GOP leadership obstructing the Trump agenda

GOP leadership obstructing the Trump agenda
September 08 15:58 2017 Print This Article

President Donald Trump campaigned on the America First economic agenda. His plan revolved around tax reform, reduction in regulatory policies, renewing our trade policies, and increasing the supply of American energy resources. While he has accomplished many of his goals through executive actions, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have not cooperated in matters which must go through Congress.

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon told CBS News that the Republican establishment does not like Trump’s “populist” economic message and that is trying to “nullify” the outcome of the 2016 election. Bannon said, “They (GOP leaders) are not going to help you until they are put on notice that they’re going to be held accountable.” McConnell made it clear that he didn’t like Trump’s phrase “drain the swamp” about reforming Washington.

Energy production has increased dramatically since Trump took office in January 2017, including new coal mining operations. The Trump Administration has negotiated multi-billion dollar deals to export natural gas to China, Poland and other nations. Trump removed America from the Paris Climate Accord, which would have caused electricity prices to spike. He ended America’s involvement in the Trans Pacific Partnership, a multi-national trade deal which would be governed by an international bureaucracy, and persuaded Canada and Mexico to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Trump Administration has also repealed hundreds of regulations written by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The first Trump agenda item requiring Congressional approval was the repeal and replacement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly know as Obamacare). Trump campaigned on adopting a market-driven, patient-centered medical insurance system which would lower premiums and deductibles. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a frequent critic of the President, delivered the deciding vote against the Obamacare repeal bill and told Democrats on the Senate floor, “Let’s see Donald make America great again now!” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has the authority to rescind regulations applying to Obamacare.

The next big item on the Trump agenda is tax reform. Trump’s plan calls for eliminating most tax deductions and credits and lowering tax rates for everyone. It also calls for lowering the tax tax rate on American corporations, the highest in the world at 35%, to 15% and applying the same rate to small businesses. Read about the tax plan here:

Speaker Ryan and his leadership team initially called for a “border adjustment tax” (BAT) which would be levied on all American imports and get passed on to consumers. Low polling numbers on that policy resulted in House leadership dropping the call for a BAT. The House Ways and Means Committee, which must introduce any tax legislation, has yet to even issue a tax reform bill. Ryan and his team have bristled at the notion of lowering the business tax rate to 15%.

Lower tax rates have always led to prosperity. Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton (capital gains taxes only) and George W. Bush all persuaded Congress to lower tax rates. In every case, tax revenues increased due to higher economic growth rates. Kennedy coined the term “a rising tide lifts all boats,” meaning that a growing economy benefits everyone.

There has also been friction between the White House and Congress on budgeting and spending. Trump Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former member of Congress from South Carolina, told Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto that he was “annoyed” by the lack of cooperation from the House leadership. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and a 2018 budget has not yet been approved . the 2017 budget year will end with a deficit topping $700 Billion.

I expect President Trump to become increasingly critical of the Republican leadership in Congress in the coming months. He has already endorsed Dr. Kelli Ward a 2018 Republican primary in Arizona against Sen. Jeff Flake. He will likely recruit and endorse other primary opponents for recalcitrant Republicans.

John Steinberger is a Navy veteran,  the former Chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party, and involved in several national political causes.