Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2011

GOP TELLS MEMBERS: DON'T WORK WITH VULNERABLE DEMS.... Politico noted today that there are a "handful of moderate Senate Democrats" who are exploring alternatives to the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. This isn't surprising -- it started in earnest last week -- and it's not even especially disappointing.

There are some other ways to achieve the intended policy goals, and if the mandate were replaced by something similar, it'd likely resolve some of the lingering constitutional questions. Republicans should be thrilled, right? After all, if they're sincere about their deep-seated disgust for the mandate -- which they consider some kind of outrageous abuse, despite having come up with the idea in the first place -- GOP officials should welcome the chance to get rid of it. If the mandate is an affront to American freedom -- it's not, but just for the sake of conversation -- it stands to reason Republicans would want to hasten its demise.

But they're not. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threw cold water on the idea of a compromise last week, and the Politico's piece included this tidbit.

Some in GOP circles fear that by teaming up with Democratic moderates, they could give these Democrats bipartisan cover that would help them in 2012.

Some Republicans are quietly warning colleagues not to work with vulnerable Democrats in the first place. [...]

"It would be one thing if they were collaborating with Democrats on issues [for] which they've long shared an alliance," a senior GOP aide said. "But there needs to be a recognition that this is not about principle for these vulnerable Senate Democrats. It's all about election cycle gamesmanship, and our side shouldn't be handing them political cover."

I can't speak to the moderate Dems' motivations, but the cynicism is telling. If it's "not about principle" for centrist Democrats, it's certainly not about principle for Republicans spurning the Democratic outreach. Remember, as far as the centrist Dems are concerned, they're ready to work with GOP colleagues to make legislation more to Republicans' liking.

The GOP is effectively responding, "No, we'd rather help try to defeat you than govern alongside you, even if the efforts advance our interests."

This is especially striking when it comes to the health care mandate. Here we have Republicans claiming that the mandate represents some kind of catastrophic assault on American liberty, and then deliberately blowing off an opportunity to work with Dems to get rid of the provision the GOP considers a disaster.

Marc Thiessen has a column on this today, insisting that Republicans shouldn't try to improve health care laws with their own ideas -- the GOP must aim for gutting the entire system, and nothing else. (Thiessen also argues Democrats "will never allow" the repeal of the mandate, which is odd, given that several Dems have already said they're open to doing just that.)

I understand the strategy, but it's a shame Republicans can't be more mature about this. It's quite literally unproductive -- Republicans could advance their own interests, pursue their own goals, and move the law in their own direction, if they'd only be a little more responsible.

Steve Benen 1:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Comments

I think Republicans are hoping that "repeal Obamacare" will be the new "outlaw abortion" or "balanced budget amendment" -- an all or nothing red-meat goal that they can use to rile up the base for a decade or more, as long as they don't compromise and accomplish it only partially. It's more important to be able to tell them that it will happen if only they can elect more Republicans.

I don't think it will work in this case, because the program is likely to become steadily more popular as it's actually implemented and none of the horror stories come true, but it's better for them than the alternative. They'll get no credit at all from the TPers or any other conservative activists for making a deal and moving things somewhat in their direction, because the goal for them isn't a better healthcare system, it's to destroy the liberal enemy.

Posted by: Redshift on February 8, 2011 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Once again McConnell has stated clearly that his number one goal is to ensure Obama is a one term President. He has never backed away from or moderated that statement in any way.

Posted by: thorin-1 on February 8, 2011 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

So, not all Republicans are "tired of the nuts."

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 8, 2011 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Check out how they party-hardy at FUZZY THURSTON'S IN GREEN BAY WISCONSIN!

Posted by: big packer fan on February 8, 2011 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

"...it's a shame Republicans can't be more mature about this."

What do you mean "this"? How about "anything"?

Posted by: TT on February 8, 2011 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hillarycare all over again. Putting the party before the country.

Posted by: jTh on February 8, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Let me let you all in on a little secret.

The GOP leadership doesn't care.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on February 8, 2011 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Talk about putting party over country! What scoundrels.

Posted by: jjm on February 8, 2011 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

In the Republican view party and country are one and the same. Democrats are not real Americans. Only people with (R) after their names are real Americans. Therefore anything that benefits Republicans by definition benefits America.

Posted by: thorin-1 on February 8, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Considering the source (Politico) this could be part of previous 'The Sting That Never Stung' segment.

Posted by: max on February 8, 2011 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

The main goal of the GOP isn't even lower taxes and less regulation anymore. What they want more than even those things are the destruction of anything resembling the left in American politics.

If being responsible doesn't help defeat Democrats, then being responsible is stupid, as far as they're concerned.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 8, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Redshift says: "I think Republicans are hoping that "repeal Obamacare" will be the new "outlaw abortion" or "balanced budget amendment" -- an all or nothing red-meat goal that they can use to rile up the base for a decade or more, as long as they don't compromise and accomplish it only partially. It's more important to be able to tell them that it will happen if only they can elect more Republicans."

So basically they are using the Democrats' playbook regarding the Iraq War? How well did that work out? Not that I mind their team acting as dumb as our team for once...

Posted by: MCD on February 8, 2011 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Are there ANY responsible Republicans in Congress who can be trusted to act in good faith with Democrats on any issue? Just asking.....

Posted by: MuddyLee on February 8, 2011 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

What are we talking about 'giving cover to vulnerable democrats'
By the time the next election happens, if Americans get to like having health care it will be the repubs that need cover!

Posted by: j on February 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

I wish that Democrats would stop looking at Republicans as if they were serious lawmakers who just disagree on how to fix common problems. These Republicans have created a parallel universe in which Obama is an evil socialist and any government regulation is an attack on freedom and an interference with the free market system. That's the reality they have created for themselves, and that's the reality they now live in.

Even if the GOP wanted to improve the health care law, which they don't, their base wouldn't stand for it. Their base wants a complete repeal of the Patient Protection Act and a reinstatement of every abusive insurance practice abuse outlawed by the PPA/ACA. The Democrats need to realize that Republicans don't care about the sick or the uninsured. Just look at Jan Brewer -- she pulled the plug on transplant patients and hasn't lost a night's sleep.

Posted by: ameshall on February 9, 2011 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

ACA is the Republican White Whale.

Posted by: bob h on February 9, 2011 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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