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Three strikes

Sep 27, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

When a congressional bill is opposed by a group as diverse as the one opposing the newest attempt to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, it can tell us something.

And that something could be helpful as the Senate begins trying to pass an overhaul of the income tax system.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is a Republican who could well pass as a Democrat in many other states. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas would never - ever - be mistaken for a Democrat in any state. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is the son of the great Libertarian congressman Ron Paul. He is elected as a Republican, but he holds to some principles endorsed by Democrats, some by Republicans, and some that make both parties uncomfortable.

And U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is back to demonstrating the maverick characteristics that made his reputation but vanished for six months before the 2008 presidential elections. Now battling a terminal illness, apparently he is trusting his conscience in what probably are his final months as a senator.

And none of them could support this new bill. That demonstrates that it fails from the left and from the right. It fails from the libertarian point of view. It fails to persuade senators from states as different as Maine and Texas that it would do the right things for their constituents.

The bill got no committee hearings, benefitted from the testimony of neither experts nor ordinary citizens. It was rushed to the floor before the Congressional Budget Office could analyze, or "score," the bill. It was given just one day on the floor of the Senate, and there were just 90 seconds of actual new debate scheduled for it.

So - Republican senators from across the nation and the party spectrum couldn't get behind it, and the bill itself was practically hidden from the public.

This is not good legislation, from the bill to the process.

And, by the way, a landslide majority of the American public opposed the bill when polled.

If ever there is a public entity that fails again and again to recognize the incredibly obvious, it is the United States Congress. Now, as expected, the bill has been pulled from consideration altogether. Four Republican senators had announced their opposition to it publicly, and the word around Washington, apparently, is that many others would have abandoned ship had it actually come to a floor vote.

This marks the third time this year that an Obamacare repeal has failed. The lesson seems simple to the Washington outsider, but it seems unable to pierce the concrete of political fear, stubbornness and inertia that encases (some might say entombs) the U.S. Capitol. Here it is again: Write a decent bill, enhance it with good hearings, illuminate it with good public information, and give it a full airing in what still calls itself the greatest deliberative body in the world.

Do this on tax reform, and it will have a chance to pass.

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2017-10-18