Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Last Call For Operation Turtle Trap

Mitch McConnell's internal polling must still be showing him vulnerable to an upset by Alison Grimes, because he's playing the one real card he has in his hand.  If re-elected, he's going to shut down the government unless President Obama surrenders completely.

Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown
In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress
In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency. 
“We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy,” McConnell said in an interview aboard his campaign bus traveling through Western Kentucky coal country. “That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guarantee it.”

So yeah, if you thought Ted Cruz's little test run was fun, wait until enough Democrats stay home to give Mitch the Turtle here control of the Senate.  It'll be the GOP's way or else.

A “good example,” McConnell said, is adding restrictions to regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. Adding riders to spending bills would change the “behavior of the bureaucracy, which I think has been the single biggest reason this recovery has been so tepid,” he said. 
“He could,” McConnell said calmly when asked if such a tactic would prompt Obama to veto must-pass appropriations bills. “Yeah, he could.”

So yes, this would be the staring point of a Congress controlled completely by the GOP, a standing threat for the next two years to throw a tantrum and shut the country down, causing tens of billions in economic damage, any time they don't get what they want.

Of course, as Steve M. reminds us, voters are too lazy to care about shutdowns.

The fact that voters don't remember government shutdowns helps explain why McConnell's threat might be serious. If you were a Republican and you were looking at this chart, and at other 2014 polls, you'd think: Why shouldn't we shut down the government again, just as long as we don't do it a week or two before Election Day 2016? Voters won't remember. They sure don't remember the last shutdown, otherwise they wouldn't be on the verge of reelecting a GOP House and (probably) a GOP Senate.

Remember, Americans have shown no real appetite when it comes to punishing Republicans for bad behavior in the last 20 years.   And there are tens of millions of Americans who will vote for the Republicans to shut down the government anyway, because they know Republicans won't allow it to hurt their checks from Uncle Sam, just the programs for those people.

That's not governance.  That's lunacy.

But they're convinced they will win, because they're convinced you won't give a damn and will stay home in November.

Of course here in Kentucky you could vote Mitch out totally.

I happen to like that idea.

License To Be Obnoxious

Looks like over the river in Ohio, Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald is running into more silly errors with the whole driver's license issue that are hurting him in his race to unseat Gov. John Kasich.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer's latest:

As Cuyahoga County executive, Ed FitzGerald has disciplined employees for not holding a valid driver's license – something the former FBI agent and Democratic candidate for governor himself lacked for years. 
In 2013 his administration punished at least eight employees, with penalties ranging from a written reprimand to a five-day suspension without pay, according to documents the Northeast Ohio Media Group obtained through a public-records request. (scroll down to view the records) 
The county's inspector general first began reviewing potential violations of the county's driving policies last year, months after FitzGerald obtained his first permanent driver's license in more than a decade. More than 150 other driving-related infractions involving other county employees remain under investigation and could yet result in discipline. 
FitzGerald's own license lapse came to light this month, after NEOMG reported that police in suburban Westlake found him parked in car with a woman who was not his wife at 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2012. FitzGerald was not cited, and he and police maintain nothing inappropriate happened. But the county executive had a learner's permit, meaning he could drive only with a licensed driver 21 or older. He has acknowledged driving home alone after dropping the woman at a hotel.

FitzGerald has always struck me as eccentric (not full-blown Dennis Kucinich eccentric, but kind of an oddball anyway) and this is not helping his chances.  As long as the framing is on FitzGerald's driving habits and "do as I say, not as I do" nonsense, the story isn't on Kasich all but closing Ohio's abortion clinics, his fracking public safety problems, and the state's wrecked safety net.  Kasich needs to go, but FitzGerald isn't playing like he wants to win at all.

The polls still have FitzGerald down by 8-10 points, and something big has to change or Kasich will waltz to another four years of wrecking the Buckeye State.

Hagan Holds On

The latest Public Policy Polling numbers for the NC Senate race finds incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan's lead over Republican NC House Speaker Thom Tillis down to 4 points, but still a lead.

Tillis' slightly improved position is a reflection of Republicans starting to close ranks a little bit more as the election approaches. Last month in the head to head with Hagan he led by 59 points with Republican voters at 72/13, now it's a 71 points advantage at 79/8. And although his favorability numbers still remain very poor at a 28/48 spread, those are also up some from a month ago when they were 24/47. That's also a reflection of improvement with his party base- he's gone from a 39/29 spread with GOP voters up to 52/24.

Nevertheless the recent legislative session continues to be a weight on Tillis. One of the GOP's main goals was to look more moderate on education by increasing teacher salaries, but for the most part those efforts have fallen flat with voters. Only 39% think a good faith effort was made to raise teacher pay this session, compared to 50% who think it was not. Asked to grade the General Assembly's work on education this year 45% of voters give it a D or an F, compared to only 25% who give it an A or a B. The mean grade comes out somewhere in the C-/D+ range. Voters also express overall opposition to the budget that was finally passed, with 29% in support of it to 44% who are opposed. The approval rating for the General Assembly is 21%, with 57% of voters disapproving of it. 
Hagan remains unpopular as well though. She has a 42% approval rating compared to 49% of voters who disapprove of her. Hagan's approval numbers have tracked very closely with Barack Obama's for months now- only 41% of voters are happy with the job he's doing to 54% who disapprove.

So yes, if the Republicans had managed to nominate anyone who wasn't a teacher-hating jackass, Hagan would be in real trouble and probably down by double digits.  As it is, Tillis's problems are enough to outweigh Hagan's -- and President Obama's -- so far.

We'll see if Key Hagan can hold on to this, and the wild card remains Libertarian Sean Haugh, who has 8% of the vote so far.  If Haugh starts taking more of Tillis's voters, Hagan can win, because with Haugh out of the picture, the numbers become 43/42 in favor of Hagan with a healthy chunk of undecided.  Right now, Haugh is costing Tillis the race, and that can't be sitting will with Tillis's campaign people.

Just 11 weeks to go...


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