I’d prefer real reform, but the political benefits are not bad consolation prizes.

The GOP leadership team needs to keep planning and keep pressing, and the 2018 cycle has to adjust for some casualties from among the inside-the-caucus wreckers who will draw primary challengers and thus be bled before the general. But on the Senate side, where Democrats facing the 2018 midterms were probably hoping for some health-care theatrics in their chamber to wipe away the memory of Gorsuch, the smiles are forced.

A good week for the GOP. It could have been a great one.

Now, though, with Aetna’s president voicing what everyone blessed with behind-closed-doors objectivity understands — that the Obamacare “death cycle” is real — the opportunity for legislation shifts to the Senate, where the doors of Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Finance Committee, must be open to ranking Democrats Patty Murray (Wash.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) should the latter want to approach the former with reform proposals. Democrats face a potential disaster with 25 of their seats up in 2018 and only eight of the GOP incumbents campaigning. The urgency to find a fix to Obamacare’s collapse should be on Senate Democrats. If they can find a way to gracefully exit the nightmare of Obamacare without calling it a repudiation of the former president, the Senate GOP should listen and consult with Trump and Ryan about genuine bipartisan compromises. Those could include immigration regularization, targeted infrastructure, tax reform and, of course, the defense buildup via an end to the sequester. A big deal would have to come out of the Senate, and it would have to be mostly — though not exclusively — the GOP’s agenda, and it might keep Democratic losses down to a handful of seats in 2018.

That way, of course, votes the Area 51 sub-caucus of the Freedom Caucus off the island. But that’s what they asked for. They prefer their late-night meetings and cold-pizza breakfasts to legislation that addresses the country’s many deep problems. If Alexander and Hatch start meeting with Murray and Wyden, good — not great, but good — things could happen.
The next year and a half will be one bumpy ride. To minimize the deleterious effects upon your health and your sanity, I recommend that you limit your daily exposure to the news — and the fake news.

It's going to be bumpy night after bumpy night ad infinitum on the nightly news:


  1. The GOP has sadly mistaken the reaction of this ACA epic fail. I suggest it is the Gopers who will be held accountable for this fiasco.

    1. Bunkerville,
      May they be held to account in 2018 and following!

  2. It may well be an interesting midterm in '18. Especially if Trump keeps threatening the House Freedom Caucus.

    - CI

  3. Hard to say how the Republican base is going to react. They con job should intensify.

    1. The Affordable Care Act will be here for the foreseeable future and the media blitz will be on to convince the right that health care costs continue to rise as a result. Never mind that costs would have bn higher still under the defunct House bill.

    2. Security is nebulous. Obama had a sound plan against ISIS and it appears they will continue to lose territory as their death throes continue.
    In order to try to continue ISIS will attempt to promote lone wolf attacks. Whether they hit America or they remain largely a European issue will not stop Trump form stupidity like the travel ban.
    Won't resolve anything but the base will be somewhat satisfied.

    3. Tax reform will continue to transfer wealth upward. Capital repatriation will pass to help fuel an equity bubble and there will be an upper income tax reduction. The working class base will see nothing. Remains to see how they react.

    4. The wall. This is just a sad joke. He may start it but trying to pay for it with cuts to agencies like the NIH might backfire.

    5. The coal jobs ain't coming back. Whether people in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky react adversely depends on whether they can be suckered into believing climate regulation is to blame.

    So he's not going to deliver on anything and Hugh may have trouble pinning it on the Dems rather than the structural problems in the country.

  4. If the president regards the Freedom Caucus as an enemy, my enthusiasm for him will quickly wither and die.

    The Freedom Caucus represents the Last Best Hope for preserving whateer may be left of the identity of our nation as it was founded.

    There's no point in "winning," if all you wind up with is a boxful of dirt or bag full of hot air.

    As James Thurber famously observed, "He who hesitates is sometimes ––– SAVED."

    The bill hastily conjured up by Paul Ryan, –– who tried to ram it down everyone's throat and mercifully FAILED ––, would not have accomplished anything even remotely like the results all of us poor ignorant common folk put Donald Trump and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate into office to do.

    If Obamacare is a work of the Devil –– metaphorically speaking –– all adults should know by no that you can NOT compromise with Beelzebub, and expect to get anything better than an axe in the neck, a knee in the groin, a good swift kick in the shins, and a knife in your heart.

    "When will they ever learn?"

    Apparently no time soon, if ever.

    1. If the president regards the Freedom Caucus as an enemy, my enthusiasm for him will quickly wither and die."

      You're just NOW figuring out Trump is a left-wing douchebag?

    2. TC,
      I'm not sure that Trump is left-wing. In some respects, he doesn't adhere to any particular political ideology.

    3. Oh yeah? Which political ideology posits that its centrally planned government bureaucracy will make its nation great? Free market libertarians?

    4. You've got to accentuate the positive
      Eliminate the negative
      And latch on to the affirmative
      Don't mess with Mister In-Between

      You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
      Bring gloom down to the minimum
      Have faith or pandemonium's
      Liable to walk upon the scene

      To illustrate my last remark
      Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
      What did they do just when everything looked so dark?

      (Man, they said "We'd better accentuate the positive")
      ("Eliminate the negative")
      ("And latch on to the affirmative")
      Don't mess with Mister In-Between (No!)
      Don't mess with Mister In-Between

      (Ya got to spread joy up to the maximum)
      (Bring gloom down to the minimum)
      (Have faith or pandemonium's)
      (Liable to walk upon the scene)

      You got to ac (yes, yes) -CEN-tchu-ate the positive
      Eliminate (yes, yes) the negative
      And latch (yes, yes) on to the affirmative
      Don't mess with Mister In-Between
      No, don't mess with Mister In-Between

      ~ lyrics by Johnny Mercer (1943) - music by Harold Arlen


    5. AoW is correct, Trump doesn't seem to follow any coherent ideology, in fact coherence of any sort would be out of character for him. There's plenty in him that's unpalatable to proponents of either wing; but that's true of free market libertarianism too.

      Clearly politics doesn't meaningfully compress down onto one axis, it's more complicated than that. The Nolan chart is an improvement, but two axes is still too few.

    6. My point was there is absolutely not a damn thing about Trump whatsoever that places him "right of center."

    7. My point was there is absolutely not a damn thing about Trump whatsoever that places him "right of center."

  5. Supposedly, there is work already on a second try, even though we were assured it was "this or nothing"
    That would change everything.

  6. __ Why the West is Dying __

    Two! Four! Six! Eight!
We must all degenerate.

    Six! EIght! Two! Four!
Critics now must play the whore.

    Why - Should - This - Be?
Because we must bow to P-C.

    What - Made - This - True?
    We must thank The Jutabu.

    Truth, when it's suppressed
Makes society distressed.

    A Reign of Dishonesty

    Means that no one can be free.

    Democracy will cease to be
When we bow to Hypocrisy.

    ~ FreeThinke

  7. _______+ School Guerilla ________

    Schools now function more as killing fields.
    Careless parents –– cultural decay ––
    Hopeless lack of leadership that yields
    Only cowardice sure to delay

    Overcoming suicidal urges ––
    Leading always first to homicide ––
    Gives vent to pious hypocrites’ dull dirges ––
    Useless noises no one should abide.

    Evil flourishes among the lazy.
    Recalcitrance must be forever fought.
    Indolence and insolence make crazy
    Losers. When inadequately taught ––

    Legions –– long conditioned to lay blame
    Away from Self –– have made our world grow lame.

    ~ FreeThinke

  8. _______ Withering Scorn _______

    Who could say what motivates the Mob?
    Immodestly I say it isn’t I.
    The preference seems to be for those who rob
    Hope from those who still would like to try
    Elevation over Desecration ––
    Repair and not despair at what we dread.
    It seems the Mob prefers alienation ––
    Not Healing –– only Enmity instead.
    Grumbling is easier than building
    Submitting to the impulse to surrender
    Captures for the League of Fakers gilding
    Offal –– yet another sad Pretender.
    Responding to the instinct to stampede
    Never made the Tides of Fear recede.

    ~ FreeThinke

  9. ________ To Intelligence ________

    The dreary world becomes exhilarating
    Once an eagerness to know prevails.
    Imagination moves debilitating
    Non-essentials far. On golden sails

    The soul may soar free from Fear’s embrace.
    Erratic and erotic fancies melt,
    Liquefy, then dry, and leave no trace.
    Love without the taint of lewdness felt

    Impels towards a blissful, trance-like state,
    Glowing, warming, healing, energizing,
    Endlessly enjoying all that’s great,
    Novel, brilliant, filled with depth, realizing

    Coarse temptations beastly and exotic
    Empty us, then lead toward the psychotic.

    ~ FreeThinke

  10. ________ Elation for Days ________

    Speak quietly. It helps to soothe the nerves.
    Yelling –– any harshness –– is abrasive ––
    An agitating force no one deserves
    Denying peace, obnoxious and invasive.

    Refresh the soul with calm, sweet introspection.
    Opening the mind clears out the dross.
    Find serenity under prayer’s direction.
    Needs depart, as does the pain of loss,

    Only when we lift our thoughts to Heaven.
    Images of all that’s bright and clean
    Transcend gloom and sagging spirits leaven,
    As on the rock of Truth we safely lean.

    Leave resentment, fear, distrust behind;
    Endure with patience, and sweet peace you’ll find.

    ~ FreeThinke

  11. ________ A Simile Suggested _______

    Once so fresh, so pure, so white, so chaste ––
    Pristine glory –– virginal –– Divine ––
    Cannot help, once in this world of waste,
    But lose appeal as it loses its shine.

    Life, a ceaseless process, wears us down,
    Sullies and defiles us from the creche,
    Layering grime on all who wear a crown,
    Till the fields, or pick the flowers fresh.

    Rulers and the slaves who do their bidding
    Nature treats without a hint of favor
    Of cruel equality there is no ridding ––
    Lives once faded start to lose their savor.

    And so, the way of piles of grimy snow
    Eventually, must every mortal go.

    ~ FreeThinke

  12. Flynn just asked for immunity. He's going to roll.

    More fake news from the failing WSJ. So unfair.

    Four more months. Four more months.

    1. duck, you're buying into the democrat/media drama too much. Trump for 8.

    2. I'm not betting on a timeline....but I've been expecting the unraveling to begin anytime.

      - CI

    3. The quicker you can get your USA government back under the thumb of establishment bureaucrats, the better!

      Toot Sweet!

    4. Hi Ducky,
      I thought you were too smart to gulp down the propaganda. Trump's not going anywhere because his most egregious crime is being a flamboyant blowhard.

      Flynn knows that once you're in the snare, and they determine there is no proof of the big charge against you, it ain't over. They gig you on little incidental "crimes."

      My Senator, Ol Schumer, said it best: "Don't mess with the Intelligence Police State, they got a million ways to Sunday to get ya."

      Having been on the inside, General Flynn knows that.

      Ask Scooter Libby. Colin Powell's brother from another mother Dick Armbag whispered about that DC gadfly once working for the CIA (which she and her pompous husband had already been bragging about all over DC for years), and little Scooter takes the fall. The Shrub didn't even give him a pardon.

      You should probably lay off watching Mika and the Marxists Snorting Non-reality Bolshevik Crap and brace yourself for this non-issue turning into an non-indictment and President Trump conducting four more years of bigly tweeting from the oval office.

      The first ones indicted and jailed will be the Obama mole leakers burrowed deep in the bowels of the Intelligent Police State. AG Sessions is already on their trail.

  13. I don't particularly believe this but let's say the GOP put forth the AHCA on pressure from the people that bribe them - lobbyists in the HC industry. They then had a wink-wink, non-nod plan to kill it before it could even get out of the house. They call their lobbyists and say hey this ain't gonna fly. Gotta be closer to what people voted for.

    Let's see what they come up with next. I fully expect them to have government heavily involved though which will suck for future folks trying to get health care. If it's libs, then that would justice served but unfortunately it will be everyone.

  14. The real reason insurance companies started dropping Obamacare is due to sabotage from the GOP. The ACA was reimbursing insurance companies for any losses they may have incurred during the first few years of the law. Marco Rubio and a number of other Republicans had succeeded in gutting these ‘risk corridors.’  The result was that, just in 2015, payments to insurance companies that were supposed to total around $2.9 billion were only reimbursed, to the tune of around $400 million.  Rubio bragged that he’d “saved taxpayers $2.5 billion. He screwed us all, is what he did.

  15. Love the All About Eve reference. Things are a bit bumpy but I do think it was the right thing to do in fighting this bill. The last thing the base needs is to feel betrayed YET AGAIN by another DC establishment conpromise (intentional word spelling) that leaves much of ObamaCare intact.

    I do caution however that as ObamaCare gets worse people will blame Trump and the Republicans for not fixing it.

    And Trump is VERY WRONG to blame the Freedom Caucus.

    I would have rather sent a full repeal and replace to the Senate and forced them to deal with it. I don't buy the limitations on reconciliation.

    But by all means, don't give up just because this monstrosity was pulled!

    1. Mike,
      If I read the signs correctly, several conpromises are coming down the pike.

      As for RyanCare, the bill was a disaster. And a betrayal! Definitely a monstrosity that shifted surreal premiums to the 55-64 age group.

      In the meantime, Trump is issuing EO's as promised. But when it comes to this Congress, they don't seem at all inclined to recognize that WE THE PEOPLE spoke on November 8 and no longer want things as usual.

      The 2018 midterms may be a bloodbath for the GOP. Do you agree, Mike?


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective