Saturday, July 9, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

Well, the unemployment numbers matter, as do other economic indicators (which, for the week, were not nearly as bad as the monthly employment report).

It's very hard to know what to say about the week's developments in the budget/debt limit negotiations. We'll likely only know whether things that happened this week mattered well after the fact.

I think I'll put Libya on the list this week.

Also, we had news of a dramatic drop in immigration from Mexico over the last couple of years. That certainly matters quite a bit.

What am I missing? What do you think mattered this week?


  1. I think a big thing that mattered that is really off the radar in the media/blogger/commentatorland is the big success of the anti-DREAM act petition drive in Maryland. In short opponents Maryland’s new DREAM law got twice the number of petitions they needed to have the law put on the 2012 ballot for repeal. This matters because it is a classic example of one of the limits of top down progressive reform movements . The fact that this anti-immigrant backlash is happening in a state dominated by Democrats and many Democratic voters may have signed the petition is quite telling. Much like in the 60s and 70s liberals tried to create social change from the top-pass a law, get a court order-rather than build popular support for an agenda or policy change from the ground up. The problem with this strategy is that an angry and motivated electorate can always override politicians in the long run. Maryland in the 60s had a very similar story where an obscure suburban county executive-Spiro Agnew-rode the wave a white backlash to civil rights and a riot in Baltimore when MLK was assassinated all the way to the Governors Mansion and the Vice Presidency despite LBJ’s and the national Democrats push for civil rights. Obviously this is a different story but it is a big example –and I say this as a supporter of the DREAM law—of the danger a advancing a political agenda in the halls of power in the face of an angry electorate as they can always change who sits in them.

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  3. I'll mention the News of the World scandal blowing up in Great Britain. Given Murdoch's reach on what people hear about the news, even the small chance this story gets traction could make a difference in the messaging war.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    @ longwalk:

    Just saying, but the 100,000 or so anti-DREAM act signatures are about 1/25th the total McCain & Obama votes in Maryland in 2008.

    Ohio collected over 1.2 million signatures to get a ballot initiative against the anti-labor law passed by Kasich & Co. That's over 1/5 of the presidential ballots cast in that state in 2008.

    I'd like to see some polling on the Maryland DREAM Act before calling out legislative overreach, Maryland is a lot bluer than Ohio is red.

  4. I know, it's out of bounds, seeing as it happened after you posted it, but I'd say that Boehner wanting the smaller deficit package is important.
    As I read it, it's actual political sanity from the GOP (realizing that there really and truly is no way to get to 4T without revenue). That would be a first in, well, about 2 years.

  5. Things like this matter: . It's very early yet, but the GOP has had notable problems recruiting top-tier candidates for some races that could be competitive if and only if they got top-tier candidates. Obviously MI Senate and MN Senate are more important examples.

  6. New rules for The Clean Air Act from the EPA.

    We've looked for solutions to air pollution from Congress; but Congress seems incapacitated; too burdened by what's best for corporate interests to do what's best for national interest. I love this; it shows there are other avenues toward making progress. Instead of layering laws, make the laws we already have work better through the rule making process. Rule making can be a disaster, a way to gut the intent of a law because it's so prone to rent capture by special interests. But it can be a success; a step toward better, more effective government, a chance to fine-tune the laws already on the book. And Lord knows, there's many that could use some fine tuning.

  7. A little late to the party, Jonathan, but hoping the champagne hasn't been poured yet prior to my arrival :).

    Three things for me. "The News of the World" story which could seep into NewsCorp's reputation in this country and at a minimum scare the pants off of Fox. The importance I believe is coming to terms with the consequences of a model of a media organization that may challenge if not overturn norms in the pursuit of profits. Its one thing to discover seemy efforts that resulted in someone that many people dislike (because the person represents politically a different viewpoint) being slimed and undermined. Very different when you're talking about apolitical types like missing 13-year olds or subway bombing victims. If it turns out that some 9/11 victims were violated similarly (as I've heard might be the case) and there's any way of connecting this with Fox, it might have to be a bit more careful going forward. But that's probably a stretch. What isn't is the Murdoch family being more careful, perhaps going forward, with money-making ventures that might hurt its long-term interests (since this may be evidence that for the first time the long-term and short term interests aren't the same for the Murdoch media empire).

    The second, and clearly more important story is the specifics on the debt ceiling / budget talks. As matters go forward, provided the Democrats can remain firm and not go for a deal without exacting compromise from the other side, showing that the Republican concern over fiscal imbalances is mostly ficticious. The concern is over taxes and as time moves on its harder to hide this. If the Republicans can't sign off on $4 trillion deficit reduction because they can't sign off on any taxes, they have a harder time insisting that we can't continue on this path and therefore must cut. I think Boehner's political clout may be in jeopardy as well.

    Finally I agree completely on the importance of the job numbers. Its hard not to get unsettled by them, not to believe that a credible Republican might be very very tough to beat, and not sense that our job situation may even get worse but will almost certainly be awful for a very very long time (longer than the worst pessimists were projecting). However there is one caveat to this. If things get grimmer the balance could shift slightly in the Republican electorate enough to make them more comfortable nominating someone less electable. If it seems to many that anyone can beat Obama (not because this is true but because it may be hard to argue otherwise if the job numbers look super grim amongst Republican activists), the balance could shift to someone other than Romney. Not likely but could happen. Thanks.


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