Republican concerns about political overreach crept into the debate over the IRS scandal in June, dredging up uncomfortable memories of the late 1990s, when President Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.
Worry about overreach is so ingrained in some quarters of the GOP that it prompted one former senior GOP aide to caution: “Never underestimate our ability to shoot ourselves.”
But with the shutdown and its political woes behind them, Republicans are altogether rejecting the notion of overreaching on Obamacare, feeling confident that the law’s troubled rollout and unreliable website, and an expected hike in premiums, will bolster their chances of retaking the Senate in 2014.
“The best thing you can do is highlight the problematic and politically vulnerable parts of the bill,” said David Kensinger, who was a top aide to former GOP Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas. “I’m not convinced we can be talking about this too much.”
Republicans are grounding their confidence in the expectation that as the law continues to be implemented, negative headlines will continue. They point to the White House decision to extend the enrollment period past the midterm elections as evidence that Democrats are concerned.
Already Senate Republicans have begun jabbing at the law by introducing legislation aimed at highlighting what they view as politically hypocritical — and therefore politically fertile — parts of the Affordable Care Act.
Last week, for instance, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota and GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced legislation to block the administration from exempting labor unions from a reinsurance tax included in the law.
Democrats, of course, have been eager to point out the dozens of times House Republicans have tried repealing the law, and the efforts last month by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah to defund the law fueled Democratic attacks that Republicans were ham-handed obstructionists.
But, since the health law’s rollout, a contrast is emerging, at least between Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans. While the Senate GOP conference split sharply — and very publicly — during the government shutdown and Democrats held together as a voting bloc, it’s now Senate Republicans who are united against Obamacare while Senate Democrats are watching nervously as the law comes on line.
“I think there’s a sense of vindication,” said a former GOP Senate leadership aide. “The conference is always stronger when it’s unified. I think everybody’s on the same song sheet now.”
Republicans may agree on their dislike of and desire to repeal Obamacare, but as the shutdown showdown demonstrated, Senate Democrats and the White House will block those efforts. Short of that, then, Republicans have to highlight each of the law’s missteps, GOP strategists argue. So expect more bills similar to the Thune-Alexander-Hatch measure.
Still, while they’re confident that their position will prove persuasive with voters in 2014, Republicans are wary of the perception that their opposition to Obamacare could come across as abrasive.
“We have to make sure that our tone is more — that old line — more in sorrow than in anger,” said a former senior GOP aide. “So that it comes across as more than just a screaming critique.”
- 1 Live from New York, It’s Joe Piscopo’s Pseudo-Campaign for N.J. Governor
- 2 From the Editor
- 3 African-Americans With College Degrees Are Twice As Likely to Be Unemployed as Other Graduates
- 4 How the Government Pays Defense Contractors Tens of Billions for Nothing
- 5 GOP Proposal Could Undermine Obamacare’s Weakest Exchanges
What We're Following See More »
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.
The Washington, D.C. area will undergo "a full-scale exercise" Wednesday morning "designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the National Capital Region." The drill will take place at six different sites throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The drill should not be taken as a sign that emergency services are expecting an attack, said Scott Boggs, Managing Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee "acknowledged late Monday that a final report it filed with the Federal Election Commission this month was riddled with errors, many of which were first identified through a crowdsourced data project at HuffPost." The committee raised about $100 million for the festivities, but the 500-page FEC report, which detailed where that money came from, was riddled with problems. The likely culprit: a system of access codes sent out by the GOP's ticketing system. Those codes were then often passed around on the secondary market.