Legislation Fatigue

I have been contemplating the recent election and what the shellacking of Democrats by Republicans “means” if anything.

The first point is that it means it was a mid-term election.  I have already pointed this out back in January.

The second point is that the economy is weak and the unemployment rate is high.  So the election result can be construed to reflect the voters frustration with that situation.  The problem with this is that the election results did not give us a government that is likely to do much, if anything, about the economy.  So to say that the voters were voting the economy is to say that the voters voted against their own interest.

There are those who say the voters delivered a mandate to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  But again, the government the voters created is not going to repeal the act (at best the House will have a vote on this), so it makes no sense to claim the electorate wanted repeal when the electorate didn’t come close to voting for a government that could deliver such a thing.

Some voters were voting for fiscal responsibility.  Most of those were voting for the party that was less likely to deliver that, but this is not relevant to our discussion.

Sure, there were plenty of individual voters who were voting the economy or voting repeal of health care reform, but I am looking for the meaning of the election result, not the motives of individual voters.

What did the voters give us?  They gave (we gave ourselves) a divided government.  It sure looks like we will have gridlock for the next two years on everything but the most banal legislation.

Why did the voters give us this?  Legislation fatigue.  Are we not all (those of us paying any attention at all) just a bit exhausted from the last two years of congress?  I was ready for more, but I concede that I could use a break.  Now we all have a chance to catch our breath.

Whose Fault?

This is three weeks old, but you get what you pay for.

Jeb Golinkin, on FrumForum, posted on the subject of the race for Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois.  He is making the case for why the Republican Kirk might well beat the Democrat Giannoulias.

Giannoulias has the problem of

his ties to corrupt Illinois politics as usual (Blago, Tony Rezko, the fact that his biggest fundraiser was recently arrested….etc.)…It also helps that Giannoulias can’t stop finding his way into the news for all the wrong reasons. His family bank is on the brink of collapse and has loaned a clean $20 million to convicted felons.

Kirk has advantages:

Kirk is an established moderate.  He voted for cap and trade, a vote which probably horrifies many readers but might actually play in his favor by demonstrating that he is willing to go out on a limb, buck his party, and support a president who still remains popular in Illinois. Kirk also has impeccable national security credentials (for years, he has been leading the push in Congress for sanctions on Iran). Furthermore, his economic positions will appeal to voters eager to get their jobs back and see the economy moving again.

And then there is:

the fact that Rod Blagojevich, with whom Giannoulias has worked, is going to be on the front page of every Illinois paper as his trial unfolds.

So, Kirk is a moderate with a liberal vote on the record supporting Obama and Giannoulias is tarred with corruption.

Couple that analysis with the fact that the President’s party always loses seats in the mid-term election.

But you can bet your boots that if Kirk wins, there will be plenty of spin on the right that this race is just another example of the failure of Obama and the electorate’s rejection of him.

Health Care Reform!

Congress has passed it.  The President signed it.  It is law.  We still need the reconciliation to be passed, but I am confident that it will get done (may take more effort than one would think, but it will get done).

Seems like a common theme I was hearing in recent weeks was how Obama’s presidency was a failure (from conservatives).  Now I hear that the Obama presidency is an historic success (from liberals).  In both cases it is a bit soon to judge.   It is still too soon to judge George W. Bush’s presidency.

This was not rammed through against the wishes of the American people.  It was passed by normal legislative procedures against the wishes of a minority of the American people.   53% of voters voted for Obama.  Anyone who voted for Obama and did not know he or she was voting for health care reform was not paying attention.   Although there were recent polls showing that a majority were against the health care reform bill, those polls actually showed that a lot of people were against what they believed the health care bill to be, not what it was.  And a few were against it because it was not liberal enough.

Don’t believe it when Republicans claim they had no choice but to oppose the bill at all costs since the Democrats refused to negotiate in good faith.  It was the other way around.  In particular, Senator Baucus spent weeks trying to get a compromise that would garner some Republican support.  Later, the Democrats stuggled to find the ground that would get both the conservative and the liberal Democrats to vote for the bill.  If there were some moderate Republicans there to stand in for the loss of the liberal Democrats…..

This is not the salvation of the Democratic Pary (though it does and will stand as an important achievement).  There are still seats to lose in November.

This is not the Waterloo of the Republican Party.  The Party is not now exiled onto St. Helena to die six years hence.   There are seats to win in November.

Now the lawsuits begin.  Under the heading of  “be careful what you wish for”, if this bill gets thrown out as unconstitutional due to the individual mandate, then the next time around the bill that will be passed will be single payer.  Yes, it might take a few years to get us back to such a point, but it will happen if this gets tossed.

There are plenty of issues to occupy Washington after health care, but my vote for most important issue is the deficit.

Evan Bayh’s Goodbye

Evan Bayh, senator from Indiana, today announced that he is not going to run for re-election.  Although Bayh is a Democrat, he has always been on the conservative side of the tent.  The most recent example of this was the Massachusetts special senate election.  The moment it was clear the Republican won the race, Bayh was making statements supporting the idea that health care reform was dead.

To the end (not that this necessarily constitutes the end), Bayh has been less than helpful to the Democratic Party.  He drops out of the race with a couple of days left to file to run in the primary.   This isn’t enough time for someone to jump in and gather the necessary signatures to get on the primary ballot, so the candidate for the fall would be picked by the Democratic Party.

Except there was one person already out gathering signatures to run in the primary against Bayh.  Tamyra d’Ippolito, a cafe owner in Bloomington, claims to be 1000 signatures away from the number needed to get on the ballot.

I’m not confident she will make it,  but it might have been better if Bayh had waited a day or two.  It is likely that Bayh’s absence really energized d’Ippolito.

If Tamyra d’Ippolito gets the signatures she will be the only senate candidate on the primary ballot.  So she will be the Democratic candidate in the fall.  Judging by her web page, she has no political experience and she has an uphill battle to win.

I think the Democrat’s chances for winning in the fall would be much higher if the party could pick the candidate.

With luck d’Ippolito fails to get the signatures and it will make no difference.  In any event, thank-you Evan Bayh.

Hat tip to TPM.

Memo to Democratic Congressional Reps

You have one chance.  Pass the senate health care bill.

The public does not differentiate between the house bill and the senate bill.

You already voted for the house bill.

Your republican opponent in the fall is going to pin that vote on you incessantly.

And those who support reform are not going to be all that enthusiastic because you did not pass it.

So you have the worst of both worlds:  blame for the vote, and no credit for passage.

The republicans had one goal:  prevent the passage of health care.

They have almost succeeded.

The only bills (of any consequence) that will pass between now and January 2011 (if not later) are bills through reconciliation.  The republicans have zero incentive to cooperate with anything.  Obstruction has served them very well in the polls.

Health care reform cannot be done solely through reconciliation.

Pass the senate bill and then fix what can be fixed through reconciliation.

That is all.

Leadership

Somehow it already feels like ancient history, but the reader perhaps remembers the hubbub surrounding the book Game Change when it was published eight days ago.  Harry Reid was quoted talking about Obama’s lack of a Negro dialect.  Sarah Palin is also depicted negatively in the book.

Reid’s response was to stand up and admit he said what he said.  And he apologized.

Palin’s response was to simply state that the book was full of lies.

One might look at the two responses and draw conclusions about who is leadership material.

On the other hand, both of them responded in the way that their politics required of them.  Politics required Reid to man up and apologize.  Politics requires Palin to just declare the book to be lies.   (Maybe they are lies.  I don’t know).

With 63% of precincts reporting, the Republican Brown is defeating the Democrat Coakley in the Massachusetts senate race 53% to 46%.  It is not looking good.

Now the Democrats are faced with the question of what to do with health care reform.  Are they leaders or are they craven cowards to the political breeze.

TPM alerts us to the early leap by Indiana’s Bayh to cowardice.

The irony is that if the Dems listen to the lesson of Massachusetts and fail to pass health care, they will lose a lot more this fall then they will if they stand tall and pass the bill.  They already voted for it.

If Coakley does indeed lose, it probably means the end of Cap and Trade.   With luck the global warming deniers are correct.

Will we get leadership or politicians?

Running for President?

Is it my imagination, or is Indiana Congressman Mike Pence suddenly all over the national media lately?   As I looked at a video featuring the congressman this morning the thought jumped into my head:  Mike Pence is thinking about running for President (you read it here first!).

On the other hand, he hasn’t posted on his blog since April 27.

Then again, given the recent luck the GOP has had with social media*, Pence’s stale blog might be better than the alternative.

I doubt I’ll be voting for him.

* See also TPMDC.