Friday, August 2, 2013

Catch of the Day

Nice, from Sarah Kliff:
Why do Republicans keep voting to repeal Obamacare? For one thing, us journalists keep writing about it.
And she runs the numbers and finds that three repeal votes in particular seem to have generated decent publicity.

I don't think that's the whole answer, but it's not a bad one at all. Even if only one in twenty repeal votes catch the press's attention, as long as there's little opportunity cost -- and there isn't -- why not?

Not the whole answer? Well, first of all not all of these votes are exactly the same. Some are clean repeals, but some are partial dismantling, or some other clever (or maybe I should say "clever") angles on the issue. So, for example, this month we got a repeal vote which was actually calling for the individual mandate to be postponed. So part of the story here is that GOP spinmeisters come up with a new way to showcase something that sounds good to the voters they care about, and then put it into a bill and vote on it. And another part is that Democrats have decided that the large number of Obamacare "repeal" points is itself a good (Democratic) talking point, and so they are keeping a repeal vote count, which the press have picked up on. So there's effective GOP spin (coverage of the votes), and effective Democratic spin (ridiculing the repetitive votes, even when they're not actually repeating the same thing).

At any rate: nice catch!


  1. I remember the story for the first one this year:

    "But the NEWLY-elected Republicans (2012) haven't been able to vote 'no' yet, and they need that vote for primaries in 2014!"

    1. I've heard that too, and I always wonder: is having that potemkin vote actually useful for primary purposes? Are there GOP consultants really adept at convincing lawmakers of this?

    2. I think this is actually real, in the sense that a number of newly elected Republicans from 2012 ran a campaign that had a lot of "send me to Washington, and I'll repeal Obamacare!"

      It's not why they won. But, as JB argues, it is a part of them representing their districts. (I'm less of a devotee of JB's theory of representation than he is, but it is a credible theory) Now, the thing is: they would have run on a promise to get rid of Obamacare, not to have a show vote on it.

      Not sure any of it matters, in the end: their constituents didn't vote for them based on one promise, don't understand what they're so opposed to anyway (most supporters don't, either), and there's nothing one member of one branch of Congress can do besides vote. So, a tempest in a teapot.

      Gets us back around to the transformation of Congress into an arena legislature, instead of transformative. Sad, really.


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