STRATEGERY

Posted in Rants on February 1st, 2011 by Ed

In its first 11 days, the 112th Congress has brought 28 separate bills to the floor to repeal "Obamacare":

H.R. 105 Dan Burton (R-IN) To repeal the Patient Protection Act & enact incentives tto buy health insurance.
H.R. 118 John Fleming (R-LA) To permit a state to elect not to have an American Health Care Exchange.
H.R. 119 John Fleming (R-LA) To prohibit hiring of irs agent to implement or enforce health insurance reform.
H.R. 127 John Graves (R-GA) To de-authorize funding of Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 141 Steve King (R-IA) To repeal the Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 145 Connie Mack (R-FL) To repeal the Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 154 Ted Poe (R-TX) To prohibit any federal funds to be used to enforce Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 171 Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
H.R. 2 Eric Cantor (R-VA) Repeal of Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 38 John Fleming (R-LA) Rescind funds authorized for Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 9 David Drier (R-CA) Requires Committees to look into Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 26 David Drier (R-CA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 215 Don Young (R-AK) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 19 John Carter (R-TX) Disapprove rules on MLR in Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 299 John Carter (R-TX) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 358 Joe Pitts (R-PA) Remove abortion funding from Patient Protection Act (there is none)
H.R. 360 Michael Burgess (R-TX) Amend Patient Protection Act to include President in Health Care Exchanges.
H.R. 364 Tom Latham (R-IA) To Repeal Patient Protection Act
H.R. 371 Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) Repeal Title I of Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 5 Phil Gingrey (R-GA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 397 Wally Herger (R-CA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 429 Darrell Issa (R-CA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 452 Phil Roe (R-TN) A bill to repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 450 Dave Reichert (R-WA) A bill to repeal Patient Protection Act.
S. 19 Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Repeal Health Mandate & therefore repeal patient protections.
S. 17 Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Repeal Tax on Medical Devices
S. 16 David Vitter (R-LA) Repeal Patient Protection Act
S. 196 Chuck Grassley (R-IA) A bill to to provide congressional staff gets to participate in Exchange.
S. 192 Jim DeMint (R-SC) A bill to repeal health care.

I understand why this is the case – every spotlight hungry Teabagger (or in Hatch's case, someone trying to ward off a Teabagger challenge) feels obligated to not only support the repeal but to propose his very own bill. Sure, anyone can cosponsor Eric Cantor's bill, but a real conservative hero would propose his own.

Beyond that I understand the cat-and-mouse game that goes on during divided government, as the Congress passes bills it knows the president will veto in the hopes that the veto can be used against him during the next election. This usually requires devising an Orwellian and misleading title, e.g. the Stop Terrorists with AIDS From Raping Your Daughter Act, so that future "Can you believe Obama vetoed this? My god! What an animal!" rage can be more easily provoked. I get it.

That said, I am not sure what the GOP thinks it is going to gain from this strategy of barraging the House floor with bills that haven't the slightest chance of becoming law. Let's be honest: the odds of any of these laws A) making it out of the Senate and B) getting the President's signature to euthanize his sole major legislative accomplishment (at least in his view) are effectively nil. I'm sure they realize that. So what are they getting out of this?

Everybody who flies into a rage at the mere mention of the health care law is already voting against Obama in 2012. Can they somehow vote more against him if Mitch McConnell reminds them that he or Harry Reid torpedoed an effort to repeal it? Will anyone on the planet remember a single one of these bills in an election 22 months from now? For the average Teabagger it is unlikely that they can even keep organized the dozens of reasons that Obama is the antichrist. Vetoing this garbage – pretend for a minute that the Senate passes it – doesn't even appear to give the GOP a useful talking point. Anyone who would care about this is already highly motivated to turn out in 2012 to oppose Obama.

"We fulfilled our campaign promise to veto it, but he wouldn't let us" does not seem like a phrase that will drive undecided voters toward the GOP or motivate would-be abstainers to get out and vote. As far as anti-Obama talking points go it's about as exciting as tap water and will hardly stand out. In every sense of the phrase this is an enormous waste of time. As the gap between the 2008 and 2010 elections proved, a lot can change in two years. If the Republicans mistakenly believe that all they need to do is keep repeating the 2010 talking points to waltz into office in 2012 they are setting themselves up for quite the disappointment. An objective adviser might recommend that the House GOP, you know, propose something on which they can hang their hats as a Big Legislative Accomplishment before the end of the year. If their big accomplishment is to cut 0.25% from the budget and to pass a bunch of shit that died in the Senate, the odds of repeating their 2010 performance would seem to be poor.