The Moderates’ Tale (or the Play-Acting Before the Cave)

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As we noted a few weeks ago, the Iron Law of Republican Politics is that the GOP moderates always cave. But the cave is never without a stage managed drama. And that appears to be the part of the story we’re now entering.

Axios just reported that Sen. Shelley Moore Capito is expressing concern over Medicaid cuts in the Senate Trumpcare bill. “I don’t look favorably on it, that’s for sure,” Capito told Axios.

Please.

It’s been clear from the word go that taking an axe to Medicaid was the entire point of this exercise, indeed, an inevitable end point given the budgetary priorities. These are beyond ending Medicaid expansion. They’re the starvation diet Republicans put Medicaid on after kicking everyone off their coverage kicks in.

This is sort of a subchapter of what I discussed in my last post about ‘policy literalism’. It is not only that the ‘GOP moderates always cave.’ It is that we are asked to (and almost always do) indulge this fainting couch routine or a furious bout of chin stroking that comes as a prelude to the cave.

If Capito doesn’t get that this was part of the plan all along she’s literally a fool since this has been a publicly discussed goal from the git-go. This is almost to a certainty a safety-net version of what wingnuts now commonly call “virtue-signaling”, in this case a staged demonstration or interlude put on for effect to soften the blow of signing onto the policy outcomes that are frankly unconscionable. In other words, virtue-signaling but virtue-signaling in bad faith.

This isn’t negotiating or putting a foot down. It’s play acting. It is so consistent, routine and predictable that it needs to be reported as such. Much like hiding behind the lack of a legislative text, on the off chance Sen Capito is serious, she should do something to make that clear. Otherwise, it’s just a yarn, just more nonsense to hide the ball and pave the way for the preordained outcome.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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