Saturday, May 14, 2011

Go repeal and replace yourself

Ezra Klein links today to a  rather tortured hypothesis he put forward last fall to explain how politicians induce themselves to believe in policies it's politically expedient for them to endorse:
I don't think we need to get into talmudic arguments over whether, when Mitch McConnell says "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," he's implying a strategy of "deliberate economic sabotage" or simply offering a confused and politically counterproductive pander to his base. For what it's worth, I don't believe he believes he'd do anything to hurt the economy. Political actors are rarely so rationally cynical as that. The problem is subtler: Can McConnell bring himself to support a policy that will help the economy if it also helps President Obama?

On the simplest level, American politics presents us with an incentives problem: McConnell -- like most minority leaders -- is an avowedly reflexive opponent of the president's reelection. The president's reelection campaign depends on an improved economy.
Reading this, the phrase "repeal and replace" came to mind, and it occurred to me that the GOP's marketing slogan for their alleged healthcare reform plans resonates beyond healthcare. It's the perfect expression of their top priority: to "repeal and replace" Obama.  Healthcare is a mere stalking horse.

Of course, the GOP has no viable plan with which to "replace" the ACA -- the party does not even pretend to try to expand access to health insurance. Similarly, they have no viable person with whom to replace Obama. Any potentially viable GOP candidate must twist himself into knots promising to repeal and replace a healthcare plan with a GOP pedigree, and to balance the budget without raising taxes, and to deny that global warming is a problem we need to address. There is no way even the most competent manager can get through the Republican primaries with any chance of advancing policies that will provide viable solutions to our most pressing problems.

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