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.


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.