No New Ideas

Item: Mitch McConnell sure hates Keynesianism and stimulus, but, as Jared Bernstein notes, he’s all for “some relief to struggling workers out there who continue to need it” As Bernstein explains: “unless you beleive said workers will take their relief by snuggling in bed with their extra dollars, there’s no distinction here.”

Item: Jon Huntsman thinks that Dodd-Frank is a disaster, and wants to repeal it. But as Mike Konczal discovers, what Huntsman wants to do next is…pass something that looks suspiciously like a big chunk of Dodd-Frank.

And of course every time a Republican gets caught having previously supported something that wound up in Affordable Care Act their answer — well, at least Romney’s answer, but I think generally it’s their preferred spin — is that my exchanges/mandate/whatever was a good policy,but it’s nothing like Obamacare. As I said a while back, I half expect Romney or one of the others to come out for repealing the government takeover of Obamacare and replacing it with Free Enterprise Marketplaces and Ronald Reagan Means Tested Vouchers, which would be nothing at all like the exchanges plus subsidies model in ACA.

I suspect this isn’t really about Obama just being pretty moderate, and so there’s nowhere to go to oppose him on the right. I think it’s more about a lack of policy knowledge and interest among Republican politicians; they just don’t really have serious ideas at hand to contrast with Democratic policies, and in many instances don’t appear to have a good grasp of what those policies are (see: Michele Bachmann, and her wonderful theory that Obama has a secret plan to replace Medicare with Obamacare). And then there’s a piece of it that is demand-driven, with conservative audiences wanting to hear that everything Obama wants is radical socialism; it’s not acceptable to say, for example, that Dodd-Frank has some things to agree with and some that should be changed.

Anyway, if anyone has more examples of this kind of thing, I’d love to hear it.

[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.