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caricature of John Boehner
(Caricature by DonkeyHotey)
The fight over the "replace" part of "repeal and replace" in the Republican Party is now very public. Yesterday's news put the conflict in spotlight. On the one hand, you had budget guru Paul Ryan proclaiming that Republicans wouldn't offer an actual plan, but instead a "vision" of reform, and on the other Politico reported a leak of a plan Republican leadership (which Ryan is supposed to be part of) is working on to "draw up bills to keep the popular, consumer-friendly portions in place."

That got a group of Republican staffers, conservative activists, think group types and leadership staff in a major email pissing match obtained by Politico.

Rather than sending out news releases or rushing to cable TV for a rant, conservatives blasted House Republican leadership on a private Google email group called The Repeal Coalition. [...]

Wesley Denton, an aide to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), questioned whether the “GOP now against full repeal?”

“Should we change the name of this [listserv] to ‘partialrepealcoalition’ or ‘someofobamacareisprettygood’?” Denton wrote to the group.

Brian Worth, a GOP leadership staffer responsible for coordinating with outside groups, shot back that “the House has already passed a full repeal bill.”

“Has the Senate passed that bill yet?” Worth asked Denton, in the email chain.

Russ Vought, a former House Republican staffer who is now at Heritage Action for America, bluntly said, “that has absolutely nothing to do with it.” The “House GOP is going to cave after winning an election on full repeal … and before winning the next election to finish the job.”

“Unreal,” he said.

All of which puts Speaker John Boehner in his usual bind—do what is popular with the public, like make sure they can't be excluded from getting health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or toe the extremist line, as articulated by one commenter in yesterday's listserv blow-up: "forcing insurance companies to cover folks with pre-existing conditions 'would destroy the private insurance market.'”

No surprise how Boehner reacted:

"The speaker issued a statement Thursday to reaffirm his support for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
"Repeal and replace" got them the House in 2010. The infighting over "replace" just might be what dooms them in 2012.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri May 18, 2012 at 08:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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