Saturday, December 8, 2012

What Mattered This Week?

I'm confident that Jim DeMint's resignation matters, although to be honest I'm not exactly sure how. At the very least: as I always say, ever Senator counts. DeMint's replacement will vote about how he votes, but there's more to being a Senator than floor voting -- as DeMint's career demonstrates.

Something that doesn't matter? Well, I already talked about the super-early 2016 polling, but I'll stick with that. 

What else? What do you think mattered this week?

26 comments:

  1. SCOTUS taking the marriage equality cases.

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    1. Definitely this -- caught me by surprise.

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  2. I guess it matter since he was the biggest tea party leader in the senate, though Nikki Haley will get someone just like him back in there. A negative to the conservative movement, no change in the senate I would guess.

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    1. I think that if Reid pushes through filibuster reform, which is likely, then the Republican brand will suffer. Currently, they've held onto the evangelical vote pretty well by casting themselves into a role of total opposition. With filibuster reform, they will have to pick their battles - they will have to do a little negotiation, at least, and not simply obstruct.

      How does that make a difference? Well, holy warriors don't negotiate with the devil. And all the power shifts to the ones who are willing to do a deal. That leaves out the Tea Party guys.

      So DeMint is cashing out while he still has some value. In six months, no one will think that any of the Tea Party Senators will be worth anywhere near $8 million.

      Smart.

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  3. I've been thinking about the anti-union bill in Michigan. Of course it matters to people directly effected by the changes, and it will matter to the ongoing debate about unions, labor costs, living wages, fair compensation, etc. But I also think that it "matters" in the way that it exposes the fact that the GOP doesn't have any serious policy proposals. This is a point that JB has been pushing recently. It's not like the Michigan state legislature (or the Wisconsin legislature, or any of the right-to-work state legislatures) sat down with economists and experts and figured out that these new policies would probably yield economic growth. There's no data being analyzed here. In fact, they've been pretty open that they're going after unions because 1) helping big businesses reap more profit is a constant GOP priority and 2) unions help get Democrats elected. So getting rid of unions = Democrats won't get elected? Looking at the economies of states that have limited or dismantled unions, any economic growth that does happen tends to not extend to the majority of people. What happens to an elected official if, during his or her term, economic growth is not enjoyed by the majority of people? And if you are on the record fighting for lower wages and stingier compensation plans, in the interest of businesses over average people, I think you are risking a lot politically. You might point to the right-to-work states and say that the politicians there haven't lost power due to supporting the laws... but those states never had much economic strength to begin with (or never had a situation in which economic strength was enjoyed by the majority), so when the economy continued to do poorly after the right-to-work laws, it wasn't so damaging politically. What happens as right-to-work laws are put into place in states where economic growth used to happen regularly and people used to enjoy it? In the big picture, I think the anti-union push in Michigan matters in the way that it shows how the GOP in general is risking it's political coalition for confusing reasons.

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  4. Egypt's ongoing protests and Syria's chemical weapons matter a lot.

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  5. Syria's chemical weapons, and US/NATO response to them.

    And marriage, of course.

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  6. Developments in Syria and Egypt mattered. I can't tell if the "E1" and other events in Israel are just political posturing in light of the upcoming elections or if it shows a big change in policy so I'll pass on that one. Also a potential fiscal cliff deal got leaked, I was expecting a lot more outraged about raising the Medicare age from the left but I don't see that much. Even the guys at Fire Dog Lake responded not so much by criticizing the potential deal but by criticizing Jonathan Chait for some reason. Makes such a deal look much more likely to me.

    Also I thought the Disabilities Treaty vote in the Senate certainly mattered to a lot of people, but even more than that it's a great window into how the GOP is operating these days. It looks like the whole thing was shot down because Senators were afraid of being RHINOed, and were willing to do things like lie to Bob Dole, to his face, hours before the vote but then change their vote because of some panic that if they voted for a treaty that would do stuff like require Bulgaria to put elevators in public facilities they'd be run out of office on a rail. The fear was that deep.

    Here's a good summery in case you missed it:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2012/12/06/senate-republicans-profiles-in-moral-cowardice/

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    1. According to Chris Hayes this morning, the administration may have concluded that--of the various things that might possibly get the Republicans to come to a deal--raising the Medicare eligibility age does the least actual damage.

      On the treaty, the right-wing Republicans may have decided to take a stand against setting precedents for the international community telling countries what they can do domestically, aside from the issue of the day. The treaty in this case being relatively marginal may have made it easier.

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    2. I suppose that's possible about the treaty, but it doesn't strike me as what happened. If it was suppose to be some big principled stand, I don't see why so many GOP Senators told groups-even disabled veterans-groups they were going to vote yes. Heck they even told Bob Dole they'd vote yes! Why switch at the last moment? When I first read about it I immedetly thought, "wow, arms being twisted out of their sockets, who could have put that kind of heat on those guys?" Then I realized probably no one, oh I guess some people yelled on the internet or something, but it's not as if the national Chamber of Commerce swore blood vengeance if they voted aye. My guess, and who really knows, is that they all just panicked because they thought it could be seen as "not conservative." But it tells you a lot about how the GOP works these days.

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    4. I think the right-wing media outlets have been talking about this treaty, for whatever reason. That might be why the "not conservative" thing may of come about. It really makes no sense. But, well, few things make sense when Bob Dole is no longer conservative enough.

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    5. I think that raising the Medicare age would be politically deadly, especially for all the excuses being given (not only by Hayes but Ezra Klein etc.)--it's a cynical political sop to Republicans at the expense of seniors. And yes I've heard about how Obamacare will make up the difference, but that's conjecture at this point. It's going to sour Obama's reelection if it happens.

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    6. Even if you think foreign treaties are the best way to make domestic law, my understanding is that this treaty wouldn't have changed our law. So why pass it? Are we doing this just to feel good, or because Bob Dole wants us to? This is why we end up with way too many Federal laws, more than can even be counted.

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    7. "It's going to sour Obama's reelection if it happens."

      Captain Future, you just let slip Obama's secret plans again!

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    8. Passing the treaty is a way to pressure other countries into adopting US standards on compassion and assistance for those with disabilities. Those who wish to abolish said standards are the first to complain that the treaty is unimportant.

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    9. Even if you think foreign treaties are the best way to make domestic law, my understanding is that this treaty wouldn't have changed our law.

      Ethics, look into it.

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    10. Anon, that makes sense -- It probably would have been a better talking point for Democrats. Instead, most of what I heard were suggestions that opposition to this treaty was part of a plot to undue all disability protections we already have in the US, which you suggest in your second comment. You can't really expect to win a vote by trying to mislead voters and vilifying the very opposition whose votes you need. Of course that often seems to be how politics works these days.

      purusha: Ok, I'll bite. What ethical reasoning requires a vote for this treaty?

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  7. Eurozone maintaining current interest rate. A 2013 recession will be embraced with open arms, little mitigation. This will influence the rest of the world economy on the margin.

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  8. I think the Michigan legislature pushing through the right-to-work bill in the sixth most heavily unionized state (only New York, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, and New Jersey have higher percentages of their workforces unionized) is hugely important; a major victory for free and competitive labor markets. Republicans control both houses of the legislature plus the governorship in 4 other non-RTW states: Alaska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all of which have above average percentages of union members in their workforces. Perhaps the Michigan example will give courage to those Republican governors to push through RTW laws, and help to limit compulsory unionism to the hard core blue states of America.

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    1. +1 - Also, there's lots of big cascading effects that result from further weakening of unions. The institutional left is highly dependent on union money and structure.

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    2. So... The left wont win elections if the unions are disabled? Seems a simplistic and rather flawed view of why most people vote Democrat

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  9. Private sector unions are already becoming extinct. I don't think the GOP's aggressive tactics in Michigan are worth the trouble. It just reinforces the image of the GOP as a tool of big business that cares nothing about average people.

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    1. At this point, I wonder if the GOP's continued heavy-handed tactics on unions might cause a backlash.

      Certainly we saw this with voting; in states with voter ID laws pressing down, folks got out to vote.

      And with labor, there's some serious unrest building. Too much payout for the decision makers who are trashing jobs, too much being asked of too few workers. Right now, the feeling that any job's precious keeps the lid on tight. But I'm not sure that lid will hold indefinitely.

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  10. Boehner’s disciplining of four Republicans who are either too fiscally conservative or too friendly with Democrats (or both) to sit on budgetary committees:

    http://youtu.be/ecFaU6P_yiY

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  11. The idea of raising the eligibility age for Medicare. It won't come to fruition. Why? A couple of reasons: It will only make the program more costly, and it will have the side effect of making people work longer before retirement. Once people realize that this is a twofer for the Republicans, it's a goner. The longer people wait to collect SSI as a result of higher age eligibility for Medicare, it will be apparent that by default Republicans will get a raising of SSI eligibility without even asking for it. I hope the President and his advisers aren't seriously considering this idea.

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