I am struck today by the fact that if President Obama is the master of the long game, Republicans are stuck creating chaos with a short game. In other words, they don't seem to think through the consequences of their actions.
We're seeing an example of that this week as stories surface about what Republicans will do if the Supreme Court finds the ACA unconstitutional. Of particular concern is what Congress will do if, instead of throwing out the whole bill, they only find the mandate unconstitutional. I've discussed before that a decision like that will require immediate action from Congress because many other provisions in the law are not financially feasible without the mandate. The entire health insurance industry would go into chaos if that is not resolved...fast.
So this week there was some discussion about what Republicans would do under that scenario. Would they attempt to pass legislation that would keep the "popular" provisions on the ACA intact or simply try to repeal the whole thing.
Here's the dilemma they face: if they work to repeal the whole thing, we go back to the previous status quo where insurance companies can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, millions of young people will no longer be covered by their parents plans, and seniors will pay more for prescriptions because the donut-hole will return.
That will piss off a lot of voters.
But if they try to maintain those popular provisions, they have two really big problems: First of all, they'll have to figure out how to pay for them. That's what the mandate was all about. And secondly, their tea party base will get totally pissed off. That's what happened this week when Politico published a story suggesting this is the plan. By the next day Boehner had to assure them that no, they'll repeal the whole thing.
When, as Senator McConnell said, your only goal is to ensure Obama is a one-term president, you also ensure that your party doesn't have a plan - only power plays. When/if you actually get something you want, you're left flat-footed with chaos when the chickens come home to roost.