The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘The Party of No’? Let’s Test that Hypothesis

I saw a lot of this yesterday after Paul Ryan did the rounds on the Sunday shows:

This is a popular line among critics of the GOP. But it strikes me as a poor one. For a start, the word “no” is routinely forthcoming from both sides in American politics; not only from Republicans. We don’t hear about it much because we are so obsessed with the presidency in general and with this president in particular. But if we stopped starting every conversation by asking “what does Obama want?” we’d likely notice that the Democratic party’s position on almost all of the GOP’s platform is every bit as much “hell no!” as the other way around. Don’t believe me? Watch what would happen if pretty much any of Paul Ryan’s ideas got out of Congress . . .

As for Blodget’s contention that Republicans decline to agree with Obama “no matter what” . . . well, that’s an easily testable hypothesis. Presumably, Blodget believes that the GOP is so filled with hatred that it would decline to do what Obama suggested even if it liked his ideas. Okay then, let’s see. Tomorrow morning, the president should propose federal concealed carry reciprocity, the implementation of one of the many repeal-and-replace-Obamacare proposals that are floating around, a flat tax of 15 percent, the voucherization of Medicare, block grants for most federal welfare programs, increased defense spending, the abolition of the Department of Education, and a late-term abortion ban. In such circumstances, how do we think “no matter what” would fare?

As far as I can see, the GOP opposes Obama when they disagree with him and supports him when they agree. All in all, this has worked out much as it did when Bill Clinton was president. Occasionally, there has been room for compromise; usually there has not; most often there has been stalemate. On healthcare, taxes, regulation, and the environment, Republicans have consistently said “no”; on free trade and those spending initiatives they favor, they have said “yes.” That’s what happens when you have two parties that disagree with one another. Ultimately, “party of no” is another way of saying “party of opposite politics.” Let’s not set our hair on fire.

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