James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

The aftermath of NY-23

Nov 4, 2009 21:43 UTC

Jon Henke applies his own analysis to the NY-23 race:

The story of NY-23 is not “conservatives beat moderates” or “conservative loses to Democrat”.

The story of NY-23 is “the Right starts dismantling the Republican establishment.” This is about how the Republican Party is defined and who defines it.

Right now, the movement wants the Republican Party to be defined by opposition to big government. Gradually, as new leaders arise, we will demand that the Republican Party be defined by its own solutions, as well, but rebuilding is an incremental process. We can hammer out the policy agenda and the boundaries of the coalition later.

For now, our job is to disrupt the establishment GOP.  If we beat Democrats while we’re at it, great. But the first priority is to fix the Drunk Party – the Living Dead establishment Republicans. They’re history. They just don’t know it yet.

NY-23 was the first shot in that war.  It was a direct hit.  Next year, we start storming the castle.

Me: Next up, Rubio vs. Crist and DeVore vs. Fiorina.

COMMENT

Republicans had to choose between a liberal Republican and a very conservative candidate – most moderate Republicans were unhappy with both choices. Perhaps that’s why the Democrat won this three-way race.

Posted by Camron Barth | Report as abusive

An economic counter-factual

Nov 4, 2009 21:39 UTC

Scott Grannis, the Calafia Beach Pundit, outlines a different “stimulus path”:

Meanwhile, though, the unemployment rate is going to remain uncomfortably high, especially for all those politicians who argued so fervently early this year that dumping a trillion dollars of tax rebates, transfer payments, make-work projects and general government largess into the economy over a period of years would guarantee a quick economic turnaround. As the evidence accumulates, we see instead that it would have been far better to just let the economy follow its own course. Better still, we could have used the money in a much more intelligent fashion by making permanent cuts in marginal tax rates that would have quickly resulted in more work and more investment.

COMMENT

But the banks needed the money.They NEEDED it! You know: to get money flowing again.or throw down with more Monster Bonuses.6 of 1… It all trickles down, right?

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Political reality makes it unlikely ObamaCare will cut deficits

Nov 4, 2009 21:36 UTC

Here is OMB Director Peter Orszag at NYU yesterday:

Our fiscal future is so dominated by health care that if we can slow the rate of cost growth by just 15 basis points per year (that is, 0.15 percentage points per year), the savings on Medicare and Medicaid would equal the impact from eliminating Social Security’s entire 75-year shortfall.

Right now, we are further along toward our goal of fiscally responsible health reform than ever before. I believe that in the weeks to come, the President will sign a bill that gives those with health insurance stability and expands coverage, and does so while boosting quality and reducing long-term deficits.

But there is mounting evidence that ObamaCare won’t do enough to reduce deficits. The Peterson Foundation just released a study on the Baucus bill that it commissioned from the Lewin Group. The findings:

1) The impact on the Federal budget deficit is positive only if the reductions to reimbursement levels are maintained. More than half of the $404 billion in savings over the 2010 through 2019 period is attributed to reductions in the rate of growth in payments to providers for health services, plus reductions in hospital DSH payments.

2)  Without providing new measures to control the growth in costs, the study estimates that total health spending would rise from about 17 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 to 25 percent in 2029.

3) The federal government’s health spending would increase by almost $400 billion over the next 10 years and $1.6 trillion over the 20-year period.

Me: The context here, of course, is that Congress just tried an end-around to make sure doctor reimbursements aren’t cut. Actually, if the cuts were actually made, you would save enough that you would not have to raise taxes to pay for reform — though the goal is to make sure reform actually results in less red ink.

What the polls say about Obama, one year since being elected

Nov 4, 2009 18:21 UTC

Scott Rasmussen crunches the numbers:

As president, Obama lost the support of Republicans in February during the debate over the stimulus package. Over the summer, economic concerns and the health care debate cost the president support among unaffiliated voters. By October, a month-by-month review showed that Obama’s overall job approval had slipped to 48% among Likely Voters.

This morning, on the anniversary of his election, the president’s Approval Index rating is at -13, just one point above the lowest level yet recorded and down 41 points since the Inauguration.

1)  Economic conditions have played a role in dimming Obama’s support. For much of the past year, voters continued to blame George W. Bush for the economy, but the blame is more evenly divided now between Bush and Obama.

2) The core promise made down the stretch to voters by candidate Obama was a pledge to cut taxes for 95% of all Americans. Now, more than 40% expect a tax hike and hardly anybody expects their taxes to go down. Not surprisingly, 74% of voters now view the president as politically liberal.

3) Just 33% believe the stimulus package has helped, and most opposed other economic initiatives including the takeover of General Motors and the cash-for-clunkers program. Among the priorities established by the president, voters consistently see deficit reduction as the most important but least likely to be achieved.

4) The health care plan proposed by the president is struggling and is supported by just 42% of voters nationwide. Confidence in the War on Terror spiked during the first weeks of the Obama administration but has now fallen to the lowest level in nearly three years. On a related topic, one of the president’s earliest initiatives, his promise to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, initially received mixed reviews but is now opposed by most Americans.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters now expect politics in Washington to become more partisan over the coming year. That’s up 25 points since Inauguration Day when a plurality believed politics might become more cooperative.

The president himself remains more popular than his policies. That gives him some good will to draw upon. However, as was shown in yesterday’s election results, the president’s ability to help other Democratic politicians may be limited.

‘Permanent Democratic majority’ begins to unravel

Nov 4, 2009 18:10 UTC

America’s “permanent Democratic majority” ran smack into the economy’s apparent “new normal” of high unemployment and big deficits. Score one for the economy — and for Republicans.

Now the Democratic spin on losing the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey is this: All politics are local. A weak candidate in one state, an unpopular governor in the other. Plus voters are cranky about the economy.

No broader conclusions should be drawn. Now let’s move forward and go pass healthcare, OK, America?

But the political reality is not nearly that sunny for Democrats’ political fate or the Obama domestic agenda. Jon Corzine lost in deep-blue New Jersey — a state Candidate Obama won by nearly 15 percentage points — despite outspending Republican opponent Chris Christie by some three to one.

And not only did Republican Bob McDonnell lead a GOP landslide sweep of major offices in swing-state Virginia, his 344,000-vote victory came against an opponent he defeated by just 360 votes in 2005 for attorney general.

And it wasn’t just the bad economy. Yes, exit polls showed great voter anxiety about high unemployment. But also notice huge Republican margins among New Jersey and Virginia independents, voters traditionally suspicious of government spending and budget deficits. These are the sorts of folks who left the GOP in 1992 to vote for Ross Perot and parted ways again in 2006 and 2008 because they felt Republicans had morphed again into big spenders.

(And the unemployment rate isn’t even that terrible in Virginia: 6.7 percent versus 9.8 nationally.)

Voter revulsion at trillion-dollar deficits and impatience about unemployment is creating a toxic environment for the Obama White House and congressional Democrats. Major legislative items like healthcare, energy and financial reform are already slipping into next year.

History suggests that incumbent parties who get big things done, get them done in the first year of a presidential term, such as the Reagan tax cuts or Clinton’s successful push for NAFTA. Midterm election years are where big policy dreams turn into nightmares, such ashealthcare reform in 1994.

It’s hard to imagine that the 84 House Democrats from districts won by either John McCain in 2008 or President Bush in 2004 are now more inclined to support either an expensive health plan or a cap-and-trade energy plan. Already Democrats are hinting at shrinking the former and putting the latter on the backburner. (One policy that might get more attention is a second stimulus package to create more jobs.)

Tuesday’s election results are a roadmap for political gridlock in Washington and a possible Democratic electoral disaster in 2010.

A respected political forecasting model by Ray Fair Yale University calculates that Democrats and Republicans should split the 2010 vote because of the economy. If that scenario unfolds, then David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, according to an interview with The Hill, thinks “Republicans will probably be winning back the House.”

Did Candidate Obama really transform the American electorate a year ago? Perhaps. (Though, then again, having the economy collapse right before Election Day may have helped artificially inflate his vote totals just a bit.)

But dissatisfaction at the policies of President Obama looks to have quickly transformed it right back.

COMMENT

Can you say – “REAGANOMICS”?

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive
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