April 30th, 2016

The Congressional GOP and the Obamacare repeal: failing to get the word out

[NOTE: Yeah, it’s long.

So long that I cued it up to continue on another page rather than the home page. But I hope you’ll find your patience rewarded; some of the things I uncovered here surprised me.]

Yesterday we got into a discussion of the fact that a lot of people—even people who follow politics closely—seem unaware that in January of 2016 the Republican Congress repealed Obamacare, sent the repeal bill to Obama’s desk, and Obama vetoed it. So the question becomes: how did this piece of news get ignored, leaving so many people to claim that the GOP never did anything to keep its promise to repeal it?

Some people would point out that the repeal was no biggee because the only real deal would have been withholding funding and an ensuing shutdown and anything less was meaningless. That ignores the political realities of shutdowns (described previously here, for example, and in this comment. I particularly suggest you read the comment, which is a nice summary of the situation).

People also may forget that for a while there was a lot of hope that Obamacare would be undone without the need of a risky and contentious shutdown, because there were several very serious legal challenges before SCOTUS that were playing out. Those challenges ultimately failed, but I can recall a time when hopes were very high on the right—including the public—that the lawsuits themselves would be the death of Obamacare.

But whatever the alternatives, my point is about ignorance of the fact that Congress ever repealed Obamacare, not mere disagreement with whether that repeal was effective. Of course the bill that Congress finally passed in 2016 (using the mechanism of reconciliation in order to accomplish it) was going to be vetoed by Obama. But Congress passed it anyway to show that they were serious, and in response to demands from conservative voters that they keep the pressure on Obama and force him to veto it. So why did the word that this occurred never quite get out to very many people—why do we so often hear callers on conservative talk shows, and see commenters on blogs on the right and even conservative pundits assert that the GOP Congress never repealed Obamacare?

In yesterday’s thread commenter “J.J.” advanced some reasons:

Why didn’t Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell go on all the Sunday talk shows and make sure everyone who watches those shows knew that the repeal had passed both houses and sent to Obama who vetoed it immediately? Why didn’t Republican or conservative pundits write editorials in newspapers and on blogs talking about the repeal bill, why it was passed and what the Rs proposed to replace it with? IMO, it’s because the GOP doesn’t recognize the value of seizing the narrative and keeping it in front of their supporters. Also, because many of the beltway pundits pooh pooh’d the effort as being a waste of time. The Congress Critters don’t want to look like fools to the beltway elite. It would also have been good if Limbaugh and other conservative pundits had not advanced the narrative that the Republicans, with majorities in both houses of Congress, could easily block Obama’s agenda. I heard that from Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin and others. I knew it was not going to happen because we still didn’t have enough Senators to override vetoes. The problem has been one of simple math and a determined Harry Reid.

So, what about J.J.’s theories? Is that what happened?

Now, I’m not sure how it is determined who goes on what Sunday talk shows and when they appear. I assume it’s the networks themselves. So one factor that might be operating is that if the MSM wants to ignore some news about something the GOP has done (and get the people to ignore it, too), they just don’t cover it very much. I wondered—is that what happened here?

Unfortunately, it would take much more time than I can put into this right now to do a definitive and exhaustive search, but a quicker one showed a few things. The first was that Paul Ryan, who was the new Speaker at the time of the bill’s passage, went on plenty of shows and gave some press conferences as well, while McConnell seemed to be somewhat missing in action. I couldn’t find full videos of Ryan’s appearances, but the clips I found showed him talking about the repeal, and then the interviewers asking him why the GOP hadn’t come up with a detailed plan to replace Obamacare (this interview is fairly typical).

So Ryan—either because of interviewers’ carefully shaping the interviews through the emphasis of their questions, or because of his own failure to forcefully continue to hammer home what Congress had done—didn’t really get the message out very clearly on the Sunday interview shows. But he certainly was on some of them.

He tried in other ways, as well. For example, this:

There were other press conferences, and also this response of Ryan’s after Obama’s veto, as well as his tweets about it. Now, Paul Ryan isn’t the world’s most dynamic speaker (or Speaker); he’s a very mild-mannered guy. But he certainly made an effort.

As for bloggers—well, I wrote a lengthy post, and I was hardly the only one.

Which brings us to Rush Limbaugh. It was Limbaugh’s failure to correct a recent caller who claimed that the GOP hadn’t repealed Obamacare that led me yesterday to that post where I wondered what was going on with him on that score:

Rush Limbaugh ought to know his political history, right? Did he correct this guy and say they did repeal it? Nope, he let the statement stand. Why? Is he ignorant himself of what actually happened? Or does he want to foster ignorance? And if so, why?

Remember also that “J.J.” wrote in the quote I gave earlier:

It would also have been good if Limbaugh and other conservative pundits had not advanced the narrative that the Republicans, with majorities in both houses of Congress, could easily block Obama’s agenda. I heard that from Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin and others.

So I decided to go back and see what Limbaugh had said at the time the repeal bill was in the process of being passed, and I discovered this comment from Limbaugh:

There still hasn’t been any significant opposition. Do you realize there’s another vote in the House today on repealing Obamacare that does contain in it a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. Do you realize this is going to be the first repeal Obamacare vote that wins? Seven years in, we’re into the eighth year now, folks, and there have been I don’t know how many repeal Obamacare votes. The one today is the first one that’s gonna pass, in the House. Now, it’s gonna get vetoed, don’t misunderstand, but this is the first time, now into our eighth year, that there’s actually been an expression of opposition to this.

I almost can’t believe what I’m reading, that’s so misleading on so many levels. First of all, Obamacare was passed in the spring of 2010. So when Rush was speaking (January 6, 2016), it had been a little less than 6 years since Obamacare’s passage. By saying this lack of GOP opposition was in its eighth year, was Limbaugh really meaning to claim that, even prior to Obamacare’s passage or during its passage, there was no GOP opposition to it? That would be an absurdity.

But let’s say Limbaugh actually meant 6 years (that is, finishing up year six, not beginning year 8). The repeal bill that passed around the time he made the statement I just quoted was not “the first one that’s gonna pass, in the House.” Obamacare had already been repealed at least six times by the House, and that number 6 had been reached almost two years earlier, by March of 2014, when this article was written. So House repeal may even have happened a few more times before January of 2016, when Rush was speaking. Here’s the history in the House, as of 2014:

The basic story is that House Republicans have voted for repeal at a few key moments since Obamacare was signed into law, and also as part of the yearly budget process. “It’s six times if you count the budget,” says one House GOP source in an email. “First time was when we first took the House majority, once after the Supreme Court decision, and once this Congress. And then the budget ever[y] year.”

The budget “every year.” The budget that Harry Reid would never take up.

So Rush’s statement that January 2016 was “the first time, now into our eighth year, that there’s actually been an expression of opposition to [Obamacare]” was just preposterous.

What’s more, a couple of weeks later—after the bill had passed the Senate (through a creative use of reconciliation, the ploy which finally got past the roadblocks of previous Senate efforts by Harry Reid), Rush had this to say when, as part of a talk about immigration policy, he briefly mentioned the Obamacare voting again [emphasis mine]:

What we get are shows of intent, such as meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare so that they say, “Hey, hey, we’re trying to repeal it, man, but we can’t.

“You know what? We didn’t have the Senate for the longest time, and Obama’s still up there in the White House. He’s gonna veto it. I mean, there’s nothing we can do. We can’t do it ’til we get the White House.” Before that it’s, “We can’t do it ’til we get the Senate.” Before that, “We can’t do it before we get the House.” And with each new achievement, new accomplishment, the winners have continually said, “Sorry, we still don’t have enough to do what you want us to do.” And during it all they make no effort to stop it.

So now the votes are “meaningless” because they didn’t repeal Obamacare by overriding Obama’s veto, despite so many people on the right (and Rush himself; see this) having been clamoring for repeal (even with a probable veto) just a little while earlier. Now that it had been done, it was brushed aside as meaningless because the impossible had not occurred—there had not been a successful override. Nor does Rush ever suggest how the GOP members of Congress could have overridden a veto, he just mocks them for making excuses about how they couldn’t. And Rush’s additional comment that “during it all they make no effort to stop it” is obviously incorrect, when in fact as we know they were making repeated efforts, successful in the House and blocked in the Senate, as well as the shutdown effort in 2013 (see this for details) that was related to Obamacare defunding.

This is quite effective at whipping up anger and causing many loyal listeners to pooh-pooh the efforts the GOP has made. And it was an incessant drumbeat on the part of many, many talk-show hosts, a drumbeat heard loud and clear by their listeners, who repeat these things to this day as a sort of common wisdom.

A few more examples. Back in November of 2015, Limbaugh said: “There is a contingent on the Republican side that does not want to repeal Obamacare, I understand. And there is a contingent, large contingent in the Republican Party that doesn’t want to do the heavy lifting to get rid of it…” But, who are these people? He doesn’t say. What’s the evidence for it? He doesn’t say. What’s the “heavy lifting”? He doesn’t say. Is he talking about a shutdown, or about a repeal? He uses the word “repeal,” so we’ll have to assume he’s saying this GOP contingent don’t even want repeal, but when just 6 weeks later they successfully do repeal it, he certainly never takes these words back.

On December 8, 2015, Limbaugh also had said:

The distance between those, for lack of a better term, that govern us in Washington and the majority of us out here, they don’t have the slightest idea who we are anymore. I mean, they really, really don’t have any idea who we are. It’s striking….

There are a lot of people scratching their heads over why, in seven years, the Republican Party hasn’t found a way to disagree with Obama. That’s their purpose. They’ve run for election, they’ve campaigned on their promise to stop Obama, repeal Obamacare, all this stuff. They don’t do any of it.

No mention of all the repeal votes that had already happened in the House; it’s as though in Rush’s mind they never happened. And even more significantly, no mention by Rush of the vote that had occurred just four days earlier in the Senate to repeal Obamacare, the vote that used reconciliation to get past the previous blockage and paved the way for the bill that was sent to Obama’s desk in the next month.

I think I’ve made my point.

So in summary, why did the news not get out to the public? It seems to have been a combination of the MSM, relatively low-key nice-guy salesmanship on the part of GOP leadership, goalpost moving, and talk shows on the right trying to drum up anger that’s good for business—as well as the frustration of having been bested by the Obama administration and people like Harry Reid, who held very important keys to power even after the GOP had finally won control of Congress. Control of Congress is, however, a relative term, and it can’t accomplish everything.

It is somewhat ironic that, after the passage of that repeal bill in January of 2016, much of the GOP rhetoric focused on the message that we are serious about this, and if you give us the White House in 2016 this repeal will pass and it will finally stick this time. And yet the resultant rage in some of the right has led to the strong possibility of a Clinton presidency as well as the loss of the Senate (and perhaps House, too) to the Democrats.

[ADDENDUM: See also this. “J.J.’s” on a roll.]

58 Responses to “The Congressional GOP and the Obamacare repeal: failing to get the word out”

  1. Paul in Boston Says:

    The Republicans had a huge weapon available that they never used. They could have broken up the US budget into pieces, one bill, one Department. Don’t want to compromise with us, well, your favorite Departments may never reach your desk. Instead they passed huge omnibus bills that the in effect allowed Obama to mau-mau them with government shutdown hysteria.

  2. expat Says:

    Paul in Boston,
    That is exactly what Ryan is trying to do now, but he gets no credit for it. The omnibus bill he approved last year (right after assuming the speakership) was an attempt by him to clear the table so he could concentrate on improving budget procedures this year. It is certainly possible to disagree with his strategy, but few of the tanting commenters care about strategy. They would rather stomp their feet and yell.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Paul in Boston and expat:

    I added an addendum with a link to another comment by J.J. that goes into some of that.

    It’s another example of something poorly understand by voters, and distorted and used by propagandists, to our detriment.

  4. mf Says:

    With the power of the purse there are lots of things that could have been done. They didn’t do them. There are no excuses. As a result, the American people have decided they are going to replace the entire political class. Talk about waking a sleeping giant, this is a first.

    Anybody want to bet against America?

  5. J.J. Says:

    Great post, Neo. You have done a lot of solid research where I was mostly just pulling things out of my now not so wonderful memory. (Except for the research of what happened during the shutdown of 2013.)

    Paul in Boston: Paul Ryan is attempting to do just what you are talking about this year. However, the House Freedom Caucus insists on passing appropriations bills (there are no hat tips whatsoever toward the Dems) that Harry Reid (the real Lucifer) will block from reaching the Senate floor. So, we may end up again doing a last minute omnibus bill – with all the negative connotations that has.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    mf:

    So I guess you think it perfectly okay for people to ignore what the GOP members of Congress DID do (including the 2013 shutdown that involved defunding Obamacare among other things), or for people like Rush Limbaugh to even lie about it, to drum up hatred against the GOP members of Congress. And then for those same people (like Rush) to keep moving the goalposts and set up goals that are unrealistic in political life, because it’s what would have satisfied YOU.

    And betting against the American people in 2012 would have given a person a nice chunk of change.

    [edited for clarity by n-n]

  7. mf Says:

    neo:

    Where did I lie?
    Where did I drum up hatred?
    Be specific by quoting my words and explaining what you took them to mean.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    mf:

    Not YOU.

    The examples are in the post.

  9. Ann Says:

    Mighty hard to convince someone with facts if that person doesn’t want to listen to them. Ted Cruz was asked by a Trump supporter in Indiana just how he could say he wasn’t an establishment candidate. Watch as she shrugs as he starts to explain why he isn’t and how Trump has actually taken positions against what she wants. Depressing.

  10. mf Says:

    Neo:

    Then change your post to correct it as it clearly does not read the way you say you meant it.

    Alternatively, say you no longer want me to post here and I’ll be gone.

    My point stands.They had the power of the purse and did not use it.

  11. Matt_SE Says:

    All of the misinformation from Limbaugh et. al. could’ve easily been cleared up if a Congressman/Senator went on his show and calmly explained the situation:
    Without 67 Senators or the Presidency, there will be no repeal until Obama leaves office.

    Why did nobody decide to do this? I suppose cowardice; fear of being shot as the messenger. Because of cowardice, lies were allowed to fester.

    This is again the fault of the political class, but Limbaugh bears some responsibility too. I said quite a while ago that the problem with Boehner was that he was a Speaker who couldn’t speak. That seems to be a problem for the GOP generally.

  12. Matt_SE Says:

    P.S. None of the budgetary tricks to stymie Democrats will work either because McConnell pre-emptively surrendered. When he signaled that he would not tolerate a shutdown under any circumstances, he lost. Knowing McConnell’s weak point, every negotiation will reach the threat of shutdown now, and McConnell will fold.

    The first rule of negotiations is that you have to be prepared to walk away. McConnell has been around too long not to have known that.

  13. Matt_SE Says:

    P.P.S. Cruz represents the solution to both points above:

    -Not only can he articulate the conservative position, he does it.
    -Cruz tried to save McConnell’s credibility (and the GOP Senate’s) by at least TRYING to make a shutdown seem credible. McConnell promptly betrayed him, and Cruz was denounced by the usual establishment flunkies: McCain, Cornyn, Peter King, etc.

    The top leadership in the GOP has betrayed the party. McConnell also needs to go, just like Boehner. Unfortunately, we just foolishly re-elected McConnell in 2014.

  14. OM Says:

    Matt_SE:

    You have identified the weak link in the Republican Senate. His counterpart in the house was “cryin Johnnie.”

  15. Matt_SE Says:

    OM:

    Between the two of them, I always said that McConnell was worse. Boehner responded to pressure on a number of occasions; I doubt it was principle that motivated him, but it didn’t matter why he was doing the right thing…he was doing it.

    By contrast, McConnell seems more resistant to pressure and the GOP Senate seems much more clubby and unwilling to buck his lead.

    McConnell has definitely dragged his feet on a number of occasions when he could’ve moved the ball forward. He is a snake, with his own agenda.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Matt_SE:

    First of all, are you sure no one went on the Limbaugh show to explain?

    Second of all, are you sure no one tried to go on his show to explain, and was refused an interview? Doesn’t the host pick and choose his guests as he wishes?

    Third of all, why didn’t Limbaugh inform his audience himself of the facts? Don’t he and his audience see that as part of his function?

  17. Eric Says:

    Neo,

    Now you’re getting to the clockwork of the problem, which is a step towards developing the needed technical, activist solutions.

  18. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Matt_SE,

    “Lucifer in the flesh”…

    ‘I will vote for Trump if he is nominated, I will not vote for Cruz if he is nominated’

    Those are not the words of a man who has trouble expressing himself.

  19. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Regarding the commonly accepted meme that the Republican Congress has done nothing and especially regarding repealing Obamacare. It’s a little bit like “crying wolf” too often, no one believed it, when it finally happened. They’ve reneged on promises so often, both before and since, that all faith in their sincerity and competence has been lost.

    “If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people, all of the time.” Abraham Lincoln, speech at Clinton, Illinois – Sept. 8, 1854

    McConnell, Boehner, Ryan, etc. have forfeited our respect and esteem and they shall never regain it, not because we are unforgiving but because they haven’t the common decency to even recognize their betrayal of their oath of office.

    I suspect this to be true of Limbaugh as well, he simply has no faith left in the fidelity of the GOPe.

  20. Matt_SE Says:

    neo-neocon:

    1) No, I’m not sure of that. I am not a regular listener, and I didn’t go through the archives. I have heard for myself that one-time info dumps on Limbaugh are often forgotten as the next day’s narrative takes hold. In that case, the Congressional GOP would need to have guests tell the same tale to Rush on several occasions. That’s okay though; follow-up is good.

    2) Same as #1.

    3) That’s the partial blame I assign to Limbaugh for spreading misinformation. OTOH, the GOP had a duty to get their side of the story out, and they didn’t. Their media PR sucks, and has for years. I blame the GOP in the same way I would blame a company’s mismanagement.

  21. Matt_SE Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    “Lucifer in the flesh”…

    ‘I will vote for Trump if he is nominated, I will not vote for Cruz if he is nominated’

    Those are not the words of a man who has trouble expressing himself.

    Boehner either never spoke in such clear terms when he was Speaker, or the MSM never covered it. Now that his words agree with their narrative, you hear them spread across the nation even though Boehner is no longer in office. Funny, that.

  22. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Of course the MSM minimizes and, when possible ignores, whatever contradicts the narrative. That doesn’t entirely wash though, since Boehner just demonstrated his ability to construct “off the cuff” and adeptly deliver, a short pithy quote. As speaker, there were many times when the media had to cover his statements. So, it’s not that he couldn’t speak, it’s that he choose not to…

  23. The Other Chuck Says:

    The problem with congressional leaders and their dealings with the Obama administration is exemplified by a dinner gathering of leading conservatives with then President Elect Obama on January 13, 2009 at the home of George Will. Attending were Bill Kristol, David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, the host George Will, and Obama. Like Peggy Noonan who voted for the S.O.B., they apparently thought that deals could be made and arrangements worked out, all in a civilized and dignified way. Perhaps they believed in the hope, if not the change, that a new day had arrived and that finally there would be racial healing.

    The Republican leaders in congress must have thought the same thing. They were also in the position of not wanting to be seen rigorously opposing the first black president lest they be accused of racism. None of them except possibly Ted Cruz fully realized what they were up against, which was radical leftist ideology spearheaded (and f u if you don’t like the verb) by a cool, deceitful, but outwardly likable man. You can’t blame them for being outmaneuvered, nor for the fact that they were righteous, decent, and for the most part honorable people. Nor can they be blamed for the limits placed on the minority party in congress by law, nor for their adherence to law and legal procedure.

    The Democrats had no such constraints. With a radical leading them they pushed it as far as they could. Leftists don’t believe in restraints. Whatever they can get away with is how it works on that side. If congress won’t pass a law, write an executive order. If there is a desire to implement regulations without congressional authority, they do it and dare congress to stop them. If there is no money authorized, they move it from one fund or account to another. They set aside and hide money approved for one purpose and use it for another. They hire the most radical people they can find and completely politicize every agency. And they justify all of it believing that the ends justify the means.

    What we’re up against can’t be stopped within the legal system. What is happening in California is a minor taste of what to expect. And yes, I am not sanguine about our future. If you want to see where we’re heading, look at this painting which captures radicalism perfectly, but rename it Liberty Lost.
    http://www.artble.com/imgs/b/d/4/134968/july_28_liberty_leading_the_people.jpg

  24. expat Says:

    The Other Chuck,
    Good summary. Obama was strongly protected by melanin. Look what his one simple “if I had a son” comment did to the country. There is also the international aspect. In most countries, Obama was seen as a step in the right direction to improve our racist, anti-international law arrogance. You have to have experienced the anti-Americanism directed toward Bush, even before he took office. Some in Congress probably were affected by this.

    Only now that people are beginning to see that Obama has made race relations worse, that international law doesn’t stop murderous enemies, that climate conferences are a boondoggle that increase energy prices for all and don’t make a damned bit of difference, that Christians are not the worst people on earth, we are all ripe for another message. We have to first crack the international cartel of do-gooder “journalists” and learn to stand firm. Unthinking uprisings like those desired by Limbaugh and friends won’t do it. We desperately need solid coherent thinking and the ability to articulate. Trump is certainly not going to give us that. It’s downright scary.

    I read that one place in Germany is putting traffic lights in the pavement so that people who walk with their heads down in their cell phones won’t walk into oncoming traffic. If we have to try to protect idiots who are unable to raise their heads and look around, we are in real trouble. Maybe it’s time to do things to increase global warming so we can get rid of all these damned snowflakes.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    mf:

    I eliminated some of the pronouns to make the previous comment crystal clear now, with no ambiguity.

    It has already been explained why your idea that they never used the power of the purse is incorrect, however. See this, this, and this).

  26. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Whether or not Limbaugh’s motive is distrust of the GOP, getting higher ratings by drumming up a heightened and angry feeling of distrust against the GOP in his listeners, or both of those things—why would anyone trust Rush Limbaugh at this point? He offered “facts” that were wrong, failed to correct them, and has done it multiple times. It has damaged the party (and the right, actually) greatly.

    I wonder how many topics he’s done that with; I don’t follow him, so I don’t know.

  27. Harold Says:

    Hating on Rush Limbaugh will get nowhere. He has been the leading conservative talk show host since the 1980’s and will continue to be so. He provides the best political analysis of the top talk show hosts.

    The proposition that the Republican leadership has actually done a lot to implement the conservative agenda but that knowledge has been hidden by some cabal is going nowhere as well.

    The conservative grassroots has given the Republican party the house, the senate, 30+ governorships and more state legislators and yet no progress has been made in implementing the conservative agenda. That’s why Trump is leading and has a very good chance of being the party nominee. The grassroots is tired of losing. They want to win.

    All the Trump haters would better spend their time actively supporting Ted Cruz, the only conservative opponent in the race.

  28. Big Maq Says:

    “It would also have been good if Limbaugh and other conservative pundits had not advanced the narrative that the Republicans, with majorities in both houses of Congress, could easily block Obama’s agenda.” – JJ

    But, that is true and has been true, as far as Obama getting anything passed through Congress. The GOP dominated Congress has been effective in stalemating Obama’s agenda from becoming Federal Law.

    The conservative media AND the GOP underestimated Obama’s determination to make his agenda happen anyway. Thus, he has been (ab)using his executive authority, effectively bypassing Congress.

    Yet, Obama’s “win” was/is hollow, as by doing this as policy, it requires no negotiation or Congressional approval to repeal or modify by a future President. At least that is something.

    The problem in the conservative media was/is that they continued to harp on about the “establishment” as if there was more that they could do within the legal confines of Congress.

    The real problem is that the GOP never made the case and garnered support for their positions beyond “the base”.

    The GOP couldn’t effectively frame the issues all along. They had used their usual playbook for communication (the Dems had updated theirs and used Social Media and data much more effectively, especially during elections), and missed opportunities when they could have made a case.

    So they lacked sufficient public support leaving Obama free to carry on with his executive action.

    I mentioned the annual budget issues in a prior post (there wasn’t one passed the initial years of Obama’s presidency) as a foreshadowing of this problem.

    Boehner tried to negotiate on these, but he never really made the case to the public to strengthen his hand. Even when he had opportunities, he didn’t use them.

    So was it any wonder that come the debt limit, the public didn’t have the background to understand that the Dems hadn’t held up their duty to pass a budget to begin with? No.

    The conservative media didn’t talk much about this (in a constructive way – instead, they were mostly in the blame game), as they are in the business of driving ratings. If that was not clear before, it surely is now.

    It seems that they were never really interested in making the case for the principles they espoused. It was merely a branding position for a specific target market they were pursuing.

  29. Big Maq Says:

    “The conservative grassroots has given the Republican party the house, the senate, 30+ governorships and more state legislators and yet no progress has been made in implementing the conservative agenda.” – Harold

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. That is only true if their expectation is that they could have everything fall their way. That will NEVER happen.

    We just don’t live in a reality that every individual in the “conservative grassroots” can have their own personal vision of a “conservative agenda” implemented to their complete satisfaction.

    At the state level, there is a clear difference between the states that have been dominated by the GOP, and those that are Dem led.

    At the Federal level, the GOP stalemated Obama on the legislative front. However, they have limited power to affect what Obama decides to do when (ab)using his executive power.

    “That’s why Trump is leading and has a very good chance of being the party nominee. The grassroots is tired of losing. They want to win.”

    There is a group who are tired of losing and want a win, but win what?

    There is a choice available for conservatives who’d like to see their principles implemented.

    The above doesn’t explain Trump’s lead. He took the lead because there was a heavily divided field, and managed to gain a plurality in several states, particularly those that were open to those outside the GOP voters. He went through several contests relatively unscathed as the other candidates attacked each other to gain dominance over their segment of voters. To the extent that Trump has gained “momentum” at this stage, it is from the juvenile motivation to be on the “winning team”.

    The problem is that, for all Trump’s supporters’ desire for a “WIN!!!”, they are picking a rather low odds, divisive person for it, and a candidate who represents little change (but for a couple of policies) from the corrupt crony system they (and we) are complaining about today.

    Can’t imagine what they think they are “WINNING!!!”?

  30. Harold Says:

    Conservatives don’t expect everything to go their way. They don’t expect to always win. They do however expect significant wins given Republicans current position.

    Republicans have significant power to oppose Obama; the power of the purse; reconciliation; impeachment of lower level officials; government shutdowns; presenting 12 yearly budgets instead of massive omnibus bills; the bully pulpit of the speaker etc. Unfortunately they haven’t used the powers they have very effectively or at all.

    Regardless of how Trump got where he is now, he is leading. Personally I’d much, much rather have Cruz in the lead. Maybe he can pull it out, we shall see.

  31. mf Says:

    neo:

    Thank you for the gesture.

  32. J.J. Says:

    Big Maq your comments at 12:27 and 12:48pm – outstanding!

  33. J.J. Says:

    Too bad we don’t have a “like” button on the site. Many good comments that I “like” on this thread.

  34. I won't submit Says:

    Repubics had the White House, the House and the Senate … spent like drunken sailors.

    They regained the House and the Senate and did … nothing,

    A picture is worth 100,000,000+ words.

    May 1st, victims of communism remembrance day.

    Nothing learned, everything forgotten.

  35. Big Maq Says:

    @JJ – thanks!

    @Harold – Yes, the GOP had significant powers. They could confront the Dems on several issues and effectively create a highly visible crisis in several ways.

    The problem still is, if the GOP doesn’t have sufficient public support to drive it, they lose, and look reckless in doing so.

    Take the debt ceiling issue. Even for those of us who follow the politics in DC, there was hardly any connection made between that event and the fact that the deliberative process was circumvented back when the budget was supposed to be proposed (but never was in the Senate, blocked by Reid). There was NO negotiation with the Dems.

    For the average joe, it looked like a complete stand alone issue.

    Most joes probably scratched their heads thinking “What the h*ll is with the GOP that they ‘suddenly’ are taking us to the brink of crisis” They really didn’t understand why.

    “Oh, the Dems are spending too much money? What’s new? The GOP did when they were in office? (Shrug).”

    It just seemed like there was absolutely no groundwork done to build that support. If there was any, it was woefully inadequate.

    Over these past near eight years, most of what we’ve heard was the blame-game and grievances all within an echo chamber. That may help win elections (Trump has shrewdly been playing that very game to good effect), but it doesn’t build the type of support that is needed to take major stands / confrontations that could possibly lead to crisis.

    Most joes would probably tell you that there was no alternative vision being presented by the GOP, only opposition.

    As for conservatives’ expectations… Throw in the idea that even a hint of negotiating or a compromise on even a minor point, and that was sufficient to get one labeled a “RINO!”, practically giving Obama and the Dems the barrel they need to roll the GOP over.

    Strangely, turns out that many of those who were yelling “RINO!!” for such minor transgressions, seem not to care a whit about the Grand Canyon leaps that Trump presents.

    There were many factors at play, but lacking a vision and making the case for their actions in Congress was a big one that we can lay at the feet of the GOP leadership.

    Blaming them for not using the tools anyway, seems to overestimate their ability where they lacked broad public support to begin with.

  36. Dantes Says:

    Because their votes didn’t matter and they knew they wouldn’t. The GOP could have defunded key elements of Obamacare, and didn’t.
    The GOP likes Obamacare. The just want to run it.

  37. OldFert Says:

    We seemed to always see Pelosi on the TV telling us why the Dems were correct and the Repubs weren’t. Even when she was no longer speaker. I have few memories of Boehner on TV doing anything similar. Same, pretty much, for Ryan thus far.

    Always saw Reid on TV babbling on about one thing or another about the EEEEVILLLLL Republicans. Rarely see McConnell on TV saying ANYTHING of import.

    And the sad part is, I STILL see Pelosi and Reid on TV more than Ryan and McConnell to this day. And I watch mostly Fox News Channel for my TV news. (as an aside, Fox needs to get out of DC and NYC a bit more often. They live in that bubble thing we’ve read about lately. BTW my bubble score was mid 60s.)

  38. Geoff Says:

    The problem is most people actually do not know you need 67 Senators to over ride a Presidential veto. With majorities but not a veto proof majority the best you can hope for is stale mate. I think politicians do not know our education system has failed to teach young people about how the government functions. The media is certainly not going to help as they are Democrat propagandists. Ask a few people if they know! You will be surprised.

  39. Liam Says:

    Congress should have impeached Roberts for bad behavior, in that Roberts illegally and without authority redefined the penalty in Obamacare as a tax. Because the a”tax” was not a revenue generating action, it is not a valid or constitutional tax. Taxation is ONLY a revenue generating function and any use of the taxing power for penalizing activities is not valid. Congress has failed throughout the history of the Union to properly hold the feet of judges to the fire. Good behavior is not a technical legal term but is an open term concerning personal conduct. If a judge usurps power to interpret the Constitution, that judge has acted in bad behavior. One should note that neither interpretation of the Constitution or review of laws are powers granted to the judiciary. In France yes. In the US no. The Framers discussed the option and decided against allowing the judiciary such power. But here we are today with a bunch of lily-livered people afraid to hold the judges feet to the fire. And why? How many divisions do the judges have? None. What can the judges do if no one follows them? They do not have the final say. As Blackstone stated, society is the final determiner of all arbitration, there is no higher tribunal on Earth to resort to. So when judges overturn the lawful actions of the people, judges have acted badly and should be removed.

  40. Rick Caird Says:

    I would also add that media is still in love with Obama or at least does not want you to remember how hard they pushed for his election. They also know that ObamaCare is hated by a majority of the country, so it is to the media’s benefit to let that veto rid under the radar.

  41. bflat879 Says:

    First, does anyone believe the repeal of Obamacare, sent to the desk of the President to veto, wasn’t smoke and mirrors by the Republicans?

    Now, the Republicans did have the “power of the purse” once they won the mid-term election in 2010, however, to use the power of the purse, you have to be willing to force the Senate to take up the budget. A budget can not be filibustered so, if Reid doesn’t take it up you go out every day and tell the press the Democrats want to shut down the government.

    Finally, to repeal a bill with not alternative is a sure sign you’re only doing it so you can claim you did what the voters wanted. Sorry, the voters wanted the issue dealt with, repealed with an alternative presented. The Republican Party has failed the voters and the country. I’m truly surprised this isn’t being recognized.

  42. The Other Chuck Says:

    The GOP likes Obamacare. The just want to run it.

    Alt-right propaganda. Yeah they like, that’s why 100% of them voted against it. Blow it up your you know what, tool.

  43. kwteaparty Says:

    Many folks don’t realize that Continuing Resolutions do NOT permit the Appropriations process, commonly known as the power of the purse. SO for many years, with no actual budget passed, their hands were tied.

    Many have fumed about the Omnibus, yet it was an actual military budget passed, tho with severe limits so as to avoid O’s veto. Like it or not, it has enabled some of the Appropriations chairs like Rep. John Culberson of TX to begin taking up the power of the purse again. HE recently protected our Harris County Republican primary polling places from an attack by the Dept. of Injustice via the ADA regulations.

    Many mistakenly believe Congress funded Planned Parenthood, yet Congress has repealed all the funding they have control over. The remaining funding is through HHS fees via Medicaid, an entitlement not subject to The House’s oversight. These fees will need to be repealed and properly funded if we retain the House and Senate and elect a real conservative as President.

    As for funding O’s imperial fiat concerning Refugees and illegals, they are funded through fees for immigration and fees paid directly to the Executive branch.

    After learning this, our TEA Party Vetting Cmte. did what we unanimously felt was the RIGHT thing to do. After 1-1/2 to 2 hour interviews with each of them, Kingwood TEA Party endorsed US Reps. Ted Poe, John Culberson, and Kevin Brady for re-election.

    Now branded by many as an Establishment TEA Party, we seem to be in good company with our favorite Senator Ted Cruz. I founded the tea party to learn more and share what we learn, popular or not, and I stand by this decision and our core constitutional principles.

  44. TheOmnivore Says:

    I think the radio-silence on the ObamaCare repeal has another dimension: by the time the repeal landed on Obama’s desk:
    (a) ObamaCare was more popular than it had been at any point previously (still not very–but no longer deep underwater). People already had it. Yes: it may have sucked or whatever–but it was no longer a nationally galvanizing issue.
    (b) There was six years of no clear/agreed upon alternative plan. The idea of a court-shutdown leading to chaos the GOP was ill-prepared to handle was very real. Without a serious plan to replace ObamaCare in the chamber, ready to fire, if Obama *hadn’t* vetoed it, it might well have been a bigger disaster.
    (c) The lack of a plan and the lack of being able to override a veto showed two things Ryan and others would rather not call out. The first is that the GOP is/was very fractured on what to replace ObamaCare with (if anything at all) and the second was that the GOP has certain issues with winning the White House (as we see today). Neither make for a good story that late in the game.

  45. neo-neocon Says:

    kwteaparty:

    Sounds like you’re doing good work.

    It’s hard to counter propaganda, though. Very hard.

    The fact that so many Trump supporters work so hard all around the blogosphere trying to brand Cruz as a RINO collaborator GOPe-guy is something to see—really quite Orwellian. And often very successful.

  46. Big Maq Says:

    “Many folks don’t realize that Continuing Resolutions do NOT permit the Appropriations process, commonly known as the power of the purse.” – kwteaparty

    Right. The CR bypasses the whole deliberative process for coming up with a budget, virtually locking in the prior year’s budget. It was a HUGE deal that Reid did not allow a budget to be “floored” on the Senate to simply debate.

    It not only violated the spirit of the law, but it also became an attempt to break the GOP in Congress. From what we’ve seen that’s come to pass, it has been a successful strategy.

    They all know that the public is largely ignorant of the process and the laws, and that few will bother to try to understand them. That is why we get the “spin” – simplified soundbites to frame an issue and motives of those involved.

    Thanks to kwteaparty for shining light on these important details and their impact.

  47. Blacque Jacques Shellacque Says:

    “It would also have been good if Limbaugh and other conservative pundits had not advanced the narrative that the Republicans, with majorities in both houses of Congress, could easily block Obama’s agenda.”

    Four words: Power of the Purse.

  48. Big Maq Says:

    @Omnivore – some astute observations. The lack of an alternative, IOW a “vision”, is a HUGE issue. Many think it is airy fairy strategy stuff, but it has real impact.

    There are many alternatives that can be had vs Obamacare, but the GOP has trouble even narrowing it down to three, let alone one.

    Part of their issue is that having one opens them up to Dem scrutiny and criticism, and that it would have taken attention away from (i.e. buried the news about) the flaws and issues with Obamacare.

    This issue could have been solved under the GWBush administration when the GOP also had Congress, but for the same problem… the GOP couldn’t agree on a solution, and all attention was on the consequence of 9/11.

  49. Reformed Trombonist Says:

    > how did this piece of news get ignored, leaving so many people to claim that the GOP never did anything to keep its promise to repeal it?

    The GOP also vowed to defund Obamacare. How did that work out?

  50. neo-neocon Says:

    Reformed Trombonist:

    Read this, this, this, and also this. These will explain some of the GOP efforts re the budget and defunding Obamacare.

    In addition, you say the GOP promised to defund Obamacare. That’s my recollection, too, but when I tried to find an article about those promises, I couldn’t find one. That doesn’t mean they didn’t make the promise, but I’d like to see what they actually said. I clearly remember—and can find articles referencing—their “repeal and replace” promise. But so far I haven’t found one with any promises about defunding.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque:

    The idea that “power of the purse” is a sufficient explanation for anything we’re talking about here is simplistic nonsense.

    HOW to exercise that power is the question, as well as how to be successful.

    I suggest that you read this, this, this, and also this. These will explain some of the GOP efforts re the budget and defunding Obamacare.

  52. neo-neocon Says:

    bflat879:

    You write, “Finally, to repeal a bill with not alternative is a sure sign you’re only doing it so you can claim you did what the voters wanted.”

    Actually, it’s not “a sure sign” of that at all. It is a sign, however, that the GOP could not agree on an alternative, although they discussed it and there were many proposals (see this for more detail; see also this, this, this, and this).

  53. neo-neocon Says:

    Harold:

    You call this post “hating on Rush Limbaugh”? Are you kidding me?

    Whatever Limbaugh’s history, when he’s wrong he’s wrong, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pointing that out. It’s odd to think that he’s somehow above criticism.

    He’s not a good spokesman for conservatism if he’s not sticking to the facts about what has actually happened.

  54. Michael Rittenhouse Says:

    Limbaugh’s behavior makes sense when you keep in mind that he is, foremost, an entertainer. His shtick is outrage, tapping into that sense that many right-leaning Americans have over the state of politics and culture.

    Of course he won’t acknowledge incremental progress such as passage of an Obamacare repeal bill. To do so risks that his audience may feel as if things are going their way for once. That lowers the sense of urgency they feel for finding a kindred voice on the radio. Smaller audience = smaller revenue from advertisers.

    I don’t enjoy pointing out that an advocate who’s done so much to help conservatives unite has such a cynical motive. But it’s well-known among similar enterprises (D.C. think tanks, advocacy groups, education foundations) that when your constituency calms down, your fundraising falls off.

    Limbaugh’s job is to keep people agitated.

  55. neo-neocon Says:

    Michael Rittenhouse:

    That is exactly as I see it. Well put.

    Talk shows are businesses. I’ve written about this before, for example here.

  56. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Art of Propaganda, ain’t it great.

    It’s a Weapon of Mass Deception, except nobody ever wants to look for it like they did for WMDs in Iraq.

    Limbaugh’s job is to keep people agitated.

    Hussein was already doing that, they didn’t need Limbaugh’s help.

    To Matt SE, I suspect around half of the GOP’s media PR is in the Left’s pockets. Remember what they did to Sarah Palin? Remember how Noonan admitted voting for Hussein because there was no Reagan?

    These political class aristos are already working for the Leftist alliance.

  57. Junious Says:

    Trump’s buddy Boehner maneuvered with Obama, Reid, McConnell, Hoyer and the GOP Pennsylvania caucus to get CRomnibus passed. Many GOP Reps voted to get the bill to the floor where they then voted against it after Boehner had the votes to get it passed. Much the same thing happened at the end of last year.

  58. vanderleun Says:

    “To do so risks that his audience may feel as if things are going their way for once. ”

    That simplifies the process a bit too much. To make for a really big and loyal audience you have to have some wins and triumphs and heroes and spear carriers along with the elements that cause alarm and a feeling of loss.

    As casinos know, somebody has to win sometime to keep all the others in the games.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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