Taking a beating with the base over his work on comprehensive immigration reform, Rubio's been engaged in some image rehab, to prove to Republican presidential primary voters that he really is as crazy as they are. Not only is he planning a high-profile -- but completely doomed from the start -- push for a national 20-week abortion plan, but he has another idea to display his extremism for the nutjobs:
Politico: Sen. Marco Rubio says upcoming spending battles this fall could be the “last best chance” to enact changes to Obamacare.
“It’s still not too late,” the Florida Republican wrote in an op-ed published Thursday on FoxNews.com. “This September may be our last best chance to do anything about this disastrous law.”
Rubio and other Senate Republicans have already signed a letter promising not to support a continuing resolution or appropriations bill that funds further implementation or enforcement of the law.
It may or may not be Rubio's idea, but he's clearly taking leadership with it. And whether or not this actually happens is an open question. It's looking more and more like it won't. Steve Benen reports, "On Wednesday, the number of Republican senators on record with the government-shutdown threat was 17. Yesterday, while the right tried to find new signatories [to the letter Rubio mentioned], the number of backers actually dropped to 12 -- Sens. Ayotte, Boozman, Cornyn, Kirk, and Wicker all pulled their support without explanation."
Meanwhile, Republicans who haven't signed the letter are piling on this idea as the dumbest thing they've seen in a while. Republicans Tom Cole, Roy Blunt, John McCain, Richard Burr, and GOP pollster Brock McCleary have all publicly declared Rubio's position the stupidest thing ever. Obama's approvals may be down right now, but they still soar over those of congress. President Obama is easily the most popular leader in Washington. If there's a government shutdown or a debt default over Obamacare, Republicans will almost certainly take the blame for it.
"If you ask me what is the one thing that could reshuffle the deck on an otherwise stable mid-term environment in 2014, the answer is a government shutdown," McCleary told Politico. "Convincing voters that the other side is to blame would become a game of high-stakes politics."
But the damage may already be done. The mere existence of the plan may be enough to derail Republican prospects. What happens if there isn't a shutdown could be as bad for Republicans as what happens if there is. According to Politico, "Republican leaders are growing concerned by the fervor with which some members are demanding that Boehner defund the health care law as part of the government funding talks."
Of course, rightwing talk radio is really excited about the whole idea, because people like Limbaugh and Hannity have never met a stupid idea they didn't absolutely love. And that means the base is getting riled up over the idea. If it doesn't happen, a lot of Republicans who didn't back a shutdown -- i.e., most of them -- could face primary challenges from Tea Partiers as part of another round of RiNO hunting. And that means lots of Todd Akins and Steve Kings saying stupid, extremist things and throwing away their elections.
So if they go ahead with this awesome plan, they lose elections. If they ditch it, they lose elections. No matter what happens, Marco Rubio probably won't be getting many thank you notes from his Republican colleagues.
[photo by Rhys Asplundh]