Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

Sometimes, the obvious things are correct. I'm confident that Barack Obama's decision on Afghanistan mattered; I'm confident that the New York Senate's decision on same-sex marriage mattered (for more, see Andrew Sullivan, natch).

As I said over at Greg's place, I don't really think that Eric Cantor's walk-out mattered much. I'm not sure I wrote that as carefully as I should have, though, so I'll clarify here: I'm not predicting that an agreement will be reached before default, or some (more likely) some other serious consequences for missing deadlines. All I'm saying is that eventually, they're going to raise the debt ceiling, and that in my view Cantor will have to support it. I should say, however, that while I'm figuring that at least a slim majority of House Republicans will eventually have to bite the bullet and vote for a higher debt limit, Stan Collender sees only about 100 of them doing so, and he might well be right.

The other one that I'll say didn't matter much were the Congressional actions and rhetoric on Libya.

I'm not sure about whether what David Petraeus said about torture this week mattered or not, but I'll steer you over to Adam Serwer and Conor Friedersdorf for more.

So, what do you think mattered this week?


  1. Cantor not mattering: well, this is just part of the worst kept secret in DC; namely, that Cantor wants Boehner's job, and has no problems taking Boehner out to get it. So, it doesn't matter in the sense that it's nothing new, but it is part of the general pattern Cantor has established.

    Now, then, you might ask whether having Cantor or Boehner as Speaker matters. What makes it a very interesting scenario to me is that it would be yet another example of the Republican party taking out their own leader. This time, without external provocation. So, it's interesting to me in that regard. But, you'll still get the same voting alignments, and everything else.

    So, would it matter? Not in the real world. But in pointy-headed academia, yeah, it might matter.

  2. Debt projections that, according to the CBO, put us at risk of a "sudden fiscal crisis."

  3. The actual walkout of Cantor may not matter. However how the House Republicans, now via Boehner on his own matters, and this first step in getting there has implications (i.e. noone is going to fall on their sword unless they have to and even so they still may not).

    If the White House reads the Washington Post, the suggestion of Ian Ayres in dealing with the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not only brilliant but also important. Why? Because the White House could use the strategy suggested in the piece to please its base, put the Republicans in an uncomfortable position, but also make their use of obstruction a barrier to their interests (rhetorical if not otherwise). To summarize, the strategy is to recess appoint Elizabeth Warren and appoint someone else to fill that office (someone who has already been confirmed recently as a Federal Reserve Governor, Sarah Raskin). That way obstruction is the burden they will have to carry if they really hate Warren as much as they say they do. It will also force them to face their unwillingness to fund this agency.

    I mention the Ayres piece because it will be vital for the President going forward to find ways of making the Republicans pay for their obstruction in some way. Otherwise his getting reelected will be a very mixed blessing for progressive interests (since he will still have to take much of the responsibility for the economic situation we face while not being able to address the challenges our country faces).

    I agree that New York and the Afghanistan policy is important. On both they are touchstones for how remarkable the politics has changed -- one in terms of public opinion and the other in terms of the significance of Osama being killed which gave the president much more room on this issue.


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