Do Republicans believe that Obamacare is a disaster in the making? Or is it such an appealing program that they have to take extraordinary steps to undermine it? Reuters reports today that conservative groups are taking their campaign to undermine the law to ever new heights. As the Tea Party group FreedomWorks puts it: “We’re trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange.” [...]Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal Constitution makes a similar point:
At the same time they’re trying to undermine it, Republicans are loudly insisting that the program just won’t work — it will “collapse under its own weight,” as the talking point has it. For example, see the apparent attempt by Republican state governments to hype “rate shock” well beyond any reality. As Sarah Kliff argues today, Republicans have set expectations for the program so low that “if Godzilla doesn’t march in on Oct. 1 and gobble up our health insurance coverage and legions of IRS agents fail to microchip the masses, that could plausibly look like a success.”
If they really believe that the Affordable Care Act will collapse on its own — that premiums will skyrocket, that people will lose what they have now, or whatever other horrors they’ve been asserting — then there’s no reason at all for any campaign to spread misinformation about the law or to encourage anyone to “skip the exchange.” Consumers would do that on their own. But Republicans apparently think they can’t take the risk that Obamacare will work out just fine.
ObamaCare is going to be a disaster, a trainwreck, a total mess. In fact, it's going to be such a trainwreck that if we allow it to be implemented, the American people are going to absolutely love it and will never allow it to be repealed.Robert Schlesinger at US News & World Report:
The GOP again faces a choice between narrow political needs (pleasing the base) and broader ones (the need to appeal to swing voters and win national elections). Right-wing ideologues try to square this circle by insisting that the country as a whole secretly yearns for their rigid brand of conservatism, but polls and real life experience indicate otherwise.More on the day's top stories below the fold:
Switching topics to the economy, William Greider at The Nation says no more second chances for Larry Summers:
Among his other outstanding attributes, Lawrence Summers is perhaps most distinguished by his mendacity. I have encountered this up close over the years in interviews. He bristles and turns nasty when his assertions are challenged. I am not naïve about untruth in politics—I know it well—but Summers takes it to extremes. Three years ago, he made an appearance on the PBS NewHour that blew out my tolerance. I posted an exasperated blog titled “Professor Pants-on-Fire.”Matthew O'Brien at The Atlantic points out that Janet Yellen is a far better choice than Summers:
“How can I say this nicely?” I wrote. “Larry Summers is a clumsy public liar. His noxious, condescending manner helps explain why he failed as president of Harvard. But it is the crude mendacity that ought to bother people now. The man is President Obama’s top economic adviser.”
I ticked off some of the self-serving lies he told to cover up his own role in destabilizing the financial system when he was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration—when he personally blocked tougher regulation on the financial time bombs known as derivatives, when he collaborated with Republicans and the Federal Reserve in dismantling Glass-Steagall and other New Deal protections. Larry and Bill, Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan paved the road to financial collapse. Afterwards, nobody went to jail.
It's not that Summers isn't a brilliant economist -- he most certainly is -- but rather that he doesn't have, well, any of Yellen's central banking expertise. She's spent much of the past 20 years at the Fed. He's barely said anything about monetary policy. Now, he might be as good as we know she would be, but that's the thing: We know she would be good. Very, very good. [...]Turning to the president's speech on the economy, Ed Kilgore:
It isn't clear what Larry Summers actually thinks about monetary policy. He probably wants to keep rates low for a long time, but that's about all we know. He hasn't been a central banker. And he hasn't written much about it. But the few things he has said aren't encouraging. For one, he doesn't think much of quantitative easing. As Robin Harding of the Financial Times reports, Summers recently said that he thinks "QE is less efficacious for the real economy than most people suppose." But more than that, Summers seems to share the Wall Street view that more bond-buying might just risk another bubble or mal-investment
[T]here are several different negative perceptions out there about Obama’s lack of “new ideas.” One, frequently discussed by MSM observers, simply assumes that novelty is a virtue in itself, or is owed to their own selves because they are bored about writing about the same old same old. Today’s Dana Milbank WaPo column is a good example of that rather empty and self-centered complaint.Eugene Robinson:
Then there is the objection offered by conservatives, based on the presumption that “new ideas” mean their ideas. So the only way for Obama to come up with any “new ideas” on the economy is to surrender or at least offer to compromise (with the latter option being undermined by what has happened every time he’s done that in the past). [...]
“New ideas,” or even the much-desired “competition of ideas,” require agreement on the problems to be solved and the legitimate range of instruments that can be used to solve them. We don’t really have that in the “debate” over American economic policy right now. Maybe we will again at some point in the near future, and then it will be important that “new ideas” blossom in both parties. Right now, we’re still trying to decide which broad vision of the economy will guide our government, and in tying his own vision to the upcoming fiscal fights, Obama’s doing just what the doctor ordered.
The Democratic Party seems likely to grow ever stronger nationally while the GOP remains firmly entrenched locally. This means the stubborn, maddening, unproductive standoff between a Democratic president and a Republican majority in the House may be the new normal.
[...] Republicans know they cannot repeal the Affordable Care Act, for example, but they can hamper its implementation. They cannot impose their vision of immigration reform — all fence and no citizenship, basically — but they can ensure that no reforms are approved. They cannot choose their own nominees for federal judgeships, but they can block Obama’s.
Commentators who criticize the president for not hosting enough cocktail parties or golf outings for Republicans are ignoring political reality. He has tried being nice, he has tried being tough, he has tried offering to compromise, he has tried driving a hard bargain. Nothing works if Republicans are committed to blocking every single thing he seeks to do.