Next week the House Republicans will vote on their plan to sue President Obama over the employer mandate for the Affordable Care Act. Given how truly bizarre and logically incoherent the goals of the suit are, it makes no sense from a policy perspective, but the politics behind it are incredibly simple.
The Republicans’ base wants their elected Republican to ‘do something’ about what they perceive to be the out-of-control and terrible Obama. What this something is and how it would actually inhibit Obama remains vague.
According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 80 percent of regular Republicans think Obama has “gone too far” in expanding the powers the presidency. So you have 57 percent of Republicans wanting Obama to be impeached and removed from office, and 75 percent supporting this lawsuit.
The problem for Congressional Republicans is no one outside their small base likes the idea. The poll found 65 percent of independents oppose impeachment and 55 percent don’t support this suit.
Giving their base the impeachment they want would be a huge ugly political fight the GOP would lose. It is the kind of major news story that can mobilize opposition and change voters’ minds.
So instead, Republicans came up with this convoluted lawsuit to politically thread the needle. They can tell their base they are ‘doing something’ while not upsetting everyone else. Independents don’t like the suit, but it is probably obscure and technical enough that it won’t be changing any minds.
Democrats think they might be able to score some points off it, but once you start talking about how much discretion the executive branch has in order to delay individual provisions of the ACA, I suspect most eyes will quickly glaze over.
Image by Mike Licht under Creative Commons license