What do Republicans want to accomplish?
So what's the affirmative agenda of the Republican majority in the House? Well, as Mark Schmitt writes, it's hard to say:
There have been three major Republican/conservative takeover elections in recent history: 1980, when Ronald Reagan carried 12 seats and control of the Senate; 1994, when Newt Gingrich's Republicans took both houses; and 2010. The first, while in many ways a reaction to the incompetent presidency of Jimmy Carter (a conservative Democrat whose flaws came to symbolize liberalism) unquestionably carried a mandate for conservatism. The second, 1994, was in many ways a reaction to congressional corruption, combined with a long-postponed rejection of Southern Democrats, but Gingrich and his allies took it very seriously -- perhaps too seriously -- as an ideological mandate.
This year, though, right-wingers barely even pretended to have a comparable program-cutting agenda. Their main talking point about health reform was that it would cut Medicare benefits. They railed about TARP and the auto bailout, but the former originated in the Bush administration, and they will not attempt to repeal it. They talked about creating jobs by reducing the deficit, which is economic nonsense. Moreover, not one of the policy plans the Republicans produced would reduce the deficit by a penny. Tea Partiers ranted about constitutional and economic schemes that they probably won't even introduce, much less pass.
Without enough votes to actually pass anything, the agenda is going to be to run the House in such a way that voters consider President Obama and the Democrats a failure in 2012. Or, as Mitch McConnell put it, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
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