The real deal struck about reform: There would be none.
Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell made a deal about filibuster reform: There would be no deal.
Democrats and Republicans agree that the federal income tax must be reformed. They even agree on some common goals.
In 2009, Ralph Nader published a fantasia titled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, in which he imagined a group of maverick billionaires banding together to defeat corporate power in America. Declaring themselves “the Meliorists,” these enlightened oligarchs force Walmart to unionize, elect Warren Beatty governor of California, establish single-payer health insurance, raise the minimum wage to a livable salary, and in general breathe life back into liberalism. In 2012, something like Nader’s utopian scenario has begun to take shape, but with a radically different ideology.
There are two Democrats running at the top of the ticket this year, and only one of them is President Barack Obama. When Joe Biden’s name first came up, in 2008, as a possible running mate, I told everyone I knew that it would never happen. When Obama did choose Biden, I braced myself for disaster. But Biden turned out to be the right guy for the job. People don’t appreciate what a surprising outcome this is. My reasoning back in 2008 was grounded in observable fact.
It’s Mitt Romney’s misfortune as a presidential candidate that his greatest administrative accomplishment—indeed, the centerpiece of his four-year Massachusetts governorship—was a health care reform plan that most of his fellow Republicans despise, because it provided the blueprint for President Obama’s 2010 health reform law.
See if you can tell which of the following passages are from The Obamas by Jodi Kantor and which are from The Real Romney by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman. The answers are at the end of this column. No peeking! a) “‘[Predecessor] had a genuine curiosity about the people in the building and what made them tick, and how to develop functional relationships that proved to be productive in the clinch,’ said [politician].
Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy had a great idea. He would create an agency, the Peace Corps, to send idealistic young Americans abroad to spread their wealthy nation’s know-how among the impoverished peoples of the world. Lately, public schools in the United States have taken JFK’s idea and turned it around. Why not invite the impoverished peoples of the world to come here to enlighten us? America is still the planet’s wealthiest country, but it is no longer, by international standards, a particularly well-educated one.
It should not have come as a remote surprise when House Speaker John Boehner announced last weekend that he was abandoning negotiations for a “Grand Bargain” to bring spending and revenue into line with each other. The surprising thing was that Boehner ever pondered the possibility that such a deal might occur. When Boehner tried to pitch fellow Republicans on a huge bipartisan compromise, they reacted as though he had taken leave of his senses. “It’s crazy to think the speaker was considering a trillion [dollars] in tax increases,” one leading Republican told Politico.
Partisans have a general habit of insisting that their side would do better if only their leaders would give more strident speeches. Witness liberals during the health care debate demanding that President Obama mind-meld conservative Democrats into supporting the public option, or the Republicans who fervently believe that just a few more addresses by Paul Ryan can sell the public on his plan to slash the most cherished program in the United States so as to pay for unpopular tax cuts for the affluent. It’s usually a fantasy of escaping inescapable political constraints.