On the Divided GOP and Some Advice for Haslam

Chas Sisk has a piece on signs of division in Tennessee Republican ranks. An excerpt with some of his examples:
A task force appointed by Haslam to come up with a plan for school voucher legislation wound up kicking the can down the road, as members could not agree about what limits should be placed on the measure in an environment where proponents think they can do almost anything.
Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey also have expressed public differences over guns-in-trunks legislation, an issue that has divided Republicans in recent years.
And on Wednesday, several Republican lawmakers joined in a rally at the state Capitol to oppose setting up a state-run health insurance exchange. Haslam — who emerged from this year’s legislative session with sky-high approval ratings, even winning over a majority of Democrats — has said he has not decided whether to go forward with an exchange. But state Sen. Bill Ketron, one of the top Republicans in the Senate, claimed a mandate to oppose state involvement.
“We spoke out loud and clear against Obamacare, and we elected supermajorities in both houses,” he told the crowd, some of whom brought along signs calling for Haslam to be fired. “We are a bold state of red who is making it clear where we stand.”
…Shortly after Thanksgiving, House Republicans agreed to nominate House Speaker Beth Harwell for a second term. The GOP caucus also punished one of the few voices of dissent to emerge by voting to strip state Rep. Judd Matheny, who publicly flirted last fall with the idea of challenging Harwell for the speakership, of his position as speaker pro tempore.
But even the smallest fractures within the caucus could be exploited. On Thursday, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh called on Haslam to consider vetoing any measure that would allow guns in the parking lots of colleges and universities, a reference to the governor’s differences with Ramsey over gun legislation.
…At Wednesday’s rally at the state Capitol, several conservative activists declared that the November election gave Tennessee Republicans a mandate to dig in their heels.
“We’re the majority,” radio host Steve Gill told the crowd. “Our no should mean more than their yes.”
Gill and several other speakers linked the dispute over health care exchanges to the battle at the state Capitol over an income tax in the early 2000s.

Columnist Gail Kerr, meanwhile, weighs in on one of the sources of GOP disagreement, advising Haslam to choose pragmatism over politics in the health care exchange debate.
But here’s the sticky wicket: Republicans loathe the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Haslam will have to get the legislature to pass whichever choice he makes, and if he opts to let the state run the program, that will not be easy. Lawmakers do not want to look as if they are endorsing Obamacare (and they wouldn’t be — they’d be following the law).
Add to the mix 250 tea party protesters who gathered last week at War Memorial Plaza with their wacky triangle hats and their tired signs. They don’t get it: The fight over the Affordable Care Act is over. The law passed. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld it. Barack Obama was re-elected president, and this is his signature program. Staging a protest that you still don’t like it is akin to believing the tooth fairy is real
…Haslam told Republicans last week that he’s determined to find the “right answer” by Friday, and not let politics enter into the decision.
“The easy political answer is just to say no, we’re not doing a state-based exchange because it’s the easiest answer,” he said.
Haslam knows, and the GOP-dominated legislature needs to admit, the easy answer is not always the right answer. This is one of those times

One thought on “On the Divided GOP and Some Advice for Haslam

  1. Eric Holcombe

    “Staging a protest that you still don’t like it is akin to believing the tooth fairy is real”
    I guess Gail still lives in the English colonies…maybe close to the capitol at Williamsburg, licking Lord Dunsmore’s boots.
    “The fight over the Affordable Care Act is over. The law passed. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld it.”
    “If the law supposes that … the law is a ass—a idiot.”

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