There are 441 people who sit in the United States House of Representatives. Of that number, six--the members from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas--cannot cast a yea, or nay. That means ideally there will be 435 votes on any given piece of legislation.
As of March 1, 2017 there are 193 democrats who are current members of the house. The republicans hold 237 seats and five are vacant for one reason, or another. Earlier this year all those people sat down and decided who would become the Speaker. They elected Paul Ryan, R-WI because traditionally everyone votes strictly along party lines and this year the GOP has that 44 member edge.
Being the Speaker of the House in this country is a huge deal. The speaker, while ranked behind the vice president in the line of executive succession, is in fact, the second most powerful person in the nation when it comes to legislative influence and pure politics. He can appoint a congressman, or woman, to committees which oversee the most important and sensitive areas of national security and economic well being, or exile some poor hack to a sub committee studying the breeding habits of dung beetles. More importantly he can kill almost any bill with a single word while at the same time even his tacit support means a proposal will be seriously considered by the entire body.
All of which brings us to Brother Ryan, Donald Trump, and this week.
A little over four years ago Paul Ryan was the republican candidate for vice president. He ran around the country talking about ending what he and others called, "Obamacare." According to Ryan, Obamacare was a disaster, a socialist pox on the national soul.
A whole bunch of Americans didn't buy into his bullshit and he and his presidential running mate Mitt Romney were thoroughly thrashed by the creator of the Affordable Care Act, Barack H. Obama.
Then along came Donald Trump, his unrelenting fascist hyperbole and a campaign which not only pandered to those who readily believe in conspiracies, but might have actually participated in one. Early in race, Trump latched onto the entire Obamacare is a nightmare thing. So much so, at one point he promised his rabid followers he'd get rid of it on his first day in office.
In the mean time Ryan and others were busily crafting a replacement for the Affordable Care Act in the hope Trump's appeal to all that's evil in us would carry the day. It was more than apparent he abhorred the big orange guy, but, in the end, El Don was a hell of a lot better than Hillary Rodham Clinton, who might actually improve the Affordable Care Act and further cement it as a necessity to millions of Americans.
So, in January, after years of playing the dog chasing the car known as the ACA, Paul Ryan and the republican party finally caught it. Within moments after latching onto the bumper everyone realized they had no viable idea of how to deal with it.
Trump, who obviously hadn't read Ryan's proposed replacement before endorsing it, was immediately proven to be either a cold blooded liar, or an idiot. After spending weeks on the campaign trail last fall promising he'd never touch Medicaid benefits he was suddenly, "honored," to support a law that would gut them. After promising to make sure everyone had access to affordable insurance he was pushing a bill which would cost 14 million people their health coverage within a year and 24 million over three years. After talking about taking down the Wall Street greedheads, he was going all in to get a measure passed which would allow the huge insurance companies to pay their CEOs tens of millions of dollars per year and then write those salaries off as tax deductions.
Yes, quite the man of the people.
The Ryan vision of health care was doomed from the beginning. Despite eviscerating Medicaid and forcing senior citizens to pay huge increases in premiums the ultra right wasn't satisfied. As far as the tea party types and billionaire brutes like the Koch brothers are concerned any federal health care program is a by God communist plot.
The revolt was on and despite having 44 more house members than democrats, Ryan and Trump couldn't muster enough support for the ACA replacement bill to pass. Yesterday, rather than suffer a humiliating public defeat on the house floor they called off the vote.
Trump, being Trump blamed the entire debacle on the democrats. He told the press, "We were very close, it was a very tight margin. We had no democrat support--no votes from the democrats."
Okay, here's a thought, Don--if you are the all powerful negotiator you claim to be you shouldn't have needed the democrats. Those last few fuckers you and Paul Ryan couldn't convince to get on board weren't wild eyed progressives from San Francisco. They were the same hideous goons who voted for you a few months ago.
Yes, it is easy to gloat right now if you loathe the venal sonsofbitches who are currently in charge of the republic. These last few days they've seemed to be an unorganized, self consuming bunch, utterly incapable of governing.
Tragically it's just that sort of dismissive assumption which allowed them to win the White House in the first place.
Hey, let's face it, despite what happened this week, if Donald J. Trump were to go on the road tomorrow he'd pack 10,000 to 15,000 screaming fanatics into some overheated arena without breaking a sweat. It doesn't matter how grotesquely he twists the truth, or blatantly mismanages the government--as one wag put it, when it comes to his base, he is bullet proof.