By Nancy Thorner -
Just two days after Donald Trump won his bid for the presidency, representatives from the conservative Heritage Foundation debriefed Chicago area supporters about their organization's optimism and their opportunity to play a key role in transitioning from the Obama Administration to Trump's.
Heritage reports that they are able to have a major input in the Trump presidency, the most input since the election of Ronald Reagan. Members of the group have been in contact with Trump's transition since he won the Republican nomination at this summer's convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Nevertheless, Heritage says it will hold Trump accountable, desiring that Trump will implement Heritage ideas and polices to "Make America Great Again."
The afternoon's panel participants were Tim Chapman, Chief Operating Officer, Heritage Action for America, and Genevieve Wood, Senior Fellow in Communications, The Heritage Foundation and Senior Contributor to the Daily Signal.
Genevieve Wood, Senior Fellow in Communications
Genevieve Wood expressed what so many of us now believe, that Republicans no longer have any excuse for saying that things can't be done, for Republicans now own all three, the House, the Senate, and the White House. Republicans also won 34 governorships across the country, the highest since 1922.
A different landscape now exists than present before the November 8th election. Although Democrats had a huge ground game in each state to win the election for Hillary, those voting for Trump didn't need anyone to tell them it was Election Day and that they should vote. Republicans came out in mass because they were fed up with the direction of their country and wanted to take it back. With a $20 trillion debt; health care premiums going up; the borders wide open, and the threat of an appointment to the Supreme Court giving progressive judges a 5 - 4 advantage, Republicans were eager to get out and vote for Trump, most recognizing what faced them if the election went the other way.
Ms. Wood asked these questions: Why did we vote for Trump? Was it to repeal Obamacare? Was it to stem the flow of illegal aliens across out southern border? Was it to stimulate the economy and business through decreasing regulations?
The number one reason voters chose Trump on November 8th was because of his ability to appoint Supreme Court justices, she said. For 17% of Trump voters it was their first reason. For 48% of Trump voters it was a very important reason.
If Obama in many situations is not governing according to the Constitution, why should he be permitted to appoint more justices?
This same reasoning was used by The Heritage Foundation in its early fight against the Obama administration filling the vacancy left by Justice Scalia's death. There was concern that some Republicans senators might cave in to give Obama a gift even before knowing how the presidential election would turn out. Had Republicans in the Senate permitted nominee Garland to be confirmed, the election issue of Supreme Court appointments would have been lost.
Mrs. Wood expressed her hope that Trump would repeal Obamacare first. Voters needs to see that Trump is serious in his campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare. Congress would be with Trump, as Congress has already passed a bill to repeal Obamacare, only to have had it vetoed by Obama.
Tim Chapman, Chief Operating Officer, Heritage Action for America
Panel member Tim Chapman said Heritage Action draws the line in the sand to the Washington establishment. Chapman likewise discussed the issue of Obamacare.
It was in 2013 that Heritage Action first started engaging Obamacare. The 2014 election wasn't influenced by the issue, but it did lay the groundwork to eventually getting rid of Obamacare. Last year the GOP-led House and Senate passed a budget resolution, as a dry run. Instructions were included to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare. The House and Senate were ultimately successful in getting it to Obama’s desk, where it was vetoed.
Republicans now have a good chance to advance their own agenda, six years after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, and after more than 60 attempts to repeal it. Repealing Obamacare did became closer to reality early Wednesday morning when Donald Trump was elected president. A Reconciliation Bill can again be employed in January, 2017 -- a procedure used in the Senate that allows a bill to pass with 51 votes -- to roll back Obamacare and avoid a Democratic filibuster. Unlike last year, Trump will not veto the measure.
In agreement with Mrs. Wood, Chapman expressed his disapproval of Republicans who seemed willing to allow Obama's Supreme Court nominee Garland to be appointed to the Supreme Court. It would have taken away the incentive to vote for many who considered the make-up of the Supreme Court of utmost importance to the future of this nation.
Chapman predicted a continuing resolution fight when Trump takes office in January of 2017, that will be used as a fundraiser for Democrats should Republicans dare to shut down the government.
Recommended by Tim Chapman is that DACA, an Executive Order signed by President Obama on June 15, 2012, should be the first thing Trump should get rid of. DACA (acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) states that the government will not deport those who meet certain criteria. Meeting certain criteria allows undocumented residents to obtain a driver’s license and Social Security number and a two year work authorization which they are permitted to renew after those two years are up.
Much time was allotted for Heritage Foundation guests to question Genevieve Wood and Tim Chapman.
About the media disconnect? Most of the media was "out to lunch" and remained in the bubble of their own bias. The Washington, D.C. media remained insulated from what was happening outside Washington, D.C.
About the disaffected white voter who voted for Trump? Democrats rely on identity politics in targeting voters, perceiving they own and need the votes of Blacks, women, Latinos, gays, etc., to win elections. Whites (blue collar workers) who made-up the working class in the rust belt area, were last on the peaking order for Democrats as to how their programs and policies would benefit them, and they lost them.
About the fate of globalism? Trump's election conveyed that patriotism is still alive and that it is fine to think of America first, not as a nation within a global world. We must take our principles to create policies which will advance our principles and beliefs to the rest of the world.
About the first 100 days? Donald Trump's plan for his first 100 days was set forth at his campaign rally at Valley Forge, PA. Trump's immediate action upon taking office in January (strike while the iron is hot) is to appoint a conservative Supreme Court Justice to replace Anthony Scalia; repeal Obamacare; begin education reform; start on tax reform; and deal with crumbling infrastructure to spur the creation of jobs.
About Heritage's relationship with President-elect Trump? Heritage briefed all Republican candidates during the primary election season. Since the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, when Trump officially became the Republican presidential candidate, Heritage has assembled a transition team. All presidents have 71,000 political appointments to make. Heritage Foundation is now busy collecting resumes to fill these slots (2 to 3 people for each position), also vetting each candidate, so the candidates will ascribe to policies that the Heritage Foundation espouses. This document will then to handed to the Trump Team.
About how to replace weak leadership in the Senate? The Senate is such an insulated place, that it would be difficult to send U.S. Senator Mitch O'Connell packing. Noted was how quickly O'Connell was to take credit for those senators who won. It would take a sustained outside push for O'Connell to leave the Senate. It would be good for Trump to make deals with both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Mitch O'Connell should they remain in leadership positions, by insisting that both work with him to pass his agenda. In the past, Ryan and O'Connor differed with Trump on immigration and trade.
About Trump's Supreme Court Justice pick? Trump must pick one from his list, and then fight for it. Trump's pick for vice president, Mike Pence, must set the criteria for the type of Supreme Court nominee Trump recommends. Picking someone not on the list would shatter Trump's coalition. When Trump receives good advice and follows it, good things happen.
About two competing conservative forces in the Republican Party? There are the traditional conservatives who want less spending and less government. Then there are those conservatives who perceive real issues among the working class. They wish to adhere to the same conservative policy positions by using them in ways to help people get back to work.
About Education Reform? A-PLUS Act (S. 827) is the proposed conservative alternative to NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and would allow states to opt out of the problematic NCLB. A-PLUS, introduced in April 2011 by Senators Jim DeMint (R–SC) and John Cornyn (R–TX), would rein in the Government's Education Power Grab by increasing state and local control in education while increasing transparency of results to parents and taxpayers. There are plans to push the A-PLUS Act as a bill in 2017. Should the A-PLUS Act pass, there would be no need for the Department of Education.
About Term Limits? The Heritage Foundation believes that the American people should provide term limits through elections, rather than limit times a lawmaker can seek re-election.
About Trump Pursuing Investigation of Hillary? There are on-going Congressional investigations, as well as separate FBI investigations on The Clinton Foundation. The question at hand is whether President Obama will pardon Hillary. Heritage believes it would be best for this nation if we were done with Hillary and her wrongdoings and corrupt practices.
Final thoughts by Master of Ceremonies, Sarah Gough: "We are in Trump's corner but not in his pocket. We want President Trump to do well, because want our country to do well."