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How Republicans can get everyone to stop blaming them

Catherine Rampell on

And if your party and your party alone takes ownership of these changes, that loud and angry loser is going to direct this rage at you.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., surely knows this. It's one reason he refused to work with President Barack Obama on almost any major policy initiative. That way, whenever bad things happened, Republicans could throw up their hands and proclaim: Don't blame us!

And in fact Republicans said this all the time, even over bad stuff unrelated to any Democratic policy decisions.

Now, surprisingly, McConnell has boxed in his own party in the exact same way.

He declared his intention for Republicans to govern solo, both by crafting bills of major consequence in secret, without Democratic input, and by attempting to pass those bills through a process requiring zero Democratic votes.

In so doing, he's forced Republicans to take the heat for every controversial decision Congress makes.

No wonder, then, that the party appears to be giving up or watering down basically every major pay-for in their tax overhaul. These include the border-adjustment tax (remember that?) and full elimination of the state and local tax deduction.

Republicans are similarly stuck with the blame for everything that goes wrong in the health-care system. A majority of Americans already say that Trump and congressional Republicans are responsible for any problems with Obamacare moving forward because they're the ones in charge, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

And when the broader economy softens -- which it inevitably will -- Republicans will again get stuck holding the bag. Because they hogged the bag.

Second, if Republicans worked with Democrats to find some middle ground and pass their initiatives through so-called regular order, the Grand Old Party wouldn't be so easily tripped up by hostage takers.

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