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Time for the GOP to Use the Power They Were Given

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

There are at least three things you need for a successful political movement: convictions, courage and effective communication. The Republicans in Congress behave as if they have none of the above.

Conservative voters have frequently bemoaned the lack of a Republican spine. But the GOP's hapless flailing was on display once again last week when the American Health Care Act got pulled before what would have been a disastrous vote.

Per usual, the Republicans had plenty of excuses and laid plenty of blame. But they're always moving the goal posts: First, they needed control of the House. Then they needed the Senate. Then they needed a Republican in the White House. Even with all three, they couldn't manage to draft a bill that could get a majority of the votes from their own party.

What the heck are they waiting for?

Oh, that's right -- approval from the left. The Republicans in Congress are more afraid of what the left will say about them than they are of disappointing their own constituencies.

The GOP still doesn't seem to have figured out why Trump won -- and why he isn't footing the blame for the failure of the AHCA. First, voters don't expect Trump to know the ins and outs of Obamacare repeal; Republicans in Congress have had eight years for that.

Second, millions of Americans voted for Trump because he gives the (figurative) middle finger to the press and the rest of the American left. The GOP should have figured out by now that they're never going to have the press fawn all over them, until (a) they declare themselves to be pro-choice, (b) they criticize other conservatives, or (c) they're dead. And sometimes, not even then.

It's true that the press helps Democrats at every opportunity. The press tries mightily to reconcile their inconsistencies, downplay their faults and cover up their shortcomings. (Hillary Clinton, call your doctor.) Alternatively, it mischaracterizes and vilifies conservative and Republican positions.

Yes, well, suck it up, buttercups -- this is the way it's been for as long as most of us can remember, and this is the way it's probably always going to be.

It shouldn't matter. Trump's election proved that you can take your message straight to the American public, and win.

The AHCA deserved to fail, because it did not do what American voters sent Republicans to Congress (in record numbers) to do: repeal Obamacare. They were not sent to Washington, D.C., to curry favor with the major networks or Hollywood. Nor were they sent to Congress to replace Obamacare with a Republican version of a federal health care leviathan.

So, kudos to the Freedom Caucus and others who saw that bill for what it was -- a cobbled-together mishmash that kept the Democrat's federal health care system in place, this time with GOP fingerprints all over it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan & Co. need to go back to the drawing board and give the American people meaningful legislative reform. Start with these points:

--Get rid of the individual mandate, as well as fines and penalties for failing to purchase insurance.

--Get rid of mandatory coverage, and allow insurance companies to offer the policies and coverage consumers want.

--Allow consumers to take their insurance with them when they leave employers.

--Allow insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines.

In other words, open up a truly free market in health insurance.

As if the AHCA debacle were not enough of a spanking, a Democratic filibuster on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court looks more likely with each passing day.

Judge Gorsuch is one of the most qualified, temperamentally suitable candidates for the Supreme Court in decades. Most congressional Democrats know this -- indeed, many liberals across the country know it -- which is there has been visible support for Gorsuch among more mainstream liberals.

But former senate Majority Leader Harry Reid raised the stakes in 2013, when he persuaded the then-Democratic majority to change senate rules, requiring only 51 votes for lower federal court judicial nominations and other presidential appointees.

Despite the exemption for the Supreme Court, Reid was warned that this was a dangerous precedent (New York senator Chuck Schumer said as recently as January that he regretted it); a Republican-controlled senate could create the same rule change to SCOTUS nominees.

Reid did it anyway, and here we are. Schumer's regret dissolved quickly; he is now leading the charge for what would be an unprecedented filibuster of Gorsuch, without cause or justification. (No nominee to the Court has ever been filibustered; Justice Abe Fortas' elevation to Chief Justice was scuttled 49 years ago for alleged ethics violations).

That congressional Democrats can threaten a filibuster is proof that they do not care about competence, qualifications or even their own philosophical consistency. They will play political games with Gorsuch's nomination, as long as they think they can win.

It's time to play hardball. The left will cry foul. Let them. The GOP has been given the power. They'd better use it.

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