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Why Republicans Have No Incentives to Make Deals with Obama

Two-Thirds of Republicans Want GOP Leaders to ‘Stand Up’ to ObamaI’m very skeptical that any significant legislative deals will be reached between congressional Republicans and President Obama over the next two years because Republican members have almost no incentive to compromise.

In the house most seats have been gerrymandered to be very safe for one party or the other. As a result many house Republicans have more to fear from a primary challenge than losing in a general election. Similarly, in the Senate many of the Republican held seats are in reliably red states and several Republicans senators are thinking about a possible 2016 presidential run. At the moment these potential candidates need to be focused on appealing to the Republican base to win the Presidential primary.

The Republican base clearly doesn’t want compromise with Obama. Pew Research found that only a third of the Republican base voters last week wanted Republicans in congress to try to reach difficult compromises with Obama, while two thirds want congressional Republicans to “stand up” to Obama.

Being a Republican that tries to make deals with Obama seems like a very risky proposal. Just look at how Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) standing in the 2016 Presidential primary polling dropped after he was working on a possible compromise with Obama on immigration reform.

Beyond Primary Politics

There is also little reason to think reaching deals with Obama will help Republicans in general elections either.

After all Obama campaigned on being an uniter and has constantly over the past six years tried to seize the mantel of the ‘most serious dealmaker.’ In effect Obama has set himself up to claim most of the credit for any compromised reached. Any decent compromise probably results in bigger political improvements for Democrats than Republicans. Since two party politics is a zero-sum game that would be a lose for the GOP.

In addition, we saw in the last election that when the federal government is not working people tend to blame the party of the President more. Keeping the federal government from doing anything has been working for Republicans.

The incentive extends beyond just raw politics. For Republicans that actually care about their policies, they have two options. They can try to get a few items approved in a deal with Obama now, or they can bet on trying to create a possible climate for a GOP win in 2016. That would give them full control of the federal government and allow them to advance many of their priorities. At the moment it seems many Republicans would prefer to second option.

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Why Republicans Have No Incentives to Make Deals with Obama

Two-Thirds of Republicans Want GOP Leaders to ‘Stand Up’ to ObamaI’m very skeptical that any significant legislative deals will be reached between congressional Republicans and President Obama over the next two years because Republican members have almost no incentive to compromise.

In the house most seats have been gerrymandered to be very safe for one party or the other. As a result many house Republicans have more to fear from a primary challenge than losing in a general election. Similarly, in the Senate many of the Republican held seats are in reliably red states and several Republicans senators are thinking about a possible 2016 presidential run. At the moment these potential candidates need to be focused on appealing to the Republican base to win the Presidential primary.

The Republican base clearly doesn’t want compromise with Obama. Pew Research found that only a third of the Republican base voters last week wanted Republicans in congress to try to reach difficult compromises with Obama, while two thirds want congressional Republicans to “stand up” to Obama.

Being a Republican that tries to make deals with Obama seems like a very risky proposal. Just look at how Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) standing in the 2016 Presidential primary polling dropped after he was working on a possible compromise with Obama on immigration reform.

Beyond Primary Politics

There is also little reason to think reaching deals with Obama will help Republicans in general elections either.

After all Obama campaigned on being an uniter and has constantly over the past six years tried to seize the mantel of the ‘most serious dealmaker.’ In effect Obama has set himself up to claim most of the credit for any compromised reached. Any decent compromise probably results in bigger political improvements for Democrats than Republicans. Since two party politics is a zero-sum game that would be a lose for the GOP.

In addition, we saw in the last election that when the federal government is not working people tend to blame the party of the President more. Keeping the federal government from doing anything has been working for Republicans.

The incentive extends beyond just raw politics. For Republicans that actually care about their policies, they have two options. They can try to get a few items approved in a deal with Obama now, or they can bet on trying to create a possible climate for a GOP win in 2016. That would give them full control of the federal government and allow them to advance many of their priorities. At the moment it seems many Republicans would prefer to second option.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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