Thursday, January 17, 2013

Elsewhere: Rolling, DOMA, More

At PP today, I asked when is a roll not a roll? It's about the Hastert Rule and House Republicans. Also about House Republicans: at Greg's place, I said that the reason they don't adopt the sensible divided government strategy that Democrats used in 2007-2008 of passing the legislation they wanted to run on is that, well, they don't have any. I don't think I was clear over there: I don't consider this an inherent weakness of Republicans or conservatives; it's just the mark of this particular group of conservative Republicans.

What else? I have a new column up at TAP today about executive orders, Congress, and presidents.

Yesterday at PP, I said that the key for Senate reform now is whether Democratic Senators are, right now, hearing things from their constituents which will send them back to Washington in a mood for pushing Harry Reid on the filibuster. And earlier in the week I defended the House's right to use money to support DOMA in the courts.


  1. I liked your article regarding the Republican's lack of a positive agenda. But I think that you are not taking the cyclical nature of politics into consideration. Since 1980, conservatives have pretty much set the tone of the debate: deciding what should be discussed, and when, and how. It was a remarkably effective use of messaging. They attacked welfare for the poor, severely curtailed abortion rights, promoted corporate welfare, reduced taxes, built up the military, opened international trading groups, and opened the floodgates of guns. They got some, even most, of everything they wanted.

    That's why they don't have a positive agenda. Because there is nothing left to want.

    1. I hear this all the time, and I really am baffled by it. There is no conservative policy achievement since 1980 as significant as the ACA. For that matter, there's nothing as significant as the (GHWB-era) ADA. Taxes have gone down...and gone up. Gun restrictions have come and gone, and now will come again. Conservatives have won on the margins on abortion since 1980, but been routed on gay & lesbian issues, and most of the larger church/state stuff. Environmental laws are tougher and more secure than they were in 1980 -- and while climate legislation has stalled so far, conservatives have not "decided what should be discussed" on climate, for the most part.

    2. Have to disagree on taxes and the basic relationship between the government and the economy. In 1981, 9.4% of GDP was collected in income taxes, 2% in corporate taxes, and 6% in payroll taxes. At that time, 9.4% was the highest in income taxes collected, whereas corporate taxes were at their lowest, and payroll taxes were rising. Since then? Income taxes went up through the late 1990s, but dropped SHARPLY in the Bush years, and is now about 6-7%. Now, some of that is recessionary, but its also reflecting cuts in tax rates. Corporate taxes dropped very low in the 1980s, went up a tick in the 90s, and are now at their lowest levels (as a share of GDP) since WWII. Payroll taxes have continued their slow and steady increase, dropping only during Obama's payroll tax holiday.

      The first of these taxes is progressively structured--those are lower. The second of these is essentially very progressive (minus the loopholes, of course) in that it taxes corporations--those are lower. The third of these is regressive (poor people pay a MUCH higher share of their income in payroll taxes than do the wealthy)--those are higher.

      Sorry, JB, but I fundamentally disagree that conservatives haven't won the last 30 years on taxes. Democrats run scared from MENTIONING taxes these days.

    3. Barack Obama just won a presidential election in which raising taxes (granted, on only a very slim subgroup, but still) was a major campaign promise. In fact, he's done it twice in a row. Bill Clinton did the same thing in 1993.

      I'm not saying that Dems have always, or even overall, won on taxes -- but it's not true that they won't talk about taxes.

      Nor did Dems shy away from raising taxes to pay for the ACA.

    4. But they're always raising OTHER PEOPLE'S taxes. Middle-class is defined upward ($400K?). Tanning salons. People who choose not to buy health insurance.

      And, you really can't ignore what's happened on the ground. Taxes on rich people have decreased dramatically in the last 30 years. Taxes the middle and poor have been somewhat cut, overall.

      That's a conservative win....even if Democrats happen to have won 4 elections of the last 9 (with 3 terms to show for it, because BHO has a whole term in front of him), and Dems have won the House 9 of the 17 elections in that same time, tax policy has moved sharply to the right. That Obama promise to raise taxes above $250K? He didn't really deliver on that until a couple weeks ago, did he?

      I'm not saying that Dems are just as conservative as Reps. I'm saying that conservatives have won the tax battle for the last 30+ years.

    5. And Obama has railed for years against oil company subsidies - no effect at all.

  2. You make an interesting point about how historically many measures have passed by the slimmest of margins because some mebers who wanted them to pass did not want to vote for them. My favorite example is the acquittal of Andrew Johnson by the Senate. People have the image of Edmund G. Ross singlehandedly saving the president, but in fact it seems that a number of moderate Republican senators who voted for conviction would have voted for acquittal *if* their votes had been necessary.


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