President Donald Trump apparently declared war on the House Freedom Caucus on Twitter this morning.
Hopefully is that this is a dust up and a small fight within the family that will pass in a few weeks once Congress and the Trump Administration find a pathway to completing the seven-year old promise of full repeal of ObamaCare.
I voted for Donald Trump for President and don’t understand why his Administration would treat conservatives as the opposition and functional equivalent of the Democratic Party. I have great respect for Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Justin Amash, Mo Brooks, Raul Labrador and Thomas Massie—merely a handful of the patriots leading the House Freedom Caucus into battle against RyanCare, a bill that would have harmed the political futures of the Republican Party and President Donald Trump, had it passed without changes.
Defeat of RyanCare was the best outcome for Republicans. It prevented voting for a bill that didn’t repeal ObamaCare, violating a core promise of Republicans for years. Further, defeat of that bill prevented Republicans from taking ownership over a health care system that is a train wreck. Everybody knows that RyanCare did nothing to address rising premiums, high deductible plans and a substandard health care delivery system.
It makes more sense for President Trump to push the strategy advocated by Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee and the House Freedom Caucus to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with market-based reforms. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s plan was poisoned from the start. It put too much government money into the system, with a giant entitlement program in the form of massive tax credits to replace the massive ObamaCare subsidies given to insurance companies.
Ryan’s approach did little to solve core problems of health care, and more to serve as a short-term band aid to stem the bleeding of ObamaCare. Freedom Caucus members were on solid ground killing that effort.
President Trump can’t hitch his political future to the same Republican leadership he once called “weak and ineffective” on October 11, 2016. Trump made it a habit on the campaign trail of making fun of establishment leaders who were “dumb,” yet his advisors are allowing him to throw in with these same dumb establishment leaders. Trump—not Republican leadership in Congress—won the last election, and if Trump allows feckless “leaders” to lead going into the next election we can expect a Republican bloodbath in 2018 and 2020.
The Republican Party is loaded with factions. One is the so-called Tuesday Group of moderate squishes who look at polls when making decisions. These members never stand on principle and care more about Washington elites than their own constituents. President Trump cannot rely on these weak-kneed members to provide him with support. They will cut and run at the first sign of trouble.
Donald Trump needs to sit down with the House Freedom Caucus to determine how to turn the RyanCare bill into legislation that truly repeals ObamaCare and replaces it with freedom-based ideas that will bring down premiums, get government out of the way of innovation and make health care great again.
Donald Trump needs conservatives to support the Republican Party in 2018 and 2020. Brothers fight all the time, but in the end they know they’re part of the same family—and they make up. It is my hope that the latest public fight between President Trump and the House Freedom Caucus pass and hard feelings will subside.
Brian Darling is a former counsel for Sen. Bob Smith, Sen. Mel Martinez and SeRand Paul. He is the author of a Heritage Foundation policy paper titled “The Filibuster Protects the Rights of All Senators and the American People.” Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling.