As of 1:30 PM this afteroon (EDT), confusion reigns across the rightosphereon just what House Minority Leader John Boehner and his number two (Eric Cantor, the Congressman from a district neighboring mine) had in mind when they put their names to two discharge petitions (one from Steve King, the other from Wally Herger) for bills purporting to repeal Democare.
To hear Eric Erickson (Red State) tell it, the two-bills-is-better-than-one move was a clever bait and switch designed to prevent repeal, rather than enhance its prospects:
Notice that Cantor and Boehner were absolutely silent on Rep. King’s efforts until they had Wally Herger’s discharge petition ready to go. Why? Because they want to bully Republican House members into signing the Herger petition and undercut the repeal effort with a “replace and replace with lame legislation” effort. In effect, this undercuts a unified repeal effort and muddies the waters.
Now, yours truly has been leery of Messrs. Boehner and Cantor ever since they rolled over for TARP two years ago. Additionally, the muddy-the-water-with-multiple-bills move is hardly unprecedented or unbelievable. Finally, Herger’s “replacement” could very well be as weak as Erickson says it is.
There is, however, one problem, namely coming straight from the Hill article to which Erickson himself links:
King’s petition would repeal parts of the healthcare reform law that originated in the Senate, while Herger’s petition would repeal all of the healthcare law and the reconciliation bill.
Wouldn’t that make Herger’s bill closer to genuine repeal?
I don’t ask that rhetorically. I’d really like to know. My eyes say yes, but a blogger I trust says no. They can’t both be right.
UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru weighs in on the subject in The Corner. He doesn’t question motives, but he argues – convincingly – that Herger’s replacement bill gets in the way of King’s repeal bill. Just as importantly, he explains why King’s bill doesn’t repeal the reconciliation side-car (it was introduced before the sidecar passed). I’m not ready to say Cantor and Boehner deliberately damaged King’s petition, but I now agree that Herger’s bill distracts.