Pete Sessions and the GOP Obamacare Cave
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the GOP now has an active strategy to crush the grassroots conservative movement. It seems they’re prepared to sustain heavy electoral losses (which they will no doubt reap if they don’t shift strategy soon) in the short term for a hoped consolidation of establishment power long-term. Witness the embrace of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion ruse by Republican governors John Kasich (OH), Jan Brewer (AZ), Brian Sandoval (NV), Susana Martinez (NM), and Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota).
It’s a surrender that’s so crazy it kills the damn fox. The states, after all, were supposed to be the last line of defense against universal Obamacare bedlam. Said Texas Congressman and Chairman of the House Rules Committee Pete Sessions during a townhall meeting with around 50 constituents:
What we’re trying to do is let [Obama] be a failure. … Otherwise it’s “Republicans stopped us from achieving what you wanted.” We do not want to stop it. And I think these governors are probably pretty smart.
The crowd wasn’t buying the argument. Cari Kelemen, an attendee:
The thing that got me off the sofa in 2009 was the health care issue. What I saw after November 6 was just air being let out of the balloon. … I want to fight. I’m spittin’ mad. I’ve got energy. I’ve got time. I see them peeling away governors. Five governors are on board with Obamacare.
Nothing in recent memory energized and mobilized voters like the threat of healthcare reform in 2010. With a faltering economy and an ever-bleaker jobs picture, President Obama and the Democratic Congress damned the torpedoes and steamed ahead with their quest to control one-sixth of the national economy, and with it the life and death of virtually every American. To do it, the Democrats simultaneously ignored or attacked intense and widespread voter opposition while resorting to a strategy of serial corruption: the carve-out for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Florida; the $300 million bribe to get Senator Landrieu's vote in Louisiana; $100 million in bonus Medicaid dollars for Nebraska to buy Senator Ben Nelson's vote; and a payoff to unions exempting their “Cadillac” insurance plans from Obamacare’s 40 percent excise tax on benefit-rich coverage.
They topped this off with procedural chicanery to pass the bill after the election of Republican Senator Scott Brown dismantled their filibuster-proof majority. After all, Brown made history in deep-blue Massachusetts only by vowing to be the 41st vote against Obamacare, effectively killing it.
It’s this rat’s nest of corruption and looming destruction of healthcare and the American job creation engine that animated the Tea Party. It figured prominently in the GOP’s “Pledge to America,” a legislative agenda Republicans promised to pursue if they won the House majority in 2010.
But not long after Republicans took power, Obamacare disappeared from the front burner. There was no consistent messaging strategy or ceaseless series of votes on the House floor to make Democrats go on record defending the most egregious elements of the legislation. (Perhaps the GOP thought the Supreme Court would take care of Obamacare, thereby avoiding the messy business of taking a stand on principle.) Mitt Romney didn’t talk much about it (perhaps to skirt the Romneycare reminder), and it certainly didn’t figure in Republican Senate elections.
Why would the strategy of stoking an issue that largely handed Republicans the House (and state governorship) majority be surrendered so quickly? Sessions thinks fighting Obamacare now will only result in stalemate, which is what Obama and the Democrats want:
They want it in limbo to keep the taxes flowing and people to slowly suffer and then blame Republicans so that Hillary can ride to the rescue. … We won’t lose if it gets bad. We lose if it goes in limbo.
Obamacare is teed-up to be a miserable failure, Sessions said. Los Angeles will be among the first exchanges, and it will collapse after people rush in and overwhelm the system:
I want them to fall on their own. And it will start with Los Angeles County.
But isn’t that ultimately what the Democrats want, too? To nudge the system into collapse so they can achieve their ultimate dream -- single payer? It is, if you actually listen to them.
Kelemen shot back:
There’s so much destruction ahead of us. This is a defensive posture. I want to go on the offense. What is the offensive plan?
You write it, I’ll look at it.
Translation: What’s an offensive plan? The problem is not that the GOP doesn’t know how to fight, the problem is that they have no desire to fight with their alleged political opposition. Grassroots conservatives? That’s another story.
The institutional GOP is fine with the status quo, and energizing the grassroots with talk of widespread losses of healthcare coverage, the coming loss of coverage for children, and insurance premium price spikes of 190 percent would disrupt that.
Said another town hall participant:
We are perpetually on defense. We never go on offense. And if you’re perpetually on defense, it’s just a question of how long it takes you to lose.
Sessions’ answer? It’s tough to go on offense when the other party controls the bully pulpit and all you’ve got is control of one-half of the Congress: “Barack Obama, if he gets a hangnail, he gets on national TV."