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Rove: Republicans Fell Into Trap Laid by Obama

Image: Rove: Republicans Fell Into Trap Laid by Obama

Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 11:59 AM

By Dan Weil


Republicans played right into President Barack Obama's hands in the conflict over the budget and debt ceiling, says GOP strategist Karl Rove.

"Even after the defund [Obamacare] tactic was shown to be a transparent failure, its fundamental tenet — that Obamacare can be undone by a party that controls only the House — has continued guiding a group of 20 to 30 House Republicans whose support is necessary to pass any GOP bill," Rove writes in The Wall Street Journal.

"Backers of the defund strategy never offered a plausible way forward after their approach failed. Instead, they alienated colleagues who disagreed by insisting they were closet Obamacare supporters, and the defunders' outside allies raised the threat of primary challenges."

Urgent: Should the House Have Agreed to Debt Deal? Vote Here

The defunders rejected any plan from the House leadership that didn't match their losing proposition, Rove says.

"The way to undo Obamacare is to patiently and deliberately pull at its threads with measures that will gain Democratic votes — or at a minimum highlight Democratic opposition to changes that Americans support," he says.

"One such change — delaying the imposition of the individual mandate — is favored by 60 percent of Americans," he writes, quoting a Sept. 8 Reason-Rupe poll."

Republicans should trumpet the failures of the Affordable Care Act, Rove says. "They should also offer proposals to protect and strengthen private insurance."

Even if Republican alternatives to Obamacare don't pass the Senate, the GOP can still use Democratic opposition to win Senate seats in 2014 and the White House in 2016, Rove says. "Both are necessary for Obamacare's repeal."

The misfortune here is what Republicans could have accomplished if they had abandoned the defund strategy, Rove says.

"The House would have passed a continuing resolution that funded the government at the lower levels agreed to in the 2011 Budget Act, probably with some Obamacare fixes," he writes.

"These could have included making members of Congress live under the law; requiring income verification before providing an insurance subsidy; and repealing or delaying some of the health law's obnoxious taxes."

Perhaps the individual mandate even could have been delayed, Rove says.

"When Republicans didn't change course, they lost their leverage, and Americans were left watching the shutdown and debt-ceiling fights instead of the debacle that was the rollout of Obamacare," he says.

"Barack Obama set the trap. Some congressional Republicans walked into it."

That makes the president stronger, the GOP weaker, and Obamacare a bit more popular, Rove says. "The battles over spending, taxes and debt have not been resolved, only postponed. It's time Republicans remembered that bad tactics produce bad outcomes."

Urgent: Should the House Have Agreed to Debt Deal? Vote Here

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