The economic debate in Washington, D.C., is pretty straightforward. Democrats are eager to extend unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage, expand Medicaid access, and preserve food-stamp spending as a way to help those who are struggling. Republicans believe these investments aren’t worthwhile and want to move in the opposite direction.
But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus apparently believes there’s a hidden subtext lurking just below the surface. Sure, he says, Democrats claim they want these measures to pass and become law, but secretly Dems want their ideas to fail in Congress. At least, that’s the case the RNC chair made to conservative radio host Lars Larson yesterday.
“All of this kind of stuff is ridiculous because we’re spending all of our time actually talking and perpetrating what the Democrats actually want. They don’t want this to pass, Lars, what they want to do is they want to talk about these things, they want to talk about minimum wage and what they want to do ultimately is create a campaign issue, this sort of rich vs. poor, the same old thing they can do and avoid Obamacare. That’s what they want.”
It is, to be sure, a provocative allegation. Democrats are presenting a credible economic agenda, including popular ideas that enjoy broad public support, but for Priebus, “they don’t want this to pass.” And why not? Because if congressional Republicans kill these ideas, it will “create a campaign issue” that may benefit Democrats in the 2014 midterms.
In other words, the RNC chair believes we’re witnessing an elaborate ruse – Democrats hope Republicans kill worthwhile economic ideas to benefit struggling families so it’ll give Dems something to talk about during the fall election season.
I’m reasonably certain this theory is stark raving mad, but let’s assume for the sake of conversation that Priebus is onto something. Let’s say Democrats are going all out to push sensible economic proposals they secretly want to fail in order to give them a leg up in the midterms.
If this were true, wouldn’t it make sense for Republican leaders to pass the measures and undermine the Democratic plan? Wouldn’t the head of the RNC want his party take the popular issue Democrats want to run on off the table?