For several weeks House Republican Leaders have stolen a play from Barack Obama's playbook in the health care fight. Unfortunately, instead of using it against Democrats, they've used it against their fellow Republicans.
Remember when Barack Obama would say, "Republicans have no plan"? House Leaders are saying that about conservatives' plans to rein in spending.
Well, just as Dr. Tom Price and other Republicans would hold up the Republicans' health care plan in Barack Obama's 2010 State of the Union address every time he said they had no plan, conservatives are holding up their plan to House leaders who, like Baghdad Bob, choose to ignore reality in favor of their propaganda.
Unfortunately for the House Republicans, Democrats are now admitting the conservative strategy is the one they fear the most.
According to Jonathan Allen, a Democrat oriented reporter for the Politico with excellent Democrat sources, there is a great divide among Democrats who find themselves leaderless and rudderless.
House Democrats are divided on what to do. Senate Democrats are fearful of what to do. Barack Obama is clueless about what to do.
In other words, there is mass confusion. The opportunity is ripe for the GOP to set the spending agenda and lead. That's exactly what conservatives have been clamoring for.
Instead, House Republicans went through the dance of passing H.R. 1, to set out a budget for the rest of the year, and then — in effect — held a press conference and told Senate Democrats not to worry about it.
As Russ Vought pointed out here in laying out the conservative plan:
FIRST, our viable alternative strategy is to force Senate Democrats to pass a bill. Currently, the very willingness of Republicans to do the short-terms absolves both Senate Democrats and the President of any responsibility. The House acted. It passed H.R. 1. The Senate has not. Harry Reid has essentially thrown up his hands and said that he can’t pass anything (notwithstanding the fact that he claims to run the Senate). We all know that he can pass something. Until the Senate passes legislation, real Congressional negotiations cannot begin. Not unlike their Wisconsin state colleagues, Democrats must participate to have a say. Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Chuck Schumer are not, and the short-term strategy is letting them get away with it. Furthermore, it’s letting the White House get away with staying above the fray. Keith thinks this is a good thing, but why? Obama has an advantage for sure, but this debate is not a foregone conclusion, and conservatives operating on principle have bested Obama repeatedly since he has been President.
SECOND, Republicans can and must message the following argument:
a) Democrats controlled both the Presidency and the Congress and were unable to pass a budget, leaving a portion of the responsibility to Republicans.
b) House Republicans passed H.R. 1 to fully fund the government, make a down-payment of a mere $61 billion in cuts in the face of a $1.5 trillion deficit, and limit some of the main excesses of the current federal government (Planned Parenthood, EPA, Obamacare, etc.).
c) Democrats have not responded. The Democrat Senate Majority refuses to pass not just the right bill, but any bill. And the White House sent their chief negotiator to Europe and is spending more time filling out their NCAA brackets then getting serious about their shared responsibility to fund the government. Who is unserious here?
He goes on from there in laying out the details of the conservative plan.
Now, according to Jonathan Allen, "Some [Democrats] want to cut and cut now. Others say the failure to articulate a coherent anti-Republican message prevents Democrats from drawing sharp distinctions for voters."
The iron is hot for the GOP to have a unified message on spending discipline. But as long as House Republicans are fearful of picking the fight, they are giving the Democrats time to unify. If the GOP comes out now and forces the Democrats' hand on this, the GOP can win the argument, just like it did on health care (even though it didn't stop the law from being passed) and just like it did on cap-and-trade.
Eric Cantor and John Boehner's unwillingness to lead in favor of dithering is what is losing the GOP the fight for the hearts and minds of the American public.
Lead! And do so now.