Donald Trump

Under Trump, Republicans Have Become the Party of No Ideas

The GOP is abandoning policy goals that used to define the party, and replacing them with raw Trumpism.



In the Trump administration, it's always infrastructure week. But it's less of a legislative rollout and more of a state of mind. Despite promises dating back to the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House admitted yesterday that there won't be any infrastructure bill this year.

Whether you view Trump's infrastructure plan as a smart way to leverage federal spending, another federal boondoggle, an on-brand political move with cross-partisan potential, or, like me, some mix of the above, the elimination of the bill from this year's agenda is yet another reminder of how little Republicans have to offer in terms of substantive policy.

With roughly six months to go until the midterm elections, Republicans in Washington are choosing to sit on their hands. Following the recent budget deal, which raised spending on both military and domestic programs, and the passage of the tax law last December, the GOP appears content to coast into the election without further pursuing any major legislative initiatives.

If anything, the party appears to be giving up on its long-held priorities, and replacing them with vacuous Trumpism. Loyalty to the president has become a substitute for a governing vision.

Repealing Obamacare, for example, was once among the party's loudest promises, but after the failure of repeal legislation last year, GOP lawmakers have begun to admit that repeal is no longer a priority, leaving Republicans adrift on one of their biggest policy commitments.

The spending deal, which added hundreds of billions to the deficit, makes even modest budget reforms essentially impossible, and while some Republicans have raised the possibility of clawing back some of the domestic funding, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who controls what comes to the floor in the Senate, has made it clear he disapproves of the idea.

At this point, it's unlikely that Congress will pass a budget resolution this year. Not only is that a failure to carry out one of the legislature's most basic responsibilities; it leaves congressional Republicans with no vehicle for reconciliation, the legislative maneuver that allows the Senate to circumvent the filibuster and pass laws with a simple majority, meaning that entitlement reforms won't be attempted.

Yes, McConnell has said the Senate is likely to take up anti-opioid legislation, and the farm bill may end up authorized by the end of the year, although it will have to overcome conservative opposition. But even if Republicans have not entirely given up on legislating, they have given up on the sort of ambitious reforms that forward-looking parties often pursue during moments of unified government. Indeed, it's worth contrasting the GOP's current approach with the last time a single party controlled both Congress and the presidency.

When Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010, it was the capstone to a remarkable legislative run. By the time the health law passed, the party had already passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the stimulus, and a reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Nor did Democrats stop with Obamacare. Heading into the midterm elections, they also passed legislation reducing disparities in criminal sentencing for certain drug convictions, a $30 billion lending program for small businesses, and a major overhaul of the nation's financial regulation.

Democrats had congressional majorities—and used them. Republicans, in contrast, appear content to let their majorities idle. They have given up on creating a legislative record that they can run on.

Some of this difference is inherent in the ideological distinctions between Republicans and Democrats; a party that favors more activist government is more likely to pursue a vigorous legislative agenda. It is also true that with a slim majority in the Senate, today's Republicans face greater procedural challenges than Democrats did in 2009. And it's better, of course, to pass nothing than to pass terrible legislation; volume of legislative activity alone is not a measure of a political party's success.

But Republicans are not merely struggling with difficult vote math, or with converting broad ideas into legislative form. They are abandoning the notion of a policy agenda entirely.

That abandonment can be seen in the slew of GOP retirements—more than two dozen so far, including a large number of committee heads, who have historically taken charge of writing legislation and moving it through the congressional process. In a very real sense, the Republican Party, or at least the party as we have known it, is calling it quits.

The most notable of the retirees is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a veteran lawmaker who built his career as a legislative entrepreneur, the closest thing the GOP had to an idea man, pitching a broad policy agenda he at one point dubbed "A Better Way."

Even among Republicans, Ryan's ideas, especially on entitlements, were always more popular in theory than in practice, and Ryan's status as a deficit hawk was often overrated. But at the very least his ideas served as a sort of ideological placeholder, a sense of what the party should, or could, aim for in the absence of a more promising program.

Under Trump, however, Republicans have dispensed with the pretense of substantive long-term policy goals entirely. Rather, they have chosen to locate their agenda entirely in the persona of Trump himself. Republicans have decided that the future of politics—or at least the immediate future of their party—lies in Trump and all that he represents, in inane culture war squabbles and ephemeral outrages, in chaos and shock value as an end unto themselves.

Although the president is unpopular with the general public, he has become even more beloved among the GOP base, and Republicans have increasingly campaigned on raw fealty to the president, which tends to take the form of obsequiously praising the president while trashing his perceived enemies, from the media to Robert Mueller to Hillary Clinton.

Grandstanding, superficial Trumpism has overwhelmed the Republican Party. Trump is the black hole at the center of the GOP, the center of gravity that pulls everything into its void. Republicans have become the party of no ideas.

Even if this somehow turns out to be an effective political strategy in the short run, it is a sign of a profound emptiness within the modern GOP, a crude policy nihilism that existed prior to Trump but which has, under his administration, overtaken all else. The effect has been not only to transform the GOP into an enfeebled and ridiculous cult of presidential personality but to embolden Democrats to move rapidly toward an expansive agenda—think single-payer health care and a jobs guarantee—that is now unconstrained by a competing narrative.

Political parties can always reinvent themselves, and the Trump tides may eventually recede, especially if Republicans take a beating in November. But for now, the GOP has effectively admitted it has no vision of the future, no ideas for solving the problems that Americans face. It's a party with no better way.

NEXT: Mueller Indicted Concord Catering for Conspiring in the 2016 U.S. Election. But Its Lawyer Says the Company Didn't Exist Then: Reason Roundup

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  1. Sorry, but loyalty to Trump (or BO or Bush or Clinton, etc.) is a governing vision.
    That it’s the same vision as Lenin, Stalin, and Mao ? and Hillary and McCain et al ? is the point to focus on.
    But that exposes the dreadful hypocrisy of libertarians agitating for a ‘governing vision.’

    1. Im just happy that Trump’s agenda is even a little bit libertarian. Considering how horrific the alternative would have been.

      1. It is interesting that Trump is getting mostly good advice on judicial nominations from a Libertarian perspective that may well rule against some of his worst impulses. Had Hilary won we would have gotten liberal judges and no constitutional restraint on government.

    2. The Party of No Ideas? Fine. How about accomplishments? Will that suffice for a while?

      I like this one which will mean an end to the Drug War.

      Addiction is a medical problem – Trump

      1. Sure, I see Attorney General Sessions looking to end the drug war–NOT!!!

    3. My last month paycheck was for 11000 dollars… All i did was simple online work from comfort at home for 3-4 hours/day that I got from this agency I discovered over the internet and they paid me for it 95 bucks every hour…

      This is what I do….

  2. An agenda-less president could be less dangerous than one with an agenda. Just saying.

    1. We really are not in a position where we can afford much in the way of ‘new ideas.’

      The old idea of “the government has no business being involved with that” will suffice.

  3. This appears to me to be less a Trump issue, than a McConnell issue.

    1. This appears to me to be neither a Trump issue nor a McConnell issue; it’s a goober issue.

      1. Stop talking about goobers! Those delicious chocolate covered delicacies are a scrumptious taste treat. All your talk of the, is making me hungry!

        It is flattering that you associate non progressives with something so beloved and wonderful.

      2. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|5.10.18 @ 1:14PM|#
        “This appears to me to be neither a Trump issue nor a McConnell issue; it’s a goober issue.”

        That’s because you’re an imbecile.

  4. vacuous Trumpism.

    That would be Big Government, Big Deficits, building new buddies like Putin and Lil’ Kim while ditching old allies, Big Tariffs and a corporate tax cut that does nothing for the economy.

    1. But that’s not what’s being argued here

      1. It is on Reason in general.

        1. Ah, the Procrustean collectivist approach ? assemble an aggregate and cut off all the bits that don’t fit the narrative, thus “demonstrating” the superb accuracy of the narrative in the face of argument or conflicting evidence.
          Well done comrade, you’ll soon have earned your place amongst the nomenklatura, provided the narrative doesn’t require that we cut you off.

          1. Look, I am as pissed off as you are that we don’t have a small government political party.

            1. Lol you didn’t understand what Shirley said!

            2. “Look, I am as pissed off as you are that we don’t have a small government political party.”

              No you’re not.

              1. By small government he means an aithoritarian liberal regime.

            3. “Look, I am as pissed off as you are that we don’t have a small government political party.”

              You’re a lying sack of shit; you’ve spent the past 8 years here pimping O-care.
              Yeah, ‘small government’, so long as it means small brain capacity.

    2. “vacuous Trumpism.

      That would be Big Government, Big Deficits, building new buddies like Putin and Lil’ Kim while ditching old allies, Big Tariffs and a corporate tax cut that does nothing for the economy.”

      Substitute the corporate tax cut with massive welfare programs and that would cover any democrat president. Seriously PB, you are a lying, hypocritical pile of offal.

  5. “With roughly six months to go until the midterm, Republicans in Washington are choosing to sit on their hands. ”

    A libertarian asks, this is a bad thing?

    Reason is just trolling us, right?

    1. At one time it wouldn’t have been a bad thing. But since these days the Leviathan marches on in the absence of new legislation, rather than requiring new legislation to fuel it, today it’s a bad thing.

      1. today it’s a bad thing

        Do you have the same legislature where you are that we’ve got here? The options are them doing nothing or fueling it more and lashing it harder. There’s maybe a handful of guys who can, at best, throw a wrench in the works and the Leviathan has been eating a bowl of wrenches for breakfast daily for a couple decades.

      2. Trump has spent much of his time repealing existing regulations and not passing new ones. That’s a good thing. Could it be faster? Sure. But even not passing new regulations is a bonus these days.

    2. Good thing you posted this, I was just about to. Nothing is more dangerous to liberty than a “do something” government.

    3. Things a conservative and pro-libertarian government could definitely be doing right now:

      Amending the Clean Air Act to make clear that carbon dioxide is not a “pollutant” under it. Defining more clearly what regulable waters of the U.S. are under the Clean Water Act. Passing actual entitlement reform. Amending existing military authorizations in order to constrain the president’s ability to use the military anywhere. Revising the legislation authorizing the existence of the FISA courts. Enacting immigration reform so as to ensure we have a healthy inflow of immigrants for the employers who need them and so that immigration policy isn’t driven by a president’s need to score points with the base. And so on.

      The implosion of the DACA deal was a perfect example of what the post is describing. There’s absolutely no reason why Congress couldn’t put together a package of reforms that would either withstand a veto or make the president look horrible for vetoing it. But just as they were approaching a deal, Trump sniffed at it and demanded that it include a host of non-starters for Democrats (and probably some moderate Republicans). So the Republicans in Congress just canned it. They didn’t tell the president, tough shit, we’re a coequal branch, we’ll do what we think is best for the country. They said, holy shit, we don’t want this sociopath coming for our seats, we’ll do whatever he says. Ergo: Trumpism.

      1. The problem is that much of the green policy was passed through sue and settle. Changing regulations can’t overcome that. Rule making doesn’t suffice. It would require legislation.

  6. Not implementing a massive federal infrastructure plan was a bad thing?

    1. Funny story: That’s not even what it was. It was a shell game – taking funding from other federal sources – and designed to force states to do most of the funding, while giving the president the credit. Seems like a pattern, huh?

      No, anything that was actually in his “plan” was pretty pro-libertarian. Lowered regulatory hurdles for expedited environmental reviews. Minimal new federal funding required. “Innovative” state-level funding. A lot of stuff libertarians love to jack off to. The price tag was supposed to make it look like he was going big, but anyone paying actual attention would have seen what a con it really was.

  7. Ideological politics is over, for a long, long time, if not forever. And it’s largely due to the policies the ideologs pushed. File under: Sucks to be you.

  8. Is it really a bad thing for government to do nothing when nothing needs doing?. You bitch when they do stuff and you bitch when they don’t. I think it Reason that can’t decide what its ideals are anymore

    1. Maybe they cannot decide what their’s are, but it is becoming ever more clear what they aren’t.

  9. The GOP is like the dog that finally caught a car and doesn’t know what to do with it. They’re just killing time until a Democrat occupies the White House once again and then they can go back to the business of claiming that if they were in charge they’d do things much differently. It worked so well for eight years of Obama and then that asshole Trump had to go and queer the deal by keeping Hillary out of the Oval Office. Can you imagine how well the GOP would have done campaigning against Hillary? They would have been rolling in it! But, noooo, Dumb Donald just had to go sticking his nose in where it wasn’t wanted and didn’t belong.

    1. I think the tent is so large that tribalism is about the only thing that can unite them. They can’t actually take concrete positions on anything for fear of losing their statewide dominance.

    2. GOP members of Congress are largely small minded people happy to quietly steal and keep their heads down while avoiding responsibility for anything. Holding Congress with a Democratic President who ignored them and the law and did whatever the hell he wanted to do like Obama did was a good role for them. They could grandstand and talk about all of the wonderful things they would do if only that damned Obama wasn’t there to stop them knowing that they would never actually be able to do anything and thus be held responsible for anything. This, as much as anything, is why so many establishment Republicans were so horrified at the prospect of Trump winning the Presidency. It wasn’t so much Trump as it was the thought of actually having power and the responsibility that came with it.

      If we had two parties that were like the GOP, the country would be okay, because nothing would ever get done no matter who was in charge. But we don’t. The Democrats are fanatics who will do anything for power and use it to the maximum extent possible every time they get it. When you realize that one party is committed to nothing but the relentless pursuit of power and the ruthless use of it once it is obtained and the other party is committed to nothing other than stealing and avoiding responsibility, you understand how we ended up with this giant government even though most Americans never really wanted such a thing.

      1. Yeah, Congressional ineptitude isn’t Trump’s fault.

        Trump wasn’t the one campaigning on ending Obamacare for YEARS and, when given the chance, refused to do much of anything. Trump has actually done far more of what he said he would do then most pols do.

        1. Trump would have signed about anything the Congress sent to him. So, Congress’ failure to pass something is their fault not Trump’s.

          1. Trump sent various budget cut proposals to Congress. Each one was rejected.

            The media blames a party when the government shuts down as if its a bad thing. Many Americans believe that.

            Trump has other plans to troll the Democrats and lefties than simply refusing tot sign legislation coming out of Congress.

            Who knows. Trump might start refusing to sign legislation after Republicans maintain control of Congress post election 2018.

  10. Trump won on the back of pro-union democrats in what used to be primarily blue states, throw that in with just how large the tent has gotten within the republican party you get too many vieing factions with no clear goals. The Republicans have taken so many state legislatures and governorships the last 6 years it has completely watered down their core “principals”(since they are politicians they don’t actually have principles), about the only thing that unites them is that they aren’t the Democrats. What you’re seeing is what happens when there are only two parties and media is obsessed with shining a spotlight on the problems of one and largely ignoring the others. The Republicans for all their faults have much fewer and smaller problems then the Democrats, and this will continue till the Democrats start winning again.

    1. This is similar to what happened to Venezuela. Maduro was already unpopular outside of the core true bleevers, and yet the opposition seemed to be perceived as do-nothing conservatives wastrels, coasting on platforms from decades ago, and were beset with factions that had no clear goals beyond assuming power. By the time everyone realized shit was getting serious, elections were done and they had to wait for the next opportunity. At which point, Maduro played games and the opposing party mostly squabbled. These guys weren’t bad guys, a damned sight better than Maduro, and some of them seem as if they might even have been fairly excellent… and yet they couldn’t reach voters.

      Falcon is… not well-spoken of. What’s said, usually in tones of deep exasperation, is essentially the above: He’s a do-nothing wastrel with no clear goal beyond positioning himself for power. It’s a horrifying thought, that this might be the natural end result of a lesser-evil campaign system.

      I could draw parallels between our economic policies too. I know, I know, if we didn’t actually steal the farm to give to a crony, then it isn’t real socialism. Still. I find the parallels disturbing.

      1. Socialists takeovers of nations play out more or less the same way every time. You start off with some kind of center or right-wing government that is run by crooks and wastrels. The socialists encourage this and always do everything they can to discredit and undermine the government. When the government fails and becomes unpopular the socialists then ride in as the better alternative and take power. Once in power, they then destroy the democratic institutions that put them there and ensure the public cannot throw them out after their policies inevitably fail and result in horror and misery being inflicted upon the public.

        The only way this process is ever stopped is if the country has strong enough democratic institutions such that the socialists can’t destroy them once in power or if the army steps in and throws the socialists out by force after they have destroyed the institutions. This is why the US doesn’t look like Venezuela and why countries that don’t have strong democratic institutions end up resorting to military coups to avoid the horrors of socialism.

        1. Socialism 101 alright.

        2. Once in power, they then destroy the democratic institutions that put them there and ensure the public cannot throw them out after their policies inevitably fail and result in horror and misery being inflicted upon the public.

          If and when the Republicans get enough power to amend the Constitution, I hope you’ll keep this progression in mind.

        3. Great comment and correct.

      2. Clearly, several meaningful disparities can also be extrapolated.

  11. Whether you view Trump’s infrastructure plan as a smart way to leverage federal spending, another federal boondoggle, an on-brand political move with cross-partisan potential, or, like me, some mix of the above, the elimination of the bill from this year’s agenda is yet another reminder of how little Republicans have to offer in terms of substantive policy.

    Wut. I know it’s Suderman, but this is still a libertarian publication correct?

    1. Nor did Democrats stop with Obamacare. Heading into the midterm election, they also passed legislation reducing disparities in criminal sentencing for certain drug convictions, a $30 billion lending program for small businesses, and a major overhaul of the nation’s financial regulation.

      Democrats had congressional majorities?and used them. Republicans, in contrast, appear content to let their majorities idle. They have given up on creating a legislative record that they can run on.

      And than proceeded to lose said Majorities.

      1. Nothing says Libertarian like commenting on how great it is when one party gets a majority and uses it to “do stuff”.

        Wow. At least Weigel pretended he was a libertarian. Suderman isn’t even doing that.

        1. He’s probably used to these arguments going over with the other Trump hating progressives-who-lie-about-being-libertarians that he associates with.

      2. The Democrats also had 59 Senators (and that was after Ted Kennedy died and the people of Massachusetts elected a Republican Senator for the first time in forever in a desperate attempt to derail the Obamacare train), so if Republicans had tried to filibuster any of those things the Democrats would have only needed to peel off one Republican to end it. Now Republicans have 51 votes in the Senate, and you wouldn’t be able to find 9 Democrats who would agree that the sun rises in the East if Trump says it does.

    2. Wut. I know it’s Suderman, but this is still a libertarian publication correct?

      Not really.

  12. Yeah, “Republicans used to be so great and the ones now are just terrible by comparison”. Sudderman is apparently undeterred by the fate of Kevin D. Williamson and is working hard for that gig at a big liberal magazine. Writing the “why can’t these Republicans be like the old ones” opinion piece is one of the basic skills required of a conservative/libertarian concern troll at a mainstream publication. Good luck and God speed in your quest Peter.

  13. Under Gillespie, Welch, and guttersnipes like Suderman, Reason has become the foundation and media organization of no principles and no honesty.

  14. Just out of curiosity, what happened to Team Blue in 2010 after they passed Obamacare and all those other big plans?

    They should be working to cut down Leviathan, but their actions are pretty understandable given recent history. Also given that the “Blue Wave” appears to be losing steam based on recent polling data, it is very understandable that they don’t want to rock the boat before elections. If they were truly facing a Blue Wave, they would be well served to cut anything on their wish list and leave it to Team Blue to figure out how to build it back when a Team Red President has to sign it. If they think they have a chance at retaining control, their actions seem more understandable.

    1. The Democrats took the Congress back in 2006 by running a bunch of candidates who promised to be old school, moderate Democrats. This allowed them to win in districts and states where they had not won since before the 1994 midterms. Had those candidates actually shown themselves to be moderates once in office, the Democrats would likely still control the Congress today. The problem was they did not. It didn’t matter for the first two years because Bush was still President and got the blame for everything that happened. Once Obama took over and the Democrats owned everything, then those “moderates” voting with the party leadership for things like TARP, the porkulus and most of all Obamacare that were wildly unpopular in their districts signed their political death warrants.

      1. The problem for the Democrats is that the hard left base that runs the party is only popular in a limited geographic area. In a representative Republic like ours, that makes it impossible for them to be a national party. It doesn’t matter how many 99-1 victories you get in places like Berkley and Manhatten because they only get you one house seat or if the state is blue one state’s electoral vote. The US political system is designed to ensure no party can win control of the federal government without broad geographic appeal. And the Democrats will never have that as long as the hard left runs the party. So their choices are move right and regain the broad geographic appeal necessary to win or stay left and over time cease to be a nationally competitive party.

        1. Yep. I like to say that the Democrats lack geographic diversity. Phrasing it that way seems to especially annoy them.

      2. Obamacare turned out to be wildly unpopular, but Getting Someone Else To Pay For My Dr. is still wildly popular worldwide, & they’ll keep looking for a way to do it that “works”.

        1. Obamacare was wildly unpopular because it screwed the middle class instead of benefiting them and it was mostly a giant regulation and tax instead of a welfare program. Medicaide and Social Security are popular because they cut people checks and because a lot of middle class people get those checks. And they are popular with more than just old people because younger people do not want the burden of taking care of their parents.

          Obamacare is totally different. The only people who got checks were poor people who largely don’t vote and who didn’t want checks to be used for insurance they didn’t want. It was also a giant transfer of wealth and access to healthcare from the middle class to the poor. People are all about helping the poor until they have to pay for it or their healthcare suffers for it. Obamacare did nothing but make people pay for insurance riders they didn’t want and brought millions of people who didn’t have insurance into the health system without any corrisponding increase in the supply of health care. So everyone ended up with less healthcare and paying more money for it. The idea that it was going to be popular once enacted was always absurd.

          1. The idea that it was going to be popular once enacted was always absurd.

            I don’t think popularity (or workability) had anything to do with it, and that’s why the whole thing was such a mish-mash of nonsense. Obama was willing to negotiate on anything as long as it got the Obamacare camel’s nose in the tent, hell, he let those “evil” insurance companies practically write the thing. He knew it didn’t matter a damn bit what was in the bill as long as it established the principle of socialized medicine, everything in the specific bill was just details. Obama knew, just as we all know, once a government program gets put in place it can never be killed off. And the GOP, who campaigned on “repealing” Obamacare, about 12 seconds after they got elected, turned to “replacing” or “fixing” Obamacare. Socialized medicine was just fine and dandy with them, as long as the right Top Men were in charge.

            1. You give Obama too much credit. Remember, the original bill had the public option. I think the plan was to create a public option and then make regular insurance so expensive everyone would end up on the public option and make going to single payer inevitable. But they couldn’t get the public option passed. They were left with a bill specifically built to make everyone’s private insurance expensive and awful but now stripped of its alternative. But they felt if they didn’t pass something they would never pass anything. They also were so stupid they honestly believed passing it would ensure they remained in the majority for generations.

              So, what they did was pass it but put off its implementation until 2013. Think about why they did that. If this thing was so great, why not put it into effect immediately. The answer is that without the public option, even they knew it was horrible. So, they figured they would pass it, bask in the glory of saving America’s health care system, and then add the public option back in after they had larger majorities after the 2010 midterms or the 2012 presidential elections. Well, the problem is it wasn’t popular and they lost control of Congress and could not add in the public option. But couldn’t admit Obama’s signature achievement was a ticking time bomb designed to destroy everyone’s insurance. And now we have what we have.

      3. Pelosi Floor Speech on Pay-As-You-Go Legislation
        Washington, D.C. ? Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in strong support of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, which requires Congress to offset the costs of tax cuts or increases in entitlement spending with savings elsewhere in the budget, thereby restoring fiscal discipline to the federal government. The bill passed the House by a vote of 265 to 166. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
        We have put forth earlier this year a budget, which is a statement of our national values, about what is important to the American people, as being manifested in our priorities in that budget. It’s a budget that is designed to reduce the deficit, to create jobs, to give tax cuts to the middle class,
        I know that we have a moral responsibility not to heap mountains of debt onto our grandchildren.
        “I reiterate, when the Democrats took control of the Congress, we made it a rule of the House that we had to abide by pay-as-you-go. Now, we have a President of the United States who is committed to sign this legislation and we are able to pass it as a statute, as a law of the land.
        “It’s a very important day for our country because it is a day when the Congress of the United States says to the American people: We will be accountable. We have said it, we have done it, and now we will make it a statute of the law of the land.
        That was 10 trillion ago

  15. Republicans have been the party of no ideas for at least a decade now.

    “Obamacare sucks!” OK, Republicans, please formulate a coherent alternative plan. It should be easy, since Reason and other libertarian and conservative think tanks have lots of suggestions, such as opening up inter-state insurance, encouraging high-deductible plans paired with heath savings accounts, reducing restrictions on medical licensing, speeding up the drug approval process, and on and on.

    Instead, they cobbled half-assed “repeal”.

    1. Maybe there are not any big new ideas? In fact, maybe people coming up with “big new ideas” is a big reason why we are where we are?

      There was a time in this country where we had true citizen legislatures. Most members of Congress before the 20th Century never attended college. Today most of them are lawyers, and all of them have college degrees. I would submit that the replacement of ordinary citizens with college educated “intellectuals” is one of the main reasons we have ended up with such a giant and oppressive government. Intellectuals tend to have big ideas and the desire to do big things. That never works out well for anyone. Better to have practical people who think small thoughts and do practical small things that actually accomplish something.

      1. The point of my comment is they don’t need to come up with any new ideas. There are already excellent proposals.

        If the Republican Party had leadership and some coherence, they could come up with a decent policy proposal.

    2. Try coming up w new ideas that go vs. basic human nature.

      On health care, the problem is the lack of will by most people (anywhere in the world) to face up to limited resources. They see all the great things medicine is capable of, & they want them all. Since no explicit form of rationing is palatable, it will be continually blundered into according to whatever’s just ahead on the path of least resistance, never reaching a long term sol’n, while promising the infinite all along.

      1. How about we deal with the problem of health care being too expensive and not widely enough available by increasing the supply of healthcare?

        1. My HMO is trying to do that — mostly by importing doctors from Asia and staff from the Philippines. Oh, I forgot — and raising the costs of deductibles and delivered services at the same time.

          If you have a better idea we’d all love to hear it

      2. Society does seem to have a general problem with mature and long-term thinking.

    3. “please formulate a coherent alternative plan”

      Fuck you, that’s no business of the government.

      How’s that? Although it’s really more libertarian than republican.

    4. Mike Laursen|5.10.18 @ 11:46AM|#
      “Republicans have been the party of no ideas for at least a decade now.
      “Obamacare sucks!” OK, Republicans, please formulate a coherent alternative plan.”

      Got it: Pay for your medical care yourself.
      Vox is over there to the left; you seem to have gotten lost. Or your a pathetic troll.

      1. Please re-read my comment. I thought it was OK to criticize the Republican Party here. I didn’t say anything against libertarians.

        I’ve been a Reason commenter for years and years. I have all my libertarian bonafides.

    5. A cohesive alternative plan?

      How about one that’s not just cohesive, but also costs nothing and brings healthcare prices down?

      Get the government out of ALL healthcare. There. Done. That was easy.

      One of the best things about it is that the artificial limits on how many people can become doctors will end. Imagine a country with more doctors than lawyers. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  16. No Ideas? what utter BS. What you should say is there are lots of idea, but you don’t like them and have limited ability to explain why they are wrong.

    Drain the swamp (seems to be working quite well)
    Deregulate (some movement, let’s see what happens)
    Corporate tax reform (done)
    Reform immigration
    Renegotiate trade agreements
    Contain NK
    Contain Iran
    Renew support for Israel
    Renew vocal support for democratic reforms in countries like Iran, Venezuela

    These are all policies that are in progress at the moment and a distinct change from the Dems/prior administration.

    Point out the faults…but to argue that there are no ideas is childish

    1. Drain the swamp (seems to be working quite well)


      1. Things don’t seem to be going so well for the FBI and the Intelligence Community these days. I would think that Libertarians would find the FBI and IC being made such fools and embarrassed so badly to be a good thing.

      2. “LOL”

        Have you been under a rock, or are you just blinded by hate?

        Trust in governmental institutions, like the IRS, FBI, EPA is at an all time low. We are enjoying seeing vast swathes of political cronies resign and flee DC. Light is shining into places that have been hidden for years and years. FISA is in question. Tapping is in question. Political activities of “non partisan” groups is in question.

        For the first time in decades we are seeing a net decrease in the bureaucratic monstrosity of DC. We should rejoice.

        1. Political activities of “non partisan” groups is in question.


        2. This MikeP2 might be the dumbest guy I’ve enountered this month.

          I try to see the bright side:

          I’m glad he isn’t on my side.

          Better people get to compete economically with these goobers.

          1. Oh goody.
            I get the resident moron and the resident bigot responding to me.

            Now all I need is the resident lunatic and I’ll have ‘los tres idiotas’. Do I win a cookie?

          2. Narrator Reverand Arthur Kirkland is widely considered to be the dumbest human being ever to post on the internet.

            1. Not even close.
              Some of the anti-evolution folks make RAK look solemn and sensible.
              More so 10 years ago, but G.Gaulin and D.Hawkins are going strong. For certain values of ‘going’ and ‘strong.’

          3. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|5.10.18 @ 1:24PM|#
            “This MikeP2 might be the dumbest guy I’ve enountered this month.”

            That’s because you haven’t read your own crap, asshole.

            1. Arty probably doesn’t know how to use a mirror.

  17. Wha’d you expect, a party or a think tank?

  18. Republicans seem to be pursuing their authoritarian impulses (on abortion, military spending, immigration, voter suppression, military belligerence, the drug war, torture, and the like).

    Faux libertarians don’t mind when Republicans and conservatives stomp on libertarianism, though.

    1. Arty. You and Pantomime Michael should fuck each other’s assho,es amd see which of you can birth your demented shit rectal baby first.

  19. I’ll take “no ideas” over “awful ideas” anytime, the latter being the practical, if unfortunately-so, alternative.

  20. Wonkish Suderweigel bemoans the prospect that leaving people alone might not leave much room for all his new and improved progressivism masquerading as ‘libertarianism.’

    1. Isn’t Libertarianism a political ideology that consists of one idea? Given that it is, bemoaning a political party’s lack of ideas seems like a very strange criticism to come from a Libertarian.

      1. Ever demanding ‘new’ ideas is the mark of the progressive.

        Asking whether any given idea (old OR new) advances the cause of individual liberty is the mark of the libertarian.

        How often do we see the authors here doing the latter?

      2. No, we’re told it’s more of an adjective. Apparently for some elements of a set of approved feelz.

  21. The old joke was that the Republicans are the party of bad ideas, whereas the Democrats are the party of no ideas.

    But, the Republicans are looking more like the Democrats every day.

  22. good ideas > no ideas > bad ideas

  23. I don’t think a government that does nothing but enforce existing law is all that bad. Heck, I’d say it’s preferable to most. For the gridlock voter, Trump is pretty good.

    1. In some ways, sure, but the ideal gridlock of the 1990’s has passed in favor of just giving in on nearly every Democrat spending priority. “Sure we’ll let you increase social spending by 20% if we can increase military spending by 20%” isn’t really gridlock.

  24. Let me get this straight. That the Democrats passed ‘do something’ legislation is seen as a good thing? I expect that from other publications but did Reason just make the claim as a tactic to voice opposition to Trump?

    “When Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010, it was the capstone to a remarkable legislative run.”

    Jesus ‘Jesus’ Christ.

    Reason writers are really starting to make me thirsty. And when a Canadian notices, you know it’s bad.

    And it would strengthen your argument if, you know, you actually point out Trump’s pretty remarkable accomplishments which can be further argued are more significant than Obama. Obama’s ‘signature’ accomplishments weren’t exactly noble in their passing. The Iran deal was a lousy pledge with no Congressional support as was his attack on Libya. never mind the mechanically separated manoeuvrings he pulled to pass his unpopular O’Care which subsequently was rolled out in a manner only incompetent left-wingers can accomplishment

    Some President.

    1. ‘are significantly more interesting than what Obama pulled off’ is a better line.

    2. It is just unbelievable, isn’t it? The irony of someone accusing the GOP of “vacuous Trumpism” in an article talking about the remarkable achievement of Obamacare is pretty fucking epic. What does Suderman even do? At least Soave, Bailey and a few others have actual beats they cover. Suderman doesn’t really seem to do much of anything and seems to know even less.

      1. Especially interesting given ‘Drumpf’ is about to meet with the Norf Korean for peace.

        Unemployment below 5%. Black unemployment too.

        It’s not like his administration is completely off the rails as depicted. There are positives.

        My personal favourites are pulling out of the stupid Paris Accords and the naive Iran pledge.

        1. That’ is, black unemployment is down.

          1. Is it? Or are you just regurgitating what the BLS wants us to believe?

            1. I’ll admit to the fact it’s a bit silly giving too much credit or not to leaders for unemployment/economy.

              It was down but wouldn’t surprise me if it’s volatile.

        2. Suderman lost his mind in the run up to the election. The stuff he wrote about Trump was unhinged even by the standards of the time. He disappeared off the site for about a month after the election. I would not be surprised if it turned out his wife had checked him into a sanitarium. He has apparently not improved.

          1. Reason should never under any circumstances take the position Obamacare was a positive achievement.


  25. There is no reason in this article. Only raw anti-Trumpism. The GOP has been moving forward with several ideas fitting a Republican except for the establishment type that is not much different than is the establishment Democrat type.

  26. Hey Suderman, you complete lying leftist idiot, Trump has not been able to get any of his agenda passed through legislation. We don’t have a wall, obamacare has not been repealed, there is no national right to concealed carry, and no trade agreements have been renegotiated yet. Don’t blame Trump, blame the democrat and the democrat in disguise – RINOs.

  27. Until we expunge the RINOS from the Republican party and embrace Libertarians instead of fighting each other, the progressive socialist Democrats will continually divide and conquer.

    1. Good luck with that. I’m done trying to convince the GOP to do anything. I’m living my life, taking care of my own and not bothering anybody. I think that’s enough for anyone.

  28. Get the fucking goobermint off my back.

  29. The GOP was moribund already. That’s how Trump got elected…

  30. The party of no ideas? Which of the big two is the party of ideas?

    The Libertarian Party? Heh. Who cares?

  31. Peter’s observations hold for the Dems too. The two halves of the looter Kleptocracy (basically the left and right sides of the upright diamond Nolan chart) have two states: squealing and gorging. Republicans completely crushed the economy with prohibitionist asset forfeiture looting, then began squealing like pigs when shown the door as in 1932 and 1992. Now the Dems are squealing in surprise after promising to treat electrical generating plants like meth labs (and keep up prohibitionist asset forfeiture of their own). Idiots will, of course, keep voting some looter ticket, but their tribe is decreasing as libertarian spoiler votes repeal their coercive laws.

  32. For people that want limited government you all seem like you want it to do a bunch of stuff.

  33. Here’s a great idea: Americans should stop looking to the government to solve their problems.

  34. There’s definitely a technocratic wing of the libertarian movement. I often wonder if the libertarian types that inhabit the think tanks ever reflect that technocrats are politicians (bureaucrats) subject to capture and all the problems that public choice economics points out in non-libertarian techocrats.

  35. Or perhaps they do know, and libertarian talk is just window dressing and manufacturing consent.

  36. My main problem with this article is calling Obamacare and accomplishment instead of a freedom hating attack on Americans.

  37. Is this what passes for reason on this site? Not only are there ideas, but there’s a guy putting them into ACTION. The list of Trump’s accomplishments is a mile long and getting longer by the day but maybe you’ll get a start here:

  38. My Buddy’s mom makes $77 hourly on the computer . She has been laid off for five months but last month her check was $18713 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this web-site


  39. The less Trump and Republicans do, the better. So far they have managed to do little but explode future deficits and threaten pointless, counter-productive trade wars, while failing to repeal Obamacare. If that’s all Republicans are capable of bringing to the table, doing nothing is the best thing they could do for this country.

  40. Suderman’s TDS continues unabated.

  41. “Under Trump, Republicans Have Become the Party of No Ideas”

    Really? He’s appointed judges who adhere to the US Constitution. And to follow the Constitution is a great idea!

    He’s torn up several of Obama’s insane policies. What a great idea!

    He’s lowered taxes for most people. Another great idea!

    He’s busy undoing unproductive regulations. Another great idea!

    He’s busy making peace with North Korea. Another great idea!

    I could go on and on but hopefully you’ll understand the obvious. It’s painfully obvious that you don’t even comprehend the meaning of the word “idea!”

  42. Suderman misses the simple reason the “Republicans have no ideas” under Trump. It’s that they’ve been lying about what they support, and now that they’re in power, they don’t want to support the ideas on which they campaigned (repeal Obamacare, cut spending, reduce the overhead of government, reform welfare, secure the border, etc.). At least they lowered taxes, but didn’t address spending and instead increased it.

    When you falsely campaign and win, then you’re forced to either support what you said you would, oppose what you said you would support showing you’re untrustworthy and a liar, or shut up and hope the voters forget what you said. That’s a simple choice for the lying RINOs that dominate the GOP. And Trump can only push them so far to keep their promises before they start pushing back, and he knows it. He already has all the Democrats foaming at the mouth with their TDS spouting what they want us to believe, rather than acknowledging reality.

  43. LOL. As he steamrolls the idiots, their journalist (lower cap intentional) lap-dogs echo their bs narrative.
    I love this Waterloo of the DNC.

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