One of my biggest concerns when Donald Trump was elected was that he’d be too much of a legislative tyrant. His experience as CEO and Chairman of the Board for multiple companies meant he was accustomed to getting his initiatives done one way or another. I assumed he’d make ultimatums, force multiple issues with his congressional majority, push an agenda that wasn’t aligned with conservative values, and generally be a strongman from the Oval Office.
Contrary to my expectations, he’s fit into the role of interested yet passive executive observer. He’s made a few demands and threats, but thus far he hasn’t forced his will upon them. Some might see this as a bad thing, but our republic was designed to only move forward under the right circumstances. The founders wanted to make government methodical and slow for very good reasons. Unfortunately, that means we’re stuck with a GOP majority in the legislative branch that has been unable to do anything of substance. As hard as that is for us to swallow, it’s still better than having legislation dictated from the White House.
Keep in mind, that’s how we got Obamacare in the first place.
On this one occasion, I’d actually be okay with the President pushing legislators over the edge on a single issue: repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate as part of the tax cut bill. We’re close enough to the finish line that it wouldn’t be too overbearing for the President and his administration to strongly encourage keeping that component in the Senate version of the tax cut and carry it over to the House for passage. It would be ever-so-slight overreach, but in this one case, I can accept it.
Once. Just once.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be happening. Mick Mulvaney, who I often agree with when it comes to fiscal matters, indicated today that the White House was okay with pulling that controversial portion of the Senate’s tax cut language if it meant getting it passed.
In a television interview, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the Trump administration would be fine with jettisoning a proposal to repeal the ACA’s individual mandate if it becomes a hindrance to passing the tax bill, which is the GOP’s top legislative priority.
“If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill — that can pass — that’s great,” Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we are okay with taking it out.”
Wrong message. Wrong compromise. If there are Republicans in the Senate and/or the House who are objecting to the tax cuts because of killing the individual mandate, it’s time for them to declare they’re Democrats. No Republican, not even the swampiest of the RINOs, could look anyone in the eye and claim they’re part of the GOP if they hold up cutting taxes for the sake of protecting the worst component of Obamacare. Not John McCain. Not Lisa Murkowski. Not even Susan Collins.
For once, the President should work in the background if possible or the forefront if necessary to tell Republicans on Capitol Hill this is their shining opportunity to notch two marks in the win column before the end of year. If ever we actually needed the art of the deal applied to a piece of legislation, it’s now.