What Were You Expecting, Anyhow?

Republican Sen. Bob Corker met with some conservative donors and let the cat out of the bag, telling "the gathering of donors not to worry about the incoming class of 'crazier Republicans' because the majority of Senate Republicans, especially minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had no intention of repealing the president’s health care bill."

Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Ryan's famous budget plan would blow up the deficit and national debt, according to the Tax Policy Center, in order to lower taxes on the wealthy and raise them on the middle class. This is from the party that's trying to capture the "fiscal responsibility" message, of course.

Taken together, these two items tell us a good deal about what we can expect from Republicans next year, regardless of the Tea Party's success next month: They won't try to undo health-care reform, attempt to repeal amendments to the Constitution, or adopt draconian immigration policies. They'll just push for lower taxes on the wealthy regardless of the fiscal consequences.

Nearly everyone is prepared to concede that the Republican Party has not changed its substantive positions since 2008; they demagogued Obama's health-care bill for political purposes (witness Chuck Grassley's journey from supporter to bitter opponent of individual mandates in just a few months) and focused on getting the best deal for business interests during the financial-reform bill. No one -- not even excited Tea Partiers, unwittingly reinforcing the status quo they claim to hate -- should expect the GOP to do anything but what they've always done. In fact, doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Or, as Jon Chait notes, action bias.

--- Tim Fernholz

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