Republicans Make Big Promises, Back Off, And Wonder Why Voters Get Angry

FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., pose for photographers after a meeting in the Speaker's office on Capitol Hill in Washington. For eight years, a leaderless Republican Party has rallied around its passionate opposition to President Barack Obama and a rigid devotion to small government, free markets and fiscal discipline. No more. On the eve of his inauguration, Donald Trump is remaking the Republican Party in his image, casting aside decades of Republican orthodoxy for a murky populist agenda that sometimes clashes with core conservative beliefs. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Having been involved in politics in one way or another for about 25 years, I understand that it’s not an all or nothing game. Politics is often about compromise, deal-making, and negotiation. Unfortunately, it’s turned into an all or nothing game and Republicans (Democrats have their issues) shoulder most of the blame.

It started nearly seven years ago when Democrats and President Obama pushed through the Affordable Care Act along strict party-line votes. Since that time, Republicans have promised in many ways to either repeal or at the very least, slow Obamacare’s roll. In this piece in the NY Times after the Congressional elections in 2010 when the GOP took control of the House, they were saying this:

Republicans, who will control the House starting in January but will remain in the minority in the Senate, acknowledge that they do not have the votes for their ultimate goal of repealing the health law, the most polarizing of Mr. Obama’s signature initiatives.

But they said they hoped to use the power of the purse to challenge main elements of the law, forcing Democrats — especially those in the Senate who will be up for re-election in 2012 — into a series of votes to defend it.

With the possibility of defeating Barack Obama in 2012, Mitt Romney started promising that if elected, he would seek the immediate repeal Obamacare. 

When Romney lost, Republicans promised again they’d send a repeal bill to Barack Obama if they won the Senate in 2014. They won, did send the repeal bill to Obama and of course, he vetoed it.  The GOP made more promises after Romney’s defeat. They said, “Give us the White House, and Obamacare repeal will be a thing.”

They have the White House. 

Now, some in the GOP are acting like the dog that caught the car. They can do what they promised, and now they’re not sure if the want to do it.

This is the pitfall of making big promises and not keeping them. If Cory Gardner said from the time he was elected to the Senate, “Look, Obamacare is the law. It’s an entitlement, and I can’t promise we’ll be able to repeal it in its entirety, but I guarantee we will do as much as we can,” there wouldn’t be consternation among conservative voters and activists.

I am with David Harsanyi of The Federalist in that I think the GOP passing something is better than nothing. However, the GOP didn’t promise “something.” They promised full repeal. 

Naturally, there are going to be plenty of people who are angry about it and who can blame them? For seven years, Republicans promised over and over that if they were in a position to repeal Obamacare, they’d do it. Instead, they are immediately hedging just 45 days after Republicans gained full control over the executive and legislative branches of government. Republicans better not blame voters for unrealistic expectations. I

f the GOP is not going to do a full repeal, then they should apologize to voters for biting off more than they can chew.