Thursday, October 1, 2009


QOTD, David Kurtz (TPM):
Sarah Palin's contribution to American letters is already at No. 3 on Amazon's bestseller list based on pre-orders alone. That and the day's other political news in the TPMDC Morning Roundup

Yglesias: People Don’t Know How They’re Being Helped
This chart from a new EPI survey does a lot to explain the public’s sour political mood:

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The thing of it is that the public’s belief that the federal government hasn’t been stepping in to help them out is simply mistaken. For example, every single employed person in the United States of America received a tax cut as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But as I’ve noted previously the eager beavers in the White House got their hands on some behavioral economics research which indicated that the tax cut would be a more effective stimulus measure if it was implemented in a way deliberately designed to obscure the fact that it was happening from people. And mission accomplished!Another major invisible way ARRA is helping ordinary people is through aid to state budgets. Virtually every state in the USA has cut spending and/or raised taxes to deal with budget holes. But they’ve done less of this than they otherwise would have. But if you like the idea of police on the streets and teachers in the classroom, then ARRA has stepped in to help you out. But, again, people probably don’t realize this.
But not all of this can be chalked up to program design. Just 36 percent of the public thinks the government has done much of anything for those who’ve lost their jobs. In fact, ARRA extended eligibility for unemployment insurance and heavily subsidized COBRA purchasing, both of which are boons to anyone who’s lost a job. But there’s been much less focus on this stuff in the media than on bank bailouts and mythical death panels, so apparently most people don’t realize it’s even happening.
Rockefeller targets insurance companies

Sept. 30: Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., reveals, exclusively on Countdown, an amendment he will introduce to make it a law that insurance companies spend a minimum percentage on actual health care not profits, advertising or salaries.

In August, MSNBC's John Harwood mentioned something to Paul Krugman that stood out for me: "I gotta tell you what a White House official told me today: 'Our problem right now is, if we tell some of the Republican opponents in the Senate, 'You can have everything you want in the bill,' they still won't vote for it.'"
Yesterday, the Republicans' Senate leader conceded that this is largely true: no matter the circumstances or concessions, Republicans will oppose health care reform.
The Senate Republican leader made clear on Wednesday that his party, despite all its griping over the public health insurance option, abortion-funding or health care for illegal immigrants, is simply and flatly opposed to the "core" of the Democratic health care reform proposal.
Satisfying every Republican demand short of scrapping the entire project, said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would still not capture GOP support.
Talking to reporters on the Hill, McConnell said Democrats could remove the public option, remove funding that could be used on abortion, remove funding that could benefit "illegals," and it wouldn't make any difference -- Republicans recognize "the core of the bill" and they're against it.
"[H]owever these other issues are resolved, the core of the bill is a trillion dollar government attempt to take over one-sixth of the economy, which slashes Medicare by half a trillion dollars, and raises taxes on most Americans," McConnell said.
As a substantive matter, McConnell's remarks yesterday weren't just wrong, they were ridiculous. But let's put that aside for now. The key is the larger point: for all the whining about specific provisions, congressional Republicans don't like the idea of the reform bill. They're opposed to the general approach to resolving the health care crisis. Democrats could give the GOP all of the talked-about concessions, and it still wouldn't enough. Not even close.
And here's the kicker: there's nothing wrong with that. Republicans are the opposition party. There's supposed to oppose what the majority wants. Of course they're against health care reform. The steps necessary to resolve the problem -- government intervention in the marketplace, regulation of private insurers, subsidies for those who can't afford coverage -- are entirely antithetical to the Republican Party's approach to public policy.
That's not the problem. The problem is the expectation that Democrats are supposed to get Republicans to agree to a bill they find offensive. The problem is the sense that reform advocates have failed unless 65 senators (or 70, or 80) endorse reform to make it "legitimate." The problem is the demand that the majority "compromise" with a minority that rejects the very idea of the proposed solution.
McConnell's refreshing candor yesterday should, in theory, add the nails to the coffin of "bipartisan health care reform." He couldn't have been any clearer -- Democrats and Republicans want different things, and want to go in different directions. Insisting that they find "common ground" is folly.
  •  from the comments:

    Rep. Grayson made this same point well yesterday on CNN. Its time for others to chime in. The fact that the Republicans are not on the defensive only goes to highlight further the need for unity among Democrats, something that never seems possible.
    Posted by: Gillette on October 1, 2009 at 8:40 AM 

  •  Greg Sargent

    Grayson has received an outpouring of support on the left for his claim about Republicans, and the common Beltway explanation for why this kind of stuff has so much appeal is that partisans just want their leaders to say mean and nasty things about members of the other party. But that’s a fundamental misreading of the dynamic.
    What’s really going on is that the Dem rank and file, radicalized by years of watching Dems cowed by Republican rhetoric on patriotism, national security, and many other issues, just want to see Dems show some fight and some fearlessness, and not back down every time Republicans say “boo.” It’s really that simple. The specifics of what he initially said are almost incidental.
    Indeed, Grayson’s refusal to apologize for his outburst despite Republican demands that he do so, and his demand that members of his own party grow a pair, are likely to garner him even more support from the base than his initial claim did.

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