The GOP overreach on abortion, and the likely backlash

THE GOP OVERREACH ON ABORTION, AND THE LIKELY BACKLASH…. It’s been about six weeks since House Republicans took the majority, and the ration of abortion bills to job bills is probably not in line with voters’ expectations.

So far, the number of Republican bills related to lowering unemployment is zero. On the contrary, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has admitted publicly that his budget bill will force thousands of Americans workers from their jobs, on purpose. At the same time, the House GOP has pushed the odious “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” the life-threatening “Protect Life Act,” and the plan to raise business taxes over their insurance plans that might cover abortions. Other proposals are on the way to cut off federal dollars to women’s health care clinics that offer abortions, and to eliminate Title X funding, which Planned Parenthood depends on.

Culture warrior Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) boasted last week, “This House is more pro-life than it’s ever been.” That’s probably true, and as it turns out, pro-choice Democrats seem rather excited about it.

Dave Weigel had a smart piece last night, after hearing DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) hammer the Republican majority for working on “redefining rape” instead of jobs.

“We need to bring out 9 million independent voters,” Israel explains. “If you do a geographic analysis of them, they live in about 37 fairly suburban, moderate districts across the country. Those 9 million independent voters, in those 37 [districts], elected Republicans because Republicans said that they would, on Day One, focus on revitalizing jobs. And what did they do on Day One? They redefined rape. That is not what those independent voters expected from the new Republican majority.”

This is the kind of bluster you can engage in after your opponent has dunked on himself. It will undoubtedly continue until at least Nov. 6, 2012. Abortion rights activists, whose relevance had been waning during elections fought over the war in Iraq and the Great Recession, have found a toehold in politics again. The strategy has three parts.

1) Wait for the pro-life movement, now at an apex of political power, to do something stupid.
2) Pounce on the stupid thing that it just did.
3) Repeat.

There was, not surprisingly, some pent up demand among opponents of abortion rights to get to work with the new GOP-led House, but whether they realize it or not, Republicans have overreached in a hurry. This has not only reinforced fears that the GOP doesn’t care nearly as much about the economy as they pretended to during the campaign, but it’s also serves as a wake-up call to the left.

The result is a backlash Republicans probably could have avoided if it hadn’t gone too far, too quickly.

That’s most of the plan. The rest of the plan, as Israel explains, is making life difficult for some of the pro-life Republicans who were swept into Congress last year. The theory is that voters sort of elected them by accident. And they are numerous. […]

Take Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y., one of the Democrats’ favorite examples. She started in politics as a spokeswoman for Operation Rescue in the 1980s. She didn’t hide this fact, but when she began running, she said she’d “be really careful not to make this a referendum on abortion.” Her opponent, incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei, tried to make abortion an issue. He lost. And when Beurkle got to Congress she immediately became a prominent pro-life advocate.

As this relates to 2012, the typical mainstream voter may still not be interested in the culture war, but that’s the point — Republicans will make them interested by going to extremes, such as redefining rape.