Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Freedom Caucus chairman opposes GOP Obamacare replacement

The chairman of the House Republican caucus has said that he opposes the current Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The statements by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to CNN focused on a bill drafted in early February and leaked last week. At issue was how health care premiums paid by individuals will be treated by the IRS.

The draft version of the bill contained a provision that replaced Obamacare’s subsidies with a refundable tax credit for money paid in health insurance premiums to private plans. The credit would vary between $2,000 for people under 30 and $4,000 for taxpayers aged 60 to 64. Premiums paid toward employer-sponsored health plans would not be eligible for the credit.

“What is conservative about a new entitlement program and a new tax increase? And should that be the first thing that the President signs of significance that we sent to the new President?” Meadows said. “A new Republican president signs a new entitlement and a new tax increase as his first major piece of legislation? I don't know how you support that -- do you?”

Meadows argued that the tax credits would increase government expenditures on health insurance and complained that they were not focused on the needy. “So the headline is that the GOP is reducing subsidies to needy individuals when in fact, the growth of the taxpayer-subsidized reimbursements will actually increase. The total dollars that we spend on subsidies will be far greater,” he said. “So you can be a millionaire and not have employer-based health care and you're going to get a check from the federal government -- I've got a problem with that.”

Rep. Mark Walker (R-Ala.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, also opposes the bill in its current form. In a statement, Walker said, “The draft legislation, which was leaked last week, risks continuing major Obamacare entitlement expansions and delays any reforms. It kicks the can down the road in the hope that a future Congress will have the political will and fiscal discipline to reduce spending that this Congress apparently lacks.”

Sources within the GOP told CNN that the current version of the bill is similar to the leaked version opposed by Meadows and Walker. They also said that tax credits are not a new idea for health care reform.

“Tax credits have long been a part of Republican health care plans, including the one authored by now-Secretary (Tom) Price that had broad support from members of the (Republican Study Committee) and Freedom Caucus,” an unnamed GOP aide said in a statement.

The argument is over the distinction between tax credits and tax deductions. Tax deductions reduce the amount of taxes owed by reducing taxable income. On the other hand, tax credits are applied directly to the tax owed and reduce it on a dollar-for-dollar basis. If the tax credit is refundable, the credit can also be used to increase tax refunds. Under the current GOP plan, taxpayers would receive refundable tax credits for buying health insurance that could be refunded if they had no tax liability.

Freedom Caucus members support a vote on a repeal bill that was vetoed by President Obama in 2015, considering the current bill weaker than the earlier one that did not include a replacement plan. “We didn't promise the American people that we would repeal it, except we're going to keep Medicaid expansion,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “We didn't promise the American people except we're going to keep some of the tax increases in it. We certainly didn't promise the American people we're going to repeal it but we're going to start this whole new entitlement called advanced refundable tax credits,” Jordan said. “I think this is the wrong thing to do.”

The problem with the Freedom Caucus strategy is that the GOP could repeal Obamacare with a simple majority using the budget reconciliation, the same way the Democrats passed the legislation, but later votes on a health care reform package would be subject to Democrat filibusters. Republicans would need a minimum of eight Democrat votes for cloture, meaning that future reform bills would probably have even more unpopular aspects to divide the GOP.

The current balance of power in the Senate is 52 Republicans to 48 Democrats. This means that, even with a repeal using the budget reconciliation, no more than two Republicans can defect and the bill still pass. Republicans have a 22 vote margin in the House.

President Trump and the Republican leadership favor a comprehensive approach that combines repeal with a replacement plan. The bet is that Republicans like Meadows and Walker won’t vote to preserve Obamacare, even if they have reservations about the Republican version of reform.

“You’re a Republican, you’ve been running to repeal Obamacare, they put a repeal bill in front of you,” hypothesizes Doug Badger, a Republican health policy advisor, in the Wall Street Journal. “Are you going to be the Republican senator who prevents Obamacare repeal from being sent to a Republican president who is willing to sign it?”

Originally published on The Resurgent

Monday, February 27, 2017

Infowars Gets Scoop on Trump Speech to Congress

The normalization of “fake news” sites by President Trump continues as Infowars is granted an exclusive look at tomorrow night’s speech by the president. The conspiracy site founded by Alex Jones interrupted its exposés of false flag operations to publish a bulleted list of talking points from President Trump’s upcoming address to Congress. The article notes that “It should be noted this was not a leak, but was given directly to Infowars.”

According to the article, “In Tuesday night’s speech, he [Trump] will lay out an optimistic vision for the country that crosses the traditional lines of party, race and socioeconomic status. It will invite Americans of all backgrounds to come together in the service of a stronger, brighter future for our nation.”

“The President will lay out the concrete steps he has already taken to make the American Dream possible for all of our people,” the unattributed article says. “He will talk about how he wants to work with Congress to pass a bold agenda” including “tax and regulatory reform, making the workplace better for working parents, saving American families from the disaster of Obamacare, making sure every child in America has access to a good education, a great rebuilding of the American military and fulfilling our commitments to our veterans and making sure they have access to the care they need.”

Infowars, whose slogan is “there’s a war for your mind,” is best known for its hard-hitting reporting on issues such as the implementation of martial law in Texas under the guise of the Jade Helm military exercise and the claim that members of the Hillary Clinton campaign were involved in a pedophile ring allegedly run out of a District of Columbia pizzeria. These and many other Infowars stories were completely false.

The preferential treatment of Infowars by the Trump Administration comes as the president is increasingly hostile to the mainstream media. Last week, the Trump Administration blocked a number of outlets that had been critical of Trump from attending a press briefing.  Two days later, the president tweeted that he would not attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a function not missed by any president of either party since 1981 when President Reagan was forced to phone in remarks after he had been shot. At one point, Trump even said of the media, “They are the enemy of the people.”

Trump has also elevated Steve Bannon, the publisher of Breitbart News, to the National Security Council, and granted White House access to the Gateway Pundit, a partisan blog. Both Breitbart and Gateway Pundit are well known for their reporting of hoax stories.

Mr. Trump’s association with hoaxes and conspiracies goes back long before his successful presidential campaign. Trump promoted birther conspiracies about both Barack Obama and Ted Cruz. In 2014, Trump suggested that vaccines cause autism and, in 2016, suggested that the truth is not known about the September 11 attacks. Trump also suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

For years, the conspiracy blogs have tainted the reputation of the conservative movement and even served to divide the Republican Party between those who disagree with the left on policy grounds and those who believe that the left is controlled a secret cabal of murdering elites who, by the way, also control the Republican leadership. Now it seems that these purveyors of radical conspiracy theories are more acceptable to the new administration than real news organizations who are critical of the president.

The move to normalize the conspiracy sites is a transparent attempt by President Trump to bypass the mainstream media and take his message directly to his base. As Trump’s war with the press continues, it is likely that favored treatment of sketchy sites will continue as well.

Such actions will limit the ability of Republicans to appeal to moderate and independent voters and have policy proposals treated seriously. President Trump’s normalization and affirmation of these alternative media outlets does not bode well for the mainstream conservatives of the Republican Party.

Originally published on The Resurgent

NOTE: After this article was published, we learned that the information published by Infowars was not exclusive and had been sent to many media outlets. 

More than 1800 from banned countries entered US since travel ban was struck down

Since a federal judge suspended the enforcement of President Trump’s Executive Order temporarily halting the refugee resettlement program and immigration from seven countries, more than 1,800 refugees from the listed countries have immigrated to the United States. However, the number is consistent with figures prior to the Executive Order and does not indicate a stampede to immigrate before the ban is restored.

A Pew Research analysis of State Department data found that the largest numbers of refugees from banned countries came from Syria, Iraq and Somalia. There were 5,490 Syrians, 5,378 Iraqis and 4,480 Somalis. Only nine refugees were from Libya or Yemen. Admission of refugees from the seven countries almost totally halted after the Order was signed and then resumed after the federal court decision.

The total number of refugees from nations restricted by the Executive Order was not higher after the ban was reversed. The total number of refugees from the seven countries for Trump’s entire first month in office (Jan. 21 through Feb. 17) was 2,733. The number who arrived from those nations in Barack Obama’s last month in office was 2,883.

Refugees from the seven nations made up 45 percent of the total 6,095 refugees during Trump’s first month. Forty-three percent of these immigrants were Christian while 46 percent were Muslim. Each of the countries singled out has a Muslim majority, but several have significant Christian populations that have faced persecution from radicals.

So far, 36,217 refugees have been admitted during the current fiscal year, which began last October. Refugees from the restricted nations make up 49 percent of those immigrants.

The federal court order did not rescind the portion of the Executive Order that lowered the number of refugees allowed annually from 110,000 to 50,000. If this provision remains in place, only 14,000 additional refugees will be admitted until the next fiscal year begins.

The approval process for the recent refugee arrivals began 18 to 24 months ago. Before being admitted to the United States, they were screened and vetted by several federal agencies including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Since 2001, at least 72 immigrants from restricted countries were convicted on terror-related charges. Nevertheless, none of the successful terror attacks in recent years was carried out by citizens from the countries on the list. Many Iraqis have fought alongside American soldiers against al-Qaeda and ISIS. A leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security showed that the agency found citizenship to be an “unlikely indicator” of terrorist threats.

Since shortly after the ban was suspended, the White House has been considering rewriting the Executive Order to address the legal setback after initially vowing to prevail in court on appeal. So far, no revised Order has been forthcoming in spite of the president’s tweet on Feb. 9, more than two weeks ago, saying, “The security of our nation is at stake!”

Originally published on The Resurgent

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Make America Great Again: Teach Your Children Well

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” said Ronald Reagan. “We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

In 2013, the former Archbishop of Canterbury echoed Reagan’s words, saying that Christianity was “a generation away from extinction” in Britain. Lord Carey warned, “So many churches have no ministry to young people and that means they have no interest in the future. As I have repeated many times in the past we are one generation away from extinction. We have to give cogent reasons to young people why the Christian faith is relevant to them.”

The two men both understood that ideas such as the love of liberty and the love of God cannot be learned without being taught. But today, too many parents leave it up to others to teach the love of God and country to their children. We expect pastors and Sunday School teachers to educate our children about God, often on only a handful of Sundays out of the year. Love of country gets delegated to history teachers, politicians, activists and war movies.  

The importance of the two institutions, America and the Christian church, cannot be absorbed by children if they aren’t breathed and experienced on a daily basis. God isn’t a very important part of your life if you only worship him and seek his guidance on Sunday morning. Likewise, if the Fourth of July is the only time you talk about patriotism, your kids probably aren’t getting the message.

People who are trying to subvert your beliefs are much more consistent in their message. Television, movies, books, magazines and politicians are spending a lot of time telling your kids that America was never great and that God, if he even exists, is not good. Modern media is replete with examples of popular culture that ridicules Christianity and patriotism and constantly tries to undermine the values that you want to teach your children.

Should we surrender pop culture and retreat to an off-the-grid existence? That isn’t necessary. The Bible says that we can be in the world, but not of it. The Bible also instructs us to the light the world, but notes that it makes no sense to light a candle and hide its flame. We cannot light the world if we run and hide.

What we should do is be discerning. We should monitor what our children watch, listen to and play. Much of the programming and video games aimed at children are filled with ideas and words that most of us don’t want our children exposed to.

If your child has a smartphone or tablet, monitor their activity with an app like Funamo. We don’t expect our children to live without limits in other aspects of their lives. Why should they have free reign over an internet filled with lies, pornography, perversion, violence, predators and general weirdness?

As someone pointed out in a modern parable, we wouldn’t allow a rude, profane, ill-mannered, violent guest who ridicules our beliefs in our homes. On the other hand, television does all these things and we give it a place of honor as the center of attention. Parents may have to make the decision to turn off their own favorite shows if they are not appropriate for children.

Take your children to church. Take them to museums and historic sites. But don’t let the lessons about Christ and America be limited to such outings.

In my house, we have had the tradition for years of bedtime stories. My children who are now 13 and eight still ask for a “Bible story and an American story” every night. We began when they were babies with age-appropriate Bible stories and have since graduated to reading devotional books and passages from the Bible.

For the “American story,” we like Bill Bennett’s “American Patriot’s Almanac.” This book gives short daily readings from American history and my kids love to hear the stories and trivia every night. Some of the stories they have heard in school and are often excited to add their own knowledge to the story. Others are new even to me.

The point is to live your faith and patriotism daily. If you want to teach your children to live according to Christ’s teachings, they must first know what those teachings are. Since children learn by example, you should be living according to Christ’s teaching as well. All of your lessons will be in vain if your kids see you react in anger and violence after preaching forgiveness.

Likewise, children don’t learn respect for America if they only see the federal government as either a source of handouts or an ogre that constantly threatens our freedoms. Both extremes are equally wrong and threatening to the real meaning of America.  

As you raise your children, remember Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Teach your children constantly by example and by lessons and they will remember your values when they grow up. Hopefully, they will continue the cycle and pass them along to their own children.

 Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, February 24, 2017

Betsy DeVos opposed ending Obama bathroom mandate

The Trump Administration issued an order earlier this week ending the Obama era policy of federal micromanagement of public school bathrooms. As he issued the order, President Trump reportedly received opposition from a surprising source: newly confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Both CNN and the New York Times cite sources within the Administration who say that Mrs. DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were in conflict over the initial draft of bathroom order. Both the Justice and Education Departments were initially in agreement that the Obama policy was an improper federal overreach into state and local matters. In a joint letter, the two departments said that Obama’s policy was enacted “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

Mr. Sessions and the Justice Department favored a swift reversal of the policy to head off two pending Supreme Court cases that cover transgender bathroom usage. The possibility of a ruling by the high Court that would lock the Obama policy into place made it necessary to act before the cases came to the Supreme Court. The Court was scheduled to hear one of the bathroom cases in March.

The Times cited three Republicans who said that Mrs. DeVos initially resisted signing onto the Trump Administration order on the grounds that it might cause harm to transgender students. DeVos and Sessions clashed over the order and eventually took their disagreement to President Trump. Trump sided with Sessions and reportedly gave Mrs. DeVos the option of supporting the order or resigning.

DeVos eventually gave her assent to the order, but released a separate statement that said, “We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate. At my direction, the department's Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools.”

The incident has caused some on the right to suspect that DeVos is soft on resistance to the gay rights movement. Red State pointed out that her political advisor, Greg McNeilly, is in a same-sex marriage and is a LGBT activist. In the Advocate, McNeilly said that DeVos and her husband went “out of their way to show affirmation” for his marriage and views.

“She would say it’s a part of her faith,” said McNeilly in the New York Times. “Her faith teaches her to be tolerant. And like most of America, she’s evolved.”

The New York Times also reported that DeVos’s support for gay rights goes back to the 1990s when she intervened to allow a transgender woman (a biological male) to use the women’s restroom at a Republican call center in Michigan.

John Truscott, a Republican political consultant who worked with DeVos’s husband, Dick, told Buzzfeed in January, “Betsy is supportive of gay marriage.” The Times reported that Betsy DeVos urged other Michigan Republicans to sign a Supreme Court brief in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015, but did not sign herself.

Ironically, LGBT activists opposed the confirmation of DeVos because they considered her a threat to gay rights and accused her of supporting groups that promoted therapy for people with a homosexual orientation. Politifact rated those charges as “mostly false.”

DeVos is apparently one of a growing number of Republicans, particularly from outside the Bible Belt, that support gay rights. President Trump seems to be a member of this group as well, even proudly waving an LGBT flag at a campaign rally last fall. Trump told the publisher of the gay newspaper, Bay Windows, earlier this month that there would be “more forward motion on equality for gays and lesbians.”

The establishment of pro-gay curriculums in many schools, including the entire state of California, has caused conflict with many parents who believe that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are immoral. The new revelations about Mrs. DeVos’s views on gay rights may cause many conservatives to wonder whether her sympathy for gay rights will outweigh her desire to return control of schools back to local school boards and parents.

Iraqi suicide bomber was Gitmo detainee

Ronald Fiddler blew himself up at an Iraqi army base near Mosul this week. Fiddler, a British citizen who changed his name to Jamal al-Harith after converting to Islam in the 1990s, was also a former detainee at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to the report in the Times of London and USA Today, al-Harith was captured by Coalition Forces in a Taliban prison in Afghanistan in 2001. When it was discovered that he had links to Osama bin Laden, he served two years in the Gitmo facility until being released in 2004 at the request of the government of Tony Blair. He was later paid compensation of 1 million pounds, about $1.25 million, for his detention.

In a statement, Blair, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, said, “It is correct that Jamal al-Harith was released from Guantanamo Bay at the request of the British Government in 2004. He was not paid compensation by my Government. The compensation was agreed in 2010 by the Conservative Government [of David Cameron].”

Blair continued, “The fact is that this was always a very difficult situation where any Government would have to balance proper concern for civil liberties with desire to protect our security, and we were likely to be attacked whatever course we took.”

Al-Harith was not the first Gitmo detainee to return to terror after being released. According to Military.com, a report released last year showed that, of 161 prisoners released by the Obama Administration, at least nine were confirmed to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities.” The Bush Administration released 532 Gitmo prisoners and 113 of these were reported to have rejoined terrorist groups.

Al-Harith, who was 50, traveled to Syria to join ISIS is 2014 where he went by the name Abu-Zakariya al-Britani. It is not known whether al-Harith gave the compensation received from the British government to ISIS.

ISIS announced al-Harith as a suicide bomber and released a picture of him, apparently taken just before his death, sitting in a four-wheel-drive truck with a big smile on his face. The terrorist group claimed that his attack caused multiple casualties, but the exact number is not known.

“It is him, I can tell by his smile,” al-Harith’s brother, Leon Jameson, told the Times. “If it is true then I’ve lost a brother, so another family [member is] gone.” Jameson added that his brother had “wasted his life.”

Originally published on The Resurgent

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Judge blocks Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood

A federal judge has blocked the State of Texas from stripping Planned Parenthood of state funding. In December, Texas served a “final notice of termination” to the abortion provider. The final notice culminated a process that began in October 2015.

According to the Associated Press, US District Judge Sam Sparks issued an injunction to prevent Texas from not paying the group, saying that the state had not provided evidence of wrongdoing. “A secretly recorded video, fake names, a grand jury indictment, congressional investigations — these are the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program,” Sparks wrote in his decision. “Yet, rather than a villain plotting to take over the world, the subject of this case is the State of Texas's efforts to expel a group of health care providers from a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources.”

Sparks wrote that the videos showing Planned Parenthood employees conspiring to sell the body parts of aborted babies for profit was not sufficient in itself to terminate funding for the group. “The Court is unconvinced mere willingness, without any evidence of attempt, is enough to deprive a Medicaid beneficiary of the right to her otherwise qualified provider,” Sparks said in the ruling. Several state witnesses admitted under questioning that the actions of the Planned Parenthood employees in the videos were not illegal.

According to the Texas Tribune, attorneys for Planned Parenthood argued that Texas could not adequately replace the group as a provider of health services for the poor. Sparks agreed that in terminating Planned Parenthood without cause, Texas violated the right of Medicare patients to choose their provider. “After reviewing the evidence currently in the record, the Court finds the Inspector General, and thus [the Texas Health and Human Services Commission], likely acted to disenroll qualified health care providers from Medicaid without cause," the ruling read. "Such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider.”

Attorneys for Texas countered that other providers in the state would be able to accept Planned Parenthood’s Medicare patients if the group lost funding. The state has more than 5,300 providers in its Medicare system.

Six states have now attempted to cut funding for the controversial group and all have lost in court. In addition to Texas, defunding attempts in Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have all failed.

In addition, 13 states have conducted investigations into wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood that was alleged in a series of undercover videos, but no charges have been filed. Planned Parenthood denies any wrongdoing.

Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton said that the state is disappointed in the decision and plans to appeal. “No taxpayer in Texas should have to subsidize this repugnant and illegal conduct,” Paxton said in a statement. “We should never lose sight of the fact that, as long as abortion is legal in the United States, the potential for these types of horrors will continue.”

Planned Parenthood previously received $3.1 million from Texas in Medicaid funds. About 90 percent of that figure is federal money while the remainder is paid for by the state. The Trump Administration has threatened to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

GOP Ponders Killing Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate

As Republicans deal with the difficulties of rolling back the Affordable Care Act, one unpopular part of Obamacare that could be killed before the rest of the law is repealed is the contraceptive mandate. The mandate required health insurance plans to cover contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs at no out-of-pocket cost.

Unlike many aspects of Obamacare, the contraceptive mandate is not written into the text of the Affordable Care Act. The contraceptive mandate was created by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in 2011 as part of administrative rulemaking associated with the ACA. Many religious organizations were not exempted from the mandate even though they had ethical objections to providing contraceptives and abortifacients.

Ultimately, challenges to the mandate went all the way to the Supreme Court. In the Hobby Lobby decision, the Court ruled that the HHS mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and required an accommodation for the groups and companies who found the mandate immoral. In a compromise, the final HHS rule allowed companies to opt out of providing contraceptives and abortifacients in their insurance plans, but still required insurance companies to cover the drugs without a copay for employees.

Now, under the Trump Administration, there are signs that the current HHS policy may be about to change. The new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is Tom Price, a former congressman who opposed the mandate as a legislator. In a 2012 interview with Think Progress, Price said, “The fact of the matter is that this is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty in this country. The president does not have the power to say that your First Amendment rights go away.”

During his confirmation hearings, Price indicated that he is not opposed to contraception in general, even if he opposes the mandate. Price said, “I think contraception is absolutely imperative for many, many women and the system that we ought to have in place is one that allows women to be able to purchase the kind of contraception they desire.”

Because the contraceptive mandate was never enacted by Congress, it could be reversed by issuing a new HHS rule or an Executive Order. Administrative rules issued by agencies like HHS have the force of law, but are not subject to congressional votes.

“They could issue new guidance that says plans have more leeway to cover what they need to cover,” Laurie Sobel, associate director for women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Hill.

Alternatively, Republicans could include the mandate in a repeal of the Affordable Care Act to be voted on by Congress. Republicans reportedly plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a budget reconciliation that requires a simple majority vote. Elements of the repeal that are not included in the budget reconciliation would be subject to Democrat filibusters.

The Hill also noted that Republicans are considering making access to contraceptives easier by allowing them to be sold without a prescription. “We probably wouldn’t require that [mandate], but in doing that, we need to make them behind or across the counter,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), a former OB/GYN. “In other words, you come in [to a pharmacy], you want birth control, you get it, you go.”

It is important to note that, Obamacare does not provide for free contraception. There is no copayment or out-of-pocket cost, but there is still a price to be paid. The cost of the drugs is included in the premium for the health insurance which must still be paid by the employee or the business. In the case of religious companies that opt out, the cost must be borne either by the insurance company or spread among the other policy holders.

A solution to the problem of paying for contraception has been introduced by Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in the form of a bill that would give consumers more control over medical spending through health savings accounts (HSAs). “Instead of having to get coverage approved from the government, an employer, or an insurance company, people will be able to use their [health savings account] funds directly for the products and services that they value,” Brat told the Daily Signal.

The Republican plans would give consumers and businesses more freedom of choice. People would have the freedom to buy health insurance policies that suit their own needs with less interference from the government. Women who want to use contraceptives would have easier access to low-cost contraceptives with pre-tax dollars from their HSA. Insurance companies would still be free to cover contraceptives without a copay if they want.

The oppressive HHS mandate can be rolled back with the stroke of a pen. The only question is what Republicans are waiting for.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Liberals are teed off over Trump golfing

(govt. of Japan/Wikimedia)
In a sign that things have come full circle since Barack Obama left the White House, some journalists are now pointedly noting how often President Trump has hit the links. President Obama was heavily criticized by Republicans – including President Trump – for spending too much time on the golf course.

Zeke Miller of “Time” got the ball rolling over the weekend with, appropriately enough, a tweet on Sunday. “[White House Deputy Press Secretary] @SHSanders45 confirms POTUS played ‘a couple of holes’ today and yesterday,” Miller informed the twitterverse.

Next, The Hill teed up a round that looked at Trump’s golfing as president more closely, noting that Trump had played golf “for the third weekend in a row.” Two of those weekend golf outings were at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort while one was at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. Donald Trump has been president for five weekends.

The Hill does note that last weekend, Trump played with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in what could be termed as a business meeting on the golf course. President Trump is undoubtedly practiced in the art of closing deals on the golf course, a time honored business tradition.

Over the past few weeks, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico and NPR have all run articles pointing out the inconsistency between campaign rhetoric and presidential behavior. Windsor Mann of USA Today saw the glass as half full: “This is great news, particularly if you hate Trump’s politics. The more time he spends playing golf, the less time he has to play president.” Trump responded to the critics with another round of golf.

Data was unavailable to handicap the golfing habits of Trump and Obama at only a month into his presidency, however Golf Digest did analyze the previous duffer-in-chief’s golf habits. Barack Obama played 306 rounds as president, which translates into 38 rounds per year or about 13 holes per week. While this sets a high bar for Trump to beat, it falls far short of the estimated 1,200 rounds played by President Woodrow Wilson or the 800 by President Eisenhower.

The Resurgent has noted in the past that Donald Trump and Barack Obama have many similarities. The love of golf and the desire to hit the links in Golf Cart One seems to be another thing that the two men have in common. Hopefully, President Trump will learn from the mistakes that so often put his predecessor in the rough.

As with much of the partisan criticism of President Trump, it mirrors critiques of President Obama from the right. That the two parties are reversing many of their opinions on presidential behavior is par for the course.

Originally published on The Resurgent          

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trump approval is 21 points below presidential average - and falling

President Trump has had problems with his approval rating ever since entering the race for president. After almost a month in office, the situation remains unchanged. In fact, Trump’s approval rating at this point in his administration is lower than that of any other president of the modern era.

Gallup’s daily tracking of the presidential approval rating found that Trump is currently at 40 percent approval. This puts Trump 21 points below the average for presidents since polling began in the Eisenhower era. He is 11 points below the lowest previous mid-February rating, Bill Clinton in 1993 at 51 points. Jimmy Carter had the highest one-month approval at 71 percent.

President Trump is the first president since Eisenhower to start with approval below 50 percent and has already moved further into negative territory. As he was inaugurated, Trump had 45 percent approval, five points above his current level. On average, presidents have gained one percentage point by mid-February, but Presidents Eisenhower, Obama and Clinton also saw their ratings decline. At seven points, President Clinton had the largest decline.

So far, only Bill Clinton has fallen below 40 percent approval in his first year. Trump stands one point away from the dubious distinction of being the second to do so.

Trump’s approval is concentrated within the Republican Party. Eighty-seven percent of Republicans approve of the president while only 35 percent of independents and eight percent of Democrats approve.

At less than a month into his presidency, Trump has plenty of time to win over the American public, but this may require a change of style. Such a change is something that Trump seems very unlikely to do. His approval may also benefit if his policies lead to a dramatic improvement in the economy.

Although it is still much too early to make predictions, the president’s prospects for re-election seem dim unless he can appeal to a broader range of voters. Or unless the Democrats nominate another historically unpopular and incompetent candidate.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Trump Is Repeating Obama's Mistakes

After only a few weeks, it is far too early to judge the eventual outcome of the Trump Administration. Nevertheless, there are disturbing signs that, in some ways, President Trump is following in the footsteps of none other than Barack Obama and may be repeating some of his predecessor’s worst mistakes.

One of the most obvious parallels between Presidents Trump and Obama is their tendency to go it alone. President Trump started his administration with a flurry of Executive Orders, some rolling back Obama’s executive actions and some starting his own initiatives. Some of this was to be expected since Trump promised to end several of Obama’s executive actions. More disturbing to those who support the rule of law, during the campaign Donald Trump said that President Obama “led the way” on Executive Orders, hinting that he may use them to bypass Congress as Obama did.

When President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration lost several prominent court cases, the president’s reaction was similar to what one might expect from President Obama. Trump attacked the judges who ruled against him on Twitter.

Trump’s attacks hearken back to President Obama’s own antagonism against judges. In 2010, Obama attacked the Supreme Court, not on Twitter, but in his formal State of the Union Address. The remark in the wake of the Citizens United decision was Obama’s most famous attack on the bench, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Obama frequently criticized the Court and tried to influence its decisions on cases, including the challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The fact that Obama’s challenges to the independence of the judicial branch were not delivered via Twitter does not make them any less problematic.

Even after losing in court, President Trump’s response is to craft a new Executive Order rather than work with Congress in an attempt to find a bipartisan solution to the immigration problem. This echoes President Obama’s strategy of circumventing Congress after Republicans won control of the House. Reports from Republicans indicate that Mr. Trump has been uninvolved in the process of crafting a replacement for Obamacare even though his own party controls both houses of Congress. Voters have indicated that their preference was for both presidents to work with Congress, rather than go it alone.

The two presidents also tend to personalize any criticism of their administrations or their policies. President Obama typically refused to consider that his opponents were patriotic Americans who had genuine disagreements on policy. According to Obama, his Republican opponents were anti-science, warmongers, and prejudiced against minorities and immigrants. He called Republicans “hostage takers,” saboteurs and “deadbeats” to name a few insults. Largely forgotten now, President Obama even had problems with the press and was accused of trying to censor the media.

President Trump has done nothing to elevate the level of political discourse. President Trump’s numerous insults to anyone who criticizes him, from Khizr Khan to Ted Cruz, are numerous and well known. Even after taking office, Mr. Trump’s penchant for insulting his critics has continued and even gone international as he engaged in tiffs with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia. Trump also frequently attacks the press and, of course, a wide variety of Democrats.

The insults form a part of the strategy of division and victimhood of both presidents. President Obama marshaled his supporters against the “bitter clingers,” the wealthy and any hint of racism. For his part, President Trump focuses his supporters against the establishment, the press and foreign influences of trade and immigration. In both cases, the strategy is one of unifying the base against ideological bogeymen, rather than attempting to unify the country as a whole. Rather than bringing people together, both presidents stir up factions against each other.

Further, the two presidents share an affinity for campaigning, even after the campaign is over. President Obama was often criticized for his frequent fundraising and political rallies. This weekend, a month into President Trump’s term, he returns to the campaign trail with a political rally in Florida. The coordinator of the rally told Fox News that the event was Trump’s “first re-election rally.” The election is 44 months away.

The love of partisan audiences may reflect the need of both men for adulation and affirmation. It is much easier and more rewarding to deliver a stump speech to throngs of admirers than to engage in the gritty work of legislative “sausage making.” It is this work of governing that determines the success or failure of a president, however.

All this leads to the most serious mistakes that President Obama made for his party: Overconfidence and overreach. In January 2009, President Obama told congressional Republicans, “Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” By that he meant, I get what I want. Obama quickly poisoned the well and made future cooperation with Republicans difficult, if not impossible.

Donald Trump is heading down that road as well. Like Barack Obama, President Trump currently has majorities in both houses of Congress. It is easy to imagine that the Trump Administration has a blank check to enact whatever initiatives President Trump deems appropriate. However, the president and the Republicans must realize that, unless Mitch McConnell eliminates the filibuster, bipartisan cooperation is going to be needed to advance any bill past a cloture vote in the Senate. The withdrawal of Andrew Puzder should serve as a warning that the president does not get everything he wants.

President Obama’s eight years are over. His legacy is being erased and he will be judged a failure, largely because he was unable to build a consensus and compromise. After Republicans took control of the House in 2011, President Obama never passed any significant legislation. All of his landmark laws were passed with Democratic majorities in both houses.

 The question is whether President Trump will repeat his mistakes or will use the historic opportunity that he has been given to make America great again. To do so, the new president will have to drop the role of the victim and look beyond his base to build a majority. To be successful and build a lasting legacy, President Trump must win over at least some of the voters who didn’t vote for him. He must work with Congress to pass legislation that is more durable than an Executive Order. President Trump needs to stop preaching to the choir and start working on converting the masses.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spies Don’t Trust Trump with Intelligence

In what may be an unprecedented move, America’s intelligence community is reportedly keeping the country’s most sensitive intelligence information from its president. A Wall Street Journal report cited both current and former intelligence officials who said that concerns that the information might be leaked or compromised had prompted the agencies to withhold certain information.

Even before the forced resignation of Gen. Flynn due to his lack of forthrightness about his contacts with Russia, the Trump Administration was at odds with the intelligence community. President Trump was one of the few to deny the findings of the FBI and the CIA that Russia interfered in the presidential election. In January, Trump hinted at a restructuring of the intelligence community in what some thought was retribution for the investigation into Russia’s role in the election. Also in January, Russia was rumored to have compromising information on Donald Trump himself.

Flynn was also not the only member of the Trump camp to have suspicious ties to Russia. Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, was fired during the campaign for his connections to Russia. CNN reported that “high-level advisors” to the Trump camp were in “constant communication during the election with Russians known to US intelligence” according to “multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials.” Manafort was named by CNN in the article, but it may also refer to Carter Page, Roger Stone and others.

Manafort denied the accusation. “I have knowingly never talked to any intelligence official or anyone in Russia regarding anything of what's under investigation," he said. "I have never had any connection to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or the Russian government before, during or after the campaign.”

According to the Journal, intelligence information is sometimes sanitized to protect sources before it is given to government officials, but there is no known precedent for restricting the president’s access due to fears about “trustworthiness and discretion.” The report said that there was no known instance in which vital information relating to security threats or plots had been restricted.

The Journal’s sources cited two specific reasons for restricting Mr. Trump’s access. The first is the general statements of admiration that Trump made for Vladimir Putin at numerous times. The second is the specific request that Mr. Trump made for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

Officially, the intelligence community denies the Journal report. ““Any suggestion that the U.S. intelligence community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the president and his national security team is not true,” said a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Likewise, the White House also disputes the account. “There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening.”

Regardless of whether information is being withheld, there is clearly a strained relationship between the Trump Administration and the intelligence community. “It’s probably unprecedented to have this difficult a relationship between a president and the intelligence agencies,” said Mark Lowenthal, a retired senior intelligence official. “I can’t recall ever seeing this level of friction. And it’s just not good for the country.”

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Doubt about repeal grows as Obamacare enters death spiral

According to the CEO of Aetna, Obamacare is in a “death spiral.” Mark Bertolini predicted that, as bad as Obamacare’s problems of declining enrollments and fewer insurance companies are this year, next year is likely to be worse. By 2018, some areas of the country may not have a single insurance company in their health insurance exchanges.

“It’s not going to get any better; it’s getting worse,” Bertolini said in an interview with Politico.

Last year, Aetna announced that it would pull out of most insurance exchanges for 2017. Earlier this week, Humana announced that it was withdrawing from the program for 2018. The withdrawal of the two large insurers means that Blue Cross Blue Shield is largest remaining company in most insurance markets. If Blue Cross elects to exit the exchanges, it would be catastrophic for Obamacare.

Bertolini expressed support for a number of ideas that are being considered by Republicans. Less expensive major medical plans linked to health savings accounts would help encourage younger, healthier consumers to buy health insurance. He also supports a risk pool for insurance companies who have high losses due to large numbers of sick policyholders.

“The repeal is easy. They can do that tomorrow if they want to,” Bertolini said. “The question is what does the replacement look like and how long does it take to get there.”

But Republican divisions over what the replacement will look like seem more and more likely to derail the repeal entirely.

“I hear things that are unacceptable to me,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in Politico after a meeting in which Republicans discussed keeping the Medicare expansion and creating a system of tax credits. “If they don’t seem to care what conservatives think about complete repeal of Obamacare, they’re going to be shocked when they count the votes.”

The initial division between Republicans was whether to repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously or repeal immediately and craft a replacement later. President Trump intervened on behalf of the simultaneous action, but has since failed to offer clear guidance on the Administration’s strategy.

“Right now, I would say it's not that easy to repeal it. I don't know if it's a guarantee,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). “I don't know where the White House is. The president has said he's not going to be kicking people off the program, off the rolls. He's not going to do that.”

Currently, one faction of Republicans favors crafting a repeal bill that will avoid Democratic filibusters by bundling the repeal and replacement together in a budget reconciliation. Such a strategy would prevent the Senate’s 48 Democrats from blocking cloture votes on individual replacement bills. Speaker Paul Ryan set a timeline for repeal that would pass a bill by the end of March.

That isn’t quick enough for the House Freedom Caucus. CNN reports that the group is seeking a vote on the 2015 repeal bill that was vetoed by President Obama. “For goodness sake, we should be able to put something on President Trump's desk that's at least as good as what we put on President Obama's desk. Not something watered down," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). "Let's repeal it. Let's do what the voters sent us here to do.”

Medicaid is proving to be a sticking point for some Republicans from states that approved the Medicaid expansion. The Freedom Caucus plan would give a two-year transition period, but many Republican senators want more time for their constituents to find replacement coverage.

Meanwhile, the White House doesn’t seem to have a specific plan. “Statements from the White House about it, frankly, would be helpful,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fl.) told Politico.

President Trump’s bully pulpit would be valuable in unifying Republicans to a single bill and winning public support. Unfortunately, several GOP officials say that Trump’s shifting positions and public statements that often differ with what they are told behind closed doors have caused them to tune the president out.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Russia Challenges Trump with Missile Deployment That Violates Treaty

Sources in the Trump Administration say that Russia has deployed a new cruise missile system that violates the terms of a decades-old arms treaty. The SSC-8 cruise missile falls under a category of weapons banned by the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty signed by the Reagan Administration in 1987.

The New York Times reports that two battalions of SSC-8 missiles have already been deployed in violation of the INF treaty, which banned the deployment of land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles. One battalion was reportedly still located at the missile test site near Volgograd in southern Russia while the second had moved to an operational base. The Times’ source in the Trump Administration did not provide the location of the second battalion. One battalion of the missiles reportedly includes four mobile missile launchers with about six missiles each.

The estimated range of the SSC-8 is between 300 and 3,400 miles according to GlobalSecurity.org. This is the class of missile that was banned by the INF treaty. The group points out that the weapon system may be intended to generate parity with the China, which was not a party to the INF treaty, and which also falls within the SSC-8 range. Nevertheless, deployment of the missile in Europe would also threaten NATO countries.

First reports of the new missile date back to 2007 according to Popular Mechanics. In 2014, the US government gathered enough evidence to accuse Russia of violating the INF treaty by testing the SSC-8. The Obama Administration attempted to pressure the Russians into stopping development of the missile to no avail.

“Nobody has formally accused Russia of violating the treaty,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC. “Russia has been and remains committed to its international commitments, including to the treaty in question.”

The Trump Administration has already been challenged by missile testing from Iran. When the Iranians tested a missile in January in violation of President Obama’s nuclear deal, the Trump Administration responded by enacting new sanctions on people and companies related to the missile program and the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force.

In 2014, Gen. Phillip Breedlove, then commander of NATO, warned against ignoring the development and deployment of the SSC-8. “A weapon capability that violates the INF, that is introduced into the greater European land mass is absolutely a tool that will have to be dealt with,” he told the New York Times. “I would not judge how the alliance will choose to react, but I would say they will have to consider what to do about it. It can’t go unanswered.”

Originally published on The Resurgent

Cruz Strip citizenship of American terrorists

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has introduced legislation to strip the citizenship of Americans who knowingly fight for or support terrorist groups. Cruz argues that his Expatriate Terrorist Act, which is cosponsored in the House by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), is a vital step in the war against Islamic terror. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) are also cosponsoring the bill.

“The Expatriate Terrorist Act will ensure that any American who forfeits their country to intentionally join ISIS will have their citizenship stripped and won’t be able to use a U.S. passport to come back and murder American citizens," Cruz said in a statement.

The bill would amend the existing law that details the conditions under which a US citizen can renounce his citizenship. Current law forfeiting citizenship would be amended “to include becoming a member of, fighting for, or providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.” It would also allow the government “to deny or revoke passports to anyone who is a member, or attempting to become a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization.”

“Provided the requirements of due process are observed, if a United States citizen undertakes these acts with the intent of supplanting his United States citizenship with loyalty to a terrorist organization, that person can be deemed to have forfeited his or her right to be a United States citizen and return to the United States,” Cruz’s statement said.

There have been a number of American citizens who have joined terrorist groups. John Walker Lindh was an American member of the Taliban who was captured in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. About a dozen Americans are known to have joined ISIS. A number of terrorist attacks, including the Boston Marathon bombing, the Orlando nightclub shooting and the San Bernardino rampage, were carried out by US citizens.  

This is not the first time that the Expatriate Terrorist Act has been proposed. In fact, the bill has been introduced to Congress at least twice. In 2014 and 2015, Cruz and King introduced versions of the legislation that died in committee. A similar bill proposed by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Ct.) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) died in 2010.

Critics of the bill argue that it is not necessary or constitutional. Writing in National Review in 2015, Gabriel Malor said, “Citizenship is not a mere privilege. It is a right specifically protected by the Constitution. Congress cannot simply decide that individuals lose their citizenship when they commit certain acts. Rather, to strip a person’s citizenship requires that the government prove not only that he committed an act deemed expatriating by Congress but that he did so knowingly and voluntarily and with the intent to relinquish his citizenship.”

Malor continues, arguing that the Supreme Court has ruled on the question, “In the words of Justice White, writing for the Supreme Court when this issue was settled decades ago, ‘in the last analysis, expatriation depends on the will of the citizen rather than on the will of Congress and its assessment of his conduct’” (Vance v. Terrazas, 1980).

In Reason, Shikha Dalmia wrote, “If the government has evidence that these folks are indeed terrorists, then why should it merely strip them of their citizenship and stop them from returning home (or leaving if they are already here)? Why shouldn't it also prosecute them? And if it doesn't have evidence, then why should they face any consequences at all?”

The danger, Dalmia wrote, was that the language of the bill gives “government the power to take away the citizenship not of Americans against whom it actually has hard evidence—but against whom it doesn't. In other words, the point is to revoke the citizenship not of known but merely suspected terrorists.”

If revocation of citizenship is to only be applied punitively to convicted terrorists, there are different issues. “If the courts were to decide that the expatriation of terrorists was intended to be a punitive act rather than a security measure,” Malor wrote, “a different and more stringent series of constitutional prohibitions come into play, including the Fifth and Sixth Amendment protections for criminal defendants.”

On the surface, stripping the citizenship of terrorists seems to be a common sense idea. Upon closer examination, however, there are many questions of practicality and constitutionality that must be addressed. Those lingering questions mean that the bill probably has little chance of becoming law in the near future.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Mass mooning targets Trump Tower

Over the weekend a “rowdy and enthusiastic” crowd gathered in front of Chicago’s Trump Tower and engaged in a coordinated mooning of the building bearing the brand of the president. Chicago’s Fox 32 recorded the event for posterity.

The video shows a small crowd of 100-200 people gathered at the River Walk across from the imposing edifice. As the crowd counts down from twenty, they simultaneously drop their trousers and flash their posteriors at the architectural stand-in for the president. Video of the event does not require parental discretion due to the camera angle.

An obvious question is why? The Facebook page “Chicago Moons the Trump Tower” gives the official name for the event as “Operation ‘Kiss Our Asses, Release Your Taxes!’” and notes that it was presented by “S#!TSHOW,” a satirical Youtube show.

A second Facebook page for the show contains a more graphic video of the mass mooning, which we watched so that you don’t have to. Accompanied by a tuba and drums, the protesters chanted “This is what democracy looks like” and “We don’t want your tiny hands anywhere near our underpants.”

What did the protesters hope to accomplish? The statement on the Facebook page says, “Donald Trump doesn't think the American people want to see his tax returns, so let's show him that we do in the classiest way possible! Meet at 3:30 PM at Trump Tower, right in front by the riverside. At the crack of 4:00 PM (pun intended), we'll pull down our pants for a whole 10 seconds and send a powerful message to the Washington elites.”

Precisely what the message was is unclear other than that the protesters do not like Donald Trump and think that mooning the Trump Tower will somehow influence him to release his tax returns. This logic is reminiscent of the Underpants Gnomes from “South Park.” Phase one: Moon the Trump Tower. Phase two: ? Phase three: Trump releases tax returns.

At the time of the protest, President Trump was 1,300 miles away at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach. The president was not injured, emotionally or otherwise, by the mooning. The White House had no comment and Mr. Trump’s taxes have still not been released.

No protesters were apparently injured either. It is unknown whether any were injured or murdered as they returned home after the event. The Chicago Tribune reports that 14 people have already been murdered this month in the city.

The protest was a microcosm of the leftist resistance to Trump. The plan was to engage in an utterly pointless and offensive action that accomplished nothing other than make the participants feel better about themselves and allow them to vent their anger.

It did do one other thing as well. It showed the world what the left thinks democracy looks like: A bunch of asses.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Poll says Trump should work with Congress

There was good news for the president with yesterday’s Morning Consult poll showing that a slim majority of Americans approve of his Executive Orders, including the controversial travel ban, but another new poll shows that Americans may be tiring of the unilateral actions by the president.

A new Rasmussen poll shows that a strong majority of likely voters believe that the federal government should only do what the president and Congress agree on. A total of 56 percent believe that the president and Congress should work together to pass laws while only 32 percent believe that President Trump should act alone.

In 2014, Rasmussen also reported that voters wanted President Obama to work with Congress as well. In that poll, 82 percent of voters wanted the executive and legislative branches of the government to work together.

It is interesting to note that about twice as many respondents feel that it is permissible for President Trump to stand alone (32 percent) than President Obama (13 percent). This is especially true considering that President Trump’s party controls Congress while President Obama had a Congress controlled by the opposition in 2014.

The partisan breakdown of the two polls was not available, but it is likely that many Republicans and Democrats have switched positions on the use of executive actions over the past three years. While most Republicans opposed President Obama’s abuse of his executive authority, the recent Morning Consult poll that 82 percent of Republican voters approved of President Trump’s immigration Executive Order.

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump said, “I'm going to do a lot of things [with Executive Orders]” and noted, Obama “led the way, to be honest with you.”

Nevertheless, with Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress, it should be relatively easy for President Trump and Republicans in Congress to find agreement on many issues. In practice, the president will still need to win some Democrat support, however. The Republican 52-seat majority is not enough to win cloture votes without some Democratic support.

Congressional action has the added benefit of being harder to reverse than executive actions. Many of President Trump’s Executive Orders reverse orders given by President Obama. President Trump’s orders could likewise be erased by a future president with the stroke of a pen.

More importantly for the country, if President Trump works with Congress, it will give the country a chance to have a (hopefully) rational debate on public policy, rather than merely respond to edicts handed down from on high. This will give Republicans a chance to explain and defend their ideas and maybe even win support for them.

Originally published on The Resurgent