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The Obstruction of the House Freedom Caucus

The House Freedom Caucus will sink Trump. These are hardcore, fundamentalist Republicans. They refuse to “compromise” on anything. If they get anything less than 100% of what they want, they vote against. This is the kind of obstruction that made it impossible for Boehner to do anything with Obama (remember the Grand Bargain from 2011, when Obama was going to trade entitlement reforms for higher taxes/balanced budget?). The “all or nothing” wing of the Republican party┬ámade it so Boehner, as leader of the Republicans, couldn’t seal the deal. Now their message to Ryan is the same: give us 100% of what we want, or we vote against. So Trump either has to transform into the kind of extreme Republican that could never have won, or the Freedom Caucus will vote against his every proposal.

Now there are only about 30 Freedom Caucus members. And there are about 193 Democrats in the House. So it is not like Trump or Ryan can’t pass anything. All they need is about 10 Democrats and they can pass anything (or anything they can get at least 10 Democrats to agree to). And there are promises Trump made that he could get easily get 10 Democrats to vote for. Like an infrastructure bill. Or the kind of improvements to Obamacare that would actually improve things. But neither Ryan nor Trump will go that direction. Instead they will allow the Freedom Caucus to prevent them from doing much of anything. In effect, 7% of the House members are going to stop most all lawmaking, because 47% can’t bring itself to work with the other 45%. And that is 100% a Republican problem.

And a stalemate is probably in most Republican politician’s best interest. Each can blame someone else, and nothing big changes. Because all the big changes Republicans want are going to roil the country and awaken even their own base. Eliminate Obamacare? Significantly reduce Social Security? End Medicare? I can’t see the Republican party actually surviving even one, much less all three, of those changes. So we are back to the paradox: Democrats can’t win elections, and Republicans can’t govern.

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