Monthly Archives: October 2013

Oh Boy…Mitch McConnell Is Working On A Plan To Wrap Debt And Shutdown Fights Up

This can’t be good.

Behind the scenes, the Kentucky Republican is gauging support within the Senate GOP Conference to temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government in return for a handful of policy proposals. Among the ideas under serious consideration are a repeal of medical device tax in the health care law, a plan to verify that those seeking subsidies under Obamacare prove their income level and a proposal to grant additional flexibility to federal agencies to implement sequestration cuts.

Those proposals could be paired with a two-month increase of the national debt ceiling and a six-month continuing resolution to reopen the government at a $986-billion funding level that both parties have agreed to, under one package discussed among McConnell and GOP senators on Wednesday, sources said. McConnell is not endorsing the proposal, aides stressed, but is simply taking the temperature of his caucus.

You’ll be comforted to know that the report goes on to note that a lot of the stuff McConnell is floating was originally proposed by…Susan Collins.

I linked this piece last night in the Gallup poll post but it’s worth revisiting here (and fits in with my earlier post today). If you’re interested in changing the GOP into a more populist part, there’s are really good reason why the GOP shouldn’t be making the medical device tax the center piece of its ObamaCare opposition.

Even when they make sense on the merits, the kind of deals the party’s congressional leadership wants to cut would not, as a general rule, obviously realign the party’s messaging and policy positions with the interests of the American middle class — and if you’re interested in that kind of realignment, the G.O.P.’s populists often have better instincts and/or more interesting proposals than their more responsible, consensus-oriented rivals within the party. Fighting Obamacare is more popular than cutting Social Security to pay for defense spending, and fighting to delay the individual mandate would be much more popular than horse-trading your way to K Street’s dream of medical device tax repeal.

Who is the GOP trying to impress moving forward?

Take the Gallup post from last night and this morning’s on the battle over outside groups and you see the GOP is in a real bind. They need to grow the party while retaining the votes they already have. The challenge is, how do they do it? Every step towards one group is a step away from the other. It’s not a perfect zero sum game but it’s about as close as you can get in politics.

I’m not writing this out of animus for the GOP (though I have it). Objectively it’s a fascinating case study. People will come up with all sorts of theories about how to do it and lots of money will be made pushing ideas and programs but likely it will be dumb luck. At some point the mood of the country will favor a different flavor of candidate and someone will find a way to project themselves in that role. My guess is it will be Chris Christie but we’ll see.

People will talk about the GOP going the way of the Whigs but it won’t. Parties have died before but not in the modern era of the professional political class. There are too many people who have too much money and prestige invested in the continuation of the GOP for it to really die. It will change and adapt, it will ride a wave the it didn’t create and it will endure.