Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Last Call

What is it about Republicans doubling down the bet with a lousy hand showing?
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) still want transparency. But forget about that invitation to a televised bipartisan health care summit that Republicans shied away from after months of calling for more transparency and a seat at the table. The real issue, it would seem, is now more transparency on jobs.

The two Republican leaders wrote a letter to House Democratic leadership today, challenging them to a televised debate on jobs creation "in the interest of complete transparency."

You may remember Boehner as the lawmaker who fretted that President Obama's televised Feb. 25 health care reform summit might be some kind of "set-up" -- after he'd demanded just that kind of transparency.

Cantor had also suggested that Republicans would bail on Obama's televised bipartisan health care meeting if certain demands weren't met. He later relented and said he'd "absolutely" attend.

Regardless, Republican leaders would like cameras around for a jobs talk, too. In their letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) today, Boehner and Cantor asked that Democrats follow the President's precedent "and agree to participate in an open meeting focused on job creation and economic growth."
Yeah, Orange Julius and Kid Nasty here really want to get spanked on jobs when Obama's stopped the massive bleeding Bush started?  They want to debate if the stimulus saved jobs with Obama on live TV?  And they really, really want to bring up transparency after the last administration's unprecedented secrecy and legal legerdemain when Obama will stomp them on "And how many stimulus project ribbon cuttings have you been to, Mr. Boehner?"  Orange Julius has no problem announcing grants for firefighters at fire stations all over his district through a grant program from FEMA that got funding restored after being cut by the Republicans got it!  The Stimulus Bill that Orange Julius and all the Republicans voted against!

Sure.  You boys go right ahead.  Take on Obama live on TV on jobs and the stimulus package.  I want to see roadblock coverage of him kicking your ass in HD.

Warning Signs

Hey America?  This kind of thing will become all too common should you want to kick "Dems that aren't progressive enough" out of office to "teach them a lesson."

They get replaced with Republicans looking to roll back as much of the last 80 years as possible in the name of Teabagger purity.
Gays and lesbians in Virginia have lost specific protection from discrimination in the workplace after  Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) reissued the state's non-discrimination policy with one group conspicuously absent from the list.

This order is in furtherance of the stated policy enacted by the General Assembly, and specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.

It didn't take McDonnell long to issue this executive order. He took office Jan. 16 of this year and signed the order less than three weeks later on Feb. 5.

The order rescinds the policy of his predecessor Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat who promised to be "fair and inclusive" in his inaugural address and then — as one of his first actions — added veterans and sexual orientation to the state's non-discrimination policy.

Gov. McDonnell assured reporters that his administration is not anti-gay, and that he will work to ensure fair treatment of all workers.
Except for the ones that get fired due to sexual orientation.  That's perfectly fine.  In Bob McDonnell's world, gays and lesbians don't exist anyway.  They're just confused.  Ergo, it's not discrimination to fire somebody because of sexual preference anyhow to the GOP.  Why condone that behavior by protecting it from discrimination under the law?  That would be recognizing discrimination against gays and lesbians exists, after all.

And no bigot likes to be called a bigot.  You're the bigot for discriminating against straight people, is how that "logic" goes.

Messaging Comes From The Top Down, Guys

John Aravosis of AmericaBlog and several other bloggers I link to got together at the White House today to talk to the Vice President's point man on the stimulus, Jared Bernstein.  As Atrios would say, it quickly turned into an excuse for Applied Hippie Punching.
I guess what struck me as most interesting about the meeting were two things. First, when Bernstein noted that, in trying to solve the country's economic problems, the administration faces "budget constraints and political constraints." By that, I took Bernstein to mean that the stimulus could only be so large last time, and we can only spend so much more money this time, because we're facing a huge deficit, so there's not much money to spend, and because the Hill and public opinion won't let us spend more.

That struck me as GOP talking points winning the day, and I said so (Professor Kyle wrote about this very notion the other day on the blog). The only reason we're facing a budget constraint is because we gave in on the political constraint. We permitted Republicans to spin the first stimulus as an abysmal failure, when in fact it created or saved up to 2m jobs. Since Democrats didn't adequately defend the stimulus, and didn't sufficiently paint the deficit as the Republicans' doing, we now are not "politically" permitted to have a larger stimulus because the fiscal constraint has become more important than economic recovery.

And whose fault is that?

Apparently ours.

Bernstein said that the progressive blogs (perhaps he said progressive media in general) haven't done enough over the past year to tell the positive side of the stimulus.
Apparently, the White House has a bit of a problem with the whole "You know, we told you the stimulus had to be bigger" thing from the blogs.  Now, I'm not even in the same league as Oliver Willis or Chris Hayes or Matthew Yglesias, but I figured out that the White House was going to end up stuck in the middle of the road becaus Obama allowed politics to determine how much the stimulus was going to be, not pragmatism, and they pretty much said the same damn thing.  Aravosis wisely sees the bigger problem here:
The problem with the stimulus messaging is, well, the stimulus messaging itself. The problem is the White House messaging operation. It kind of sucks. And while Joe and I were living in Democratic exile over the past year for being the Cassandra's who saw all of this coming early on, nowadays it's pretty much accepted around town that the WH has been losing the messaging war with the GOP on a lot of issues. The stimulus isn't the problem, it's the symptom. We had the same issue come up with health care reform, a wildly popular idea that somehow the White House just couldn't sell.
And still refuse to sell, I might add. I'm going to go out a little further on that limb and say Obama's economic team has been the core problem all along, specifically Geithner and Summers.  Obama lowballed it all the way down, started at the compromise position, and the GOP talked him down well past what was acceptable to anyone who knew any better.

Meh, I look like furniture in a suit anyway.  So much for that White House invite.

Wheels Within Wheels

Turns out the GOP actually does have a health care plan.  It's to allow health insurance companies to screw over the American people like credit card companies have.  Ever wonder why all those credit card companies are headquartered in South Dakota?  It's because that the laws are set up for credit card companies to only have to make national offerings based on the laws of the state they are in.  Ezra Klein has the rest of the answer:
Citibank wrote an absurdly pro-credit card law, the legislature passed it, and soon all the credit card companies were heading to South Dakota. And that's exactly what would happen with health-care insurance. The industry would put its money into buying the legislature of a small, conservative, economically depressed state. The deal would be simple: Let us write the regulations and we'll bring thousands of jobs and lots of tax dollars to you. Someone will take it. The result will be an uncommonly tiny legislature in an uncommonly small state that answers to an uncommonly conservative electorate that will decide what insurance will look like for the rest of the nation.

As it happens, the Congressional Budget Office looked at a bill along these lines back in 2005. They found that the legislation wouldn't change the number of the uninsured and would save the federal government about $12 billion between 2007 and 2015. That is to say, it would do very little in the aggregate.

But those top-line numbers hid a more depressing story. The legislation "would reduce the price of individual health insurance coverage for people expected to have relatively low health care costs, while increasing the price of coverage for those expected to have relatively high health care costs," CBO said. "Therefore, CBO expects that there would be an increase in the number of relatively healthy individuals, and a decrease in the number of individuals expected to have relatively high cost, who buy individual coverage."

That is to say, the legislation would not change the number of insured Americans or save much money, but it would make insurance more expensive for the sick and cheaper for the healthy, and lead to more healthy people with insurance and fewer sick people with insurance. It's a great proposal if you don't ever plan to be sick, and if you don't mind finding out that your insurer doesn't cover your illness. And it's the Republican plan for health-care reform.
So yes, the Republican health care plan would be simple:  find the state with the fewest regulations and allow every insurance company in America to sell insurance from that state.  Worked for the credit card companies for decades, and look where that got us, eh?

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Once again, if this was a person talking about a Republican incumbent, it would be a national scandal, and the right would DEMAND!!11! that every single Democratic member of Congress, every Cabinet Secretary, the President and Vice-President, and every candidate for office would have to go on record as denouncing everyone related with the organization or else.
A tea party gathering in Asotin County, Washington turned more than a bit ugly on Saturday when a featured speaker actually called for the hanging of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash), the fourth ranking Democrat in the Senate and a vulnerable re-election candidate.

"How many of you have watched the movie Lonesome Dove?," asked an unidentified female speaker from the podium. "What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd? What happened to Jake when he ran with the wrong crowd. He got hung. And that's what I want to do with Patty Murray."
But there's no such thing as a violent Tea Partier.

The Utah Saints Versus Logic

Is there something in the water in Salt Lake City that causes mass delusions in lawmakers?  First it was legislation attacking global warming because there's these nice salf flats to bury your head in to avoid science, then legislation attacking the 12th grade because intelligent and educated people are some sort of threat, now it's legislation banning affirmative action because...well, you fill in the reason.
Lawmakers moved quickly Friday to place a ban on affirmative action in the Utah Constitution, despite little evidence the practice is being used or has caused problems.

A resolution that would prevent local governments, state agencies and public colleges from discriminating or providing preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin sailed through a legislative committee only two days after it was made public.

To amend the constitution, the resolution would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote in the state House and Senate and be signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert. Voters also would have to approve the measure this fall.

The proposal is likely to have little trouble getting the necessary votes for passage in the GOP-dominated Legislature.

A House committee approved the measure known as House Joint Resolution 24 with a 10-4 vote Friday. The full House will likely vote on it next week.

Opponents said there was little time to seek public input about the proposal by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield.
"To pull this bill out two days ago, and ram it down the throats of this community, is awful," said Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City. "This is big, and it deserves public input."

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, said she wasn't made aware of the proposal until Thursday night.

"He's trying to kind of do it in a backdoor approach, which I find very offensive," Williams said.
I know.  Utah has a branch of the NAACP?  That's got to be a depressing ass job, mainly because of useless idiocy like this.

In all seriousness, the Utah GOP is launching an all out assault on science, education, and minorities.  And you can expect this kind of Teabagging fun in all the other 49 states should the GOP get the kind of control they are looking for in 2010.

What Would, In Fact, Jesus Do On Abu Ghraib And Torture?

I give Andrew Sullivan a hard time sometimes, especially on his Trig Palin tangents.  I don't often say this much, but today Sully's given us a beautiful piece on the Catholic arguments for and against the United States using torture to save lives.  Former Bush speechwriter and author Marc Thiessen makes the argument that these techniques are morally justified from not just a moral standpoint, but a religious one.   Sully absolutely destroys this argument with the best writing I've seen out of him in a long, long time.
But the Catechism is very clear about this:
Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.
Notice that torture for a Catholic includes "moral violence," in which a human being's body is not even touched - the kind of sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, or crippling total isolation deployed by the US government for months at a time. Subjecting someone to weeks of sleep deprivation as was done to al-Qhatani, or freezing human beings to states of near-deadly hypothermia, let alone threatening to crush the testicles of a prisoner's child, as John Yoo said was within the president's legal and constitutional authority in the war on terror, is obviously at the very least moral violence. The idea any of it is somehow defensible as a Catholic position is so offensive, so absurd, so outrageous it beggars belief.
Moreover, the US Catholic Bishops have also made their position quite clear. From Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director, Office of International Justice and Peace, Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
"Torture is about the rights of victims, but it is also about who we are as a people. In a statement on Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, issued in preparation for our recent national elections [2008], the bishops reminded Catholics that torture is 'intrinsically evil' and 'can never be justified.' There are some things we must never do. We must never take the lives of innocent people. We must never torture other human beings."
This is not a hedged statement. It is a categorical statement that what Thiessen is defending is, from a Catholic point of view, intrinsically evil and something that cannot be done under any circumstances. Pope John Paul II's Enclyclical, Veritatis Splendor, contains the following passage:
"... 'there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object'. ... 'whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity' ... 'all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator.'"
The notion of the integrity of the human person, of human dignity, is integral to the Catholic faith. We are all made in the image of God, imago Dei. The central and divine figure in our faith, Jesus of Nazareth, was brutally tortured. He was also robbed of dignity, forced to wear a mocking crown of thorns, sent to carry a crippling cross through the streets of Jerusalem, mocked while in agony, his body exposed naked and twisted in the stress position known as crucifixion - which was often done without nails by Romans so that the death was slow and agonizing in the way stress positions are designed to be. Ask John McCain. That the Catholic church in the Inquisition deployed these techniques reveals the madness and evil that can infect even those institutions purportedly created to oppose all such things.
The entire post is worth your time to read.  Please do so.

I don't talk about my religious beliefs much, other than to say that I was raised Catholic and come from a long line of Catholics.  My religion has always been ACC college basketball, if I have one.  But this is the most moving argument I've read in some time that tackles this topic, and it is why I still believe that President Obama and AG Eric Holder need to prosecute these crimes.

Because that's what they are.  Crimes.  Not just legally, but morally too.

Counting To Ten(ther)

South Carolina Republican State Rep Mike Pitts is pretty serious when he says "We don't want your government money."  He's taking that quite literally.
Pitts, a fourth-term Republican from Laurens, introduced legislation earlier this month that would ban what he calls “the unconstitutional substitution of Federal Reserve Notes for silver and gold coin” in South Carolina.

If the bill were to become law, South Carolina would no longer accept or use anything other than silver and gold coins as a form of payment for any debt, meaning paper money would be out in the Palmetto State.

Pitts said the intent of the bill is to give South Carolina the ability to “function through gold and silver coinage” and give the state a “base of currency” in the event of a complete implosion of the U.S. economic system.

“I’m not one to cry ‘chicken little,’ but if our federal government keeps spending at the rate we’re spending I don’t see any other outcome than the collapse of the economic system,” Pitts said. 
Gotta love that tenther lunacy.  I was unaware that the Tenth Amendment read in part "And it shall be determined that the States shall be allowed free reign to do whatever the hell they deem appropriate."  Of course, not using US currency would be kind of unconstitutional, not to mention stupid:
“It violates a perfectly legal and Constitutional federal law, enacted pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, that federal reserve notes are legal tender for all debts public and private,” the expert said. “We settled this debate in the early 1800s. I appreciate the political sentiment but the law is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Pitts, however, dismissed that claim, saying that “adherence to the Constitution is a two-edged sword. The federal government has consistently violated the Constitution, especially the 10th Amendment and Commerce Clause.”

Constitutional issues aside, Pitts’ bill faces another hurdle. Critics point out that silver and gold coins can’t actually serve as a form of currency.

“You can’t put a set value on a pure silver or gold coin because it’s actual value fluctuates,” one expert said. “You can say a gold coin is worth $50 but it would actually be worth whatever the market says it’s worth, based on supply and demand. In reality, what you have is a bartering good, not a form of currency.”
Well you can put a value on it.  But that's unconstitutional according to Pitts.  Legal stupidity aside (not to mention the overtones of a state like South Carolina effectively seceding from the US economy) we have lawmakers now who think it's perfectly rational to try to have states abandon the dollar.  Even ten years ago this assclown would have become a national joke and asked to resign immediately by the state Republican party.

Now this guy's going to be held up as a hero by the Teabaggers and they're going to want all 50 states to have their own currency.

And the best part is the Village will take it all seriously.  There is such a thing as populism that is bad, you know.

Harnessing The Power Of The Founding Fathers Spinning In The Graves

It's a perpetual motion turbine, really.  You can actually hear Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin pulling some serious RPMs over the latest cynical GOP stunt to appease the Teabaggers.  (John Adams and James Madison, being smaller men, rotate even faster).
Conservatives have published their "Mount Vernon Statement" -- which is modeled after the Sharon Statement of 1960 -- states that America's "founding ideas" are "under sustained attack" and have "been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics."
The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The statement has been signed by a number of high-profile conservatives, including former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist (who wrote this piece for Fox News about why he signed the statement).

Norquist wrote that he and other conservative activists will "cheefully sign" the statement today "on land that was once part of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate."
Tony Perkins and Grover Norquist are giving the GOP marching orders. That'll turn out well.  My favorite part of the Mount Vernon Koolaid Statement:
The conservatism of the Constitution limits government's powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.
If you've been paying any attention to the last decade, you know how hard I'm laughing right now to see Republicans talk about any of that without somebody in the back of the press gaggle yelling "Dick Cheney, assholes!"

[UPDATE 1:19 PM]  GOP Sen. Jim DeMint says anyone who doesn't support Mount Vernon "should be replaced."

Could you imagine the outcry if Democrats created something like this, and a Dem senator said anyone in Washington who didn't support it should be replaced?  it would be called a Socialist manifesto within seconds, and the calls on FOX and the WSJ for that senator's resignation would begin within hours.

Pass The Damn Bill, Part 5

Josh Marshall finds the marble in the Public Policy Polling oatmeal, and now gets to drink from the firehose of awesome. (emphasis mine):
The vast majority of opposition to health care and allowing gays to serve openly in the military is coming from people who already say there's no chance they'll vote Democratic this fall. That's an indication of minimal fallout for Congressional Democrats by acting on these issues.

37% of Americans say they will definitely not vote Democratic for Congress this year. 34% say they definitely will and that leaves roughly 30% of the country up for grabs.

Right now 50% of voters say they oppose President Obama's health care plan to just 39% in support. Digging a little deeper on those numbers though 64% of respondents planning or open to voting Democratic this fall support it with only 22% opposed. The overall numbers are negative only because of 94/1 opposition among folks who have said there is no way they'll vote Democratic this fall
Let that sink in.

Democrats in Washington, please pay attention to this PPP poll.   94% of people who have no intention on voting for you hate health care reform.  This is throwing all the numbers off.
The rest of America, including the people in the middle who may vote for you, WANT YOU TO PASS HEALTH CARE REFORM.

Got it?  Swing voters.  Want you.  To Pass.  The Damn.  Bill.

It really is that simple.


Megan McArdle with another headscratcher today.
I'm watching Obama claim that it is "largely thanks to the Recovery Act" that the recession didn't become a depression.  I supported the stimulus, and still do.  But this claim is ludicrous.
And then she goes on to say that Bush's TARP really saved us, not the stimulus.  That's arguable.  The point is, if you're supporting the stimulus, and the stimulus didn't do anything in your opinion...why are you supporting it?

Meanwhile, if the banks are spewing out record profits and paying back TARP money to get off the hook with Treasury, did TARP really accomplish anything?

If anything, the current situation seems to strongly suggest we needed far less TARP and more stimulus.  After all, even McMegan admits the stimulus did cause some growth.  Wouldn't a larger stimulus have caused, you know, larger GDP growth?

No Option For The Public Option

Four more senators have signed on to Sherrod Brown's call for the public option, including Al Franken and John Kerry, but at Greg Sargent points out, it's effectively a moot point:
The new signatories: Al Franken, Pat Leahy, John Kerry, and Sheldon Whitehouse.

They join yesterday’s signers: Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, and Sherrod Brown.

The letter asks Harry Reid to stage a full Senate vote on the public option under budget reconciliation rules. It argues that there’s a history of using the technique for passing significant health care legislation and that a majority of Americans has consistently supported a public option.

The letter — the work of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America — also bears the signatures of over a hundred House Dems.
That's the good news.  Here's the reality.
Despite the growing support for a reconciliation vote on the public option, it’s all but certain not to happen. The Senate and House leadership have shown no appetite for such a move. And the White House is not on board as it gears up for its high-stakes summit next week and the politically dicey health care endgame that will follow.

But the move by these eight Senators — and perhaps more to follow — is likely to gain them plaudits from liberals and health reformers for showing leadership on a provision that still enjoys the support of the American people even as the Congressional leadership has left it for dead.
And that's a problem.  The American people overwhelmingly want it.  Not even with these massive margins in Congress will the GOP allow it.

A Stimulating Debate

NY Times Econ reporter David Leonhart argues that the stimulus did work, and the numbers prove it.
In the early months of last year, spending by state and local governments was falling rapidly, as was tax revenue. In the spring, tax revenue continued to drop, yet spending jumped — during the very time when state and local officials were finding out roughly how much stimulus money they would be receiving. This is the money that has kept teachers, police officers, health care workers and firefighters employed.

Then there is corporate spending. It surged in the final months of last year. Mark Zandi of (who has advised the McCain campaign and Congressional Democrats) says that the Dec. 31 expiration of a tax credit for corporate investment, which was part of the stimulus, is a big reason.

The story isn’t quite as clear-cut with consumer spending, as skeptics note. Its sharp plunge stopped before President Obama signed the stimulus into law exactly one year ago. But the billions of dollars in tax cuts, food stamps and jobless benefits in the stimulus have still made a difference. Since February, aggregate wages and salaries have fallen, while consumer spending has risen. The difference between the two — some $100 billion — has essentially come from stimulus checks.

The second argument in the bill’s favor is the history of financial crises. They have wreaked terrible damage on economies. Indeed, the damage tended to be even worse than what we have suffered.

Around the world over the last century, the typical financial crisis caused the jobless rate to rise for almost five years, according to work by the economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. On that timeline, our rate would still be rising in early 2012. Even that may be optimistic, given that the recent crisis was so bad. As Ben Bernanke, Henry Paulson (Republicans both) and many others warned in 2008, this recession had the potential to become a depression.

Yet the jobless rate is now expected to begin falling consistently by the end of this year.

For that, the stimulus package, flaws and all, deserves a big heaping of credit. “It prevented things from getting much worse than they otherwise would have been,” Nariman Behravesh, Global Insight’s chief economist, says. “I think everyone would have to acknowledge that’s a good thing.” 
Granted, it's hard to sell "Well at least we stopped a depression!" to the voters.  The GOP is eager to say that doing nothing would have had the exact same result if not a better one. Ten percent unemployment makes anything a hard sell when you're in charge.

But the fact of the matter is that doing nothing like the GOP wanted would have resulted in an unemployment rate of 12-13%, and a national U-6 well over 20%.  Obama would rightfully be getting pillaged for that.  Instead he made the hard choice and he's taking flak for it.

That's what successful Presidents do.  Make hard choices.

An Early Post-Mortem

The WSJ wastes no time assigning blame for the loss of America's Greatest Senator, Evan F'ckin' Bayh, to the failed rotting corpse of the failed Obama Presidency that failed so badly that it failed decades before Obama was elected (only to fail.)
The political retirement of Evan Bayh, at age 54, is being portrayed by various sages as a result of too much partisanship, or the Senate's dysfunction, or even the systemic breakdown of American governance. Most of this is rationalization. The real story, of which Mr. Bayh's frustration is merely the latest sign, is the failure once again of liberal governance.

For the fourth time since the 1960s, American voters in 2008 gave Democrats overwhelming control of both Congress and the White House. Republicans haven't had such large majorities since the 1920s. Yet once again, Democratic leaders have tried to govern the country from the left, only to find that their policies have hit a wall of practical and popular resistance.

Democrats failed in the latter half of the 1960s, as the twin burdens of the Great Society and Vietnam ended the Kennedy boom and split their party. They failed again after Watergate, as Congress dragged Jimmy Carter to the left and liberals had no answer for stagflation. They failed a third time in the first two Bill Clinton years, as tax increases and HillaryCare led to the Gingrich Congress before Mr. Clinton salvaged his Presidency by tacking to the center. 
Those are pretty harsh words considering the "centrist" policies of Bush led to a near meltdown of the country and a recession we're still digging out of, a recession that the WSJ and other Right Wing Noise Machine outlets believed can be best solved by doing nothing and allowing the same practices to continue unabated.  That was the very real failure preceding this Presidency.  To the robber barons here, it's just another uncomfortable recession instead of the worst "crackup" in modern American history.  And yes, Bayh deserves his fair share of scorn for that.
A fourth crackup is already well underway and is even more remarkable considering how Democrats were set up for success. Inheriting a recession amid GOP failures, Democrats had the chance to restore economic confidence and fix the financial system with modest reforms that would let them take credit for the inevitable recovery. Yet only 13 months later, Democrats are down in the polls, their agenda is stymied by Democratic opposition, and their House and Senate majorities are in peril as moderates like Mr. Bayh flee the scene of this political accident.

Democrats have responded by blaming "obstructionist" Republicans, who lack the votes to block anything by themselves; or a failure to communicate the right message, though President Obama is a master communicator; or even Madison's framework of checks and balances, though this system has worked better than all others for some 225 years.

John Podesta, who ran Mr. Obama's transition and heads the Center for American Progess that has supplied the Administration's ideas, summed up the liberal-media mood last week when he told the Financial Times that American governance now "sucks." If you can't blame your own ideas, blame the system.
This raises three more points:

First, does anyone believe when we were hemorrhaging 700,000 jobs a month in early 2009 that Obama and the Democrats were being set up for success by inheriting that mess?  If it was so easy to fix, why didn't Bush do it earlier?  Why was the recovery inevitable?  And yes, Bayh responds by running away.  That's his problem, not Obama's.

Second, with the illnesses of Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, and the months it took to seat Al Franken, it still took a party switch by Arlen Specter to give the Dems 60 votes, and that was only for a couple of months.  Once again that's now gone.  And once again the Republicans are continuing to wreck Washington and the country, this time by blocking the jobs bill.

Finally, if the battle is a battle of ideas, it seems the ideas of the GOP were soundly rejected by the voters by giving the Democrats the largest margin in decades.  Isn't that an even larger failure of the conservative ideals of the last thirty years since Reagan?  If these ideas are so good, why isn't John McCain our President, since we're equating electoral loss with the failure of government?  In this case, we're equating bad poll numbers with the failure of Bush's poll numbers were a complete failure of conservative governance by that logic.  And let's not forget that voters are still pissed at the Republicans in general.  More Americans identify themselves as Democrats even today.  Doesn't this mean that Republicans have failed even worse than Obama?

Evan Bayh left because he couldn't hack it.  He wanted out.  He left at the last moment because he wanted attention.  Your problem,, WSJ Editorial Board, is not with the failure of Obama or even of liberal governance.  Your problem is simply the failure of Evan Bayh, lousy Senator.

Fin.  Exeunt.

Manufactured Crisis

If the main problem with America is jobs right now, why is the NY Times' Jackie Calmes on the front page of the Grey Lady screaming about the national debt?

Oh yes, because that's what the Republicans want.  And the "liberal media" delivers.
Elected Republicans, however, are under intense pressure from their party’s conservative base to oppose any tax increases — a line in the sand that dims any prospects for bipartisan cooperation. Yet economists, including veterans of past Republican administrations, are vocal in insisting that the debt problem is too great to be solved without increasing revenues somehow and perhaps moving to a new consumption tax system like Europe’s.
The same economists also say a significant deficit-reduction plan is not possible unless Mr. Obama breaks his campaign promise not to raise taxes for households making less than $250,000. Last week, Mr. Obama said he would not impose that condition or any other on a fiscal commission.

The situation is complicated by a debate over how quickly Washington should act even if it could. The Obama administration, Congressional Democratic leaders and many economists are pushing for additional government stimulus measures while the private sector remains weak. But anger about big deficits has stoked the populism roiling politics, and Republicans as well as some conservative Democrats want to cut spending right now as a way of addressing perceptions among voters that government has gotten too big, too intrusive and too profligate. Mr. Obama himself proposed a budget that would freeze spending on some categories of domestic spending for three years.

Many analysts say the president and Congress could send a strong signal to global markets by agreeing this year to a package of both long-term tax increases and spending reductions, especially in the popular entitlement programs, that would not take effect until 2012. That is the recommendation of two new studies, one from a diverse group sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and a separate joint project of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
The Village wanking on deficits aside, there's the much larger issue:  Republicans refuse to raise taxes, so Democrats are just going to have to cut entitlement spending.   It's amazing, Republicans and ConservaDems are screaming that the solution to a jobless recovery is to cut spending and send us into a double-dip recession.  Obama has to be the bad guy and take all the electoral wrath for tax increases...and he's being set up to take all the pain for entitlement cuts too

Through eight years of the Bush administration, deficits didn't matter.  Only now with a Democrat in the White House for a year, with Republicans like Michele Bachmann already pinning Bush's profligacy on him, are Republicans worried about deficits.  They are demanding massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

And if they don't get them, why they might not cooperate with the President.  Oh no!

Here's the kicker however.  Obama is going along with this stupidity.  I'm not sure why, but he is.  He has to know he's being set up to take the fall and as soon as the GOP gets back in control from the economy being wrecked from following GOP advice, the GOP will turn around and cut taxes and run up trillions in deficits again, forcing the elimination of social programs across the country.

Obama must see this coming.  And so far he's walking right into the trap.


Related Posts with Thumbnails