The Muddled Repeal Message, Cont’d

THE MUDDLED REPEAL MESSAGE, CONT’D…. Yesterday afternoon, right-wing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) told thousands of fans, “You better believe it, baby. Repeal is what this girl is going to be all about after November. We’re about repealing all of Obama-care.”

Around the same time, right-wing Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said he thinks Republicans will gut the Affordable Care Act, but conceded, “We’re not gonna repeal everything.”

To reiterate a point from a couple of weeks ago, for all of Republicans’ many faults, they tend to have one impressive strength: message discipline. The GOP Powers That Be will decide what party officials and their allies are supposed to say, and Republicans tend to follow the marching orders extremely well. The GOP shapes much of the discourse simply by getting its members to all say the exact same thing, over and over again.

When it comes to the next step on health care policy, the message mechanism obviously isn’t working. It’s starting to make the party a little nervous.

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are facing a mini-rebellion against their message on healthcare reform.

Every GOP lawmaker rejected the Democrats’ bill last month, but the party is now split on whether to call for a full repeal of the new law.

The “mini-rebellion” is the result of conservative Republicans getting an earful from their very conservative brethren. GOP leaders have committed to a “repeal and replace” message, though they won’t say how much of the new law they want to repeal, and they won’t say what they intend to replace it with.

For extremists like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), that’s not good enough. He and his allies apparently intend to keep pressing party leaders to see things their way.

The Iowan wrote last week, “Republicans will either stand unanimously together for 100 percent repeal, as we did against the bill, or our ranks will be split and our effort defeated…. No one demonstrated to ‘kill the most egregious aspects’ or ‘preserve the least egregious aspects’ of Obamacare. This is an all or nothing fight from this point forward.”

The back and forth within the GOP caucus may go on for a while.