- The Washington Times
Thursday, March 30, 2017

First there was Hillarycare, then Obamacare, Trumpcare and Ryancare. Now trending: Swampcare, which has floated to the surface as the health care challenge grows murky indeed. Americans are hard-pressed to sort out who’s on what side of the health care debate — and whether President Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan or the Freedom Caucus are heroes, villains or pawns. Meanwhile, the media has shaped the public narrative to depict the Democratic Party and President Obama as either omnipotent policymakers or unfairly targeted victims. Well, nothing is new here. Welcome to Capitol Hill and the fog of legislative process.

There’s plenty of advice out there for Republicans, much of it warning the GOP to repeal and replace Obamacare or risk losing valuable bedrock voters in the fast-approaching 2018 midterm elections. Some factions insist the setback is just a hiccup. Others insist that dithering Republicans are falling for Democratic ploys; still more suggest Mr. Trump has unleashed a master strategy of some sort and ultimately will win in the end.


A nimble coalition of conservative groups plans to weigh in regularly on it all — including representatives from such organizations as For America, Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, Family Research Council and more. Others have specific suggestions.

“We are glad to see Speaker Ryan is ready to work with conservatives to improve Obamacare repeal, and to bring back competition and lower health insurance costs, just as President Trump promised. To do that the repeal effort needs to include these core principles that will drive down the cost of health insurance,” says David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth.

He wants interstate competition in the House or Senate version of the legislation, plus rollback of more costly Obamacare insurance regulations, which could yield savings in federal spending on tax credits. Mr. McIntosh also suggests pre-existing conditions be handled by “state high-risk pools.”

He adds, “If House leadership remains stuck on an Obamacare bill that does not deal with these issues, Republicans will pay the price in 2018, when health care costs are continuing to spike upward.”

RYAN‘S NUMBERS DROP

A new Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that public opinion of Speaker Paul D. Ryan and the House Republicans — but not President Trump — has diminished after “Trumpcare” stalled on Capitol Hill.

“And that loss of support comes almost entirely from Republicans and Trump voters — not Democrats,” points out Kathy Francovic, an analyst for the pollster.

Last week, 59 percent of Republicans approved of Mr. Ryan’s job performance. This week, approval dropped 12 points to 47 percent. Mr. Trump’s approval remained unchanged. But it’s a complicated business. The pollster also found that many Americans don’t know who to blame for the legislative snarl. So does the blame go to Mr. Trump, Mr. Ryan, conservative Republicans, Democrats? See the Poll du Jour at column’s end for the numbers.

FRIENDS OF GORSUCH

Well, the retailers like him. The Retail Industry Leaders Association has publicly urged the Senate to hurry up and confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, calling him “eminently qualified.” Does their endorsement matter? Yeah, maybe.

The organization represents 200 retailers, manufacturers and service providers who account for $1.5 trillion in sales; the membership includes the CEOs of such name brands as AutoZone, Petco, Target, Lowe’s Coca-Cola, Intel, Walgreens, IKEA, Costco, CarMax, 7-Eleven, Rite Aid, Dollar General, CVS, Foot Locker, Best Buy, IBM, Wegman’s, Nike, Staples — and the impressive list goes on.

A NYET MOMENT

“Read my lips: No.”

— Russia President Vladimir Putin, when asked if Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, to CNBC reporter Geoff Cutmore. Mr. Putin made his remarks at a recent forum in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk.

“Putin answered by quoting former President George H.W. Bush. For emphasis, he pronounced the last word in English,” points out Vladimir Isachenkov, an Associated Press correspondent in Moscow.

HILLARY’S ROADSHOW

San Francisco, Washington, New York City. Let the speeches begin. Those are the cities where Hillary Clinton has speaking engagements in just over a week’s time, complete with endless adoration from the press. When Mrs. Clinton appeared at a diversity conference in ‘Frisco earlier this week, gushing journalists could not get over her newly bobbed hair and black leather jacket — not a pastel pantsuit in sight. The former presidential hopeful urged her audience to “resist,” among other things.

Friday, Mrs. Clinton will be in the nation’s capital to address the role of women in international politics and peace-building efforts at the Georgetown University Institute for Women Peace and Security. Next week she’ll be a featured star at the “Women in the World” summit at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, to be interviewed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: The Alango School and Teacherage, built in 1927 on 10 acres near Angora, Minnesota. Former 16,000-square-foot school and teacher’s residence restored and current rental property. Classrooms, commercial kitchen, gymnasium with working scoreboard, stage and other features; original woodwork and historic architectural details preserved; new roof. Includes principal’s residence with detached garage. Priced at $369,000 through Banninrealestate-mn.com; find the home here.

POLL DU JOUR

• 29 percent of Americans are not sure who to “blame” for the failure of Republicans to pass the American Health Care Act; 21 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree.

• 21 percent overall blame President Trump; 7 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

• 14 percent overall blame Democrats who opposed the bill; 31 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents and 4 percent of Democrats agree.

• 14 percent overall blame conservative Republicans who opposed the bill; 12 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

• 14 percent overall blame House Speaker Paul D. Ryan; 20 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted March 26-28.

• Big talk and chit-chat to jharper@washingtontimes.com  Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin


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