How Republicans can get everyone to stop blaming them
Right now, Republican leadership is beholden to the craziest members of its own party. Someone such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) knows he can make unreasonable demands because McConnell can't afford defections.
And of course giving in to fringe demands can cost leadership the votes of more moderate members of their caucus, a dynamic we saw during the Obamacare repeal efforts.
Aiming for a bipartisan coalition of the middle 60 or so votes, instead of requiring the vote of nearly every Republican, would avoid giving undue power to any one legislator (crazy or otherwise).
Finally, if the majority party successfully achieves meaningful support from the minority, it's less likely that a major policy initiative would be undone or sabotaged when the balance of power shifts.
That's a lesson the Democrats have of course learned with Obamacare, which passed along party lines (despite Obama's efforts to woo Republican votes).
Presumably GOP leadership fears that working with Democrats on an Obamacare fix could leave Republicans vulnerable to being primaried from the right. But what's a bigger threat: some criticism for playing nice today or facing millions of uninsured Americans a few years from now?
Catherine Rampell's email address is email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.
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