John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Upside of the Downside

Posted on November 8, 2018
I was not in favor of the Democrats taking control of the House.  I even deluded myself into believing that the GOP could keep control, post-Kavanaugh.  The economy was strong, the President had several victories under his belt, and the GOP was as unified as it has been since George W. Bush’s reelection effort in 2004.

But then the pipe-bomb threats happened, a Trump-hating Neo-Nazi killed 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and the President decided to make birthright citizenship a thing, and that was that.

Sometimes events take over and a weak majority can’t withstand the heat.

And to be fair, Republicans were not putting their strongest foot forward.  Dozens retired, including the current Speaker, leaving too many open seats.  Republicans knew that the suburbs were going to be a problem, but they didn’t come up with a comprehensive strategy to defend them.

After campaigning for 8 years to repeal and replace Obamacare, they never did anything to actually make progress on that topic, leaving too many vulnerable members debating preexisting conditions.

Immigration was another failure.  Sure, as an issue it works to inflame the base, but do voters really want to be more inflamed or do they want solutions, especially in the suburbs.

Gun violence is another issue that the GOP basically ignored.  There was plenty of things they could have done, on mental health, on strengthening schools, on background checks, on creating a task force to look at solutions.  But they did nothing.  And while it might not have shown up on any cross-tabs, and yes, I know the NRA is powerful, but Rick Scott took on the gun industry, and it didn’t seem to hurt him.

There are some things that Republicans have proven they can’t do or don’t want to do, just like there are some things that the Democrats can’t do or don’t want to do, that simply must get done.  For Democrats, they couldn’t or wouldn’t fix the corporate tax rate, which was killing our economy and causing jobs to flee overseas.  But it had to be fixed and it was, by an all-Republican government.

For Republicans, fixing Obamacare, fixing our broken immigration reform and doing something on gun violence is something that they demonstrated they couldn’t do by themselves.

Another issue that requires bipartisan buy-in is a huge infrastructure package.  The President wants it, many Democrats want it, and even some Republicans want it.

Can any of these issues get done?

I think the President would sign legislation in every one of these issue buckets.  It would be good for House Democrats, it would be good for the President and it might even be good for Senate Republicans.

But the Democrats seem more motivated in destroying the Trump Presidency than in making any progress on anything legislatively.

They seem to want to lead with oversight leading to impeachment, rather to lead with gun violence measures.

I don’t think the Democrats, given their current ideological makeup, are capable to moving forward on anything resembling any kind of agenda important to the vast majority of the American people.

The upside of the downside is that this will become quite obvious to the voters in suburban America who gave the Democrats a chance to take their resistance and turn it into progress.

And that gives the GOP and the President a chance two years from now.

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