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Sunday, December 10, 2006

John Boehner's Strategy to Retake Congress

Technorati tags: ; ; ; 's strategy for retaking relies on wishful thinking and

The man who will be House Minority Leader going into the 110th congressional session, John Boehner, sent a memo to GOP reps. outlining his plan to take back the majority in the House. Political Insider has the full memo. The poster, Helvidius, points to what he feels is the key point, "If we want to reclaim our majority, we first have to reclaim our mantle as the party of hope, freedom and reform ... the party of Reagan and Lincoln. As our Democratic counterparts may discover the hard way, having a majority is of limited value if you don't have a vision and a plan for using it."

I'd point out that the Republicans had a plan, but it was a really bad one -- support the war, scare the living bejesus out of everyone with terrorism, and hold the majority for the sole purpose of holding the majority. And let's not compare Reagan and Lincoln anymore, OK?

What I found funny was Boehner's reference to 1994's 'Contract with America.' "[W]hether you were here in 1994 or not, virtually all of us agree that what made the Contract historic and effective 12 years ago was its broad appeal," Boehner writes. "The Contract was about reform. It emphasized the things that unite all Republicans, but it went beyond that; it spoke to the hopes and values of most Americans." Unfortunately, there was a lot of stuff in the contract that the GOP didn't deliver on -- terms limits and a balanced budget amendment come to mind. And the contract didn't really make much difference in the election. Exit polling showed that only 30% of voters had heard of it and, of those who had, it was almost as much of a disincentive to vote GOP as it was an incentive. Voters were either 7% more likely to vote GOP because of it or 6% less likely for the same reason. The contract was a wash.

Predictably, a lot of what Boehner has to say is hypocritical. It's hard for a GOP leader to complain about fiscal irresponsibility in Democrats, for example. "Democrats promised to cut student loan interest rates in half," he tells the faithful. "But they don't mention who will cover the $60 billion it will cost the federal government to do this over five years (Source: House Budget Committee Republican staff)..."

That $60 billion is probably the high estimate, given the source. But it takes a lot of guts for the House Majority Leader to gripe about spending without paying for it, when his party did the same thing -- likely for a similar amount -- on their last day in session:

Associated Press:

The House voted overwhelmingly Friday to expand offshore oil drilling and preserve a variety of popular tax breaks for families and businesses, but the wide-ranging last-minute package faced serious opposition in the Senate from lawmakers angry about trade provisions and its $50 billion cost.

How you going to pay for that, John?

Lefties will be happy to learn that there aren't a whole lot of actual ideas in the memo. It's mostly just spin. For example, Boehner says, "Democrats promised to apply government price controls to the Medicare prescription drug benefit. But as the Washington Post recently reported: '[A]s Democrats prepare to take control of Congress, they are struggling to keep that promise without wrecking a program that has proven cheaper and more popular than anyone imagined.'" What Boehner doesn't mention is that the dems want to use the government's muscle as a drug buyer to negotiate lower drug prices. In fact, Boehner's guilty of out and out lying here, since haggling and instituting price controls are two different things. It was Boehner's congress who made it illegal for government to negotiate drug prices -- a blatant payback for big pharma campaign cash that should be repealed yesterday.


In layman's terms, the bill bars the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which purchases drugs for some seniors under Medicare, from negotiating with drug companies to get better prices, a practice the Federal Government employs routinely in negotiations with other contractors, such as defense suppliers.

So Boehner's big strategy to retake the House is more of the same -- spin, PR, and propaganda. It's not a strategy paper, so much as it is a laundry list of talking points. You'd think that Boehner would've learned at least one thing from Iraq; you can't argue reality into agreement with ideology. A list of things you wish were true isn't anything near a strategy and talking points are only a tactic.

Without any real ideas, the GOP is in big trouble. Shortly after the election, Lawrence O'Donnell said he thought dems could have a 'generational hold.' "Not forty years like last time," he wrote, "But twenty years is not out of the question."

With 'strategies' like those written out by John Boehner, I'd say that's pretty much a given.