U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., has been placed in the “Snow Job Caucus” by Talking Points Memo.
The caucus, according to TPM, consists of members of Congress who have used “Word Salad to Avoid Giving a Position” on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with some sort of private insurance and voucher system.
Zinke “told a TPM reader that there was no plan to phase out Medicare, therefore he does not support a plan to phase out Medicare,” the liberal web site reported.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was placed on the “We’ll Get Back to You:” list of those “whose offices were caught unaware, or claimed they would pass on constituents’ concerns.”
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., was listed as opposing the Medicare changes.
TPM disputed Zinke’s claim that there is no plan to replace Medicare: “What Zinke’s office says isn’t true. There definitely is a plan. It’s in the Ryan Budget Zinke and most of the rest of the House GOP caucus has voted in favor of every year since 2011. This is what members of Congress do when they’re trying to avoid taking a position until the vote is already taken and it’s too late.”
The issue is one of many that the delegation may face as Congress and President-Elect Donald Trump attempt to resolve differences over his legislative approach. While Republicans have embraced Trump’s election as an opportunity to push through legislation that has been on the back burner since the election of President Obama, it isn’t clear how smoothly that will play out.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized Ryan, and Ryan kept his distance from Trump. Given Trump’s high negatives from voters, and the even higher negatives Americans have for Congress, it isn’t clear that his agenda will match that of congressional Republicans.
A key point of contention will be Obamacare, which Republicans have repeatedly voted to repeal. But Trump seemed to soften his objections to the bill after meeting with President Obama, and even some Republicans say it could take years to fully repeal and replace the law.
Zinke was an early and stalwart supporter of Trump, and he has called Obamacare a “sinking ship.” But voting to end health insurance for thousands of Montanans who got it under Obamacare could prove a hard choice to make. Changing the popular Medicare program could be even harder.
It’s a sticky situation. Despite losing the popular vote in the presidential election, plus losing a couple of Senate seats and a few House seats, the GOP is reading the results as a mandate to pursue a longstanding agenda. But Trump ran as much against the Republican establishment as he did against Democrats, and his own political idea seem at best unformed.
Could be a fun four years, if you like amusement park thrill rides.