A golden opportunity

Last week, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives failed – after years of prior attempts under a Democratic administration – to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.”

President Donald Trump and the House leadership agreed to kill the legislation, amid mumbled attempts to come back another day, and a plethora of excuses.

The president, despite an unfortunate reputation for mouthing “alternative truths” was more forthright in some of his explanations than the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. If the Republican Party has not transformed itself into one that can muster legislation. Rep. Steve Scalise’s press release machine grew silent after a final crowing over the shaping of the bill. It would appear that the whip he wields has no crack. Perhaps the Louisiana delegation’s long flirtation with the radical right-wing segment of the party has come to roost square on Scalise’s shoulder.

President Trump’s detractors have had a field day with all of this, of course, but only he is to blame. The president’s trademark braggadocio has contributed to the unflattering climate.

Nonetheless, President Trump appears to have done his Phoenix act, rising from the ashes of the failed legislation, for reasons we will explain in just a bit.

God watches for fools, drunkards and, also, history reveals, our beloved nation.

Had the ACA alternative passed, Louisiana would have suffered.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ wise acceptance of Medicaid expansion has helped provide benefits to many Louisianans who were left in the lurch during the current local economic crisis. The legislation as written would have made for problems here. Ironically some of those most in need of the expansion are people who arguably voted in a manner most likely to have resulted in its demise. Even the most partisan purveyors of platitudinous rhetoric should be able to see that the failed legislation was flawed in many respects, trading the suffering of one group – self-paying insureds – for that of another, far more vulnerable segment of the population.

But this is not a time for gloating by anyone.

The question is where do we go from here. President Trump has already extended an olive branch to Democrats, opining that a solution to health care needs could lie in a bi-partisan restructuring of the bill. His suggestion is one that we can support.

Never before has the chasm between parties in both houses been so deep and so wide. Never before has Congress teetered on the brink of failure so closely. Abraham Lincoln said that a house divided cannot stand. History proved him correct in the mid-eighteenth century. The current situation proves him right yet again. It matters not whether the division is between races, abolitionists versus slavers, liberals and conservatives or Republicans versus Democrats. Respectful disagreement is no disgrace. Inflexible partisanship is, on the other hand. Is not just a disgrace but a disservice to the nation.

We wish especially to send this message to Sen. Bill Cassidy, who from the day he took office has allowed his name to appear on shamefully partisan emails begging for money to fight Democrats, liberals and anyone else who might get in the way of the far right’s agenda. It is unfortunate that these partisan appeals by the man who won his senate seat by running against Barack Obama rather than against his incumbent opponent, Mary Landrieu, have weakened his credibility. The reason we say unfortunate is because Cassidy – a medical doctor – has offered some good solutions to the healthcare question. But his sometimes wise words are drowned out by his own partisan rhetoric. We hope that our new junior senator does not follow suit.

We say these things because President Trump’s call for Democrats and Republicans to work together toward solutions is reminiscent of the successful approach taken by former president Ronald Reagan, and it is one that we think will work.

It is our hope that Louisiana’s congressional delegation will take his words to heart. It is our hope that congressional Democrats will take the President up on the offer.

Opposition of parties should result in effective compromise, which is how we have solved our biggest problems as a nation in the past. With such a tool in hand, we can truly make America great again.