Congressional Republicans apparently believe that they'll do well in the 2018 midterms if they pass legislation voters hate, a strategy Jonathan Chait thinks is insane:
Republicans have been chanting relentlessly for months that they must pass a tax reform or else lose their majority. The Republican tax plan is, in fact, comprehensively unpopular. Only 28 percent of the public supports it....
Yet somehow Republicans have convinced themselves that their popularity depends upon passing this unpopular plan that would carry out unpopular goals....
Paul Ryan is promising to oppose a bipartisan plan to make insurance payments that are needed to hold down premiums. They will therefore cause insurance premiums to rise dramatically and immediately for several million customers. The public overwhelmingly wants Republicans to make Obamacare work rather than scuttle it, but Republicans instead appear fixated on the prospect that voters will punish them for violating their promise to repeal the law.
Last night’s vote to prevent suing fraudulent banks seems almost designed to seed Democratic campaign ads.... Banks mislead their customers with jacked-up rates or hidden fees in the tiny print. They also insert into the tiny print a clause denying customers the right to sue for fraud, forcing them instead into arbitration that limits their ability to recover damages. Almost every Republicans in both chambers voted to overturn a rule preventing this.
It's clear why Republicans want to pass these bills -- they worship the rich and want to hand them as much money as possible, while also cutting regulations that affect the rich. In return, they hope the rich won't be as stingy with campaign contributions as they've been lately.
You might imagine that the extra plutocrat cash on hand won't be enough to offset the disillusionment of voters who'll hate these bills. Congressional Republicans appear not to be worried -- and I fear they may be right.
They think the majority of white voters will turn out for them no matter what they do, as long as they do something consistent with their liberal-bashing, anti-tax, anti-big government rhetoric. I suspect that's a reasonable assumption. White people in much of America seem willing to vote Republican no matter how off-putting GOP behavior becomes. We saw this in 2016, when even the Access Hollywood tape didn't discourage the GOP base from voting for Trump. I think there'll be some dropoff in the Republican vote, but I think Republican voters will turn out no matter what -- they always do -- and Democrats will beat them only if they have an increase in off-year turnout.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said,
I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.
The GOP Congress equivalent of that is:
I could stand on the floor of the House or Senate and vote for legislation that kills or gouges millions of Americans, including my own voters, and I wouldn't lose any of them, because I'm from the party of guns and standing for the national anthem and hating Nancy Pelosi, and whatever I do that's consistent with that will be acceptable to my base. So I absolutely should do this, because the people who might abandon me are the wealthy donors who are demanding that I do it.
Is this rational? We'll find out in 2018.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog