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Thursday, October 30, 2014
Republicans Haven't Even Won The Senate Yet And Already The GOP Base Is Pissed
In the battle against Obama Tyranny, Republicans wave the white flag
By Paul WaldmanOctober 30, 2014
Republicans haven’t even won full control of Congress yet, and they’re already starting to betray angry GOP base voters. In the Holy War against Obama tyranny writ large, Republicans are waving the white flag across the board.
We now learn from Politico that for the second time in as many months, a law firm hired by House Republicans has pulled out from its contract to handle the House’s lawsuit against President Obama. By now you may have forgotten all about the lawsuit. It was announced with great fanfare in June, with John Boehner and company saying they would take to the courts to stop the president’s usurpation of power (the delay of Obamaccare’s employer mandate, a provision they hate anyway).
The message to conservatives was clear: we’ll fight him in Congress, we’ll fight him on the campaign trail, we’ll fight him in the courts! But since then…nothing. Republicans aren’t even trying to keep up the pretense that they’re fighting this lawsuit. Don’t be surprised if they quietly drop it soon enough.
That’s not all. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said earlier this week that Congressional Republicans may move to pass a long-term spending bill, in order to avoid the sort of brinksmanship of past years, allowing Republicans to develop an affirmative governing agenda. That would mean no more use of spending fights to chip away at Obama’s policy accomplishments, as conservatives would like to see. Indeed, some have remarked that this will deprive Republicans of an important weapon to block Obama’s coming expansion of deportation relief.
Meanwhile, it looks like Republicans won’t be using all the weapons at their disposal to keep up the war to repeal Obamacare. In earlier times, McConnell hadplanned to use the reconciliation process — where there are no filibusters and only a 51-vote majority is needed for legislation to pass — in order to repeal the law, should Republicans take control. But two days McConnellconcededthat reconciliation, which only applies to budget and tax issues, won’t work.
“It would take 60 votes in the Senate, and no one thinks we’re going to have 60 Republicans,” McConnell said. So the new plan is just to try to repeal the parts that are unpopular or that Republicans particularly dislike, like the medical device tax and the employer mandate.
Other Republicans are saying the same thing. Senator John Barrasso said yesterday: “Well, I would imagine there will be a vote on repeal, but I — let’s be realistic, Barack Obama is still going to be in the White House for another two years, and he is not going to sign that.”
That’s not all. One Republican after another is moderating his or position on the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, perhaps most notably Senate candidate Thom Tillis in North Carolina. This has resulted in some spectacular verbal gymnastics. For instance, Ohio governor John Kasich explained his acceptance the expansion by saying, “I have favored expanding Medicaid, but I don’t really see expanding Medicaid as really connected to Obamacare.” This continued expansion of the law’s benefits makes a continued scorched-earth battle against Obamacare Slavery still less likely.
If you were a conservative Republican voter who for years has been fed a steady diet of “Help us win back Congress and we’ll finally have the power we need to roll back Obama tyranny once and for all,” all this might make you feel confused, even betrayed. But it isn’t the first time this has happened. For years, base Republicans, particularly Christian conservatives, have complained that the party repeatedly puts them through a cycle of promises and disappointments. The RNC comes begging for the labor of the grassroots, telling them that once Republicans gain power, everything will change. The grassroots comes through on election day, but then finds thatRoe v. Waderemains in place, gay marriage is not beaten back, and prayer has not been returned to public schools. Come the next election, the cycle begins again.
Right now Republican leaders are being perfectly rational in starting to dial back expectations for the new GOP Congressional majority right now. After all, they know that even if they take the Senate, there won’t be any successes in the war against Obama tyranny that are substantial enough to make the base happy.