GOP Politicians and Policy Basics

What really gets me worried about the debt limit situation, as I said over at Greg’s place today, is the possibility that more than a few Republican Members of the House really believe their own rhetoric — that failing to raise the limit is actually no big deal.

More broadly, I wonder just how little Republican Members are just not really up to speed on policy basics. Not that they would be the first group in Congressional history to have little idea of what they were talking about…there have been plenty of backbench Members who couldn’t last twenty minutes talking about policy. But this group isn’t your grandparents backbenchers. They appear to be, as Susan Davis reports, unusually unwilling to trust their own leadership. It’s one thing if the bottom 25% of the majority party in the House is made up of policy illiterates who are willing to vote with the leadership in exchange for the things they want to keep them re-elected. It’s quite another if that bottom 25% are a bunch of policy illiterates who, at the same time, believes it’s best to think for themselves on every vote.

What I’d love to know? How many Members of the House Republican Conference have any idea at all of what ACA — what they call “Obamacare” — actually consists of. I don’t mean the details; I mean a broad outline: exchanges, subsidies. Hey, maybe they really are reasonably well-informed; just because politicians use over-the-top or focus-group-tested rhetoric certainly doesn’t prove that they really believe that junk. But I’d love to know.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.