Yesterday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced that the GOP will make Obamacare the defining issue of 2014, promising to "tattoo Obamacare on each of their foreheads."
And earlier in the week, House Republican leadership circulated a "House Republican Playbook" memo, outlining how members should message against Obamacare for 2014.
But what was missing from both the RNC press conference, and the House Republican playbook, was any mention of what policy alternative Republicans will offer voters in its place.
And you shouldn't expect Republicans to coalesce around any alternative anytime soon. Here's why:
1. Democrats Are Dying For A Villain To Run Against. President Obama is at his most effective when he has an opponent to demonize. Right now, he doesn't really have one, other than the insurance companies, and he needs them as allies or Obamacare will completely collapse.
That is why, as The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported Wednesday, "the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is set to launch a new campaign designed to refocus the debate on the Republican position on health care, which Dems will widely label as 'Cruz Care.'"
It doesn't matter what the actual policies in any Republican plan are, Democrats will label whatever Republicans come up with as "Cruz Care." Democrats will then tie Cruz, who is highly unpopular among independents across the country, to every Republican candidate. Why would Republicans want to help Democrats do this?
2. Congressional Republicans Are Not Popular. Americans' opinion of Congress has never been lower. That will color any solution congressional Republicans present. If you are a candidate challenging a Democratic incumbent, why would you want to defend a plan created by a body with an 11 percent approval rating?
3. Obama Will Veto Any Republican Plan Anyway. Obama has already made it abundantly clear that he will veto any health care law that he believes would undermine Obamacare. The only Obamacare fixes Obama will not veto, are fixes that would expand the size and scope of the federal government. Any Republican plan that could pass the House would have to go in the polar opposite direction, shrinking the size and scope of the federal government.
Bottom line: There will be no significant changes to federal health care statutes until after Obama is out of office. So there is no point for Republicans to outline a health care legislative vision that has no change of becoming law.
Instead, Republican health care policy will be defined in the 2016 presidential primary. Who ever emerges as the party's candidate in 2016 will have their own health care plan, and Republicans will own, and run, on that.
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