I read this Dana Milbank column over the weekend – don’t blame me, blame RCP. Basically it is a rehash of that hoary old bit of Beltway conventional wisdom, and no doubt the supposedly “Republican” Davids Gergen, Brooks and Frum would gladly repeat it for you at the cocktails celebrating the Democrats’ (temporary) victory in attempting to bring 1/6th of the nation’s economy under the control of government bureaucrats; that government programs, especially entitlements, are impossible to repeal.
To buttress his argument, Milbank’s cites the eventual resigned acceptance of social security by the GOP even after Alf Landon made its repeal a plank of his Presidential platform in 1936. The message, meant to be reassuring to Obamacare supporters – Milbank’s actual target audience – was that their voting for Obamacare would be the final say of the issue – even if the GOP were to take over Congress and the White House in 2012, they wouldn’t touch the program, much less repeal it.
But then again, there is a reason why I contend that Beltway conventional wisdom is often long on convention and short on wisdom.
The conventional wisdom was that there was no way the Democrats would pass such an unpopular far-reaching bill (a Republican won a Senate seat in Massachusetts in large part by making his opposition a centerpiece of his campaign) with such massive visible opposition on a partyline vote. Practically every single swing district has large pluralities to solid majorities against this bill – given the typical politician’s instinct for self-preservation, this should have died long before today. But the Democrats voted for it – and significant numbers of them must know that they’re very likely not returning to DC next year as a result.
So why do it? Why sacrifice their majority for something that the opposition is swearing to repeal the instant they get back in power?
Simple, for all that Milbank is a disingenuous partisan hack masquerading as a disinterested observer, he does have history on his side; he could have also cited the Department of Education’s continued existence, the non-rescinding of JFK’s Executive Order 10988, the general non-enforcement of EOs enforcing the Beck decision by Republican administrations beyond their issuance even as unions poured millions into Democratic campaign coffers, etc. It is a history of Republican cowardice, fecklessness and timidity that no doubt every single Democrat that voted for the bill was made familiar with by Pelosi and her henchmen.
They simply do not believe Republicans would have the fortitude to repeal it even if they do win Majorities in both Houses of Congress. They believe the GOP would dilly-dally, tarry and dither, worrying about “bipartisanship”, fretting over liberal editorial pages and cancelled invitations to swanky dinner parties, with some Republicans even after five decades to the contrary believing that there is some sort of deal or compromise that would make the unions like them, until the massive new government bureaucracy is in place, thoroughly unionized and funneling billions (1/6th of the American economy, after all) into Democratic campaign coffers. In the mean time, the grass roots opposition would die down and leave the battlefield of public opinion to the Democrats and their allies in the media to win the middle to their side.
By the time the GOP would realize it, it would be too late. Flush with taxpayer dollars kicked back to them by their newly inaugurated government healthcare bureaucrat union bosses, the Democrats would roar back into massive Majorities on the votes of an electorate now thoroughly dependent on government-run healthcare.
That’s the Beltway conventional wisdom.
We need to prove it wrong, just like it was wrong that this could never pass.
Every single Republican must pledge to vote for repeal, year in and year out. And like the Democrats in passing it; by any means necessary. If it takes using reconciliation, DemonPass, etc. it would be repealed. Simple and short. No attempts to fix it, reform it, improve it or some other milquetoast language. Let the left-wing activists calling themselves journalists in the establishment media call it an unconscionable “litmus test” showing the GOP’s supposed “extremism”, lack of “tolerance” or “inclusiveness” or some other stupidity. Let them scream that it is hypocritical to use the same tactics they supported when they were being used by the other side.
Luckily (or unluckily) 2006 and 2008 purged the GOP of the compromise caucus (Johnson, Leach, Chaffee, etc.) that would have made this vote “bipartisan”, yet somehow, the GOP is winning Independents over at 2:1 rates in swing districts all over the contrary. According to another bit of Beltway conventional (un)wisdom, this was also supposed to be impossible.
So there should be no tolerance for any Republican, even if he or she has a 100% ACU career rating, who equivocates or attempts to sit on the fence with a finger in the air – all (Ayotte, Norton, Castle, etc.) must come out full-fledged for repeal. We need to make it clear to Michael Steele or whoever it is at the RNC that no Republican who is in any way conflicted about whether this should be repealed should receive a cent of GOP donor money.
A party must have some room for compromise, but even more importantly, there must be some principle that is inviolate and not subject to any deal-making. This is it.