Cornyn sees repeal trap, hopes to avoid it

CORNYN SEES REPEAL TRAP, HOPES TO AVOID IT…. Republican lawmakers and congressional candidates are going out of their way to talk about how desperate they are to repeal the new health care law. They’re making no distinctions or allowances for popular provisions, either — the buffoonish Pete Hoekstra of Michigan told right-wing supporters, “On January 3 … we’re not going to repeal a part of the bill, we’re going to repeal the whole thing with your help.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who’s responsible for the Senate GOP’s election-year strategy, told the Huffington Post he doesn’t quite see it that way.

“There is non-controversial stuff here like the preexisting conditions exclusion and those sorts of things,” the Texas Republican said. “Now we are not interested in repealing that. And that is frankly a distraction.”

Nice try, John, but you’re too late.

The base is demanding a complete repeal of the new law, and Republican candidates, at a variety of levels, have already embraced it as their election-year message.

Some GOP candidates are willing to back a partial repeal, but remember, as far as the right-wing base is concerned, partial isn’t good enough. Indeed, it’s something of a sell-out. As Josh Marshall noted not too long ago, “After all, if it’s really the end of the universe, America and Apple Pie, as Republicans have been suggesting, it’s hard to say you just want to tinker at the margins.”

So, by the GOP’s own choosing, it’s all or nothing. It’s a dynamic Dems are thrilled to see.

Cornyn is no doubt worried, because he sees the repeal trap and wants to avoid it. But he should have thought of that before his entire party committed to getting rid of popular health care provisions and a new law that seems to be generating more public support all the time.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.