Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Question for Liberals

If you had to narrow it down to one, and also to things you believe are realistic: what's your biggest single hope for Barack Obama's second term?

60 comments:

  1. To reverse trends in the area of civil liberties.

    ReplyDelete
  2. climate change or immigration

    ReplyDelete
  3. That was 2, I know. Climate change legislation probably can't pass, since the Republicans have all but given up on science. However, their intransigence has surely lost them votes and they know it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Intransigence on immigration, that should say.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Deal with climate change/energy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. comprehensive immigration reform.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd like to not be fighting any wars. That means getting out of Afghanistan and cutting out the drone wars as well.

    I know you said "realistic," but I'm a dreamer....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Climate change action. Close second, immigration reform.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Put judges in place who will not send us back fifty years.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Put me down for immigration reform. I'd settle for PR statehood though.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Replacing one or more of the conservative Suprrme Court Justices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think any of the 5 conservatives will leave during Obama's 2nd term short of death or failing help. Hope to see strong replacements for Ginsburg and potentially Breyer, plus many more appointments to district and circuit courts.

      Delete
    2. My dream is that one of the conservatives gets in trouble and has to step down. Kennedy is getting pretty old though.

      Delete
    3. Yes, I think many people here -- in political terms, not on a personal level -- are hoping that a vacancy opens up for one of the current conservative slots. It's possible. Stranger things have happened than someone past age 70 dying of natural or inadvertent causes.

      Delete
  12. For pure self-interest I'm hoping for federal regulation of online poker. For something that I believe is long overdue and good policy for just about everyone involved, immigration reform.

    I'll throw in a longshot pick of DC statehood as well.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'll put in a negative, I hope he doesn't agree to a bad "grand bargain" in an attempt to win praise from pundits and "achieve greatness" or any "get into the history books." The fact is that every "grand bargain" that I read about seems to be based on three policy goals: lowering taxes on the very rich and corporations, raising (or broadening) them on everyone else and cutting entitlements. Note that the first goal shows that these proposals aren't about reducing the deficit at all, they are about using the argument that deficits are bad as a communications strategy to impose policies that aren't popular with the American electorate. I hope he recognizes that and refuses to go along. From what I've seen about negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" since the election, that seems to be the case.

    ReplyDelete
  14. In the interest of bringing the whole system back to sanity, I think it's important that the GOP lose again in 2014 (hopefully in another shocker for them where they were expecting to win until election night). That means overcoming the historical tendency for midterm elections, and especially Year 6 elections, to go against the president's party. Michael Tomasky has called for a project to make that happen -- i.e. to figure out how to turn out the lazy-ass Democratic base in off years -- and I hope Obama or the DNC has already tasked David Plouffe et. al. with some effort of that kind. So that's my biggest hope for this next term, because I think every policy goal depends on it. Otherwise we're just going to repeat this same pattern we've just seen, in which the GOP takes midterm gains as validation of its obstructionist / nihilist / rejectionist approach, concludes that Americans see the president as a failure, and spends the next two years measuring the Oval Office drapes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. three cheers for Jeff !

      two cheers for bryan, allilo, phat and all other mentions of climate change. I would just like to stress here that whatever gets done needs to be more like a comprehensive transformation of the fossil fuel economy, not just a band-aid, or a heavily compromised cap-and-trade scheme. And that depends, largely, on us grass-roots activists getting organized (behind 350.org or whomever) to really be an effective grass-roots lobby.

      And longer term, building our own version of the Axelrod-Plouffe voter database for 2014, '16 and beyond. Maybe we can't get to the 120 million voters they have, but a database of the 30 or 40 million voters who are willing to go much more radical in thought and action (than our mainstreams can currently handle) would be a very good first step towards actually reclaiming democracy.

      Delete
    2. I was thinking about this the other day. If the GOP get stuck opposing immigration reform, I wonder if the Dems can use the issue to drive Latino turn-out up.

      Delete
    3. I was also wondering about this just yesterday.

      Delete
  15. At least one Supreme Court appointment of an individual who is, at minimum, not a right wing goon.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That global circumstances do not turn deeply destabilizing. The known threats are the euro-crisis situation, China's political-economic sustainability, and Israeli-Iranian brinksmanship. But there are also always the unknowns.

    Policy-wise: my greatest hope is probably for further structures for climate-change mitigation (be it a carbon tax, cap-and-trade, or evolving EPA regulations). I hope Obama moves forward on these in whatever realistic way possible; the 2010-2012 approach may be all that's possible.

    In terms of party politics: that the DNC and the Obama campaign successfully figure out how to raise midterm election voter participation among their constituencies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't forget about Pakistan.

      Delete
  17. I think the economy is going to get better and Obama will have way more political capital then last term. How about something more ambitious like ending the drug war?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Mine is another vote for immigration reform, with judicial appointments a close second.

    On the latter, I'd prefer not just more emphasis on making nominations and getting appointments through the Senate, but also some sort of reform to break up the logjam going forward. The understaffed bench is a real problem.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Address poverty, education, human trafficking, our over-spending on the criminal justice system, our ridiculous imprisonment rates, our impeding of basic pharmaceutical research, and our destabilizing of foreign governments... that's right, just end the drug war.

    ReplyDelete
  20. If "end the drug war" is too ambitious, then place a full pigovian tax on non-biological greenhouse gas emissions... i.e., since studies have found that the social cost of emitting a ton of carbon dioxide is at least $21, place a tax on such emissions at that rate, and the same goes for methane, etc.

    I just won't accept that that's not realistic, 'cause even libertarians have to agree that pigovian taxes are the right way to do things, that all individuals' costs should be internalized as much as possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem with pigovian taxation from a libertarian perspective is that it can impinge on personal freedom. For example, the socialization of medical costs, through Medicare and Medicaid, could be used as a basis for taxing all sorts of behavior that could conceivably result in higher public healthcare expenditures. It’s already used as the justification for blanket prohibitions -- against driving without wearing a seat belt, or riding a bike without a helmet. There’s really no end to such regulations if you accept the premise that any personal behavior with socialized costs must be disincentivized, controlled or prohibited.

      A carbon tax is bad even from an economist's point of view, because ending fossil fuel consumption would be far more expensive for society than just adapting to global climate change.

      Delete
    2. A pigovian tax -- by definition -- is only levied to the degree that it internalizes external costs. By definition it cannot impinge on personal freedom, then, because it is actually the action in question that already impinges on the personal freedoms of others. The pigovian tax only lessens this impingement on personal freedoms, not increases it, and does so by charging those who carry out the actions in question for impinging on the personal freedoms of others while using the funds thus-raised to compensate or otherwise ameliorate those damages incurred.

      A "libertarian" who would claim that a pigovian tax impinges on personal freedom is not in fact a libertarian, but rather a Norquist-style conservative ideologue, ultimately caring nothing for liberty but caring endlessly for the end of taxation and government as much as possible.

      Now, you may claim that the $21 figure is erroneous for including costs to the government because of "unnecessary" social programs that are currently in place, but the reality is that the social cost would actually be higher were it not for the relative cost efficiency of government programs, and either way we would just be haggling about the price at that point.

      Also, nothing about pigovian taxes should be interpretted as disincentivizing, controlling, or prohibiting. They are not sin taxes, they literally only cover the costs, nothing more, and so they do differ substantially from what you are describing. Further, both the seat belt and helmet examples you use fall on the other side of the "action/inaction" divide that libertarians love to tie themselves to, and so do not quite work like emissions anyway.

      Finally, a carbon tax -- as long as it's purely pigovian -- is not bad from a good economist's point of view because, again, it only covers the associated costs. The needed funding for the adaptation to global climate change would come from the tax, and a good economist would agree that that is just since it is the polluter who is incurring the global climate change on everyone else's private property, and thus it is they who should incurr the cost of the related damage, etc.

      Also, "ending fossil fuel consumption" would not at all be the result of a pigovian tax on greenhous gas emissions (I'll note that people still use gasoline even in places with triple the at-pump gas prices of the US), but even if it would, it's not at all a settled question of whether that would be "far more expensive for society than just adapting to global climate change." There's a good case to be made that even without considering any environmental impacts, the social costs of fossil fuel consumption over the past decade have easily been over a trillion dollars (this depends wholly on how much of foreign policy you think is related to fossil fuel trade, though).

      Delete
    3. Anon, did you read a chapter of your economics textbook this weekend or what?

      The bottom line, from a libertarian perspective, is that you can't blame the individual engaged in risky behavior for the choice of society to absorb the costs of his or her behavior. Attempting to tax and control an individual on this basis is not the libertarian approach to governance.

      But you do make a vigorous case for your theory of taxation… It's a reminder of why libertarians oppose state socialization to begin with -- there are always control-freaks ready to impose their personal lifestyle preferences on others under the guise of economic efficiency and taxpayer rights.

      As to making the polluters pay -- if you're on the grid, you're benefiting from the emission of greenhouse gasses. More importantly, no amount of pigovian incentivization can change the fact that we don't have the technological means to stop global warming, only to slow it down by a very small amount.

      Delete
    4. I haven't read up on economics for years, I've just remembered what I've needed to get by.

      Society doesn't choose to absorb the costs of a polluter's behavior, full stop. Society starts from a position in which the environment -- including all land, air, and water -- is shared, "public", and even if part of it is later privatized, that doesn't at all entitle the beneficiary of that privatization to then damage those part which have not been privatized to them. All coherent libertarians agree with this position, and Thomas Jefferson himself wrote on it extensively (this specific part of his thinking has since been termed "geolibertarian", but it is a necessary core of any coherent libertarian theory which has property rights as a central aspect).

      Also, taxation is not control if it only is levied to compensate for externalities... you might as well claim that libertarians wouldn't stand for fining someone who does graffiti in order to recoup the costs of repairing the damage incurred by the graffiti. And that a lot of people benefit from fossil fuel use is immaterial, as some benefit far less than the damage they incurr... again, a lot of people may enjoy a particular artist's graffiti, but a libertarian would still concede that they should be fined to recoup for damages.

      Finally, I never said anything about stopping global warming. Do I personally wish it wouldn't happen? Yes, but I'm not under any illusion that levying this sort of tax in a single country would have substantial mitigating effects.

      Delete
    5. Graffitti isn’t a necessary part of our modern society. Combustion is -- and even the cleanest forms of combustion produce significant greenhouse gasses. That’s the unique problem of global warming, separating it from air and water pollution, which are comparatively easy to deal with.

      If you want a carbon tax to “recoup for damages,” you’re going to have some impossible hurdles -- like, determining who has been genuinely damaged by global warming. You’re also going to have to set the tax based on a guess of what future payouts will be (presumably, most of the damage is yet to come)… and let’s not kid ourselves, the money will be spent immediately by government. Call me cynical, but it has all the makings of a giant boondoggle that, to the extent it does anything, will mostly reward large corporations with battalions of lawyers. You seem to think you can design a system perfectly fit for homo economicus, but there are non-pigovian considerations when making good policy.

      Delete
    6. I feel like the biggest difference in our thinking on this -- logistics of actually implementing a real pigovian tax aside -- is that you think the fact that combustion is a bigger part of the economy than is graffiti warrants it special treatment philosophically and legally. I do not. To me this amounts to saying that because this injustice has gone on for so long, it is sensible that it be allowed to go on longer (and since that will always with true thereafter, with the amount of time it has gone on only increasing, this amounts to a justification for continuing that way forever). To me, that's very reminicent of arguments for the continuation of slavery, that so much of our economy was based on it so it made sense to permit its continuation (which, again, is logically equivalent to saying that it should go on forever just because it has already happened some, regardless of the consequences).

      Delete
    7. Climate Change = Slavery?!

      No wonder you’re so confused by libertarian values.

      Look, it’s completely nonsensical to call combustion an “injustice.” We evolved as a species to need fire. We do now have technology that produces energy without combustion, but adopting it wholesale is expensive enough (and involves other environmental compromises) that it would force us to adopt a significantly lower standard of living. If you want to morally blame anyone, then look at your fellow citizens, who don’t want to go down that path.

      Delete
  21. Criminal justice/prison reform.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sunset the Patriot Act.

    Chuck Schumer, as the senior Senator from New York, should lead the way to healing our nation from the wound of 9/11.

    The Patriot Act was written during the Nixon Administration, dusted off by VP Cheney, and forced on a bleeding nation. It has got to go.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Can I pick all of the above?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Selfishly, DOMA. But if I can only pick one, I've got to +1 on Supreme Court.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Biggest single hope is that Obama can finally convince a large majority of the country of the truth: that the Democratic Party is the fiscally responsible party. And in turn, hopefully the con that is supply-side/trickle-down economics will become nothing but a distant memory.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The Decriminalization and Taxation of recreational marijuana usage. Follow the lead of the states of Washington and Colorado. The ATF's increase in marijuana raids is a continuation of the failed Drug War.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Fully staff the federal judiciary with as many actual liberals as possible. Hopefully that includes replacing at least one conservative on the Supreme Court.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great question, can't wait to shoot it by a couple of liberals and her dreams of a european socialist nanny state, if you want to know the scary truth about everything in politics check out insideliberals.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @No More - I don't see any "dreams of a european socialist nanny state" here. In fact, a lot of the issues mentioned relate to personal freedom in one way or another. Maybe if Republicans really believed their own mantra about "individual liberty," there would be more common ground.

      Delete
  29. More than any one particular policy, my biggest single hope for Barack Obama's second term is that Congress comes back to the table, particularly Republicans in Congress. The first half of Obama's term had a ton of good bills make it through the House and get blocked in the Senate because of ridiculous filibuster rules. And the second half of his term had outrageously bad bills regularly making it through the House with nothing practical ever getting done. I'll take some "meh" legislation along with some great stuff over [nothing] for the next 2-4 years.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Carbon pricing―any kind of carbon pricing. Just get the ball rolling on it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I agree with HarryDoyle. Convincing the country that the Democratic party is the fiscally responsibly party would be tremendous. More broadly I would say that the Democratic party is the party of rational, fact/expert based policy. So many popular Republican policy ideas have been discredited.

    ReplyDelete
  32. A strong secularist to replace Scalia.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Some movement on climate change would be nice. I'm not sure how plausible that is -- maybe if a few more hurricanes hit the East Coast.

    ReplyDelete
  34. To be a red hot firebrand of liberalness to torment the wingnut crazies? If not that, than decent Supreme Court justices and a sturdy jobs bill that takes veterans into account

    ReplyDelete
  35. Climate, preferably through some form of carbon tax. It doesn't need to be high enough to kill off carbon use, just enough to push development of cleaner technologies.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Grow a pair, especially within his own party. Marginalizing the Republicans,especially the extremists, should not be that difficult. Obama will get more trouble in the Senate from the Blue Dogs, and these members need to understand that there will be consequences for opposing the President's initiatives. He'll need help from Reid to mete out the penalties. He needs to take a page out of the Republican playbook on this one. Don't get me wrong, I think that having differences of opinion are what makes the Democratic Party what it is. Having a minority opinion does not afford one the right to subvert the leader when it comes to implementing policy. Filibuster reform will be necessary, without it nothing will get accomplished. McConnell and the Republicans will not cross the aisle in any meaningful way.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Ideally? Climate change. But there is no way any Republican interest groups sign on to that in the next four years, so it will not happen unless in the midterms the Democrats pick up a liberal majority in both houses of congress that is willing to push a bill addressing climate change via reconciliation, and that seems like a fantasy scenario.

    Realistically, it looks like a lead up to immigration reform could happen. DREAM Act seems like a first step, and I also expect other bits and pieces that give more paths to citizenship in exchange for some token attempts at stricter enforcement. Republicans are talking up comprehensive immigration reform, but their base will probably revolt if they try to enact anything like the IRCA, so piecemeal reforms seem more likely.

    ReplyDelete
  38. May not be sexy after all this time, but I'd like to see sustained successful effort to make the ACA work.

    ReplyDelete
  39. A national Anti-Gerrymandering Act a la California

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?