This got a big splash in the headlines last night, and it’s not hard to see why. The Tea Party may have gotten its inspiration from the failure of Obamanomics, but its exponential growth came during the debate over ObamaCare. The energy that the Tea Party put into the biggest midterm victory in 72 years originated in the fury over Democratic efforts to shove a health-care reform down the throats of voters who clearly didn’t want it, and the clearest mandate from the 2010 vote was to undo Barack Obama’s signature project.
Now, one of the acknowledged leaders of the Tea Party says the GOP should stop wasting its time in this session on nickel-and-dime repeal:
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who has emerged as an outspoken conservative voice among GOP freshmen, cast a surprising vote last week against a bill to scrap part of the 2010 healthcare overhaul. The legislation would repeal $100 million in funding for the construction of school-based health centers. West was one of just four Republicans to vote against the measure, which passed 235-191.
West spokeswoman Angela Sachitano said in an email that the congressman “believes there are bigger funding issues to be focusing on right now including the numerous developments in the Middle East, concerning Pakistan and whether there is a link to [Osama bin Laden] and the recent unity agreement with the [Palestinian Authority] and Fatah and Hamas.”
He also questioned the House’s continued efforts to dismantle the healthcare law on a piecemeal basis, she said.
“He voted to repeal Obamacare, and it was dead on arrival in the Senate,” Sachitano said. “He questions what the goal is of chipping away like this if it’s almost certain that the Senate is not going to take it up.”
It’s not that I don’t recognize some wisdom in these words. Why spend all of your political juice on purely symbolic votes? There are other important issues to address, although I’d put the overall budget and debt crises far ahead of whatever kabuki theater is taking place in the West Bank and Gaza these days — and ObamaCare directly impacts both.
On the other hand, what exactly did West expect? Let’s say for argument’s sake that the GOP won four more Senate seats last year and took control of both chambers in 2011. We’d still have Obama in place to veto any repeal bill, whether it be total repeal or rollback measures. Would West offer the same counsel? If so, then why run on ObamaCare at all until 2012?
Tea Party activists warned that they would focus their ire on Republicans who got elected and then attempted to moderate their positions on ObamaCare, spending, and taxes. I wonder if anyone thought that one of the first they’d have to address would be Col. West?