I disagree with the premise of this New Republic article by Danny Vinik:
Republicans Keep Lying to Their Base, and It's Preventing Them From GoverningI agree with Vinik that Republicans like to promise the impossible, such as tax cuts that don't bust the budget. What I don't accept is that there are Republicans making a sincere effort to do some actual governing who are being sabotaged by bunko artists in their own party.
Republicans like to promise things they can't deliver, like huge tax cuts that pay for themselves or health reform plans that don't disrupt the existing system. And that's made life difficult for Democrats trying to propose initiatives that, in order to accomplish real goals, come with real costs. But lately Republican delusions about policy have hobbled somebody else: Members of their own party trying to show that, yes, the GOP can govern responsibly....
The way I see it, it's all one big con.
Yes, I know: As Vinik points out, Dave Camp of Michigan, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, came up with a budget that actually raises some taxes on the rich while simplifying tax brackets; Camp's fellow Republicans have given it an extremely wide berth, and no one in the party actually seems to be backing it, presumably because it causes some pain to people Republicans claim they can always protect from pain. And I know that Senators Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, and Orrin Hatch have put forth an Obamacare alternative that preserves some of Obamacare's popular features; that too is being shunned by most people in the senators' party, presumably because it could disrupt some people's health care arrangements, in contrast to the usual GOP promises that they can ensure that your health care will be either as good as it is now or better.
But these are Potemkin plans, put forth solely because Republicans want to be able to say to swing voters and mainstream pundits that they put something forth. Republicans would like to govern, but this isn't how; they still think they can run the table in 2014 and 2016, and now that the political insiders and wonks have seen their "serious" plans, they're going to go back to the pie-in-the-sky talk they think can work for them at the polls. They're going to go back to being, as Ed Kilgore puts it, "unserious ... when they are talking about serious policy issues" and hope they can win the Senate this year and the White House two years from now, on a promise that taxes can go down while budgets get balanced, and health care can be reformed while no one's coverage gets worse.
At which point, their plan is to govern the way Republicans are governing in North Carolina and Kansas: by shredding the safety net, raising taxes on the poor, restricting abortion, unleashing guns, curtailing voting rights, and reversing Obamacare coverage gains. You know who'll vote for all this meanness in Congress? The same Republicans we now see pretending to search for moderate, right-centrist approaches to health care and budgeting that could win broad support. Those guys put bills forward that weren't wingnut wish lists, but they'd rather vote for bills that are wingnut wish lists -- and they will.
"Unserious" about governing? No. Republicans are unserious about compromising. They're very serious about governing -- their way.