And here we go again… Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin became the first Senate Republican to announce he’ll vote against his own party’s plan for tax reform. He told the Wall Street Journal, “I’m not going to vote for this tax package. If they can pass it without me, let them.”
Of course, as we’ve seen with a long string of broken promises to Republican voters, it’s impossible to pass anything in the Senate with only a 52-vote majority when you have four or five ostensible Republicans who stand up and oppose their own party. They often claim that while they mostly support the bill, there are just one or two parts of it that they simply can’t reconcile with their principles, and so they kill the entire bill, making the perfect the enemy of the good and leaving the American people cursed with wretched boondoggles like Obamacare or the current indecipherable tax code.
I don’t want to pick on Sen. Johnson personally or attack anyone for standing by his principles, but I think I’m hardly the only one who’s fed up to the gills with self-appointed statesmen grandstanding at the country’s expense. We know that the Senate bill and the House bill will have to be reconciled before either becomes law, which means a lot of compromises and rewriting are yet to occur. But that won’t take place if a handful of holdouts in the Senate keep preventing bills from moving beyond stage one. I thought most Republicans were opposed to abortion, but aborting every important reform that comes along is okay with some of them.
What’s particularly grating to me, and I imagine to most Republican voters, is that high-handed comment: “If they can pass it without me, let them.” Pardon me, Senator, but did the voters of Wisconsin, who helped put Donald Trump in the White House to Hillary Clinton’s shock, send you to the Senate to stymie what Trump promised them by refusing to do your job? If you don’t like the bill, then you’ll just take your ball and go home and leave it to other people to try to get the job done without you? What about the idea of voting for a bill you find imperfect, and then working doubly hard to insure that the final bill addresses your concerns?
A famous Republican once criticized his fellow party members who demand everything they want right now, and if they can’t get it, refuse to compromise and won’t accept anything. He said, “If you got 75 or 80 percent of what you were asking for, I say you take it and fight for the rest later.” That traitor to conservative principles was Ronald Reagan.
As only the third Republican elected Governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction, I came into office facing a state legislature that was nearly 90% Democrat and not at all happy about having to deal with me. It would’ve been easy to throw up my hands and say, “You guys just pass something without me.” But the state was facing a number of crises, and I knew that its failed, corrupt system had to be reformed. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. It meant reaching out to people who probably couldn’t stand me and having to convince them I was sincere about working with them. It sometimes required compromise, sometimes arm-twisting. But by the time I finished my second term, I’d managed to enact most of my agenda. I think it worked out pretty well, if you look at the number of Republicans in office in Arkansas today compared to when I was first elected to office.
The point is, it didn’t happen overnight or by refusing to accept anything that wasn’t 100% of what I wanted. Senators are paid $174,000 a year and a lot of perks. If you like the gig, then it’s time to prove to the voters that you’re worthy of keeping it. Get to work!!
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