NOTHSTINE: 3 things wrong with Republicans in Washington

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act act known as Obamacare

Friday’s healthcare debacle is another stark reminder of the inept GOP leadership in Washington. After campaigning on repeal of the unpopular Affordable Care Act for seven years and passing a multitude of repeals in Congress, the emergence of a Republican president was supposed to finally signal the toppling of Obama’s signature legislative “achievement.” Perhaps too predictably, it fell apart. The continued rift in the GOP caucus and the blame game for another major broken promise in Washington clearly points to broader problems that plague the party of Lincoln. Here are just a few:Inability to reform federal governmentThomas Jefferson noted that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain around.” Yet, Republican governors and legislatures are making substantial progress for liberty-minded reforms at the state level. The GOP controls 32 state legislatures and completely controls the government in 25 states. They are running circles around their federal counterparts. In many instances, they are balancing budgets with ease, cutting taxes, placing limits on government, and rolling back regulations at a record pace.Despite Republicans having the largest majority in the U.S. House since the 1920s, not only did they fail to deliver on health care reform, but deep divisions already exist on the size, scope, and purpose of federal tax reform — supposedly the next major initiative of Donald Trump’s new administration. Much blame can be thrown at Trump for his disinterest in public policy and details, but he is merely a symptom of the inability of the GOP to deliver on promises.Before Trump’s rise, Republican majorities in Congress continually got rolled by former President Barack Obama’s mammoth budgets. While GOP division was less pronounced in opposition to Obama, now it must to find a way to unite behind workable conservative solutions. Tax reform seems like a unifying issue for Republicans, but so did universal opposition to Obamacare.Speaker Paul RyanThe embarrassing rollout of Obamacare repeal by House Speaker Paul Ryan reinforces the tone-deaf nature of his leadership. Making many of the same mistakes the Democrats made less than a decade ago (except for the part of getting it passed), Ryan crafted the bill in secret. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul highlighted the public relations disaster, bringing along reporters for photo-ops in search of the hidden bill. From there it seemed failure was inevitable. The bill bled support from both conservatives and moderates within the party. One of the fairest criticisms cited by conservatives was questioning the lack of free-market mechanisms to help alleviate skyrocketing premiums. Ryan, once touted as one of the “Young Guns” of Republican leadership, (he also supported TARP, the auto, and AIG bailouts) has never quite lived up to the hype.According to The Hill, Ryan even got down on bended knee to beg the longest serving House Republican to support his bill. His failed effort at begging a member to support legislation, that in theory should have broad backing, is emblematic of his weak and unprincipled leadership.Blaming the Freedom CaucusOne of the popular narratives in the media and among many establishment Republicans is to blame the Freedom Caucus for sabotaging Republican legislative efforts. As leader of the group, Rep. Mark Meadows is often depicted as the new arch villain on Capitol Hill. However, the Freedom Caucus has consistently argued they are supporting the GOP promise to put forward a clean repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. That a bill was crafted without their input and then they were chided to support it against their conscience, shows a greater problem with the GOP leadership than them. The healthcare battle reinforced the independence of the Freedom Caucus, and more importantly, that they are the strongest conscience of free-market reforms and the expansion of liberty working in Washington today.
Ray Nothstine is a member of the North State Journal’s editorial board, separate from the news staff. Unlike other newspapers, the North State Journal does not publish unsigned editorials; the author or authors of every editorial, letter, op-ed, and column is prominently displayed. To submit a letter or op-ed, see our submission guidelines.