In the nearly 15 months since the 111th Congress was sworn in, the GOP has become known as the Party of No – no ideas, no votes, no, no, no. Their electoral plan seems to be to ride “NO!” to a return to prominence. I have serious doubts that this will prove to be a successful strategy.
The funniest thing about all of this, in an ironic way, is that they should be trumpeting the ascendancy of their ideas. They could rightfully claim to be the party of ideas, yet they have decided to go the other way.
Let’s take a quick look at what has happened in this Congress.
The bailout plan – AARP – Proposed by President George Bush and passed with GOP support. It is now demonized by the very people that put it forward. They have disowned their own idea. Fail.
The stimulus plan – ARRA – Proposed by President Obama and passed with almost no support from GOP lawmakers. There is almost universal support among economists for the view that the stimulus act kept our economy from going into a complete meltdown. A large part of the stimulus act was made up of tax cuts, which was the GOP’s main contribution. Instead of pointing to those tax cuts as the reason for the success of the stimulus act, the GOP is trying to argue, against all of the evidence, that the stimulus didn’t work. Fail
Gitmo – The first steps towards closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were taken by the Bush administration. It was acknowledged by many in that administration, including President Bush, that the camp had become a liability and should be closed. When President Obama attempted to follow through on the closing, the GOP suddenly turned against the idea when they could have pointed out that closing it was a Republican idea. Fail
Unemployment extensions – This one is a little different, but is still an example of message failure on the part of the GOP. Their argument is that any extension should be paid for, either by using unused stimulus funds or other methods. The message isn’t getting across to the public. All regular citizens see is the GOP trying to block unemployment funds. Fail.
Health Care Reform – The big one. The GOP has really screwed up here. The health care reform pushed by Democrats is filled with Republican ideas. The tax on “Cadillac” health plans and the individual mandate are two examples put forward by Republicans. Several years ago, Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch put forward a proposal for an individual mandate. John McCain ran on that proposal last year. Yet now, the GOP has tried to distance themselves from the whole thing. The current health care bill is modeled on Romney Care, the Massachusetts health care system, yet Romney is trying desperately to distance himself from it. Instead of taking the opportunity to say, “Look, we have great ideas. They are so good that the Democrats are trying to steal credit for them,” they are saying, “Oh, no. These aren’t our ideas.” Big Fail.
When the current economic crisis was at its worst last fall, Republicans complained about propping up the banking sector. At least, they’ve tried to hang that around the Democrats necks. Now that there is a proposal to pass some legislation to prevent the necessity of future bailouts, they are fighting it. Fail.
In every one of those cases, the GOP could have gained a lot of credit for putting forward ideas that were adopted by the Democrats. Instead, they’ve either denied they had the idea in the first place or say they’ve changed their minds about them. A casual observer could be forgiven for wondering, “WTF is wrong with these people?”
Normally, I would be leery about writing something like this. I’d be afraid of giving the other side any ideas. It’s why I would never write something like, “The terrorists are stupid. They should be targeting blank“. However, looking at the GOP’s track record gives me some assurance they wouldn’t adopt this approach no matter how wise it might be. From all indications, they are going to double-down on the stupid for the next few months. Only another beating at the polls will get them to step back and reassess their tactics.
It’s going to be a fun 7 months between now and early November.