Republican Overreach, Coming Soon
A number of people have asked whether the Republicans will overreach in their reaction to the current collection of scandal-ish controversies (by the way, someone really needs to come up with a name that encompasses them all). The answer to that question is, of course they will. Try to remember who we're talking about here. Overreaching is their thing. Congress will be going home this weekend, and I'll bet the Republicans are going to come back from their recess reassured that their constituents really, really want them to pursue Barack Obama to the ends of the earth. I'll explain why in a moment, but in the meantime the National Journal has details on their strategy:
Congressional Republicans head into next week's Memorial Day recess armed with a strategy designed to keep the controversies that have consumed Washington in the news back home.
Both House and Senate Republicans will focus on the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny as well as the still-open questions about Benghazi. And more and more, they'll try to tie them together into a made-for-2014 narrative of an unaccountable and out-of-control government.
In interviews on local television and radio programs and with newspapers, Senate Republicans plan to talk about the Obama administration's "credibility gap." They'll throw into the mix Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's request that health industry officials help fund "Obamacare," a move Republicans call a "shakedown" of the companies she regulates, according to a Senate GOP leadership aide.
Lawmakers will argue that a "lack of details, stonewalling," and what they call an "ever-changing White House narrative" on both Benghazi and the IRS have led to a trust deficit with the public, a sentiment reflected in recent polls, the aide said.
Part of the aim is to get voters to question how they can trust the administration, and the IRS more specifically, to enforce key provisions of Obama's health care law after improperly targeting Americans.
This fits into Republicans' emerging scandal-riding midterm election strategy—one that the GOP's congressional campaign committees think can blend easily into their anti-Obamacare message to help the party take the Senate in 2014.
When they return from this recess, Republicans are going to be more sure than ever that they're doing the right thing. Think about what a member of Congress does when he's home. He'll be doing those media interviews with friendly talk-radio hosts, for whom outrage is the bread and butter of their programming. He might do a couple of town meetings, and who comes to those? People who like him already (i.e. the Republican base, who will tell him to keep up the scandal-mongering) and people who are pissed off about something. But right now, the people who think the scandal thing is going too far aren't really pissed off, they're just kind of disappointed. So they won't be so inclined to show up. And then the representative will just go around town talking to folks, and once again the ones he's most likely to hear from are his supporters who want to tell him to stick it to that no-good socialist in the White House.
After a few days of that, he'll come back to Washington thinking, "Wow, my constituents are really fired up about this stuff. Full speed ahead!"
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