Washington’s Power Grid
August 17, 2010
Late last month, Gallup released fresh state-by-state numbers on the electorate’s ideological and partisan identification. These numbers provide both an X-ray of the structure of political competition and a roadmap for November. To grasp the underlying story, I divided each list into a top and bottom 15 and a middle 20—from most to least conservative and from most to least Republican—and then arrayed them in a three by three grid.
Is Obama Meaner To Liberals Than To Conservatives?
August 04, 2010
Over at Daily Kos, David Sirota says President Obama is meaner to the left than he is to Republicans: Yesterday at OpenLeft, I wrote a post about how the Obama administration unduly shies away from confrontation with Republicans and conservatives. Whether this is a product of the president's personal fetishization of conciliation or a product of a right-of-center political ideology none of us can know because none of us are in his head.
Beating the Street
May 05, 2010
Shortly after nine on a Monday morning in late April, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler filed into a meeting room with nine senior aides. The aesthetic was what you might call “bureaucratic drab”—fluorescent lights, beige carpeting, American flag—and the mostly middle-aged men did not seem out of place. Their suits ranged from gray to charcoal and the complexions were varying degrees of pasty.
What, You Have a Better Idea for Cost Control?
March 07, 2010
David Brooks thinks it. David Gregory thinks it. The Washington Post editorial page thinks it. And, what the heck, I think it. If health care reform passes Congress, the final legislation probably won't cut the cost of medical care as quickly as seems possible on paper. But would the legislation make a good start--as good a start as possible, given political reality? Brooks, Gregory, the Post, and plenty of other critics seem to think the answer is "no." I think they are nuts.
Will the Senate Come Through?
February 24, 2010
When Senators like Bernie Sanders or Sherrod Brown say Democrats need to finalize health care reform through the budget reconciliation process because of Republican obstructionism, that doesn't mean much. When Senators Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and Ben Nelson say their more liberal colleagues may be right, that means a lot. Via Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown, here's Bayh: “Obviously, if the minority is just frustrating the process, that argues for taking steps to get the public’s business done. ...
Will the House Come Through?
February 24, 2010
Who says bipartisan good feeling is dead? The big question hanging over health care reform right now is whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can get enough Democrats to vote for the Senate bill and an accompanying set of amendments that would move through the budget reconciliation process. Rather than make Pelosi and her lieutenants go to the trouble of counting all those votes, Republican House Whip Eric Cantor has generously done the work for her. In a memo addressed to "interested parties," Cantor lays out the math.
How Many Lives Does the Public Option Have?
February 18, 2010
I'm a longtime, enthusiastic fan of the public option. And I am really nervous about its latest rise from the grave. As you may recall, the public option died in December, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped it from his reform bill in order to secure the final votes necessary for a filibuster-proof, 60-member majority.
The Dems Need a Shove. Will Obama Give It?
February 04, 2010
In the last week and a half, Obama has rediscovered his voice on health care--telling audiences he is determined to achieve comprehensive reform, not some piecemeal version, and that he is willing to fight for it. And, administration officials say, the sentiments are genuine. Obama has instructed his staff not to abandon the pursuit of a full reform package, even though, it seems, that's what some advisers would prefer--and even though the Democrats no longer have the sixty votes necessary to break Republican filibusters in the Senate. But rhetoric alone won't get the job done.
Will Bernanke Be Another Coakley Casualty?
January 22, 2010
If I had to guess as I write this, I'd say no. But the trendlines for the Fed chairman aren't moving in the right direction. Today's Wall Street Journal had a piece noting that the Fed chairman was headed toward a closer than expected vote in the Senate next week, with Dems Byron Dorgan and Jeff Merkley joining Bernie Sanders, the Senate's chief Bernanke-hater on the left, as opponents of a second term.
The Whipping Boy
December 27, 2009
WASHINGTON--Punditry in the nation's capital has its own rhythms, and one common practice involves almost everyone beating up on the same politician at the same time. Such assaults are rarely about ideology, though I have found that liberals or Democrats are often the object of these sustained attacks, perhaps because journalists are overly sensitive to charges of liberal bias. There's nothing like hitting a Democrat hard to "prove" impartiality. For quite a while, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the target of choice.