Monday, July 24, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 7/21/2017

"Shields and Brooks on Spicer stepping down, GOP health care bill fumble" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the week's news, including Republicans' failure to pass a health care reform bill, President Trump expressing his anger at Jeff Sessions to The New York Times, the abrupt resignation of former White Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and a cancer diagnosis for Sen. John McCain.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  But, first, the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

It's good.  It looks like you're paying attention.


MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Yes, Hari.


So, let's start with health care.  This week, we started with repeal and replace.  And then it went to repeal now, replace later.  Neither of those seem to be going anywhere.

MARK SHIELDS:  The Republicans' health care plan had three problems.  It wasn't healthy, it wasn't caring, and there was no plan.


MARK SHIELDS:  It was just that simple.

I mean, you can't get people to vote for something when they don't know.   (A) what it is, there's no public case for it, but, beyond that, it just — the conservatives, led by Rand Paul, objected that it didn't root out and repeal Obamacare.  That was correct.

And the moderates, embodied by Susan Collins, who we just saw in the previous piece, objected that it was going to hurt, unnecessarily and gratuitously, millions of Americans who are needy and depend on Medicaid.  True.

So, the two were almost irreconcilable.  And I think they can't figure out now how to leave the field without embarrassment.  Ideally, if you're a Republican, you do not want to vote on this.  You do not want to vote Tuesday, because it's going to be used against you.

It is incredibly unpopular.  It's got 16 percent support in the country.  There is not one person of the 213 in Republican — in the House of Representatives voted against it who regrets having voted against it.

And there are scores of House members in the 217 who voted for it who are nervous that they voted for it.  So, that's where it is.

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Yes, I don't think it's dead.

I think, from what I hear, they're leaning on Mike Lee, the senator who has been a no vote who is the decisive no vote, to change his mind, to buy him out with something and offer him something.  And then they figure, once they get him on board, there are probably another Republican 15 senators who would like to vote no, but they don't want to be the one person who kills it.

And so the feeling, if you can get Mike Lee, you can get some of the others.  And they might pass it.  I wouldn't say it's likely, but I think — I just think it's too early to say it's dead now.

The second thing to say is, Mitch McConnell has two parts of his job.  The one is to create a process where reasonable legislation gets promoted.  And the second is to whip for that legislation.

I think he did an abysmal job on one job and a pretty good job on job two.  As Mark said, you have got a plan with 16 percent approval.  Nobody in the Senate likes it, including the Republicans.  They all hate having to vote for it.  And he still got 48 votes.  That's kind of impressive.

But the underlying problem is, you have a chance to change, to reform health care.  There are a lot of conservative ideas to reform health care.  And it would solve some problems.  You could pick some things that a lot of people would like.  You could have catastrophic coverage for the 20-odd million people that are still uninsured after Obamacare.

You could do a lot of — offer a lot of things to a lot of people and do it in a conservative way.  But that's not what this Republican Party does.  They just say, we want to cut Medicaid.

And they're unwilling to talk about anything positive, though there are some things in the bill.  It's just, what can we take away from you?  And what can we take away from the poor and the needy and the children?

And it's a publicity and a substantive disaster area that they're just trying to live with.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  What about the President's role in this?

MARK SHIELDS:  The President's role in it is mercurial.

He said let Obama founder and burn.  Then the next day, he says no, within 24 hours to the Republican senators, you have got to come up with a plan.  He knows nothing about the specifics.  He knows nothing about the substance.  He's made no public case for it.

I don't — I think David makes a very compelling point.  I would just say this, that Mitch McConnell had a reputation as this master strategist.  And what Mitch McConnell's greatest accomplishment as leader has been is that he denied a hearing to one of the sixth most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court in the last century.  That's it.

There's a big difference between obstruction and construction and putting together a coalition.  And it's a lot easier to get people to vote against something than it is to vote for something and to take a chance.

And when you're denied the individual mandate, that is you let healthy young people not pay anything, you leave as a pool of people for insurance who are older and sicker.  Therefore, it's going to be more expensive.

I mean, you know, this isn't rocket scientists, in spite of the President saying it's a lot more complicated than it is.

DAVID BROOKS:  I thought something important happened with the Republican views with the president.

They were having all these meetings in the White House.  And, apparently, they'd have these substantive meetings with Mike Pence or with somebody else, with staff.  And they would talk through things.  They would try to make some progress.

And then the President would dip in and do something, say something extremely stupid, extremely ill-informed.  And then they would all groan and live through it and wish he would leave.  And then he would go.

And so that could be a change in psychology.  Everybody in the Senate has problems with the President.  But if you begin to have, oh, he's just the 'crazy uncle,' like an attitude of contempt, then relationships between the Republicans on the Hill and the White House really do begin to change.

It's not some guy, oh, he has some political magic.  It's some guy who really just is annoying and gets in the way.

No comments: