As I’ve argued, multiple Republican Senate candidates have been, to varying degrees, running against the word “Obamacare” while professing support for its general goals and fudging on whether they would take its benefits away from people. This suggests the politics of Obamacare — while a net liability for Dems — are unfolding in a more complex way in Senate races than many have acknowledged.
There is no GOP candidate who has raised this fudgery to a higher art than Scott Brown in New Hampshire.
In a new radio interview, Brown professes support for protecting people with preexisting conditions and other general goals of the law. But he reiterates his support for repealing Obamacare, claiming its goals should only be accomplished by states:
“I believe states can do it better. They can certainly cover preexisting conditions, cover kids to X age, whatever you want — catastrophic care, covering those who need additional coverages…other states have addressed these issues.”
But when asked whether, under Brown’s vision, states could decline to offer protections for preexisting conditions, Brown replied:
“I have to respectfully disagree. It’s something that’s very important for our state and its citizens. It’s something that more than likely would be covered in any type of plan that we offered…that is one thing that is important to me. I’ve already voted on something like that. And I would continue to support that.”
That appears to be a reference to Brown’s previous support for Romneycare in Massachusetts. To be clear, arguing that the states should primarily implement such protections is a legitimate policy position. But this needs to be viewed in the larger political context, and in the context of Brown’s previous statements about Obamacare.
Brown has steadily fudged on what he actually means when he calls for repeal of the law, refusing to come clean on what would happen to its beneficiaries if he got his way. At one point he claimed beneficiaries could somehow be “grandfathered in,” without saying how. At other points, he has repeatedly refused to say whether the Medicaid expansion moving forward in New Hampshire should be rolled back. Yet in this latest interview, he’s again reiterating that Obamacare should be repealed, without outlining a federal “replace” plan — which would, in fact, take away its benefits from large numbers of people.
Brown’s strategy is similar to that of other GOP candidates, like Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, and Thom Tillis, who have offered similar evasions. All of this is to say that, while Obamacare is supposed to be nothing but an epic political disaster for Democrats, GOP Senate candidates feel the political need to leave the impression that they would somehow allow people to have all the good things in Obamacare without the bad things. They very well may get away with this chicanery and win their races. But the fact that they see a need to employ this sleight of hand is an important part of the political story nonetheless.
* MITCH McCONNELL RECORDING COMES TO LIGHT: Audio has surfaced of McConnell laying out to a Koch donor network a confrontational agenda for a GOP-controlled Senate. Today this is big news: The New York Times has a good piece explaining what this really means, noting that the goal is “dismantling Obama’s legislative successes through the federal budget.” McConnell:
“We’re going to go after them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”
The key takeaway is that McConnell is vowing maximum confrontation with the explicit goal of rolling back previously achieved policy outcomes.
* YES, REPUBLICANS ARE THREATENING GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: McConnell wants you to believe he isn’t really threatening any such thing. But Brian Beutler sets the record straight in a good piece on how these threats really work:
He’s threatening to use the appropriations process as leverage to extract concessions. That’s a government shutdown fight. And no matter how he plays it, he will unleash forces he and other GOP leaders have proven incapable of restraining.
ICYMI: Here’s how this might play out in the context of Obama’s coming action on deportations.
* STEVE KING THREATENS SHUTDOWN: Indeed, here’s Iowa Congressman Steve King on what might happen if Obama shields more people from deportations:
King said in an interview that if Obama does move forward with an executive action, many House Republicans will be unwilling to extend funding for the government that is set to expire at the end of September. “I don’t see how we could reach agreement if he takes that posture,” King said. “It would throw us into a constitutional crisis.”
But…but…but all the government shutdown talk is being concocted by Democrats, right?
* TOP GOP STRATEGIST LAUDS KOCH BROTHERS: Another Sam Stein scoop on the Koch brothers: The executive director of the organization that elects GOP governors spoke in glowing terms about its strong relationship with the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity. As Stein explains, such coordination happens on both sides, but what stands out here is the “unfiltered description of the relationship.”
As noted here yesterday, all of this makes the Koch agenda and motives absolutely fair game for scrutiny.
* A SENATE RACE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE: Politico has a nice piece explaining how Dem Gary Peters is making climate change central to the Michigan Senate race while other Dems run from it. This is putting pressure on GOPer Terri Lynn Land to clarify her stance on it:
When asked how much of that change is caused by humans, Land spokeswoman Heather Swift said in an email that “Terri believes we need to keep an eye on it; but she doesn’t believe we should put a meter on the business end of a cow, like the EPA does.”
Land’s campaign previously told this blog she disagrees with Peters over the “extent” of human responsibility for climate change. Now “we need to keep an eye on it.” Progress?
* AND MEDIA GOBBLES UP BRALEY CHICKEN STORY: A note on the new Suffolk Poll finding the Iowa Senate race deadlocked. As the Des Moines Register reports, on whose values most closely match respondents, Dem Bruce Braley does better than GOPer Joni Ernst by 39.8-37.2. And while she’s got a slight edge in the favorability department, she’s viewed unfavorably by more respondents (41.4) than is Braley (35.2).
Reporters love the tale about Braley’s dispute over chickens and the “out of touch Dem” storyline Republicans have woven. This adds context.