The Bipartisan Agenda?
by Deacon Blues
I agree with Paul Krugman that David Brooks writes his column today as if Barack Obama wasn’t the moderate he is. Brooks tries to tell us that what we need right now are moderate economic policies, and goes on to state policies that Obama has already put in place (with the ACA), or tried to pursue and failed because of GOP obstructionism. Brooks has a history of writing pieces devoid of recognizing the Tea Party's toxic presence, so this is nothing new. But when you couple Brooks' blindness towards the Tea Party with his implication that Obama hasn't been moderate, what you get is a pundit with serious recognition issues.
Having said that, what is Brooks recommending?
1. A major infrastructure investment program (Democrats are not the problem here, Dave)
2. Reducing health benefits for the affluent wealthy (already done in the ACA)
3. Wage subsidies to encourage hiring of the long-term unemployed (Democrats are not the problem here, Dave)
4. Relocation subsidies targeting high unemployment (Democrats are not the problem here, Dave)
5. Tax reform to encourage work and investment, like Rubio/Lee (sounds good, the devil's in the details)
6. Immigration reform (Democrats are not the problem here, Dave)
7. A commitment to early education and affordable college education (Democrats are not the problem here, Dave)
It's a great list, and could be written by any progressive. And if you put this list in front of the 2014 and 2015 House and Senate GOP, it will be DOA, yet Brooks' false equivalency wants to blame both parties for not getting it done
Yet Brooks says one thing that rings true, that also reflects Barack Obama's failed legacy and Hillary Clinton's great opportunity:
This isn’t rocket science. Vast majorities support every idea I’ve mentioned here. It just takes a relentless focus on job creation, bold political leadership and a country willing to be shaken out of its fear.
Although Brooks is delusional in thinking that the current GOP would actually pass this agenda, if only the Black Man Wasn't In The White House, that doesn't mean Democrats shouldn't add a thing or two to this list and run far and wide with it the next two years.
GOP Walking Into Destruction
by Deacon Blues
Yes, a GOP takeover of both houses of the federal government would be a bad thing, and would ensure endless investigations and confirmation battles for the Obama administration. But after looking at the agenda priorities of a likely House and Senate GOP leadership according to the New York Times, it becomes clear that Barack Obama’s salvation lies in the expected stupidity of his GOP foes.
According to Jackie Calmes’ great piece in today’s paper, the House and Senate GOP can’t even agree on what to pursue, with the House GOP seeking passage of the usual grab-bag of right wing allegedly economic issues like the Keystone pipeline, bans on federal regulations, corporate-friendly tax “reform” and giveaways, the Ryan ten-year budget plan that guts Medicare and Medicaid, and of course the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Yet the Senate GOP is only willing to go along with several of those items and wants to steer clear of the fringe items that would endanger Republican incumbents in 2016, a year where Democrats will have a far more favorable terrain to retake seats and bludgeon the GOP for their agenda.
As the Times notes, many economists already agree that the anticipated GOP agenda will do little to actually create jobs, but it will make the usual suspects even richer at the expense of all of us. And tellingly two issues are notably absent from either the House GOP or Senate GOP agenda: immigration reform and infrastructure, two issues with broad electoral support even from Corporate America, and yet the GOP plans to ignore those two issues when they have complete legislative power.
The proposals would mainly benefit energy industries, reduce taxes and regulations for businesses generally, and continue the attack on the Affordable Care Act. It is a mix that leaves many economists, including several conservatives, underwhelmed.
So envision this: After the electorate sees that the GOP scare machine was exactly that, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell spend their precious airtime next year selling the country on their investigations and impeachment talk while offering nothing but the usual giveaways to the One Percent packaged as “jobs programs”. Against this, the White House and a re-energized Democratic opposition led by the 2016 candidates blast them for ignoring real issues, Main Street, and having nothing new to offer except more tax cuts for the wealthy and gutting spending for the 98%. It makes me giddy already.
Of course, the right wing machine will continue to scare the electorate with their Maslowian misdirection efforts, so that Republicans can avoid addressing real issues they don't give a damn about and for which they have no answers. But even with this transparently pathetic "look over here at these rampaging brown people" rhetoric, the GOP will make it too easy for the Democrats to destroy them next year.
Just Do It
by Deacon Blues
There’s no reason to pussyfoot around about what’s happening politically right now in this country, so let’s cut to the chase. The GOP has no ideas or solutions, and was deathly afraid to defend their record and rhetoric and fend off a populist Democratic message. So in true Rovian fashion, when in a weak spot, attack.
In the GOP’s case, this means scare the elderly white people.
Whether it be scaring the elderly white people with the brown kids assaulting our border from the south (the first scare), or scaring them with the Islamic terrorists from ISIS (the second scare), or now scaring the elderly white people with Ebola from the Africans, the playbook is the same, and quite predictable. Use a race-based fear campaign to agitate the GOP base and avoid defending your racism, sexism, and selling out of Main Street to Wall Street elites. And then count on your Supreme Court-sanctioned voter suppression efforts to enable the same scared elderly white minority to destroy this democracy for another campaign cycle.
What’s more depressing is that the Democrats and this White House don’t have the balls to call this out for what it is. Well, the Democrats have several weeks left to take off the gloves and take the GOP to the woodshed, which is what Elizabeth Warren is doing in selected races around the country now. But I'd go a step farther than Warren and confront the GOP directly on their solutions-free fear campaign, and the "whiteness" of their strategy. Ask voters "Whatever happened to those thousands of Central American kids who were storming our border and causing a national security crisis? Whatever happened to those hundreds of ISIS fighters who were coming across our border to attack us? Whatever happened to those thousands of Africans streaming into our country to infect us from sea to shining sea? Notice anything about all of those bogeymen? Well, we’re all still here, there’s no epidemic, and the Republicans still have no solutions, only scare tactics. Too bad they can't be scared into voting for higher wages, better jobs, and equal rights under the law."
Call it out and shine a light on the fear-mongering, the racism, and the lack of solutions.
Another Tone Deaf Choice
by Deacon Blues
Naming a political hack as your Ebola "czar", rather than a nationally-respected medical professional is not the way to calm the public's fears. Yet I expected nothing more from this administration.
Really, Ron Klain is the guy you came up with? I'm sure he'll command the respect of hospitals and public health systems around the country.
Based on this type of decision-making, I guess we can expect some other political hack for the new AG now rather than someone with bipartisan respect.
Democrats need to distance themselves from the administration on Ebola, because they can't afford to be yoked any longer to just another example of Obama indecisiveness and eventual caving.
Same-Sex Marriage and 2014
by Deacon Blues
To the surprise of many, the Supreme Court today started its new term by refusing to act upon lower-court rejections of same-sex marriage bans. By not taking up even one challenge of the potential cases before them, the court let stand circuit court rulings against state bans on same-sex marriage, thereby allowing the lower-court rulings to take effect and enable same-sex marriage in the states affected.
The conventional wisdom amongst court observers is that the Court felt it unnecessary to weigh in on the matter when all circuit court cases to date have agreed that such bans are unconstitutional. Under this thinking, once a conservative circuit goes against the consensus so far and issues a ruling supporting a state's ban on same-sex marriage, then the Court will take up that case and rule. Since some of the circuits yet to decide are conservative districts, it can be assumed that today's actions will only encourage right-wing judicial activism on that circuit or circuits, and a case or cases will make their way to the SCOTUS perhaps for the next session.
But today's decisions also make it clear that the justices weren't sure they had the votes to rule against same-sex marriage. It takes four votes amongst the nine justices to have a case scheduled for the court's docket in that session. Today's action means that there wasn't at least four conservatives who wanted to consider overturning the lower court rulings (liberals had no reason to want the cases heard since all lower-court decisions so far had sided with same-sex marriage).
And if you wanted to know what spark could drive gay voters to the polls next month to vote for Democratic senators, you just saw it.