A ‘Solutions Group’ with no solutions

A ‘SOLUTIONS GROUP’ WITH NO SOLUTIONS…. When House Republicans go on the attack against health care reform, one of the more common responses is to ask, “OK, but where’s the Republican plan?” It’s easy to attack; it’s challenging to be productive.

Last night, The Hill reported that the GOP caucus has effectively given up on offering an alternative, and will instead stick to attacking.

Republicans who had promised last month to offer a healthcare reform alternative are now suggesting no such bill will be introduced.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, “Our bill is never going to get to the floor, so why confuse the focus? We clearly have principles; we could have language, but why start diverting attention from this really bad piece of work they’ve got to whatever we’re offering right now?”

Blunt, who is running for Senate, is chairman of the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group. Cantor made similar comments to The Hill in June, saying Republicans would eventually offer legislative language on healthcare reform.

Democrats on Wednesday called out Republicans, reminding reporters in an e-mail that Blunt had guaranteed that the GOP would introduce a bill.

All things being equal, the GOP is probably making the right call by failing to offer an alternative. In fact, if I were a Republican strategist, I’d probably advise the party to do exactly this. Producing a GOP reform plan would not only give Democrats a target, it would offer people a chance to compare the two approaches to the issue, and in a side-by-side match-up, it’s hardly a stretch to think the Dems would come out on top.

What’s more, the Republican track record on alternative solutions is truly abysmal. The GOP budget alternative was a humiliating failure (you may recall, it lacked numbers). The GOP stimulus alternative — tax cuts and a five-years spending freeze — was so ridiculous, even some conservatives labeled it “insane.” With this in mind, there’s no need for the party to humiliate itself with a health care plan.

But this route is not without costs. For one thing, Republican leaders promised to offer an alternative, and it’s embarrassing to have to go back on this promise. For another, by failing to even try to play a constructive role, it’s that much easier to characterize the minority as the “party of no.”

Indeed, we’re left with a dynamic in which the “GOP Health Care Solutions Group” has decided not to offer any health care solutions. For a party that has already lost its policy credibility, this won’t help.