The first law of Congressional dynamics states that Congress will delay action on any important policy as long as possible until it’s too late to pass legislation in any given two-year Congressional session. As an illustration, the last overhaul of the federal income tax was President Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986, 31 years ago.
Republican members of Congress have discussed repealing and replacing Obamacare for the past six years, but have been (seemingly) unable (unwilling) to design its replacement.
What’s needed is a good, swift White House kick in the a** to force Republicans in Congress to act, NOW!
There is a model to achieve that goal. Recall that a major financial crisis, which erupted in 2008, was threatening to shut down the U.S. banking system. (Details are described in a NYT article by Mark Landler and Eric Dash entitled “Drama Behind a $250 Billion Banking Deal,” dated October 14, 2008.)
On Sunday, October 12, 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. called the heads of the nine largest banks in the United States, inviting them to a meeting at the Treasury to be held at 3:00 p.m. on Monday October 13, 2017. Joining them were Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy F. Geithner.
The nine banking heads were presented with an ultimatum to accept a $700 billion bailout package, supplemented with a government guarantee of $1.5 billion in new senior bank issued debt, and government insurance for $500 billion in non-interest bearing deposit accounts held by the banks. They were told these confidence measures were necessary to sustain bank lending.
The meeting was contentious, but by 6:30 p.m. the nine bank executives signed the agreement.
Back to Congress, which will return from a weeklong break on February 28, 2017. The White House should issue an (mandatory) invitation to the chairmen and one or two other key members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees and the House and Senate Leadership (Speaker, House Majority Leader, Senate Majority Leader) to meet with top administration officials (Treasury Secretary, Chairman of the National Economic Council). A few number-crunching and legislative drafting aides as required would be included.
President Trump would inform these men that, like a jury, they would be sequestered in a room until they agreed unanimously to specific legislation for tax cuts/tax reform and to repeal and replace Obamacare. Each person would also be required to sign a pledge to support this agreed-upon legislation. They would be provided with food, cots, clothing, an hour of outdoor exercise per day in a fenced area, and other necessities. They would be permitted to retain their mobile phones to communicate with family at specific times of the day. But like a jury, they would not be permitted to go home or discuss their deliberations with anyone until they reached a deal.
At that time, President Trump would join them at a press conference in which the signed agreements would be displayed. Members of Congress would then return to their respective chambers and promptly proceed to pass the legislation to be delivered to the president for signing. Any member who changed his mind would be placed in a stock for public humiliation and punishment, which would be part of the overall agreement.
Desperate times require desperate measures. Congress must not be allowed to dilly-dally.