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January 30, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - The State of the Union Is Comatose - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - The State of the Union Is Comatose - NYTimes.com.

... One year into Obama’s term we still don’t know whether he has what it takes to get American governance functioning again. But we do know that no speech can do the job. The president must act. Only body blows to the legislative branch can move the country forward.

The historian Alan Brinkley has observed that we will soon enter the fourth decade in which Congress — and therefore government as a whole — has failed to deal with any major national problem, from infrastructure to education. The gridlock isn’t only a function of polarized politics and special interests. There’s also been a gaping leadership deficit.

January 27, 2010

Policies favoring conservatism built into the system

Policies favoring conservatism built into the system - baltimoresun.com.

...Progressives must win repeatedly and at every stage, whereas those opposed to change typically need to win but once, at any stage. Power is as power resists.

Consider, for example, that Republican George W. Bush was able to push not one but three far-from-popular income tax cuts through a Congress boasting smaller Republican majorities than those the Democrats enjoy today. Thanks to the Republican voting tendencies of smaller states, the GOP's Senate majority at the time represented fewer Americans nationally than did the Democratic minorities.

What this and other juxtapositions tell us is that a supermajority is needed to govern from the center-left, whereas a simple majority or even a minority is capable of governing from the center-right. See, for example, the 2000 election result.

Despite the built-in advantages, Republicans aren't shy about obstruction. Filibustering was half as common during the first six years of the Bush administration, when Democrats were the Senate's minority party, than during the three-year era of Republican minorities since.

January 26, 2010

Democrats Now See ‘No Rush’ on Health Care Bill

I guess he liked that curveball thrown by Scott Brown so much he like to get a few more thrown at him?

Democrats Now See ‘No Rush’ on Health Care Bill - NYTimes.com.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” Mr. Reid said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.” He added, “There is no rush,” and noted that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House.

January 25, 2010

'Stealth Democracy'

Ezra Klein - 'Stealth Democracy'  quotes from the abstract of the book, Stealth Democracy:
Contrary to the prevailing view that people want greater involvement in politics, most citizens do not care about most policies and therefore are content to turn over decision-making authority to someone else. People’s wish for the political system is that decision makers be empathetic and, especially, non-self-interested, not that they be responsive and accountable to the people’s largely nonexistent policy preferences or, even worse, that the people be obligated to participate directly in decision making.

White House Plans for the Middle Class. Middle Grades

I would rate it as less than "middle grades" for the Middle Class.  The problem in America isn't that taxes are too high (they are low relative to the rest of the world), it is that incomes are too low.  American median income (unless you're in the top few percent) has been flat since about 1980, and has declined for lower income people.

We don't need tax cuts to make the middle class more affordable, we need higher incomes, more jobs.

I grade the tax-cuts-and-deficit-reduction plan a "D".

White House Plans for the Middle Class. Middle Grades. | OurFuture.org.

Mostly, the new initiatives don’t create jobs. Doubling the child tax credit, limiting student loan payments to ten percent of income, expanding tax credits to match retirement savings – they’re just relief. They are designed to help underpaid or unemployed people to cope when they don’t have enough money. They don’t create jobs or generate wealth. asdf

Rebuilding our infrastructure and offering public service jobs when the private sector fails, [Economic Policy Institute] estimates the plan will create over 4.6 million jobs in the first year, at a gross cost of roughly $400. The entire cost would be recouped within ten years by a financial transactions tax, which would take effect three years after enactment.

Open Left:: It's Official: Obama is an idiot .

After passing a stimulus that most economists (not just liberal ones) said was too small, and that was made even more inadequate by being heavily tilted toward poor-performing tax-cuts, Obama is now intentionally recreating FDR's mistake of 1937, when he prematurely cut back spending to try to balance the budget, and sent the country into a new recession.

January 20, 2010

Poll Shouts The Message Massachusetts Voters Were Sending

Poor polling questions and lazy analysis can mislead.  Many people are unhappy because there isn't enough change, not because it went too far.  In Massachusetts, for example, more than half who had voted for Obama and voted for Brown say Democrats in Congress haven't done enough:

Poll Shouts The Message Massachusetts Voters Were Sending | OurFuture.org.

The numbers in the Research 2000 exit poll ... speak for themselves: The Massachusetts election was not a call to go back to conservatism. It was, as Robert Borosage on our site said earlier today and as such commentators as Katrina vanden Heuvel are saying, a call for Democrats to be bolder, more audacious and unapologetic in pursuing the populist reforms the public thought it was going to get after the 2008 elections.

The poll focused on Massachusetts residents who voted for President Obama in 2008 but who either voted for Senate republican candidate Scott Brown or did not vote at all. These responses from Brown voters should stand out:

Generally speaking do you think Barack Obama and Democrats in Washington, DC are delivering enough on the change Obama promised to bring to America during the campaign?

  • Yes 31% 
  • No 57% 
  • Not sure 12%

And the notion that Democrats should back off of healthcare reform is even more roundly rejected:

Would you favor or oppose the national government offering everyone the choice of a government administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans?
  • Favor 82%
  • Oppose 14%
  • Not Sure 4%

People want Democrats to get with their program and deliver to the American people, not waffle in a lobbyist and faux bi-partisan kabuki dance that delivers nothing or a corporate-sponsored mess.

Scott Brown Wins Mass. Race, Giving GOP 41-59 Majority in the Senate

Scott Brown Wins Mass. Race, Giving GOP 41-59 Majority in the Senate - New York News - Runnin' Scared.
...Democrats like Evan Bayh, who portrays the election as a "wake-up call," indicating that Democrats should propose a weaker health care bill that will not piss off insurance lobbyists and other powerful Republican constituencies.

Fools On The Hill

Fools On The Hill - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com.

Finally, Democrats have to realize that politics isn’t just about where you stand on issues, it’s about perceptions of a party’s character. The rap on Dems has always been that they’re wimps — and giving in on such a central part of the party’s agenda, emerging from two years in power with nothing major to show for it, will play right into that perception.

Just do it — pass health care. Then move on to confronting the bankers.

Re: My dad is a human astroturf machine - here's his explanation

Daily Kos: My dad is a human astroturf machine - here's his explanation.

According to my dad, the Democrats could regain their momentum by clearly demonstrating to the people of this country that they can stare down the insurance lobby and their shills on both sides of the aisle, and that they can create jobs, pay down the national debt, and rebuild the middle class.

Dad says that this election, like the elections in New Jersey and Virginia, is about the failure of Democratic leaders to clearly put themselves on the side of We the People who have been getting screwed for the last decade and longer.  

And when Democrats don't stand with We the People, they lose.  Period.  

January 08, 2010

Public Opinion Snapshot: The Public's Priorities: Jobs vs. the Deficit

Public Opinion Snapshot: The Public's Priorities: Jobs vs. the Deficit.

When the choice was creating more jobs even if there was less deficit reduction or reducing the deficit even if unemployment remained high, the result was even more lopsided. By 3:1 (74-25), the public favored creating more jobs.

This suggests that while policymakers should be sensitive to public concern about the deficit, they should not forget that jobs are still the top priority.

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