By Steve Benen
It’s become a running joke: when Republican get bored with the latest manufactured outrage of the day, they turn to the Benghazi and IRS “scandals” as a standby. Indeed, it’s been widely assumed over the last several weeks that as the Affordable Care Act improves, GOP lawmakers would have no choice but to return to their favorite faux political controversies.
They are nothing if not predictable. Here’s Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) yesterday:
“Since the terrible tragedy that took four American lives in Benghazi, we’ve had difficulty, to put it mildly, trying to get to the bottom of this,” the second-ranking Senate Republican said during a Google Hangout session he held while the Senate is on recess. ”Now the goal is to talk to the Benghazi survivors – people who were actually there who could tell the truth and expose what happened and hold the people responsible accountable. This has been a cover up from the very beginning.”
And here’s House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) soon after:
The House’s chief investigator says the FBI is stonewalling his inquiry into whether the agency and the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative group True the Vote for special scrutiny, and Rep. Darrell E. Issa is now threatening subpoenas to pry loose the information from FBI Director James B. Comey Jr.Mr. Issa, California Republican, and Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, are leading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s IRS inquiry. They also said the FBI is refusing to turn over any documents related to its own investigation into the IRS, which began in the days after an auditor’s report revealed the tax agency had improperly targeted tea party groups for special scrutiny.
The White House should probably consider this a good sign. Remember, as recently as last week, congressional Republicans were reluctant to talk about literally any issue other than the Affordable Care Act, afraid that any distraction from the dysfunctional website might let Democrats off the hook. Even the reaction to the “nuclear option” was muted because Republicans wanted all of the political world’s focus solely on health care – and nothing else.
And it now appears that phase is ending and far-right lawmakers are back to Benghazi and the IRS. If that isn’t affirmation of the White House’s health care initiative getting back on track, nothing is.