House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Va., used the GOP's Saturday radio address to roll out his package of proposals for the coming week. He mentioned positive, albeit limited, efforts to corral big government, including congressional review of new regulations that increase costs to businesses and requiring government agencies to adopt customer service standards.
I would suggest, however, that House Republicans would be smart to address the biggest job-killer and source of mistrust in government by focusing on Obamacare. They should do so in meaningful ways that go beyond empty threats to shut down the government.
First, the straw that may break the back of Obamacare is the state exchanges. Anecdotal reports suggest that these exchanges, at least half of which are to be operated by the feds, are a tangled mess. The House should hold hearings, call in the governors and pull back the curtain on the chaos about to unfold.
In addition, the House should remind voters what we know about the Internal Revenue Service scandal, what the administration has told us and how the White House's evolving story has diverged from the facts. Then it will be time to pull in the IRS to explain how it is going to run Obamacare. What protections are in place? Who will have authority to oversee this, and are any personnel involved in the current IRS scandal going to be running Obamacare? The level of trust that the administration seeks to invest in a troubled and disgraced agency is jaw-dropping, and voters should know about it.
And finally, it is time for the House GOP to come up with its own substitute for health care. When I asked Cantor on Friday why a GOP health-care bill hadn't been passed, he said he wasn't sure that "a single, omnibus bill" was the answer. Fair enough, but what about two or three bills (just as the House is doing on immigration reform)?
Now it may be that strategically the House Republicans want to focus on Obamacare and don't want to offer a plan for the Democrats to shoot at. That has worked for a while, but it's not going to be enough as we get closer to the 2014 election. Moreover, it is not in keeping with the House leadership's own pledge to "repeal and replace" Obamacare.
No, a GOP plan won't pass, but don't Republicans have an obligation to put one out there (just as they have done on the budget)? I think so.
Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post.