There are increasing signs that the goose is cooked on Republican rebranding. It ain’t gonna happen. And the latest sign comes in a major setback for House Speaker John Boehner who earlier seemed poised to set a political trap for the White House — enough of a trap that the White House had issued a statement about the plan. But the plan is now dead.
And who killed it? Yes, the Dems played a role — but they were greatly helped by conservatives in the House who’ve continued to use their “Just Say No” mantra, this time against their own party. Talking Points Memo:
Amid opposition from conservative members and Democrats, House Republican leaders abruptly cancelled a vote on legislation designed to simultaneously undermine a progressive piece of Obamacare and boost the party’s credibility with voters who support protections for people with preexisting medical conditions.
The legislation would have transferred $3.6 billion from the Affordable Care Act’s prevention and public health fund to a temporary, underfunded high-risk pool plan in the law to cover sick people with preexisting conditions for the rest of 2013, until Obamacare’s guarantee of insurance coverage for all people kicks in.
Republicans described it as an effort to help sick people where President Obama had failed.
The move is a significant blow to GOP leaders and their efforts to soften the party’s image. It reflects their inability to secure sufficient conservative buy-in for even modest legislation aimed at improving the Republican party’s brand, and suggests that their only real hope for moderating the GOP’s reputation is to buck the right and pass genuinely moderate and bipartisan legislation with Democratic support.
On that I say not just DMML (Don’t Make Me Laugh), but also FC (Fat Chance).
The legislation failed because it was neither a straight attack on the ACA, which likely could have passed with Republican votes alone, nor a genuine effort to improve it. It was a backdoor attempt to damage a permanent piece of Obamacare — which alienated the entire Democratic party — in order to temporarily bolster another part of the law, costing them conservative votes.
Earlier in the day, conservative GOP members spoke out against the measure, lamenting that it merely tinkers with the law when they wanted nothing less than repeal.
I.E. The 21st century conservatives in the House (who are not to be confused with traditional conservatives) won’t even compromise with their own party leadership on something that could bring them longterm political gain.
Some said they opposed the high-risk pool portion of the law to begin with, despite its popularity among many Republicans and conservative health care wonks.
“Subsidizing health care is not what Republicans should be about,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said at a Capitol Hill event organized by the Heritage Foundation.
Prediction: I would NOT be surprised to see immigration reform die in the House or be watered down so much that Hispanic groups say it isn’t real immigration reform.
NOTE: An earlier less edited version of this inadvertently appeared on TMV for a few hours. The correct version is now up. We regret the glitch.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.