Caught in a trap

Steve Benen gets at the problem with REPEAL:

Republicans, in other words, are already finding themselves stuck in the repeal trap we’ve been talking about for months. Party leaders continue to characterize the new law as “Armageddon,” but are grudgingly coming to believe some parts of Armageddon may not be that bad after al

RedState et al. are already saying they won’t support candidates who won’t pledge to repeal the health care bill. But campaigning on repeal is stupid.

The obvious thing for Republicans to do this fall is campaign on the economy. Come up with some half-baked plan to improve the economy with lots of tax cuts and deregulation. Get Marty Feldman Feldstein or Greg Mankiw or whoever to say how intellectually honest it is. Have some think tankers jerk Villagers off about how great the plan is. It’s not that complicated.

52 replies
  1. 1
    Rick Taylor says:

    I’m smiling as I read this. Even Newt feels he has to talk about retaining the good ideas in the bill, even as he talks about destroying it. The Republicans are in trouble, and those that still have some sense know it.

  2. 2
    Sentient Puddle says:

    I’m actually pretty surprised at how muddled their message has become. It seems like for a bit, the soundbyte was going to be “repeal and replace,” but if they can’t get themselves on the same page on whether it’s a full repeal or a partial repeal by now, they’re way behind the curve.

  3. 3
    Cris says:

    Marty Feldman? Damn your eyes.

  4. 4
    mistermix says:

    Not a big fan of editorial cartoons, but this one nailed it:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.c.....nd_13.html

    There’s a reason why Chicken Little and The Boy Who Cried Wolf are passed down through the generations as cautionary tales. This is grade-school-level politics.

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    RedState et al. are already saying they won’t support candidates who won’t pledge to repeal the health care bill. But campaigning on repeal is stupid.

    Then all is progressing as expected.

    The obvious thing for Republicans to do this fall is campaign on the economy.

    But if they campaign on the economy, they’re going to have to explain why they don’t support the Stimulus and they don’t support the Jobs Bill and they don’t support reducing the burden on businesses brought about by rising health care premiums. It’s all a deadly trap because everywhere they turn, the Republicans are forced to confront the fact that they are wrong.

    The economy has improved significantly since 2008. Any chalk board proposals the Republicans throw up are going to have to beat the hard-and-fast gains produced by Democratic legislation.

    Better to just scream about the impending Obamapacolypse, make a bunch of Doomsday terrorist scenarios, bash Nancy Pelosi for not loving enough Jesus, and run out the brown people / gay people baiting freak flag.

    Arguing the issues only works if they’re completely mired in bullshit lies. Otherwise, their base won’t believe them.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    no no. you’re doing it wrong.

    when you offer advice to your opponents, you’re supposed to tell them to do what’s good for you, not what’s good for them !

  7. 7
    Socraticsilence says:

    I can see tax cuts but what form of deregulation would they run on- the only one with any chance of developing popular cachet is Healthcare deregulation other than that what would they back- even the wingnutiest wouldn’t support financial dereg at this point in time.

  8. 8
    meander says:

    Speaking of traps, allowing the Republicans to repeal the individual mandate while maintaining the “good stuff”, like the ban on pre-existing conditions, could lead to a destruction of private health insurance. You’d have death spirals and so on, that would make it impossible to run an insurance company. The turmoil that caused could lead to single payer becoming a viable option. But the turmoil would be really bad, making it a scorched earth approach for single-payer advocates.

    Of course, the odds of the GOP getting enough seats to repeal and override a veto are very, very long.

  9. 9

    TPM has a great roundup of the ridiculous amendments being attached to the reconciliation bill this morning.

  10. 10
    Punchy says:

    Call me crazy, and I know I’m going out on a HUGE limb here, but I suspect they’ll campaign on tax cuts and gay marriage.

  11. 11

    I personally think that the Repubicans should base their entire 2010 campaign on repealing the HCR. And they have the discipline to do it. Look at how well they have hung together in voting no for everything all along. Surely they can persuade their members to stick to the script about repeal.

    Excellent idea! Pure genius. I am jealous that I did not think of it first.

  12. 12
    tigrismus says:

    @Cris: Too late!

  13. 13
    djork says:

    Completely off topic, but:

    I will strangle the next person on a political blog, forum, or website who claims they are speaking “truth to power.” No, you are not. You are whining on a messageboard. MLK and Ghandi spoke truth to power. You’re whispering halftruths to impotence.

    Carry on.

  14. 14
    jibeaux says:

    Come up with some half-baked plan to improve the economy with lots of tax cuts and deregulation.

    You say this as if they’ve ever done anything else.

  15. 15
    Loneoak says:

    @djork:

    You’re whispering halftruths to impotence.

    Full of WIN. No, check that. Composed of purified and crystalline WIN.

  16. 16
    JGabriel says:

    DougJ @ Top:

    Come up with some half-baked plan to improve the economy with lots of tax cuts and deregulation. Get Marty Feldman or Greg Mankiw or whoever to say how intellectually honest it is. Have some think tankers jerk Villagers off about how great the plan is. It’s not that complicated.

    STOP doing their work for them!

    .

  17. 17
    Dantheman says:

    Marty Feldman? Gene Wilder’s sidekick in all the Mel Brooks movies of the 1970’s? Aside from being remarkably uninterested in supporting the Republicans as he is both British and dead, that sounds like a great plan to me.

    Or did you mean Martin Feldstein?

  18. 18
    Walker says:

    @Zifnab:

    The economy has improved significantly since 2008. Any chalk board proposals the Republicans throw up are going to have to beat the hard-and-fast gains produced by Democratic legislation.

    Except that many people believe a double dip is coming, with houses going down again and the CRE situation. Things could get bad just in time for November (particularly if we have an anemic housing summer). So DougJ is right, economy is the only winner the Republicans have.

  19. 19
    JGabriel says:

    Zifnab:

    The economy has improved significantly since 2008.

    Only for the well off. The rest of us, not so much – a little bit, maybe – whatever improvement there has been for the bottom 80% is better characterized as ‘marginal’ rather than ‘significant’.

    That said, even a little progress on the economy might be enough to give Democrats the edge, since, outside of Teabaggerland, most people still remember that it was the Fox Party which crashed the economy in the first place.

    .

  20. 20
    Napoleon says:

    Grassley now taking credit for parts of HCR:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....hp?ref=fpa

  21. 21

    @JGabriel:

    STOP doing their work for them!

    No, no. DougJ is hoping that they actually will try to contact Marty Feldman to help them with this campaign.

    However, even Marty Feldstein isn’t as far out on the limb of the crazy tree as Greg Mankiw. Helpful reminder for when discussing conservative economists. When discussing the amount of sheer insanity:

    Bruce Bartlett is less crazy than Martin Feldstein is less crazy than Greg Mankiw is less crazy than Kevin Hasset

  22. 22
    JGabriel says:

    Walker:

    Except that many people believe a double dip is coming, with houses going down again and the CRE situation.

    Good point. That is worrisome, especially since Geithner’s and Summers’ approach seems to be to try to prop up unsustainably high prices rather than letting the housing market recede to more realistic, albeit lower, pricing levels.

    .

  23. 23
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @cleek: No, they’re doing it right.

    If they offer advice, what’s the objective? Right, it’s for their benefit. Now you know they project like mad, so what’re they going to think is the objective of any advice you give?

    right – it’s for YOUR benefit. And we hit almost automatic “no” function and do (to the extent possible) the exact opposite.

    So the best strategy for Democrats is to give Republicans good advice. That way it will NEVER be followed.

  24. 24

    To Kirk Spencer:

    Remember “Little Big Man”? That is the technique that he used on Custer.

    Do you think that it would work again?

  25. 25
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Walker: ok, take a good look at who “they” is. Which economists are predicting a double-dip recession?

    The miseans/chicago school/monetarists? I mean, the people who said there wasn’t a recession for long after it started, and then insisted that a stimulus wouldn’t have any impact?

    Or the keynesians like Krugman? You know, the people who’ve gotten it right so far.

    FWIW, the keynesians are saying a double dip is possible but avoidable. They’re recommending jobs bills and other secondary stimulus bills. Like, interestingly, the health care reform.

    But the “they” who claim we’re headed for a double-dip recession have been repeatedly, demonstrably wrong for a long time. Just something to keep in mind.

  26. 26
    stickler says:

    Yeah, the GOP really has little else to offer except tax cuts, gibbering rage, and hand-waving. So that’s what they’re going to do. Oh, and some God, guns, and gays in certain districts.

    If the Democrats actually start to hammer Wall Street (I know…), they’ll be able to stanch the bleeding, even if unemployment is still above 9%. That would, of course, mean getting Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson on a course to threaten Wall Street, so obviously it’s not going to happen. But a guy can dream…

  27. 27
    Walker says:

    @JGabriel:

    We are finally starting to hear people talk about cramdowns (principal reductions). That will make a lot of difference. But they should have been doing this from day one.

  28. 28
    Scuffletuffle says:

    @djork: FTW-halftruths to impotents

    Bwahahahahah

  29. 29

    @JGabriel:

    Good point. That is worrisome, especially since Geithner’s and Summers’ approach seems to be to try to prop up unsustainably high prices rather than letting the housing market recede to more realistic, albeit lower, pricing levels.

    I’m not saying that this is a great idea, but what’s the alternative? If you let house prices keep sinking, you reignite the banking crisis, and the foreclosure tsunami. I think that it’s possible that letting this thing deflate slowly is a better way to go. I’d rather attack the problem with fiscal stimulus.

  30. 30
    Bob L says:

    @Napoleon:

    Grassley now taking credit for parts of HCR:

    There needs to be a new word for that. Double Speak and Hypocrite doen’t even work.

    “Simultaneously for and against something in the same breath” Suggestions?

  31. 31
    georgia pig says:

    @Walker: I’m more optimistic that the Republicans will overplay their hand (again). Cable TV has made a lot of people into crisis junkies. The Republicans have become addicted to crisis mongering but, as we may see with HCR, this can bite you in the ass when the crisis never happens or isn’t as bad as advertised.
    Regarding the economy, corporate earnings are up and some hiring (not enough) should follow. The rest of the economy will recover before real estate, i.e., people become comfortable buying consumables before they think of investing in houses. Also, the’re still a lot of the stim package out there. Will this fix the structural problems and return us to the 1990’s? Nah, but Obama doesn’t have to deliver 5% unemployment by November, just a modest decline over the next 6-8 months. There isn’t enough time left for people to move into a sense of stagnation, e.g., that unemployment stubbornly remains at 8% for several years, which Republicans could use to turn Obama into the black Jimmy Carter.

  32. 32
    Gregory says:

    @Rick Taylor:

    Even Newt feels he has to talk about retaining the good ideas in the bill, even as he talks about destroying it.

    Just as the Luntz memo told Republicans to pretend to support the need for health insurance reform (in contrast to 1994) even as they voted lockstep to kill it (in no contrast at all).

    But the GOP went all in with their strategy of opposition, and now that it’s Epic Fail, they’re scrambling to pretend that they really like reform after all, just not the details.

    Which, of course, concedes the issue to the Democrats — just as Luntz and Kristol before him predicted would happen.

    ETA: I think it’d be nice if Democrats pointed out how foolish that strategy was, by the way — if the GOP had allowed even a token Senator and Congressperson vote for it, they’d have some cover now. But as we’ve already discussed, they’re beholden to the lunatics they’ve whipped into a frenzy of fear and loathing, and to the media figures who profit from that rage, Talk about Epic Fail…

  33. 33
    Walker says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    ok, take a good look at who “they” is. Which economists are predicting a double-dip recession?

    Krugman.

    It does not help to be in denial about this. The stimulus was not enough to have long-last effects. The tax cut was a temporary boost to housing that is rapidly disappearing. Something has to be done.

  34. 34
    cleek says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    ah, but the really clever Republicans will see through the attempt at reverse-psychology and will therefore do the opposite of what we want: they will take Doug’s advice as given, while giddily proclaiming:

    Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line Republican when elections are on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha…
    [McConnell stops suddenly, his smile frozen on his face and falls to the right out of camera dead]

  35. 35

    @Walker:

    We are finally starting to hear people talk about cramdowns (principal reductions). That will make a lot of difference. But they should have been doing this from day one.

    I agree that cramdowns are a good idea, but I don’t think that they help with the specific problem JGabriel was talking about. The lack of cramdowns isn’t artificially propping up house values. Those are determined by what a buyer of the house will pay. Cramdowns would allow the amount of principal owed by homeowners to reset to the value of the house, rather than affecting the value itself.

  36. 36
    dmsilev says:

    Via Atrios, it looks like we’re quickly moving beyond the throwing bricks through windows stage to the potential arson/murder stage:

    Federal and local authorities are investigating a severed gas line at the home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother, discovered the day after Tea Party activists posted the address online so opponents could “drop by” and “express their thanks” for Perriello’s vote in favor of health care reform.

    The gas line to the home’s propane tank was slashed, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The incident is being viewed as an attempted threat to a member of congress, sources said.
    […]
    According to the Politico Web site, when [Tea Party activist] Coleman learned that the address actually belonged to the congressman’s brother, he responded on a blog: “Do you mean I posted his brother’s address on my Facebook? Oh well, collateral damage.”

    I really have nothing to add.

    -dms

  37. 37
    Rick Taylor says:

    @Sentient Puddle

    I’m actually pretty surprised at how muddled their message has become. It seems like for a bit, the soundbyte was going to be “repeal and replace,” but if they can’t get themselves on the same page on whether it’s a full repeal or a partial repeal by now, they’re way behind the curve.

    They’ve painted themselves in the corner. Given how the rhetoric they’ve used up to this point, and how they’ve revved up their base, nothing less than the full repeal of health care reform will do. But the smart ones have realized that having given lip service to supporting some sort of reform but not this one, and given the popularity of the health bill now that it’s passed, pledging to repeal it would doom the Republican party. So there’s not good solution. The best course is probably to make mealy mouthed noises about repealing the bad parts of the bill, hoping to strike a balance of offending wingnuts and those for whom the bill is popular as little as they can, but of course the true believers will reliably undercut even that. It’s an impossible situation, and no party deserves it more.

  38. 38
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Come up with some half-baked plan to improve the economy with lots of tax cuts and deregulation. Get Marty Feldman or Greg Mankiw or whoever to say how intellectually honest it is. Have some think tankers jerk Villagers off about how great the plan is.

    It’s like I’m reading a Heritage Foundation position paper!

  39. 39
    Pangloss says:

    As the President might say: “This is what 11-dimensional chess looks like….”

  40. 40
    Rick Taylor says:

    Via Atrios, it looks like we’re quickly moving beyond the throwing bricks through windows stage to the potential arson/murder stage:

    Is there a responsible Republican out there who might take the high road? That seems to be an oxymoron these days, but they used to exist. Someone who can come out and tell their supporters, look, we lost, we don’t like this bill, we will fight it, but it’s the law of the land. Like Gore when he conceded to Bush in the 2000 election; we didn’t like the result, the supreme court had acted horribly, but we had to respect the process none-the-less.

  41. 41
    freelancer says:

    DougJ,

    Have you heard the rarely told Bill Hicks bit about Charlie Hodge? I can’t hear the phrase “Caught in a Trap” without losing my shit, it’s that damned funny.

    Elvis: (singing) I’m caught in a trap!
    Hicks: That’s a doorway, Elvis! Take some speed buddy!
    Elvis: Sonny, Red, I’m caught in the portals of Graceland. Get the crowbar and the butter, ‘n POP me.

  42. 42
    Mark S. says:

    @Rick Taylor:

    The best course is probably to make mealy mouthed noises about repealing the bad parts of the bill, hoping to strike a balance of offending wingnuts and those for whom the bill is popular as little as they can, but of course the true believers will reliably undercut even that.

    It’ll be tough, but that’s about all they can do. That’s the problem when you let Fox News run your grass roots. But it will be tough to even go after the unpopular parts. They can’t go after the individual mandate without pissing off the insurance companies.

  43. 43
    Rick Taylor says:

    Is there a responsible Republican out there who might take the high road? That seems to be an oxymoron these days, but they used to exist.

    __
    After having written that post, I now see that Republicans in the senate have have voted to make it impossible to conduct any senate business after 2PM. Because they’re mad Democrats passed a bill they didn’t like. I guess that answers my question.
    __
    I’ve gotten somewhat used to the level of immaturity in the Republican party, but this one makes my jaw drop.

  44. 44
    Paris says:

    They realize they’ll need 60 senators to repeal the bill, right?

  45. 45
    LuciaMia says:

    Yup, definately caught on a wingnut merry-go–round and any attempt to get off makes you a RHINO.

    Boo-Hoo.

    McCain on the Senate floor today, talking about the HC bill. Cannot believe he had the idiocy to use the ‘lipstick on a pig’ phrase again.

  46. 46
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    So, it’s all Armageddon, but some parts are more Armageddon than others.

    Got it.

  47. 47
    Martian Buddy says:

    I’m reminded of this story that was nominated for the Darwin Awards awhile back. The short version: an embittered pensioner rigged up no less than 19 booby traps all over his home to kill off his estranged family–and then blundered into one, triggering a fatal shotgun blast to his own neck.

    That’s the GOP in a nutshell; so blinded by spite that they can’t even figure out they’re setting a trap for themselves until after the damage is done.

  48. 48
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Napoleon:

    Grassley now taking credit for parts of HCR:

    This is when I would make a comment about how this is “un.fucking.believable.” but that wouldn’t be accurate at all. It’s entirely believable; it’s what they do. The only surprising element is how quickly they’re pulling this nonsense after the bill passed. It seemed like it took a little while longer after the stimulus passed, but maybe it’s just getting harder to keep up with the wingnut whirlwind these days.

    @Bob L:

    There needs to be a new word for that. Double Speak and Hypocrite doen’t even work.
    __
    “Simultaneously for and against something in the same breath” Suggestions?

    It’s not perfect, but I nominate the phrase “Kansas City Shuffle.”

  49. 49
    Shygetz says:

    @J. Michael Neal: I disagree. The lack of cramdowns may not be artificially propping up the housing prices, but they are increasing supply by driving people out of their homes that have plummeted in value, usually with insufficient credit to reenter the housing market. Cramdowns would help keep people in their homes, which would lower the supply of homes being sold at fire-sale prices, which would legitimately stabilize housing prices.

  50. 50
    Bobby Thomson says:

    They’d need two thirds to override a veto, and even if they won every single Senate race in 2010, it’s mathematically impossible.

    That’s why Newt has floated a proposed strategy is to shut the government down, presumably until Senate Democrats agree not to filibuster and the president agrees to sign a repeal bill. He’s gamed it out, not because he thinks it would necessarily work, but because eventually the math of it will become clear to those few Villagers who can add, like Chuck Todd. Newt is trying to nip in the bud the idea that repeal is impossible before it becomes accepted CW, even to the Villagers.

  51. 51
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Walker: Re-read what I wrote and then what Krugman wrote. In fact, let me quote the first two sentences of the Krugman article to which you linked:

    I’ve never been fully committed to the notion that we’re going to have a “double dip” — that the economy will slide back into recession. But it has been clear for a while that it’s a serious possibility, for two reasons.

    Again, a double dip is possible, but not guaranteed — we can prevent it. That’s something Krugman (among others) have also made plain.

  52. 52
    skippy says:

    but are grudgingly coming to believe some parts of armageddon may not be that bad after al

    after al who? al roeker? al bundy? al b. sure? after whom is armageddon comparably good?

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