Romney ’13

Probably every progressive writer commenting on the whole defund/delay Obamacare crusade has made the point that Republicans seem to be determined to overturn the results of the presidential election we had just under eleven months ago. But kudos to Jonathan Chait for observing that the demands accompanying John Boehner’s debt limit bill would quite literally substitute the losing candidate’s economic agenda for the winner’s:

Does that list sound vaguely familiar? It’s Mitt Romney’s 2012 economic plan. Almost word for word, in fact. True, Romney proposed to repeal Obamacare, while the House Republicans propose to delay it for a year. But the gambit there — extend the debt ceiling for a year while delaying Obamacare a year, so that the next debt ceiling hike lines up with another Obamacare delay — makes the two tactics essentially the same.

The rest of the list is Romney’s agenda on taxes, regulation of the environment, finance and other business, Medicare, tort reform. That’s their opening demand: implement Romney’s economic plan or melt down the economy….

The fact that a major party could even propose anything like this is a display of astonishing contempt for democratic norms. Republicans ran on this plan and lost by 5 million votes. They also lost the Senate and received a million fewer votes in the House but held control owing to favorable district lines. Is there an example in American history of a losing party issuing threats to force the majority party to implement its rejected agenda?

Well, I’d say a fair number of Democrats did that and worse after losing the 1860 elections (and even in the North, that era’s conservative party campaigned for “the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is” in the next elections). But in anything like “normal” times, this is pretty much unprecedented. And it’s a reminder that for all the “rebranding” talk we heard earlier this year, most Republicans basically think Romney blew the election, mostly because he was estopped from going completely wild in attacking Obamacare. That’s why although they are still pushing his agenda, he’s nowhere in sight.

UPDATE: Before anyone says it, yes, I realize Republicans were the “losing party” in 2000 when it comes to the popular vote, but they didn’t lose by enough to make their elevation to power courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court impossible. Still, I recall it was a bit shocking at the time that Bush insisted on using reconciliation to push through his highly controversial and momentous tax cuts despite his poor popular vote showing and the contested nature of his election. But no Democrats, to my knowledge, argued Bush should be implementing Gore’s platform.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.