News Analysis: Long in opposition, U.S. Republican Party having tough time governing

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-03 01:07:48|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, April 2 (Xinhua) -- For the last eight years Republicans were the opposition party against U.S. President Barack Obama. Now, they are having trouble transitioning into the role of governing party, and that may impact the party's effectiveness in passing its agenda, experts said.

The Republican Party (GOP) has many factions, including evangelicals, libertarians, the so-called Wall Street wing, moderate conservatives, right-leaning conservatives, neo-conservatives, the Tea Party and others. From an ideological standpoint the party is quite diversified -- and in recent weeks that has made it hard to agree on anything.

At the same time, Democrats are marching in lock step with the party line, and so far, that is serving Democrats well in a hot political climate in which President Donald Trump is operating.

Indeed, the GOP suffered a huge loss last week when it failed to produce a bill to repeal and replace the former president's healthcare revamp, also known as Obamacare. Democrats have been quick to blast the GOP on this failure and other issues in the president's first 100 days.

One of Trump's central campaign promises was to come up with an alternative to Obamacare, as Trump's supporters decried Obamacare for what they felt were high prices for health insurance policies and unfair new taxes associated with the law. It's unclear what's next regarding the GOP's actions on healthcare, but more delay in passing a bill could begin to chip away at the party's credibility among supporters, experts said.

Experts said so far the GOP is having problems governing.

"The GOP made Obamacare repeal the centerpiece of its campaigns in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 -- essentially promising its voters that this was their top priority, and that they were better able to deal with health care policy than the Democrats," Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, told Xinhua.

But within the first 100 days after Trump took office, they rolled out a hastily written bill that satisfied no one, would have left millions without coverage, ignored relevant stakeholders like insurers and hospitals, and then pulled it from the agenda after just 18 days, Galdieri said.

"This is not a good start to passing Trump's legislative agenda," he added.

"Nor does the Trump White House appear to understand how to corral votes or persuade members of Congress. Reporting on their outreach to Congress suggests that their opening move is a demand, followed by bluster, followed by moving on to something else," he said.

Trump disagrees with the argument that his party is not unified. In response to critics, the former New York businessman pointed out that the GOP won both houses of Congress and now controls the White House.

Some experts also point out that Trump has only been in the White House for several weeks. Historically, most presidents have a so-called honeymoon period - a time to prepare and plan for the next four years - in the first 100 days after inauguration.

Trump's supporters contend that Democrats are trying anything and everything to derail his presidency even before it begins, and accuse the mainstream U.S. media of marching in lock step with the democratic agenda, instead of being neutral.

Meanwhile, the House GOP earlier this week said they're planning to revise the healthcare legislation they pulled last week, but offered no specifics or timetable.

"I'm deeply skeptical that they can put together a replacement that satisfies both the moderates who want to leave some aspects of (Obamacare) in place and the hard-liners in the Freedom Caucus who want every part of (Obamacare) repealed," Galdieri said, referring to a House group of very conservative Republicans.

"I think the fight over this repeal bill revealed deep cleavages within the GOP that neither the congressional leadership nor Trump has yet demonstrated a capacity to navigate,"Galdieri said.