Friday, May 10, 2013

Last Call: North Carolina's Race To The Bottom

More austerity on the way for North Carolina's kids, because children are the future.  The dumb, uneducated, more easily-manipulated future, that is, as NC House Republicans slash free pre-K eligibility so they don't have to cut funding.

Under current law, a 4-year-old is considered at-risk and eligible for the program if his or her family makes less than 75 percent of the state's median wage, or about $39,000 a year for a family of three. Children are also eligible if they have an active-duty military parent, limited English proficiency, developmental problems or chronic illness.

More than 60,000 children a year in North Carolina are eligible for the program under the current guidelines.

The proposal would reduce the family income threshold to the federal poverty level, about $19,500 for a family of three. Children with limited English proficiency or chronic illness also would no longer be automatically eligible.

"We working on putting early childhood education back in track in this state," said sponsor Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly. "We need to focus on children who are most at risk."

To recap, $20,000 a year for a family of three is just too much income for pre-K education programs.  You clearly middle-class takers and moochers need to pull your weight, right?

Besides, government shouldn't be involved in education.  That's for churches and FOX News.

Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Burn

Republicans don't care about governing anymore. They just want the country to self-destruct. They want America so sick and tired of constant GOP obstruction, obstruction that at this point will cost lives, that they think you'll just throw up your hands and let them have what's left, so that they can finish sacking the treasury.

The top two Republicans in Congress informed President Obama on Thursday that they will refuse to fulfill their duty under the Affordable Care Act to recommend members of a new board with the power to contain Medicare spending.

It’s a dramatic power-play driven by the explosive partisan politics of Obamacare and with potentially important implications for federal health care policy.

In a letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted their original opposition to Obamacare, reiterated their intent to repeal it entirely, and declared that they would not make any appointments to the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

So no, at this point they just don't care anymore and are confident you won't either.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was scheduled to vote today at 9:15 on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the next EPA Administrator. Despite the fact that she has answered more than a thousand of the committee’s questions, Senate Republicans announced just before the hearing that they would be boycotting the vote, denying the committee quorum and postponing the confirmation hearing.

The committee rules require that at least two members of the minority party be present during a vote. Not a single Republican bothered to show up.

I keep hearing about how my generation simply doesn't believe government will ever work again.  We don't trust either party, we don't trust government, we don't trust the process of governing.  Chris Hayes's book, Twilight of the Elites, sums up this worldview, the endpoint of "Both sides do it!" politics.

Both sides do not do it.  One side, the GOP, does.  In this case, I'll let Alfred explain.

Alfred:  With respect Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man that you don't fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So, we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anybody who traded with him. One day, I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne:  So why steal them?

Alfred: Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Indeed.  In this case, it's our elected leaders in the Republican Party. They want to watch the world burn.  If the Millennials (and the youngest Gen X folks like myself), those in our 20's and 30's, just give up on the political process and accept the structural screwing of America as standard operating procedure, they win.

And a lot of us have given up.  Some of us want to watch that world burn too, we think it'll cleanse the country of the tea party jagoffs.  It'll only make them kings.  It's happening at the state level right now, and as long as we continue to think voting is for suckers and there's no difference between the parties, Republicans will continue to take everything from us.  Yeah, some Democrats too.  But at some point you have to believe in the system, or you've got nothing.  Elections od Republicans versus Democrats will go on anyway, and one will win.

If you don't make the choice, it will be made for you.

Another Great Nate Debate: Sanford And Run

Nate Silver makes the argument that Mark Sanford's various scandals did cost him dearly in this week's special election, just not enough to actually cost him the race.

It would be wrong to conclude that voters did not punish Mr. Sanford at all for his extramarital affair. In fact, a reasonable number of voters did appear to hold it against him. Last November, Mitt Romney won South Carolina’s First District by 18 percentage points. Since Mr. Romney lost the election to Barack Obama by roughly four percentage points nationwide, that means the First District is about 22 percentage points more Republican than the country as a whole.

That's an interesting way of looking at how partisan a district is as a whole, but it is a reasonable benchmark with applicable data germane to the district in question.  Charlie Cook's PVI number for the district is R+11, so by that math, Sanford's indiscretions cost him next to nothing since Sanford won by 9, just a 2-point hit.  Nate has other evidence to back up that 13-point figure, as he always does.

Mr. Sanford defeated his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, by nine percentage points instead – so one quick-and-dirty estimate is that Mr. Sanford’s personal history cost him a net of 13 percentage points. It just was not enough to flip the election result in such a conservative district.

As it happens, this 13-percentage-point penalty almost exactly matches an academic analysis on how much voters hold sex scandals against candidates. A 2011 paper by Nicholas Chad Long of St. Edward’s University, which examined United States senators running for re-election from 1974 to 2008, estimated that scandals involving immoral behavior lowered the share of the vote going to the incumbent by 6.5 percentage points.

Which results in a total 13-point swing if there are only 2 candidates in the race (and none of the 6.5 points are going to a third party.)   That makes the case that Nate is correct on the impact.

Either way, the reason Sanford won was because he ran in an overwhelmingly Republican district created by gerrymandering and Tuesday night proved there are plenty of Republican voters willing to overlook any scandal to avoid voting for a Democrat, a far worse crime in their eyes than a question of character.

I can't think of a better example of what pundits mean by a "safe" district for a party:  there's basically no way the seat will change hands.  Keep in mind that for the vast majority of House seats, 80-85% of them, are this way for a reason (and yes, both parties do gerrymander, but only the party in charge in each state after the Census gets the benefit, which is why 2010 will hurt us for the next 4 House elections in 30+ states.)

Until more than 10% of House races are competitive, nothing will change.  Even in a "wave" election like 2010, the GOP picked up 63 seats, only about 15%.  But that's enough to all but assure they'll keep the House for the foreseeable future.

Oh, and long overdue tag:  Keep Calm And Trust Nate Silver.


Related Posts with Thumbnails