Roy Blunt has not agreed, not so far anyway, to sign the Club for Growth Pledge to work for repeal of the health care reform bill, should it pass. He would work to do that, of course. I mean, what? He’s a Republican.
But there’s little love lost between him and the Club for Growth. He resents their slash and burn tactics in support of their small government, cut taxes agenda. They resent him for all the pork he’s voted for. In fact, they rate representatives on a RePORK card. He got only 48 percent on his 2009 RePORK card and a pitiful 22 percent rating in 2007.
But what difference does it make whether he signs some silly pledge or not as long as he intends to do what the wingnuts want and oppose health care reform? Not much, maybe. Except that his primary opponent Chuck Purgason did sign it and will continue to paint Blunt as a corrupt D.C. insider. It’s so nice when the other side does your work for you. Consider the help their state party gave us simply by picking Blunt. As Democratic Rep. Jake Zimmerman pointed out:
[Republicans] found a guy who’s been in Washington for decades! They found a guy who left his wife to marry a lobbyist! They found a guy whose last name is Blunt, the least. popular. political name in Missouri right now! They are doing everything humanly possible to give this election to Robin Carnahan! That’s pretty good in an election year like this.
And naturally, Blunt, whether he signs the pledge or not, is doing what Democrats hope Republican candidates all over the country will do: fall into the repeal trap:
Remember, while several provisions of the health care reform initiative wouldn’t kick in until 2014, some really popular measures would kick in almost immediately. Consumers would have all kinds of new protections, including a ban on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, the elimination of rescissions, and a ban on annual or lifetime caps.
And that’s exactly why the aggressive repeal push from Republican activists and the Tea Party crowd offers Dems an important opportunity. Democratic leaders would love nothing more than to be able to tell voters next year, “A vote for a Republican is a vote to let insurance companies screw over American families. Know those new protections that just became law? Republicans will take them away unless you vote Democratic.”
Some GOP candidates are willing to back a partial repeal, in part because they know parts of the package are popular, and in part because they realize that total repeal is practically impossible. But for the right-wing base, partial isn’t good enough. As Josh Marshall noted recently, “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.”
It puts Republican candidates in a box. Democrats are going to ask, “Are you really going to fight to repeal protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions?” If Republicans say “no,” they alienate the GOP activists who will settle for nothing but a full repeal. If Republicans say “yes,” they alienate the mainstream electorate.
Despite finding himself in a situation where he’s being shat on from both directions, Roy Blunt could still pull this election off. Wouldn’t that be disgusting? We gotta help Robin beat him.