Republicans want to investigate Biden or even impeach him. Is that what 2022 voters want?

Republicans won't say how they'd solve problems, but they do have plans for payback after Democrats impeached Trump twice. Even though he deserved it.

Fortune is smiling on Republicans these days. Inflation and gas prices are high, the baby formula supply is low, violent crime is rising, and you can participate in a failed coup to keep a defeated president in power and still have a good chance of winning control of Congress

In the fantasy world of the GOP, the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, is a nothingburger that needs to be forgotten ASAP; Democrats are responsible for all of America’s problems; and they are derelict in not fixing them. Yet, sadly for Americans coping with all of this and for their own electoral prospects, Democrats cannot control supply-chain disruptions that affect the whole world – from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns in China to the Russian war on Ukraine. 

And guess what? Republicans wouldn’t be able to, either. 

Trump deserved both impeachments

So it's no wonder that their Plan A is attack, attack, attack. Two-thirds of Republicans in a poll last month said President Joe Biden should be impeached, and the calls are coming from all over the Donald Trump universe: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, because Biden "has the gall to claim the 2nd Amendment isn’t absolute"; Trump adviser Steve Bannon, because “Trump won the presidency” and Biden is "illegitimate”; former Trump White House aide Peter Navarro, for “Ukraine, the southern border, all manner of things he is guilty of”; and writer Mollie Hemingway, because Biden pleaded for new gun safety laws after massacres in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at a Senate runoff campaign rally in Dalton, Ga., on Jan. 4, 2021.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn says he’d court-martial Biden if he could over “criminal negligence” in the baby formula shortage (it’s terrible, but the problem stems from supply chain issues, a safety recall and bureaucratic missteps). Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has called on Biden to resign because, he says, it’s the most effective thing the president can do “to solve the inflation crisis he created.” (See above, the crisis is global, and Biden did not create it.) 

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Lauren Boebert and the House Freedom Caucus are among the conservatives who have called for Biden's impeachment or resignation over America’s chaotic, deadly departure from Afghanistan. But Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., told Politico he and other members were feeling constituent pressure to impeach Biden even before that. Sen. Ted Cruz said in January that the GOP will probably impeach Biden whether it's “justified or not,” and blamed Democrats for “weaponizing” impeachment.

GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia scream "Build the Wall" at President Joe Biden on March 1, 2022, in the House chamber in Washington.

In fact, Democrats impeached Trump twice for exactly the type of “high crimes and misdemeanors” the Founders doubtless had in mind: asking a foreign leader to help him smear a political opponent (Biden) in exchange for military aid against Russia that Congress had already allocated, and inciting a violent attack on the Capitol to prevent Biden from becoming president.

Republicans are quiet about how they’d solve problems like Ukraine, inflation, gas prices, crime, immigration or baby formula production. They are following guidance Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell immortalized in January when asked what his party will do if it takes back Congress: “I’ll let you know when we take it back.” 

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Scott, who heads the GOP Senate campaign committee, is a walking example of why McConnell’s north star is cynicism. Scott proposed that every American have “skin in the game” by paying some income tax (including retirees and the poor) and said all federal laws (including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) should “sunset” – or “go on the chopping block” every five years, as Biden put it. 

Republicans were so upset that McConnell had to get explicit: "We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people, and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years." Scott revised his tax plan last week. 

President Joe Biden talks about inflation and Republicans aboard the Battleship USS Iowa Museum in Los Angeles on June 10, 2022.

There is at least one signal of what to expect: a payback agenda of investigations that GOP leaders will launch if (some say when) they win majorities. Think Benghazi on steroids. The U.S. exit from Afghanistan, Biden's COVID response, immigration at the southern border and Dr. Anthony Fauci are on the list. It's topped by presidential son Hunter Biden, with his mysterious laptop and his overseas business connections, which the Justice Department is already investigating.

As it happens, Trump son-in-law and former White House aide Jared Kushner is also under investigation – by a House committee looking at a $2 billion Saudi government investment in a firm he started soon after leaving the White House. As for COVID-19, if anyone's response warrants investigation, it’s Trump’s reign of wacky and dangerous misinformation, shortages of supplies, tests and data, and Darwinian competition among states instead of a national response led by the president.

Jan. 6 committee in GOP sights

The latest addition to Republicans' to-do list is an investigation of the Jan. 6 committee's investigation. They should be careful what they wish for. Look at special counsel John Durham’s investigation of the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. It has been underwhelming at best, and that’s no surprise. The Department of Justice's inspector general found three years ago that the FBI's Russia investigation was justified on the evidence and was not a political plot against Trump. 

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If Republicans control the House or Senate, they'll be able to investigate to their hearts’ content. That is not the same as problem-solving. Nor is it the same as impeaching a president who incited the first violent transfer of power in American history, and investigating that insurrection to ensure accountability and a historical record. 

The last time Republicans ran the country, their president started a trade war that raised consumer prices. Their main achievement was a lopsided tax law that funneled large, permanent benefits to corporations and the wealthy, made temporary and modest cuts to individual rates, and baked in 2027 tax hikes for everyone with incomes less than $75,000, which is most people. 

Voters in the 2022 midterms will have to weigh vague GOP promises to grapple with real problems against the Democrats' true record and the existential risks of putting Trump-addicted, anti-democracy Republicans in charge of any part of the U.S. government.

Jill Lawrence is a columnist for USA TODAY and author of "The Art of the Political Deal: How Congress Beat the Odds and Broke Through Gridlock." Follow her on Twitter: @JillDLawrence