The political trajectory of President Obama’s deficit-reduction commission has been rather circuitous.
Congressional Republicans urged the White House to create the commission, but when Obama agreed, Republicans changed their mind and said they were against it. Once the panel began its work, its GOP members balked at the proposed compromise, then criticized the president for not fully embracing the measures they opposed.
We’ve apparently reached the bizarre point at which Republicans will attack those who oppose the Simpson-Bowles plan and attack those who support it.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) tried a political ju-jitsu on Thursday as it sought to turn former state CFO Alex Sink’s attacks on David Jolly on Social Security against her. Sink, the Democratic candidate, takes on Republican Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby in a special congressional election for an open seat in Pinellas County on March 11.On Thursday, the NRCC bashed Sink for saying she supported Simpson-Bowles. “Alex Sink supports a plan that raises the retirement age for Social Security recipients, raises Social Security taxes and cuts Medicare, all while making it harder for Pinellas seniors to keep their doctors that they know and love,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC.
Andrew Kaczynski noted how bizarre it is for Republicans to bash Alex Sink “for supporting Simpson-Bowles, a deficit reduction plan Republicans most often attack President Obama for abandoning or ignoring.”
The list of Republicans who have praised, cited, or attack Obama for ignoring Simpson-Bowles is long.“He set up a deficit reduction commission a year ago. They did a lot of really good work,” House Speaker John Boehner said on ABC’s This Week in April 2011. “And while I didn’t agree with everything they did, there was a lot in their – in their proposal that was worthy of consideration. And what did the president do? He took exactly none of his own deficit reduction commission’s ideas. Not one. Come on? It’s time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country.” […]The Republican National Committee has also attacked the president on Simpson-Bowles numerous times.
In other words, the NRCC is so worried about losing the congressional special election in Florida in two weeks, the campaign committee is bashing a Democrat for agreeing with Republicans.
To be sure, there’s plenty not to like about the Simpson-Bowles proposal. Indeed, I’m not a fan of it myself. But what matters in a story like this is consistency. A major political party shouldn’t identify one of its most important issues, then switch back and forth, taking both sides of the issue, depending on which election they’re desperate to win at the time.
What’s more, this is a timely example of what happens when a party reaches a post-policy phase – the National Republican Congressional Committee no longer cares what a Democrat says or what position he or she takes; the NRCC only cares to attack. If the criticism means Republicans are undermining their own position on one of their top issues, it apparently doesn’t matter because the substance is irrelevant.
It’s not about what’s true; it’s about what attack ads can get people to believe.