It’s been a decade since Republicans held the presidency as well as a majority in both houses of Congress, so it’s natural that they now have the bit in their teeth and want to move swiftly to further their agenda. Restricting abortion, building a border wall, tightening immigration policies, getting rid of Obamacare, throwing out the Endangered Species Act, undoing national monuments and gutting the 1906 Antiquities Act, dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency – all these measures and more are on the table.
This is understandable. Voters, after all, chose these lawmakers and picked Donald Trump for president.
But the GOP needs to keep a few things in mind.
First off, Donald Trump does not have any clear mandate as this country’s leader. He was chosen in a pretty half-hearted fashion, winning the Electoral College but losing the popular vote by a significant margin. He begins his administration with the lowest popularity ratings of any president in modern times, something like 45 percent, although that will surely fluctuate to some degree.
And while he has many ardent supporters, there were also quite a few voters who picked him only because they didn’t like Hillary Clinton, either, and thought Trump might truly “drain the swamp” (a claim now rendered dubious by his choosing a bunch of white male millionaires and billionaires for his Cabinet and refusing to clean up the massive spiderweb of business-related conflicts of interest that entangles him).
So we hope our elected Republican representatives – in particular Sen. Cory Gardner and Third District Congressman Scott Tipton, but all of the GOP in general – will use a little caution and common sense when deciding what actions to take in coming months.
Consider the Affordable Care Act. The GOP has been eager to undo it from the day it was passed. But now, for better or worse, many people have come to rely on it. Some 20 million Americans now have coverage who did not before. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in Colorado the uninsured rate has plummeted by nearly half since the ACA’s implementation in 2010. Yes, the ACA has flaws and problems that need to be fixed, but does it really make sense to throw out this entire system without a better plan in sight? That’s like asking Americans to play “Let’s Make a Deal” – only they have to give up the prize they have in hand in favor of Door No. 2 without any idea what might be lurking back there.
And consider the impact that undoing the ACA may have on rural hospitals, such as Southwest Memorial in Cortez. For years these institutions have had to treat the indigent in their emergency rooms and swallow the cost. Now they are able to be reimbursed for many of those costs, since more people have insurance because of the ACA. Their future plans have been predicated on profit-and-loss ratios based on the ACA. Now they have no idea what to expect.
Sure, Republicans now have the ability to get rid of Obamacare, but they need to take a deep breath and consider the ramifications. The GOP has the power to take a plethora of swift actions on numerous issues to garner some speedy cheers and trumpet, “We did it! By golly, we did something!” But the consequences of those actions will be theirs to live with over the long term.
So we call on Gardner, Tipton, and the rest to use their heads and govern wisely. Try to do what’s truly best for all your constituents rather than seeking cheap short-term victories that will turn sour over time.