The Republicans don't want you to know what they're doing. "The Silent Treatment" seems to be the new strategy driving the congressional GOP as well as the Trump White House.
And their most loyal disciples don't care. But they should. We'll return to this presently.
The strategy seemed to emerge initially with the testimony of the NSA director, Mike Rogers, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who each refused to talk about their conversations with President Trump regarding whether they're willing to slow-walk or outright kill the Trump-Russia (aka "Stupid Watergate") investigations. They were joined a week later by Attorney General Jeff Sessions who did exactly the same thing.
None of the four administration officials could cite a legal justification for their silence on the topic and, in each case, the men seemed awkward and confused when attempting to explain their refusal to respond under congressional oath. We have a sense of why they refused to answer, despite their stonewalling -- it was either on orders from Trump who perhaps threatened them with repercussions should they blab about Trump's obvious attempts at obstructing justice in the case, or they swore a loyalty oath. Or they're in some way involved with the scandal and therefore didn't want to open themselves up to further legal jeopardy. I tend to think it was the first one -- orders from the White House -- otherwise how is it possible that all four men were operating with the same strategy?
And now, this week, Senate Majority Leader and deep sea-dwelling invertebrate Mitch McConnell is secretly pushing the upper chamber's version of Trumpcare to a vote without any public hearings; without any amendment process; with minimal, if any, floor debate; and he's doing so in a hurry to pass it before the July 4 recess.
In other words, the Republicans are meddling with one-sixth of the American economy without telling even their most vocal supporters much less Democratic colleagues what's in the bill. From what we heard from a Facebook Live video made by Senators Cory Booker, Chris Murphy and Brian Schatz, parts of the bill are currently being scored by the CBO -- but it's also being done in secret per the request of McConnell and the Senate GOP.
That's all we know.
Now, there's a slight possibility that it's being written in secret because it might piss off conservatives and Freedom Caucus members. But that's wishful thinking. This is being done in private because McConnell knows how horrible it is, and a public outcry might be enough to swing moderate Republicans to vote with the Democrats. Ultimately, as Republican strategist Rick Wilson once said: Mitch McConnell doesn't care about your screaming.
Perhaps the most glaring example of GOP stonewalling came during a committee hearing involving Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Utah Senator and third man in line for the presidency, Orrin Hatch. This was perhaps one of the most remarkable scenes I've ever witnessed inside the halls of Congress.
Initially, McCaskill absolutely hammered Hatch on his party's nefarious secrecy. Then, McCaskill asked whether there will be a single hearing about the bill. Hatch either didn't understand what she was asking, or he was -- once again -- deliberately refusing to answer. That's when one of Hatch's staffers whispered a response into Hatch's ear -- which was clearly overhead on his open mic, and Hatch repeated the line.
So, yeah, 83-year-old Hatch could be suffering from senile dementia of some sort. And, yes, he needed his staffer to feed him an answer to a very simple question. But I think his befuddlement might've had more to do with the fact that McConnell has put out strict orders not to answer any questions along those lines -- to either refuse to answer or to dodge the question like Hatch/Hatch-Staffer did.
Nevertheless, the ruling party in Congress and the White House is now conducting business without informing even their most hardcore supporters, much less the rest of us. And guess what? The hardcore supporters don't care as long as the Republicans are adequately trolling the Democrats. That's all they care about. The New York Times:
In June and July 2009, with Democrats in charge, the Senate health committee spent nearly 60 hours over 13 days marking up the bill that became the Affordable Care Act. That September and October, the Senate Finance Committee worked on the legislation for eight days — its longest markup in two decades. It considered more than 130 amendments and held 79 roll-call votes. The full Senate debated the health care bill for 25 straight days before passing it on Dec. 24, 2009.
The Republican line at the time was that the Dems were "ramming" the bill down everyone's throats. So, what are the Republicans doing?
Imagine visiting the doctor and being told you aren't allowed to know either your diagnosis or the prescribed treatment you'll be receiving until moments before it begins. You'd panic, right?
Ask yourselves this, Trump supporters: what if the Senate bill contained provisions for a transition to single-payer? What if it inadvertently protects abortion services and abortifacient morning after pills? What if this legislation disproportionately hurts red states more than blue states like the House bill does? You don't know for sure, do you? If I were a Trump Republican, I'd be a little concerned -- maybe concerned enough to call my senators and representatives, demanding to know what's in the bill.