The New York Times headline blared across the country and the world this weekend, "In Major Defeat For Trump, Push To Repeal Healthcare Law Fails."
Two questions have arisen from the dust of defeat:
- Should Ryan resign as Speaker?
- Can The GOP actually govern?
I would add a third: Is there a real political solution to this and other transformative challenges America faces in 2017? Or should politicians continue to, as they say, "Kick the can down the road for the next class of politicians?"
"In a day of high drama," the NYT says, "Mr. Ryan rushed to the White House shortly after noon to tell Mr. Trump he did not have the votes for a repeal bill that had been promised for seven years---since Mr. Obama signed a landmark health care law. During a 3 PM phone call, the two men decided to withdraw the bill rather than watch its defeat on the House floor."
At 3:30 PM, Ryan called Republicans into a closed door meeting to deliver the news that the bill would be withdrawn. Rep. Greg Walden (Ore), one of the main architects of the bill, said bluntly, "This bill's done."
The bill would have repealed tax penalties for people without health insurance, rolled back federal insurance standards, reduced subsidies for the purchase of private insurance and set new limits on Medicaid spending.
The bill would have repealed hundreds of billions of dollars imposed by Obamacare and would have cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year.
This is generally the storyline that has been reported by other newspapers, following the lead of the NYT, concerning the details of the defeat.
Beyond that, millions are speculating on, "Who is responsible for the defeat?"
Should Speaker of the House Paul Ryan resign as Speaker?
The Times says, "A major reason for the bill's demise was the opposition of members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which wanted more aggressive steps to lower insurance costs and to dismantle federal regulation of insurance products."
Yesterday on Fox News, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus publicly and strongly defended Speaker Paul Ryan--- when asked if President Trump wants him to resign, Priebus said, "No, he doesn't."
Priebus said President Trump doesn't blame Paul Ryan.
However, the question arose, in part because Judge Jeanine Pirro, on her very popular Saturday evening Fox News show, was calling for Ryan to resign. Pirro is a close friend to Trump, thus her comments took on more weight than the comments of others on the matter.
Yesterday morning, President Trump sent out a "tweet" blaming the Freedom Caucus members for not supporting the bill. However, yesterday it became public that even more moderates were also planning to not support the bill. The educated estimation was that as many as 100 House Republicans would have likely voted against it.
Those on the inside say the reason Ryan urged Trump to call off the vote was to cover the fact that he had not been telling the president the truth about how many, and whom opposed it.
Senators Rand Paul and Tom Cotton have both said they believe Speaker Ryan has been purposefully misleading the president on this matter. A floor vote would have demonstrated that fact in that as many as 100 Republicans were prepared to vote against the bill.
There is also a story among conservatives that Vice President Pence has been counseling the president to refer to the bill as Ryancare, not Trumpcare. Many feel he sensed the bill was doomed and this was an effort to somewhat protect the president, yet Pence stood with the president calling for lawmakers to support it.
McClatcly, an international news organization that also owns 30 daily newspapers, including The Bellingham Herald (WA), said this weekend, "But a spectacular stumble on the first agenda item amid intra-party squabbles begs the question of whether the party will be able to get anything done if it can't deliver on a promise it has made for nearly a decade."
They, as others are also saying, "This was the biggest defeat of Ryan's career."
Paul Ryan told the press Friday evening, "We were a 10 year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do. And now in three months' time we tried to go to a governing party. We will get there, but we weren't there today."
Indeed they were not.
On our live radio program Friday morning, not yet knowing what the day would bring regarding this matter, I mentioned briefly an event in the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
It was not unlike this episode. To our regular readers and listeners, "May I mention it again in a bit more detail?"
With the Constitutional convention going very badly, some of the delegates left in disgust believing there could be no consensus---therefore no constitution, at that time in our early history.
Ben Franklin, then 82 years old but highly respected by chairman George Washington and his other colleagues, stood and said, "The small progress we have made after four or five weeks' close attendance & continuing reasonings with each other our different sentiments on almost every question...most producing as many noes as ayes, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it."
He noted that they had studied and examined ancient history for models of government, and had examined different kinds of Republics which, "had been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist."
Franklin said, "In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented"...why have we not "thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understanding?"
Some say Franklin was a deist, most agree he was not known to be a religious leader among our Founding Fathers.
In fact, in calling our Founders to prayer, he reminded them of the time a decade ago when the British were convened to destroy the revolution for freedom, saying in those days "we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection, Our prayers sir, were heard."
He told the politicians, the longer he lives the more convinced he had become that "God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
Franklin continued, "We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that 'except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it'" [PS. 127:1a].
"I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel; We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages."
He then requested a clergy be brought in every day to lead in prayer before they began their deliberations.
Even in that they were divided. Finally, it was agreed that a preacher would be brought in to preach a sermon from the Bible---but even that didn't happen until the 4th of July.
The delegates were then dismissed. Some went home for awhile, some attended a prayer meeting led by Rev. William Rogers at the Old First Reformed Church.
The minutes of the meetings reflect that later, "We assembled again; and...every unfriendly feeling had been expelled, and a spirit of conciliation had been cultivated."
Although all couldn't even agree to pray together, the "call" to prayer by a respected politician and leader created an environment that created the Constitution of the United States---the greatest document ever written by humans in the history of the world.
Prayer is powerful. Even a call to prayer can change the course of human events and the course of history.
Political restoration will follow spiritual restoration.
Be Prayerful. Be Informed. Be Blessed.