GOP

What Haley’s Confederate Flag Speech Really Means For The GOP

Vm8vdtp4mc43nch82czp

AP Photo | Tim Dominick

TPM CAFE: OPINION

Each in their own way, Haley, Graham and Scott have represented a turn away from the Dixiecrat inheritance of the S.C. GOP, composed, as in other southern states, of a sometimes uneasy coalition of business interests and transplants with culturally conservative former Democrats and their faithful descendents. Scott is the most obvious symbol of change; he was first elected to Congress by defeating Strom Thurmond’s son in a Republican runoff. Graham is a more subtle departure from the norm, consistently advocating bipartisanship on domestic policy issues and exhibiting some ideological flexibility.

Beyond her gender and Indian-American background, Nikki Haley has long been a symbol of intraparty change. She first ran for governor in 2010 as a “conservative reform” candidate standing up to the “good-old-boy network” in SC Republican politics. Like her mentor, former Gov. Mark Sanford, and also her policy beneficiary Tim Scott (whom she appointed to Jim DeMint’s Senate seat in December 2012), and Jim DeMint (now president of the Heritage Foundation) himself, Haley has represented an effort to replace culture-based neo-Dixiecrat Republicanism with a rigorous across-the-board ideological conservatism. While Graham might (at least in the context of South Carolina) be described as a “moderate” on domestic issues, nobody would apply that term to Haley or Scott, and certainly not to DeMint or Sanford.

What makes the Confederate Flag saga especially interesting is that while the ascending right wing of the SC GOP is not all that culturally attached to the Old South and its symbols, its affinity for inflexible “constitutional conservatism” makes it congenial to neo-Confederate hostility to the federal government. This is true of “constitutional conservatives” everywhere, who are forever advancing ideas such as the right of secession and the radical restriction of federal court jurisdiction long thought to have been buried with the Confederacy and Jim Crow. Sen. Rand Paul is a superlative example of the cross-winds buffeting “constitutional conservatives.” He seems genuinely passionate about expanding the Republican Party’s appeal to African-Americans, even as he struggles to accept the constitutionality of basic federal anti-discrimination laws.

In South Carolina, it’s been easy for conservative politicians like Nikki Haley to pay lip service to the anti-centralist and illiberal tradition of the Confederacy, even though it has to feel alien to her own background and identity, since warmed-over Dixiecrats are natural allies in her obsessive efforts to make her state a union-free Eden for “job-creators.” But push comes to shove, her loyalty is to the same Golden Calf of unregulated capitalism worshiped by Scott Walker, not to the regional aristocracy of the Old South. And so when the Battle Flag becomes a source of acute embarrassment to the state and an obstacle to economic development, down it comes, without a lot of discussion. “We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here,” she said in announcing her new position.

It’s not exactly a great profile in courage for these South Carolina Republicans. Back in 1993, when Gov. Zell Miller created a firestorm by proposing to eliminate Confederate Battle Flag elements from the Georgia State Flag (disclosure: I worked for Miller then, and helped draft the major speech on the flag that made history while failing to sway the legislature), Rep. Newt Gingrich, then on the brink of his apotheosis as chief engineer of the Republican Revolution, instantly supported the change.

That may seem surprising given Gingrich’s reputation as a symbol of the southern takeover of the national Republican Party. But for all the talk about southerners infecting Republicans everywhere with their atavistic racial views and their crazy religion, the creation of a truly national and ideologically conservative GOP did require some accommodation in Dixie. Taking down Confederate flags is one of them, resisted but eventually accepted even in South Carolina (Mississippi is now the last holdout). The true Confederate spirit, however, will live on, not just in the South but every time and place when conservatives resist equality for those people and demand a constitutional right to thwart democracy and perpetuate privilege.

ED KILGORE

Fake quotes run rampant among GOP candidates

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy

The MaddowBlog

The first hint of trouble came about a month ago, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) toldsupporters that “Thomas Jefferson said it best” when the Founding Father said, “That government is best which governs least.”
Thomas Jefferson never said this. Walker fell for a fake quote.
Soon after, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told an audience, “Patrick Henry said this, Patrick Henry said the Constitution is about ‘restraining the government not the people.’” In reality, Patrick Henry said no such thing.
Soon, the examples really started piling up. Ben Carson pushed a bogus quote from Alexis de Tocqueville and another bogus quote from Thomas Jefferson. Then this week, BuzzFeed lowered the boom.
Many of the quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers in two of Rand Paul’s books are either fake, misquoted, or taken entirely out of context, BuzzFeed News has found. […]
A heavy theme in Paul’s books is that the tea party movement is the intellectual heir to the Founding Fathers, with Paul often arguing he knows what position our country’s earliest leaders would have had on certain issues.
That latter point, I’d argue, helps explain why so many Republicans end up using – or in this case, misusing – quotes from Founding Fathers that simply don’t exist.
My suspicion is that these are honest mistakes. I rather doubt that any of these GOP presidential candidates are knowingly pushing bogus quotes and/or had anything to do with the original fabrication. It’s far more likely the candidates and their aides stumbled upon false information online and didn’t realize their mistake.
But as we talked about last week, I still think there’s a larger takeaway from this that matters.
Last summer, not long after Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) was found to have disseminated all kinds of bogus quotes from prominent historical figures, Jon Chait noted, “A longstanding conceit of conservative thought, which has returned with new force during the Obama years, is that conservatism is the authentic heir to the vision of the Founders. (See, for example, Paul Ryan’s recent op-ed, which offhandedly describes his own polices, in contrast with President Obama’s, as consistent with ‘the Founders’ vision.’)”
The fact remains, however, that “the Founders were not Tea Partiers.”
Paul, Carson, and Walker unknowingly repeating made-up quotes isn’t terribly important, but it is important that the far-right is under a mistaken impression – that they’re the rightful heirs of the framers’ great legacy. It’s today’s conservatives, the argument goes, that are the direct descendants of the likes of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison.
It’s nonsense, of course, but it helps explain why Republican fall for bogus quotes in the first place.
H/t: DB

Bernie Sanders wants to debate GOP candidates now to expose their unpopular ‘reactionary agenda’

Bernie Sanders (MSNBC)

Bernie Sanders (MSNBC)

THE RAW STORY

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to debate Republican presidential candidates right away so he can expose what their unpopular “reactionary agenda.”

The Democratic presidential candidate appeared Tuesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show, where he said the media’s focus on triviality allows GOP candidates to “get away with murder,” reported Mediaite.

Sanders said Republican candidates want to offset “huge tax breaks for billionaires” with “massive cuts” to programs that help millions of American, including Medicare, Medicaid, and – in the case of likely candidates Jeb Bush and Chris Christie – Social Security.

“They get away with that stuff because a lot of people don’t know what they are talking about,” he said.

Sanders said he would like a debate between Democrats and Republicans during the primary season so he could “confront them honestly and say to their face” what voters should know about their governing intentions.

“When so many seniors are struggling right now, how in God’s name are you talking about cutting Social Security when we should expand it?” Sanders said he would ask. “When kids can’t afford to go to college now, why are you talking about cutting Pell Grants by $90 billion? Why are you on the payroll of the Koch brothers and other billionaires rather than addressing the needs of working families?”

He said a debate would help cut through the horse race-style coverage the media seem to prefer at this point in the presidential campaign.

“If we can confront them and debate issues rather than allow the media to get into political gossip and polling and fundraising, but talk about the issues, I think their agenda does not reflect more than 15 or 20 percent of the American people,” Sanders said.

13 things you need to know about the fight over voting rights

VOX

The fight over voting rights is a highly partisan battle over how voting ought to work and which regulations are needed to make sure voting is accessible and fair.

BROWSE CONTENT

JENÉE DESMOND-HARRIS

The GOP Is Dying Off. Literally.

An elderly supporter of US Republican presidential hopeful John McCain displays her voting choice | GETTY IMAGES

POLITICO MAGAZINE

It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter.

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

Since it appears that no political data geek keeps track of voters who die between elections, I took it upon myself to do some basic math. And that quick back-of-the-napkin math shows that the trend could have a real effect in certain states, and make a battleground states like Florida and Ohio even harder for the Republican Party to capture.

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats.

Here is the methodology, using one age group as an example: According to exit polls, 5,488,091 voters aged 60 to 64 years old supported Romney in 2012. The mortality rate for that age group is 1,047.3 deaths per 100,000, which means that 57,475 of those voters died by the end of 2013. Multiply that number by four, and you get 229,900 Romney voters aged 60-to-64 who will be deceased by Election Day 2016. Doing the same calculation across the range of demographic slices pulled from exit polls and census numbers allows one to calculate the total voter deaths. It’s a rough calculation, to be sure, and there are perhaps ways to move the numbers a few thousand this way or that, but by and large, this methodology at least establishes the rough scale of the problem for the Republicans—a problem measured in the mid-hundreds of thousands of lost voters by November 2016. To the best of my knowledge, no one has calculated or published better voter death data before.

“I’ve never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can’t vote,” laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. “I’ve seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that.”

Frey points out that, since Republicans are getting whiter and older, replacing the voters that leave this earth with young ones is essential for them to be competitive in presidential elections. But the key question is whether these election death rates will make any real difference. There are so many other variables that dead voters aren’t necessarily going to be a decisive factor.

“The [GOP] does rely too much on older and white voters, and especially in rural areas, deaths from this group can be significant,” Frey says. “But millennials (born 1981 to 1997) now are larger in numbers than baby boomers ([born] 1946 to 1964), and how they vote will make the big difference. And the data says that if Republicans focus on economic issues and stay away from social ones like gay marriage, they can make serious inroads with millennials.”

But what if Republicans aren’t able to win over a larger share of the youth vote? In 2012, there were about 13 million in the 15-to-17 year-old demo who will be eligible to vote in 2016. The previous few presidential election cycles indicate that about 45 percent of these youngsters will actually vote, meaning that there will about 6 million new voters total. Exit polling indicates that age bracket has split about 65-35 in favor of the Dems in the past two elections. If that split holds true in 2016, Democrats will have picked up a two million vote advantage among first-time voters. These numbers combined with the voter death data puts Republicans at an almost 2.5 million voter disadvantage going into 2016.

Continue to page 2 here

~DANIEL J. MCGRAW

GOP Delays Benghazi Report Until 2016 Proving It’s All About Politics, Not Those Who Died

Addicting Info

If only the GOP was this adamant about getting to the bottom of the tragedy on 9/11/01, but wait… that was under Republican leadership, and Bush was instead made a hero. It’s always about politicizing tragedies to their favor. Always.

Republicans have no shame. None whatsoever. When the September 11 attacks happened, on American soil mind you, we were told that we were attacked… because we just were, and Republicans didn’t blame President Bush and his administration – even though they did ignore intelligence that said attacks were imminent.

However, when the attacks on an American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, occurred on 9/11/12, well that was obviously the fault of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. And godammit! Republicans are going to make sure they drag out and politicize the deaths of four Americans as long as they can in an effort to derail Clinton’s attempt at becoming the next President of the United States.

They don’t give a rat’s ass that the father of United States ambassador Christopher Stephens, who perished in the attack in Benghazi, asked that his son’s death not be politicized. Or the fact that 20 committee events and hearings have been held regarding the events on that fateful day, even committees run by House Republicans, debunking theories that there was any wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration. They will not let the matter rest until they can use it to keep Clinton out of the Oval Office. At least that’s their hope.

Now, the new House Benghazi committee is delaying their supposed “new” report until 2016 — months before the presidential election where Clinton will undoubtedly be the Democratic nominee. And who are they blaming for this delay?? The White House, of course.

The committee spokesman, Jamal Ware, told Bloomberg News in a statement:

“Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations—all of which are controlled by the Executive branch—could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion.”

Mmmhmm, yeah. That’s it. Never mind the countless other hearings and investigations that have already happened. This dead horse hasn’t only been kicked, but it’s been sent to the glue factory and is now being used to hold together the last semblance of an argument the Republicans have. It’s pathetic… and it’s continuing to prevent the families of the dead to grieve properly.

Of course, chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi, Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), denies that this delay has anything to do with the upcoming election, saying:

“Secretary Clinton’s decision to seek the presidency of the United States does not and will not impact the work of the committee.”

Hahahahaha (hold on, need to breathe) hahahahaha! Did he say that with a straight face?

I’m sure it’s just happenstance that the release of the report will magically coincide with the presidential election. Totally.

What will likely happen, because it’s happened with every other Benghazi report, is that the Obama administration will be cleared of any wrongdoing, and this entire charade of an investigation to bury the former Secretary of State will be able to be used to her advantage.

These Republicans are pathetic and morally bankrupt when it comes to politicizing tragedy. It’s clear they don’t care about getting to the bottom of what happened, because that’s already occurred. And if they did, they’d be more focused on going after the people who attacked us, just like with 9/11/01. They only care about hurting Clinton’s chance at the presidency, and that is the God’s honest truth.

AUTHOR:

Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness has a deep influence on the mindset of the right

A postage stamp showing an image of Ayn Rand, circa 1999 (catwalker / Shutterstock.com)

A postage stamp showing an image of Ayn Rand, circa 1999 (catwalker / Shutterstock.com)

The Raw Story

Ayn Rand (1904-82) has arisen from the dead. Over the last decade the pop philosopher and propaganda fictionist extraordinaire has moved steadily from the cultish margins to the mainstream of US conservatism.

Her ghost may even haunt the current presidential race with the candidacy of Republican Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian darling who received a set of Ayn Rand books for his 17th birthday.

In her bestselling books and essays, Rand frankly celebrated selfishness and greed – and the underside of this celebration is a scorn toward and demonization of any simple caring about other human beings. Such a stance has become a hidden, yet driving force behind such loaded catchphrases as “spending cuts” and, more grandiosely, “limited government.”

In a larger sense, though, Rand had never died. Sales of her books remained steadily in the six figures in the years following her demise, their underground influence an unacknowledged-if-discomforting fact of American life. A couple of reader surveys carried out in the 1990s by Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress, and by the Modern Library imprint, showed Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead near the top of the polling results, according to author Brian Doherty. And, in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, sales of her works tripled.

Randianism, what she called Objectivism, now exists as a mass phenomenon, a grass-roots presence, a kind of folklore. “Who Is John Galt?”, her recurring slogan from Atlas Shrugged, can be seen on placards at Tea Party rallies, on leaflets casually affixed to telephone poles or on the shopping bags of Lululemon Athletics, the Canadian sports apparel company. The firm’s CEO, Chip Wilson, is an avowed Rand fan. So are the current corporate chiefs at Exxon, Sears, the BB & T Bank in North Carolina and the funky Whole Foods chain.

And of course, there’s Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, who started out in the 1950s as Rand’s star disciple and never in the course of his career was to abjure the special relationship.

Rand and the mindset of the right

Randthought, which I discuss in my book, On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind, serves as a major doctrinal component within the mindset of the libertarian, the latter being the most significant American ideological development of the last 35 years.

The title of a 1971 book by Jerome Tuccille (a libertarian journalist and Libertarian Party candidate for governor of New York State in 1974) says all: It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand. Rand’s fan base has since grown to include Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, who in 2005 openly credited Rand with his having entered government service and who reportedly has had his staffers read the market guru’s books.

Rand did not invent libertarianism. The thinking, sans the name, had been around since at least the 1920s. And her contemporaries, economists such as Milton Friedman and the so-called Austrian School, gave the set of ideas academic standing and respectability. In Rand’s truculent fiction, however, an abstract theory effectively took on flesh via dashing heroes and unabashed hero worship, vivid myths and technological magic, page-turning suspense and torrid, violent sex. For every studious reader of economist Friedrich von Hayek, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of eager devourers of Rand.

Curiously, an aging Rand loathed libertarians, attacked them as “scum,” “hippies of the right” and “a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people.” She hated them in great measure because, in her view, they had adopted her economic principles yet ignored her total “philosophy.” (Rand also disliked any situation over which she couldn’t exercise personal control.)

Her heirs and successors in the so-called Objectivist camp have since waged a kind of sectarian cold war with libertarians. One thinks of the split between Stalinists and Trotskyists or between Social Democrats and Communists.

Meanwhile the libertarians themselves have gone their merry way with their political party (the nation’s third largest) and Tea Parties, and with their myriad think tanks and media organs.

The GOP’s fraught affair with Rand

In the interim, starting with Ronald Reagan, the GOP has absorbed selected aspects of the rhetoric and larger aims of the libertarian purists (much as the New Deal did once pick and choose rhetoric and programs from the socialist left). At the same time, official party conservatism took to cultivating the evangelical Christian sectors, marshaling issues such as abortion and evolution in an aggressive bid to gain favor with fundamentalist voters.

In addition, picking up from the “Southern Strategy” of Republicans in the 1970s who wooed Southern Democrats by catering to racial tensions, candidates and publicists now play on continuing resentment over the Civil War defeat and the Civil Rights struggles. They deflect blame onto “Big Government” for any and all ills, much as libertarians and Randians are wont to do. The result is a marriage of convenience, an uneasy alliance between a pro-market, secular Right and the older, faith-based forces who make common cause against a perceived common enemy.

Rand, ironically, was an outspoken atheist, a fact that eventually led VP candidate Paul Ryan to publicly repudiate her “atheist philosophy,” claiming disingenuously that his once-touted Randianism was merely an “urban legend,” and that, as a Catholic, his thought came rather from St Thomas Aquinas.

Still, whatever these doctrinal differences, Rand’s vision will continue to provide inspiration and intellectual ammunition for the foot soldiers of US conservatism, libertarian or otherwise.

In many respects, America is becoming — in echo of the title of a book by journalist Gary Weiss — an “Ayn Rand Nation.”

The ConversationBy Gene H. Bell-Villada, Williams College

Bill Maher: GOP will nominate Scott Walker as worst of ‘are you f*cking kidding me?’ candidates

Bill Maher on 'Real Time' on Sept. 28, 2014.

Vintage Bill Maher on ‘Real Time’ on Sept. 28, 2014 | Screenshot HBO

Raw Story

In an interview that concentrated heavily on 2016′s presidential race, comedian Bill Maher said he was placing his bet on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to get the GOP nod, calling him the worst of a weak field made up of  “are you f*cking kidding me?” candidates.

Speaking with Buzzfeed, the host of HBO’s Real Time, admitted that he would in all likelihood support Hillary Clinton, while dismissing Republicans out of hand.

Maher said that Walker is ideal for Republicans because, “he’s the worst and the Republicans, you know, they are pretty good at nominating the ‘are you f*cking kidding me?’ candidate. And to me, Mr. Walker is the ‘are you f*cking kidding me?’ candidate.”

Maher was less kind to former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, mocking his status as the “moderate” among potential nominees.

“When he was the governor of Florida, he threw an election for his brother, he threw black people off the voter rolls, he crushed the unions, he signed the Stand Your Ground law, he put the feeding tube back into Terri Schiavo,” he said. “This is what passes for a moderate in this party? Yeah, I guess so.”

Maher was more reserved when speaking of libertarian candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky with whom he shares some beliefs, but criticized him for pandering to the GOP base.

“His father made a calculation, ‘Better to be true to yourself, better to be real, better to be honest and say what you really believe and not win then to sell out like these other dopes,’” Maher said. “And Rand Paul looks like he’s not making that calculation, he looks like he’s making the opposite calculation.”

Maher added that in a recent interview with the Kentucky senator, Paul better articulated his positions, but as the campaign has ramped up his rhetoric has dumbed down.

“It’s not like the boy can’t learn. But unfortunately, again, it looks like the lesson he learned from his father is, ‘Say stupid shit to get the nomination because if you don’t, you’ll lose.’”

Colin Powell Still Sees ‘The Dark Vein Of Racism’ In The GOP

ABC ScreenCap (Mediaite)

Addicting Info

General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State under the Bush Administration (and a registered Republican), says he “still sees” the “dark vein of racism” in the GOP and the rest of America. This comes after Republican leadership in the Congress decided to skipthe 50th anniversary of Selma’s “Bloody Sunday” and other events marking the historic civil rights catalyst. Of the 90 members of Congress who attended the services, only 24 were from the GOP, including Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Colin Powell, however, has decided to call the GOP out for their lack of outreach to the black community. Since he is a black man who is a member of the GOP, perhaps they should take what he has to say into serious consideration.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Powell reiterated his claims of that the GOP is still plagued by a dark vein of intolerance when asked if it still exists:

“I still see it [racism]. I still see in the Republican Party, and I still see it in other parts of our country. You don’t have to be a Republican to be touched by this dark vein. America is still going through this transformation from where we were just fifty, sixty years ago. You have to remember it was just sixty, seventy years ago that we still had poll taxes, that we still had literacy tests in order to vote, that the voting places were open for two days a month for African-Americans. So we’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way to go. And we have to change the hearts and minds of Americans. And I see progress, especially in the younger generation.”

“We’ve made enormous progress. If we hadn’t made progress, [President Obama] wouldn’t have been standing there, Eric Holder wouldn’t have been with him and I wouldn’t be here right now.”

In 2013, Powell first talked about the “dark vein” when calling out Sarah Palin for her use of “shuckin’ and jivin’” to describe President Obama:

“What do I mean by that [dark vein]? What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities. When I see a former governor say that the president is ‘shuckin’ and jivin’ — that’s a racial-era slave term. You’ve got to think first about what’s the party actually going to represent. If it’s just going to represent the far right wing of the political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty. I’m a moderate, but I’m still a Republican.”

It’s time that the Republicans really have the minority outreach they say they want. They begin by ditching Republican Whip Steve Scalise, and starting to attend events like the Selma anniversary and the March on Washington. They can also ditch their racially motivated suppression of voting. Those would be some great starts. But I for one think the GOP has already shot themselves in the feet and have missed their opportunities.

Thanks, Colin Powell, for reminding us that the dark vein of racism in alive and well in the GOP.

Morning Plum: Republicans won’t have any contingency plan if Court guts subsidies for millions

The Washington Post – Plum Line

With the Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments this week in the lawsuit that could do severe damage to the Affordable Care Act, some Republican lawmakers are working hard to convey the impression that they have a contingency plan for the millions who will likely lose subsidies — and coverage — if the Court rules with the challengers. Senators Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, and John Barrasso have published a Washington Post op ed with an oh-so-reassuring title: “We have a plan for fixing health care.”

The good Senators, amusingly, cast their “plan” as something that will protect people from “the administration’s” actions and from Obamacare itself, not from the consequences of the legal challenge or a Court decision siding with it. The plan vows to “provide financial assistance” for a “transitional period” to those who lose subsidies, while Republicans create a “bridge away from Obamacare.” Of course, anyone who watched last week’s chaos in the House knows Congressional Republicans are unlikely to coalesce around any “transitional” relief for those who lose subsidies (that would require spending federal money to cover people) or any permanent long-term alternative. This chatter appears transparently designed to make it easier for conservative Justices to side with the challengers.

Yet even if this game works on the Justices in the short term, any eventual failure to come through with any  contingency plan could saddle Republicans with a political problem, perhaps even among GOP voters.

A poll taken by Independent Women’s Voice — a group that favors repealing Obamacare in the name of individual liberty — found that in the nearly three dozen states on the federal exchange, 75 percent of respondents think it’s very (54) or somewhat (21) important to restore subsidies to those who lose them. In the dozen main presidential swing states, 75 percent of respondents say the same.

And guess what: Large majorities of Republican voters agree. A spokesperson for the group tells me that in both those groups of states taken together, 62 percent of Republican respondents say its very (31) or somewhat (31) important to restore the subsidies. Only 31 percent of Republicans in those states think doing this is unimportant.

This raises the possibility that a lot of Republican voters would be harmed by an anti-ACA decision, too. As Politico puts it today: “The people who would be affected by a Supreme Court decision against the Obama administration live disproportionately in GOP-governed states, and an Urban Institute study found that many people fall into a demographic crucial to the GOP base — white, Southern and employed.”

Now, none of this means Republicans will be more likely to step forward with a solution. As Avik Roy (who hopes the Court rules against the ACA) acknowledges, Republicans are so divided that uniting on any response is unlikely:

Republicans are being pulled in two directions. On the one hand, you have dozens of House members from highly ideological districts, for whom a primary challenge is a far bigger political risk than a general election. Many members of this group think that continuing Obamacare’s subsidies, in any form, is problematic.

On the other hand, there is a large group of Republican senators in blue and purple states up for reelection in 2016. These include Mark Kirk (Ill.), Ron Johnson (Wisc.), Pat Toomey (Penn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Rob Portman (Ohio). These senators are much more aligned with Hatch, Alexander, and Barrasso.

Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers, who could keep the subsidies flowing to their constituents by setting up state exchanges, are all over the place on what might come next, with some already ruling out such a fix. Indeed, in the end, it probably won’t matter that large majorities of Americans — or even large majorities of Republicans — support restoring the subsidies. On this, as on so many other things, GOP lawmakers will probably take their cues from the more conservative minority of Republicans, whatever the political or policy consequences.

*****************************************************************************************

* WHY JUSTICES SHOULD WEIGH CONSEQUENCES OF ANTI-ACA RULING: Law professor Nicholas Bagley has a terrific piece explaining why the Supreme Court Justices should factor in the fact that siding with the challengers would take health care from millions: This eventuality shows the challengers are misreading the law.

It’s not irrelevant that a ruling in their favor would inflict such damage. To the contrary, that fact helps us correctly interpret the statute’s text. Indeed, it shows that the plaintiffs’ understanding of that text is wrong. As the Supreme Court has said time and again, no provision of a statute should be read in isolation. Laws must be read as a whole, with an eye to harmonizing their interdependent parts. That means the court is reluctant to read a stray passage here or there in a way that would destabilize an entire statutory scheme.

It’s also possible that the real-world implications of an anti-ACA ruling might have legal relevance because they bolster the states’ argument that siding with the challengers would impose unfair retroactive consequences on them without clear warning. Read the whole thing.

* LEGAL CHALLENGE TO THE ACA IS ‘PROVABLE FICTION’:Steven Brill has a must-read in which he documents his close reporting on the creation of the Affordable Care Act, and why that led him to the conclusion that the idea that Congress intended to deny subsidies to those on the federal exchange is nothing but “fiction” and a “fairytale”:

Congressional intent is a fact-based inquiry, not a matter of opinion. Given the unambiguous mountain of facts arrayed for the defense (and well-presented in the briefs submitted by the defense side), it is hard enough to see how the lawyers on the plaintiffs’ side could actually believe in their case…if a majority of supposedly objective justices decide to ignore the facts and buy their argument, they will have engaged in a breathtaking act of political activism.

The Justices, however, could simply conclude that the disputed phrase is not ambiguous enough to warrant Chevron deference to the IRS’ interpretation of the law, despite all the evidence of Congressional intent, not to mention the law’s overall structure and purpose.

* DEMOCRATS ANGRY ABOUT NETANYAHU SPEECH: Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address Congress tomorrow, and the New York Times reports that anger and unease are widespread among Congressional Democrats. The latest tally on who will skip the speech:

So far, 30 Democrats — four senators and 26 representatives — have said they will not attend the speech. Nearly half are African-Americans, who say they feel deeply that Mr. Netanyahu is disrespecting the president by challenging his foreign policy. But a half-dozen of those Democrats planning to stay away are Jewish, and represent 21 percent of Congress’s Jewish members.

Given the historic skittishness among Democrats about appearing even slightly out of sync with what Israel wants, that actually represents something new.

* PARTISAN DIVIDE ON VIEWS OF NETANYAHU: A new NBC News poll finds that  66 percent of Democrats say GOP leaders shouldn’t have invited Netanyahu to speak without notifying the president first, while only 28 percent of Republicans say the same. And only 12 percent of Democrats view Netanyahu favorably, versus 49 percent of Republicans. It bears repeating that when it comes to Israel and diplomacy with Iran, Congressional Democrats are well to the right of their base.

* SCOTT WALKER FLIP-FLOPS ON IMMIGRATION: After previously supporting legalization for the 11 million, Scott Walker tried to get right with conservatives on Fox News Sunday:

“I don’t believe in amnesty…my view has changed. I’m flat out saying it…we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works. A legal immigration system that works.”

However, Walker also said that “there’s a way” to legalize the 11 million if border security is accomplished first. This puts Walker pretty much where Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have come down on the issue.

* TOP CONSERVATIVE: BOEHNER’S JOB IS SAFE: GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, flatly tells CNN that there won’t be any conservative coup to oust Speaker John Boehner: “That’s not gonna happen.”

Duly noted. So what is stopping Boehner from passing long term funding of the Department of Homeland Security with the help of a lot of Democrats? We were repeatedly told during past showdowns that Boehner couldn’t avert crises with Dem help, because he’d lose his Speakership, and each of those ended in the same way.