On her MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow explained how John Boehner’s stealth retreat away from privatizing Medicare has screwed over every vulnerable House GOP incumbent for 2012.
Here is the video from MSNBC:
This is what the nation’s headlines looked like on Monday after President Obama– look at that. After President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden late on Sunday night, for only the third time in the last 43 years, “The New York Times” literally stopped the presses. Somebody yelled, stop the presses, and they stopped. Sunday night, they scrapped the plan for the Monday front page for this Monday front page instead. The following day on Tuesday, the nation’s front pages frankly looked a lot like Monday’s. And then on Wednesday, still Bin Laden’s death is what the nation and the world is reading about. It is what the media is covering.
Maddow then pointed out that Republicans have scrapped their plan to kill Medicare, “And that wall-to-wall coverage this week has offered great cover for anyone who wants to do something that would otherwise make news but who wants their news to not really get noticed. Who wants what they’re doing to be eclipsed by the sheer volume of news about something else. And so House Republicans chose yesterday to vote on their radical federal anti-abortion bill that interfered with their message that they’re all about jobs, jobs, jobs. They also chose late last night to let it leak out that they’re dropping their plan to kill Medicare. They had their House Ways and Means Committee Chairman announce that he will not move on killing Medicare. Then house speaker John Boehner nailed the coffin shut.”
She moved on to how Boehner has screwed every vulnerable House Republican who voted to scrap Medicare, “Remember, house republicans already voted to kill Medicare, but now in the midst of the country really definitely not paying any attention to them, they have decided to very quietly drop it. And the timing suggests they would really like to not talk about this smartest politics blogger in the country is Steve Bennett who writes at washington monthly.com. Steve Bennett noted about this today that John Boehner’s quiet as possible move on the Medicare thing, quote, This probably won’t come as a relief to vulnerable house republicans. Remember, they knew ending Medicare would be unpopular but they voted to scrap Medicare anyway. Some of those GOP lawmakers almost certainly didn’t want to go along but they stuck their necks out and voted for it because their leaders asked them to. A month later those same leaders are moving away from their own idea leaving their most vulnerable members with nothing more than attack ads to look forward to.”
Rachel Maddow called Boehner’s actions one of the single worst moves of his time as Speaker, “There is still not too much time to talk about this sort of thing yet. Right? We are still mostly just talking about Bin Laden’s death. but if the Republicans giving up on killing Medicare after making all of their members vote for it, if this is remembered at all after this news cycle, if this doesn’t go down the memory hole this will be remembered as one of the single worst political moves of John Boehner’s as yet short but happy career as Speaker of the House.”
The problem with retreating under the cover of darkness as Boehner did on the Medicare issue is that it doesn’t give the Republicans who voted for the Medicare privatization measure a leg to stand on when the 2012 campaign rolls around. Say what you want about Nancy Pelosi, but she always tried to protect her members. Boehner has shown his party the kind of leader that he is by hanging his own people out to dry.
A Democracy Corps survey done before the Medicare debacle found that, “A new Democracy Corps survey of 50 battleground districts that Barack Obama virtually swept 2008, but that elected 35 freshmen House in Republicans in 2010 revealed that the new GOP House majority is in jeopardy for 2012. Only 40% of voters surveyed in these districts said that they would reelect their incumbent compared to 45% who said that they would support someone else.”
It is a safe bet that those freshman Republicans who went out on limb for Boehner and cast a wildly unpopular vote to privatize Medicare are facing even worse poll numbers today. If Boehner was going to slink away from the plan to privatize Medicare, why did he risk his caucus like that?
The Republicans in the House are deeply divided. It looks like Boehner gave in to Tea Party pressure and held the initial vote, but once he was in, the worst thing that he could have done was what he did. By not allowing his party to save face and make a public reversal on privatizing Medicare, Boehner has cemented Medicare as an issue for 2012. We all knew that Boehner was going to be a disaster as Speaker, but his inept flight away from Medicare privatization was epically bad.
Leadership like Boehner’s is one of the main reasons why the sight of Nancy Pelosi retaking the gavel in January 2013 will not be a shock to anyone.