Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 4, 2011

HOUSE GOP SETS REPEAL VOTE.... At a minimum, House Republicans are making their top priority clear. A week from tomorrow, the new House majority will get right to work, not on job creation or economic growth, but on a largely-symbolic gesture that would, if implemented, gut the nation's health care system.

Republicans' top priority, in other words, is pointless, shameless pandering to their extremist base.

House Republicans have set Jan. 12 as their day to vote on a repeal of President Obama's health-care law, after a midterm election in which they campaigned against the landmark legislation as a government takeover of the health industry.

The announcement Monday sets up the attempted repeal of the law as the first significant action by House Republicans in the 112th Congress. With 242 members on their side, Republicans expect to pass the legislation easily, but they privately acknowledge that the measure faces a high hurdle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Apparently intent on treating Americans as idiots, the House GOP has named their bill the "Repeal of the Job Killing Health Care Law Act." (Try listening to Republicans explain why health care reform undermines job creation. It's almost amusing to hear them stumble over their own gibberish.) It's a fairly short measure -- Republicans would simply undo everything done through the Affordable Care Act, revering back to the pre-March status quo.

The context for all this is truly farcical, even by GOP standards. Remember all the incessant whining about process during the actual debate over health care reform? This week, Republicans met behind closed doors to craft a bill, with no input from anyone outside the top party leadership. There will be no hearings to explore the merit of the legislation, or to consider the consequences.

Perhaps most interesting, the House Republicans, in their first big legislative push, have decided to put aside their own budget guidelines in order to pursue repeal. They don't have much of a choice -- the Affordable Care Act lowers the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. The GOP can't pay for its repeal push, so it's decided not to try -- Republicans would just add the costs to the deficit, which they occasionally pretend to care about.

The incoming majority feels pretty good about all of this, knowing it will at least temporarily satiate the party's base, and certain that the measure will pass the chamber. But this one vote will offer Democrats plenty of fodder for 2012 attack ads.

After all, with their first big initiative after retaking the majority, House Republicans will vote to increase the deficit, raise taxes on small businesses, force vulnerable seniors to pay thousands of additional out-of-pocket dollars for their medication, and allow insurers to discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, among other things.

Adding insult to injury, Republicans picked this as their top priority, even though they knew it would fail, after writing their bill behind closed doors and with no hearings.

The 112th Congress isn't exactly going to get off on the right foot.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Well I for one am certainly glad that employment is full and the economy is in great shape, allowing for such time wasting frivolity. I can't wait to see how our friends in the mass media frame this as a "he said she said" controversy.

Posted by: John R on January 4, 2011 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

The parliament of the world's biggest democracy is a kindergarten.

Send in toys!

Posted by: Vokoban on January 4, 2011 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

. . . the House GOP has named their bill the "Repeal of the Job Killing Health Care Law Act."

The Democrats should counter by calling the bill "The Die Quickly if You Get Sick Act."

But they won't. Instead of easy-to-understand emotional appeals, the Democrats will argue with wonkish minutiae.

Posted by: SteveT on January 4, 2011 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

"the Democrats will argue with wonkish minutiae." Steve T

-Abso-effin'-lutely!
Dems need to get loud, get angry, and speak in sound bites that the media will run.

Posted by: DAY on January 4, 2011 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

I applaud this. I hope the first ten bills they pass are equally silly. They will lose 50 seats in 2012. The one thing you can always count on with these buffoons is not to learn anything at all from history, bless their shriveled li'l hearts.

Posted by: jprichva on January 4, 2011 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Vokoban:

India actually is the world's biggest democracy.

Given the economic, military and political power of the US coupled with the batshit crazy Republicans, I suspect, however, that we ARE the world's most dangerous democracy.

Posted by: Bucky on January 4, 2011 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

The parliament of the world's biggest democracy is a kindergarten.

I dunno. Politicians in India have their faults but I don't know if it's fair to categorize the members of Lok Sabha as collectively constituting a kindergarten.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 4, 2011 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

@ bucky: you're quite obviously right.

Send toys anyway!

Posted by: Vokoban on January 4, 2011 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

"The 112th Congress isn't exactly going to get off on the right foot."

And you thought it would, Steve? The readers of this blog are very realistic, well-informed types. Such naivete really has no place here.

Posted by: rrk1 on January 4, 2011 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt the Dems will even argue with wonkish minutia. I fully expect the House Dems to let it roll right by, knowing they can't stop it they won't even fight it. The Sen Dems will then let the Repubs take up hours of floor time, just to be "fair", and then vote it down, giving the Repubs the propaganda victory which is the point of this whole thing.

The Dems should be taking names and breaking kneecaps.

Posted by: martin on January 4, 2011 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

"The 112th Congress isn't exactly going to get off on the right foot."
Yes, but it IS sticking its foot in its mouth! This just a sample of the platter of shite these folks will present to the nation. Unfortunatley, there are a lot of shite-eaters in this country.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 4, 2011 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Benen's analysis of this vote is off-base.

While Benen is entirely correct that, as a matter of policy, a flat repeal of HCR would be a disaster, he is wrong to be so dismissive of this vote. Like it or not, symbolic votes often matter.

The fact is that the GOP is facing a (ostensibly) Democratic WH and Senate. It will be impossible to pass a pure GOP agenda in the next 2 years. But John Boehner understands something that President Obama does not: There is a political benefit to going on record with your optimal position. If, during the next 2 years, House Repubs join with Democrats to repeal portions of ACA, they can point to this vote as proof for their base that, if it was up to the GOP, the entire law would be repealed. This frees the GOP up to compromise, and gain the approval of D.C. "centrists" without fully pissing off the base.

Then the GOP can go into 2012 Congressional elections making the argument that if you elect more Repubs, you'll get their real agenda. This is smart politics.

One of the reasons that Dems got their asses handed to them in 2010 was that Dems never voted for their Democratic agenda. There was never a vote for a large enough stimulus. There was never a vote for single-payer or a public option. There was never a vote to end TBTF banks.

If the GOP didn't exist, what would Dems pass? Who the hell knows? They never go on record. They are terrified to lose a vote. Boehner, otoh, will lose this one. So what? Now his base knows where the GOP stands and will be motivated to vote in 2012.

Posted by: square1 on January 4, 2011 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

The Dems should be taking names and breaking kneecaps.-

Asses will be kicked. Or so I was told...

Posted by: Not in the WH on January 4, 2011 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

"The 112th Congress isn't exactly going to get off on the right foot."

Given their political leanings, which foot would you expect them to "get off" on?

Given the fact most of these crazy anti-intellectual lemmings watch Limbaugh, Hannity, and "Survivor While Dancing With The Stars" such political theater is what they and the MSM relish. This is exactly what goes on in Third World Countries all the time except there is less death due to gun violence in Somalia, and the Ivory Coast, etc. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on January 4, 2011 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Given the fact most of these crazy anti-intellectual lemmings watch Limbaugh, Hannity, and "Survivor While Dancing With The Stars" such political theater is what they and the MSM relish. This is exactly what goes on in Third World Countries all the time except there is less death due to gun violence in Somalia, and the Ivory Coast, etc. Nauseating...

Odd you know what TV they watch. You need to get out more yourself...

Posted by: TeeVee on January 4, 2011 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, they are getting off on the right foot; it just so happens that the right foot is not the correct one.

Posted by: Fraud Guy on January 4, 2011 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Aint no way they are going to take away subsidies from cartel insurance while suckling lobbyist ass.

"Look, teapers, over here!"

*waves a hand here -- meanwhile the shoe is heading towards teaper butt*

Posted by: Kill Bill on January 4, 2011 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

There is no leader in the GOP...

...so the GOP is doing the only thing it knows how to do when there is no leadership. Kind of pathetic, really. And unfortunate for a 2-party system.

We all suffer for this situation, Left and Right both.

Posted by: Rochester on January 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

This is not a bad start for the Democrats if they choose to exploit it. If there was a functioning Democratic party the party would be creating and displaying ads framing the issue favorably to the Democrats. Too bad we don't have a functioning political party interested in exploiting Republican pandering.

I mean the ads write themselves. You know, Democrats fought to insure 30 million Americans. What do Republicans do? They vote to unisure 30 million Americans. Of course, they don't vote to cut their own insurance coverage. Being part of the congressional nobility has its privileges. That sort of thing.

Democrats have to pick an us vs. them theme. I would probably pick the out of touch noble court in pre-Revolutionary France as my theme. Everything would revolve around, "let them eat cake."

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 4, 2011 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

As a follow up on my theme, Michael Steele hinted about it yesterday. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Images of Republican inspired sweat shops, and Republican created poverty and starvation dance through my head. Turn Mitch McConnell and John Bohner into villians straight out of Dickens novel.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 4, 2011 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

The name of the repeal bill is proper. Forcing everyone into the health care system is obviously a job killer. How can our corporations survive if they have to pay for part of the health care of all their employees? That's why every other industrialized country in the world has no jobs at all and we have lots of jobs for everyone. Why do you think American car makers actually make so many of their cars in Canada? No, wait, uh, um, never mind.

Posted by: emjayay on January 4, 2011 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

The insurance companies won't be happy about losing the mandate either.

Posted by: Pat on January 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'm envious

Why don't the Democrats ever try to pander to me - more specifically, to their Democratic base?

Posted by: zandru on January 4, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently intent on treating Americans as idiots, the House GOP has named their bill the "Repeal of the Job Killing Health Care Law Act."

This is just another example of why Obama needs to be more bipartisan.

Posted by: kc on January 4, 2011 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, love ya, but you keep insisting that the GOP continually does things that make the Democrats' campaign ads write themselves. On this, you keep assuming facts not in evidence, and express confidence in the Democratic Party that is in no way warranted.

You will not see one damn ad on this, in 2012 or whenever. Not one.

Posted by: DZ on January 4, 2011 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Is this the year that the US Congress becomes like many other bodies of government in other countries? Fist fights on the floor or the House? Doesn't it seem like our legislative body is moving in that direction? C-Span will become the highest rated cable channel if that happens!

Posted by: Joe D on January 4, 2011 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, Obama's health care law kills jobs! It says so right in the title of the GOP bill. Next you'll try to tell me W's Clean Air Act actually deregulated polluters!

Posted by: beejeez on January 4, 2011 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

There is another agenda at play here. It is a trap to force the Senate Democrats to rethink filibuster reform. Their signature legislation rejected by the House with the Senate needed to keep it from being repealed. The Democrats will be tempted to filibuster it to avoid a risky vote. If they do, it is the end of filibuster reform.

Also, Steve, Democrats need to explain things. I am a liberal. I trust that I am being told the truth. But I don't understand how this bill reduces the deficit. I have heard no one explain it. If they were able to explain it well it would be a major selling point

Posted by: vickijean on January 4, 2011 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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