No, Paul, It Wasn't Because of Growing Pains

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

House Speaker Paul Ryan, in his press conference following the demise of his bill to replace Obamacare, blamed Republicans who had failed to grasp that the GOP was now a “governing party.”

“We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” said Ryan. “You just had to be against it. Now, in three months’ time, we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with each other on how we do things.” 

It was, he said, “the growing pains of government.”

Rubbish.

Apparently Ryan doesn’t grasp that he put forward a terrible bill to begin with. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it would have resulted in 24 million Americans losing health coverage over the next decade, hardly make a dent in the federal debt, and transfer over $600 billion to the wealthiest members of American society.

The so-called “Freedom Caucus” of House Republicans, who refused to go along with the bill, wanted it even worse. Essentially, their goal (and that of their fat-cat patrons) was to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at all.

Ryan is correct about one thing. Congress is in the hands of Republicans who for years have only said “no.” They have become expert at stopping whatever a president wants to do but they don’t have a clue how to initiate policy.

Most of the current Republican House members have not shared responsibility for governing the nation. They have never even passed a budget into law.

But their real problem isn’t the “growing pains” of being out of power. In reality, the Republicans who are now control the House – as well as the Senate – don’t like government. They’re temperamentally and ideologically oriented to opposing it, not leading it.

Their chronic incapacity to govern didn’t reveal itself as long as a Democrat was in the White House. They let President Obama try to govern, and pretended that their opposition was based on a different philosophy governing.

Now that they have a Republican president, they can no longer hide. They have no philosophy of governing at all. 

Sadly for them – and for the rest of the country, and the world – the person they supported in the election of 2016 and who is now president is an unhinged narcissistic child who tweets absurd lies and holds rallies to prop up his fragile ego.

His conflicts of financial interest are legion. His entire  presidency is under a “gray cloud” of suspicion for colluding with Russian agents to win office.

Here’s a man who’s advised by his daughter, his son-in-law, and an oddball who once ran a white supremacist fake-news outlet.

His Cabinet is an assortment of billionaires, CEOs, veterans of Wall Street, and ideologues, none of whom has any idea about how to govern and most of whom don’t believe in the laws their departments are in charge of implementing anyway.

Meanwhile, he has downgraded or eviscerated groups of professionals responsible for giving presidents professional advice on foreign policy, foreign intelligence, economics, science, and domestic policy.

He gets most of what he learns from television.

So we have a congress with no capacity to govern, and a president who’s incapable of governing.

Which leaves the most powerful nation in the world rudderless. 

The country on whom much of the rest of the world relies for organizing and mobilizing responses to the major challenges facing humankind is leaderless.

It is of course possible that Republicans in congress will learn to take responsibility for governing. It is possible that Donald Trump will learn to lead. It is possible that pigs will learn to fly. 

But such things seem doubtful. Instead, America and the rest of the world must hold our collective breath, hoping that the next elections – the midterms of 2018 and then the presidential election of 2020 – set things right. And hoping that in the meantime nothing irrevocably awful occurs.

***

Reposted from Robert Reich's blog.

Robert Reich served as the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and now is a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His latest book, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, is now in bookstores. His earlier book, “Supercapitalism,” is out in paperback. For copies of his articles, books, and public radio commentaries, go to www.RobertReich.org.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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