Hoping to push their agenda ahead of the presidential election, a group of prominent conservatives has devised a 121-page policy manifesto aimed at giving the Republican Party a message that will attract some of the middle-class voters the party lost in recent White House races.At least on the surface, it seems like a pretty smart move for Republicans to try to develop and promote policies that will make Americans hate them less, doesn't it? And they certainly need to pull themselves out of the anti-Obama rathole, as one of the manifesto's authors acknowledges:
“Building a post-Obama conservatism is more important than still trying to beat Obama,” Ramesh Ponnuru, a conservative writer and the author of one of the book’s essays, said, explaining his frustration.But it's easier for a conservative to say those things than to actually pull it off. And to see what I mean, you need not look past the first sentence of the first policy essay in the document (page 23 of this PDF, after two introductory essays):
Public opinion polls have consistently shown that more voters oppose Obamacare than support it, and that opposition to the law is more intense than support for it.The author goes on to spend the next ten pages making the case that in order to repeal Obamacare, Republicans need to propose something in its place. His solution: Repealing regulations on what insurers must cover, moving away from tax subsidies for employer-based insurance to tax credits for individuals, stopping insurers from dropping coverage to people who get sick, but restoring their ability to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions who don't already have coverage, and replacing the current Medicaid system with a combination of the aforementioned tax credits and per capita payments to states to run the program as they wish.
In other words, it's the same old conservative approach to repealing Obamacare that we've seen for the past five years: Replace Obamacare by repealing it, plus ending Medicaid as we know it. Nothing new here. They may have the right diagnosis—that the GOP needs a new governing agenda—but they don't have the right prescription.
But I will give them credit for this: There's no mention of Benghazi anywhere in the entire document.