Monday, March 27, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 3/24/2017

"Shields and Brooks on Obamacare repeal failure, Gorsuch grilling" PBS NewsHour 3/24/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including the GOP's abandonment of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, plus the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe and the Supreme Court confirmations hearings for nominee Neil Gorsuch.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  But first to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Gentlemen, I'm sorry there is no news to talk about today, but let's see what we can find. (sarcasm)

Mark, seriously, the move today in the Congress and by the president to pull this health care bill, what is there to say?  The Republicans wanted — they said for months that this is what was going to happen.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  The first thing, Judy, is, I think, a general statement.  The Republican Party is an opposition party.  It's a protest party.

We have a protest President.  We have a protest party.  It's not a governing party.  It showed itself unable to accept the responsibility and the accountability of governing.

This bill wasn't a bad bill.  This bill was just an abomination.  There was no public case that could be made for the bill.  There was no public argument that could be made for the bill, because nobody knew what was in it.  There was no public campaign for the bill, because no organizations — every organization that cares — that was involved in medical care, whether it was the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, they were all against the bill.

It was a terrible bill.  There was nothing organized.  The only organizing principle is, it was against Barack Obama.  And Paul Ryan, a very earnest policy wonk, showed himself to be an inept political leader.  He couldn't even lean on the safest seats in his own party's caucus.

Those are ones you say, these are people who are really not threatened for reelection.  I need you.  You have to vote.

He couldn't even do that.  And Donald Trump showed he has no understanding of the legislative process.  He dealt in adjectives.  It was wonderful, fantastic, glorious.  He had no idea what was in it.  The Art of the Deal just collapsed, and this is a man who gave away the store to the Freedom Caucus, and got nothing in return, didn't even get their votes.

I mean, on no count was this anything but a disaster politically, and public policy, and just for the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  How do you explain it, David?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Well, all those things contributed; Trump's bad negotiation, lack of experience, the factionalism.

And people talk about divisions within the party, blah, blah, blah, but the core problem was philosophical and intellectual.  The problem was with the substance of the bill.  We live in a country that has widening inequality, where there's a lot of people very — being very insecure.

And the Republicans could have taken some of their approaches, like the tax credits, like the health savings accounts and a lot of things, and to deal with the country as it is, as, say, take those mechanisms, market mechanisms, to reduce costs, but to give people basic security and shore up the coverage that they have now.

But, instead of doing that, they gave a bill that was, like, out of 1984 (the book), which devastated the poor, $880 billion cut out of Medicaid, while enriching the rich, increasing the after-tax incomes of people making more than a million dollars by 14 percent.

So, this was like every stereotype of the Republican Party.  And so it just didn't fit the country.  And the core problem for the Republicans is they can't figure out what they want to govern.

Even if they were the best and most efficient legislators in the history of the world, if you don't know what you want to do, and you don't know how you're going to address this country's problems, you're going to wind up with bills which are superficial, intellectually incoherent and unpopular.

And the last Quinnipiac poll had this at 17 percent.  And so it was a failure of understanding, what we do we want to do?  That's what killed this bill.

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