Free Markets, Free People

The Brown Aftermath: Implications and Machinations

As Democrats survey the aftermath of a devastating defeat in yesterday’s Senate race in of all places, Democrat friendly Massachusetts, they have to be wondering how safe their own seats are.  Even Barbara Boxer, whose polls have shown weakness, has to be a little concerned.  If you can’t hold on to a Senate seat in a state where you outnumber the opposition 3.5 to 1, what seat is safe? Couple that with the fact that their super-majority in the Senate is gone and their legislative agenda in jeopardy, and they have a fine mess on their hands.

So that brings us to the broader implication of the Scott Brown victory yesterday. Does it mean Democrats will back off, heed the message and either kill or drastically reduce the health care bill? Or does it mean they plan on doubling down, pushing that monstrosity through as quickly as possible and hope to have the time to repair the damage before the midterms? Because that’s the choice they’re going to have to make and make soon.

If you listened to Nancy Pelosi yesterday, indications are they plan on doubling down. She’s quoted as saying that no matter what happens with Scott Brown, she plans on seeing health care passed. And, of course, Harry Reid – trailing badly in the polls in his home state – is of a similar mind.

The question is, how? There are several means of accomplishing the task. One is to pass the Senate version unchanged. That would only require a majority in the House and the bill can be sent to the President for signature. However, the Progressive caucus along the the Democratic pro-life wing aren’t at all keen on the idea and they carry enough votes to kill it.

That brings us to another method which seems to at least be the preferred method of the Olbermans, Matthews and Maddows of the world – reconciliation. It requires only simple majorities to pass legislation. But because it is aimed at budgetary legislation, it will mean a pared down health care bill that Democrats can ram through and at least have something to show for it. The question is would that be enough and, will it save them in November. The answer to both questions are probably “no”. However they may be left with little choice but to resort to this method.

And that’s because that last method is a compromise bill (what they’ve been working behind closed doors to craft) which will most likely please no one on the Democratic side (Republicans have lined up solidly against it already since they were shut out of the process) and they’re now facing a fight in the Senate they’re likely to lose (word is Joe Lieberman is again iffy on the bill).

Fun times in DC. But at least it’s a game again with the minority should be armed enough to stop the most outrageous of the liberal agenda. I’m not quit sure how the health care fiasco will play out – hopefully if not dead, it is at least a drastically reduced bill that can be repealed in the future prior to going to going into effect – but I’d say cap-and-trade is in serious trouble if not dead, and immigration reform is going to require Democrats to at least approach Republicans to pass anything meaningful.

Or to put it succinctly – the Brown win brought the blessing of divided government again. It’s by a very slim margin, but it is there again. And that is the model we should always strive to have at a federal level.

Republicans stand to pick up significant gains in November of this year. You can only hope that they’ve learned a valuable lesson from this election as well. The people want smaller and less intrusive government. They’ve once again begun turning to the Republicans to see that wish enabled. The question is will the message be heeded or will Republicans again ignore it as they did previously when in power and end up again handing it back to the Democrats?

We shall see, won’t we?

~McQ

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23 Responses to The Brown Aftermath: Implications and Machinations

  • The Union is safe again.  Whew!  That was a close one.  After all but a brief brush with Armageddon.
    I gotta tell you though, I’ll certainly miss all the doom and gloom comments around here.  All that talk about grabbing an axe and heading off into the forest… good times.
     

    Republicans stand to pick up significant gains in November of this year. You can only hope that they’ve learned a valuable lesson from this election as well. The people want smaller and less intrusive government. They’ve once again begun turning to the Republicans to see that wish enabled. The question is will the message be heeded or will Republicans again ignore it as they did previously when in power and end up again handing it back to the Democrats?

    Meh.
    Just another revolution on the political merry-go-round.
    Voters:
    “this sux, let’s vote the Dems in….”
    “Well this sux.  Let’s vote the GOP in…”
    “Dammit, this sux ass.  Let’s vote the Dems in…’
     
    Only the colorful metaphors seem to change.
     
    Cheers.

    • Obviously, a disappointed PogueMahone.
      Cheers
      Rick

    • You have a point, because the political parties are much, much more about gaining and holding office than anything else. But…

      The weary, pragmatist, conventional wisdom is that the merry-go-round will run forever. I think that’s your implicit message too.

      But it won’t. 2008 was just a warning. Our current level of government spending and debt is simply unsustainable. The merry-go-round could break down in fifteen years or next quarter – there are too many variables for any human being to make a reliable prediction on when. But anyone who understands the shape of an exponential graph can rather safely say that we can’t go on the way we have for the last several decades.

      I’m glad Brown won. It might give us some more time on the clock by pushing off effective nationalization of healthcare. But you’re right in saying it won’t make a large amount of difference long term. Only a political reversal the likes of which we have not seen since the Civil War will do that.

      I do not expect such a reversal until the system approaches complete failure, if then. The whole Tea Party movement is a glimmer of hope that we might see such a reversal in the next few years, but I think it’s more likely the whole thing will be co-opted by politics-as-usual. That’s what happened to the “Reagan Revolution” and the “Contract with America”, and I don’t see any reason this round will be any different.

    • 1 year to the day……you think Baracky finally realizes it’s much harder to govern than to sit on the sidelines and snipe?

      PS- ChimpyMcBushRovebot managed to get his agenda passed with only a slim majority. President Dreamy couldn’t get his agenda moved with a freaking supermajority. Who’s the smart one again?

  • Last night over at MSDNC, Maddow and Kos took this election outcome as a sign that Democrats must now pass HCR even if it means “reconciliation”
    Let’s see … Republican running as 41th vote against HCR in “bluest” state wins .. it’s a sign the “blue” team must pass HCR by all means necessary. This level of political tone deafness is unbelievable.  Talk about dense.  Massachusetts voters weren’t mad because there is no health care reform bill or Republican obstructionism.
    Massachusetts already has a rough equivalent of ObamaCare with 98% coverage.  They were mad because the party in power had lost it’s mind and was on a spending spree that will damage our country for decades to come.  Congress was writing checks that the taxpayers couldn’t and now wouldn’t pay.  Let’s hope Congress learns that every problem doesn’t demand a solution from Washington, and just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.
    Perhaps there are Democrats who want to complete their “lemmings” death march as they kamikaze their way into the history books.  Let’s hope it’s less than 50% of the Congress.

  • Baracky’s 2nd term rests in the actions of the next few weeks. If they back off, he’ll serve. If they double down on stupid (and we all know they can’t resist) then Baracky will be a 1-termer.

    • He’ll double down.  He’s a deliberate one termer for this very reason. 

      • Everything in the Obama repertoire is at once intentionally destructive of America as well as chaff meant to get the radar off of everything else. In other words, everything is a weapon and a distraction at once.

        He has done enough damage in his first year to lay America low for a generation, and that damage is accumulating and accelerating. For every day of progress the Tea Party movement, let’s say, makes in organizing against him, Obama moves forward by a week. It’s an illusion to think that this can be stopped via normative politics.

        He started with the exercise in urban looting he called the stimulus package and hasn’t rested for a moment. We haven’t seen the historical paper on the first year other than the items big enough for political junkies to pay attention to. The public is in a rage even over the much larger items that they have been able to see.

        This guy hates the United States. He was bred to hate it, he was educated to hate it, and he even chose a religious experience that would reinforce his hatred of it. He’s a KGB thought experiment come to life as a Soviet afterlife.

  • A kitchen sink thrown in front of a freight train.

    These people in power aren’t interested in any messages from voters. They’ve got various cancers they want to embed in the bodies politic and social, right next to what they’ve had in place for decades already, and it will take more than this fellow from Massachusetts to stop them. In fact, would anyone be surprised, six months from now, if he was helping them?

    As for the establishment Republicans, what have they done the past year but stand around with their dicks in their hands? Moe scrambles past Larry and Larry trips Curley, and on and on.

  • I’m back for a quick comment:  I think Brown’s victory was a good thing, and I embrace his idea of how to approach health care reform.  He clearly is not a “tea party” Republican, and his independence and willingness to look for bipartisanship is one reason why many Democrats in Massachusetts supported him, and I ultimately decided that he’d be the best to win.  My blog today explains why I think his approach to health care reform could bring Democrats and Republicans together to actually deal with the country’s problems in the spirit of compromise and cooperation.

    • That’s not a comment, Scott. That’s Wonder Bread soaking in warm water.

    • Your blog does not take into account the 800 pound gorilla in the room – How will the Democrats and Obama react to the lessons of Massachussetts? 

      Regardless of Scott Brown’s win, the Republicans are still the minority party and can only react to the legislative agenda of the Democrats.  They can only deal with a bi-partisan effort if Obama, Reid, and Pelosi approach them for that purpose.  Amendments and significant input to the process can only occur with the Dem’s (Pelosi & Reid) permission and concurrence.  And I am sure you are not indicating so-called bi-partisanship taken to date – trying to cut one or two RINOs out of the herd in order for there to be the appearance of bi-partisanship. 

      At this time the White House and Pelosi have indicated their intent is “Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!!”  (Reid, to my knowledge, has not stated his intent.)  Now this may only be rhetoric in order to keep the Democratic herd from devolving into a fear driven full blown stampede.  But they have not indicated a desire for real bi-partisanship in the past (Remember Obama’s “I WON!” declaration), why do you think they may desire to do so today?

      Do you really think the Democrats are intent to allow the Republicans into their inner sanctum and share the glory of the passage of meaningful health care reform?  Look at their stance regarding Social Security during the Bush Administration.  SS, even according to Clinton in the late ’90s, was going broke.  There was a known drop dead date down the road which, if anything, has moved closer because of the recessi0n.  But the Dems discounted and even jeered and hissed Bush during the portion of the State of the Union Address dealing with SS.  Why?  Simple – SS was their issue.  Nobody was going to fix it but them.  They were willing to wait until they were in power to deal with it.

      Now you think they are going to share the limelight with Republicans in developing a workable Health Care Reform Package on what has been a bell weather Democratic issue?

      It might be a nice daydream but – Not. A. Chance.

    • “SPirit of compromise”?

      “I won”

      Do you remember who said that when asked about “compromise”?

    • PS-

      Welcome back  ;)

  • Both the Republicans and Democrats have been hyper-partisan.  Bush used reconciliation to get around filibusters, both sides have abused filibustering to the point that nothing gets passed without a super majority, and both sides overshoot when they are in control.
    I think it’s time for moderates on both sides to reach out to each other, figure out a way to have effective cooperation to solve really severe problems facing the US, problems which, if not dealt with, could grow.   I think it’s up to Obama to forge an alliance with such a group of centrists, and then try to expand to find ways to take effective action.    What I like about Brown’s health care ideas (even if Mass can’t be a model everywhere) is that it injects a return to federalism and magnifies the role of states to take different paths.
    My wife is a CPA, works in a hospital, and is working on an MBA in health care management.   The more I learn from her about the state of the health care system in the US, the more convinced I am that it currently is unsustainable, and near collapse.   The simple answers — ‘let government do it and regulate it’ from the left, and ‘let the market handle everything’ from the right, are ideology-based, not reality-based.   It’s two sides spinning narratives built around their pre-existing beliefs.   These are serious issues, and neither side has been too impressive in how they’ve dealt with it.
    Bottom line: both sides need to change.   Less ideology and politics as blood sport, more pragmatism and politics as problem solving.

    • One more time, Mr. Professor: The market is not ideological.

      Your choices are your choices; mine are mine. You see price signals in a way unique to your circumstances. Any interference in that process by government affects the quality of knowledge in the signals. When the interference gets as great as it already is in the medical industry, there is your explanation for the out of control costs.

      The solution is to back the government out of the industry. Make it so that firms in the industry compete more freely (even when they don’t want to and demand protection from government).

      Then you will see, what? Competitive prices.

      You want insurance that lower middle-class families can afford without it killing them faster than the illnesses that they need the insurance for? Start by letting them buy it across state lines. Let them look at insurance products with high deductibles, so that they can get coverage for serious problems at lower cost.

      And never pretend that a “public option” helps competition. It is exactly the thing that distorts a market beyond the remarkable capacity of any market for self-repair.

      This medical insurance problem in America is like what my old friend the Mad Scientist used to say about cancer research: Everyone is too busy looking for a cure for cancer to consider a cure for cancer.

      • Martin, capitalism and markets are different things — (from my post ‘The War On Christmas’ at http://scotterb.wordpress.com/2OO9/12/22/the-war-on-christmas/):
        Karl Polyani, who perhaps more brilliantly than any other economist or philosopher realized the true impact of capitalism on social life, recognized that unregulated markets would damage community and environment.   In capitalism, everything becomes a commodity.  People are “human resources,” nature is valuable only in terms of what it can produce or earn on the market, and unregulated, capitalism can consume societies whole.   Capitalism is soulless, and seeks to view all of reality as products to consume or sell.
        Capitalism, to be sure, is different than markets.   Markets have been around for all of recorded history.   Markets do not represent the dark side of capitalism.  Markets regulated either by laws or the force of social norms and traditions serve the community.    Many who claim to be capitalists and defend capitalism as a system are really only defending markets.   Markets allow people to better exchange products, to produce what is wanted, and earn wealth for innovation and effort.   Markets help free communities from shortages and suffering, organizing productive life in a manner that allows for adaption to change with the dissemination of diffuse information.  So alluring are the virtues of the market that many leap to a conclusion that markets mean capitalism, and that the best markets are wholly unregulated.
        Capitalism, however, is a system whereby the logic of the market becomes the religion of a society.   The market is not a tool to help buy and sell, it defines the very nature of human existence.    Everything is a commodity, the worth of anything is determined by its market value.   Why does an inner city teacher who tries to educate children and save the lives of students who are being tempted by gangs and drugs get paid little while a back up professional athlete gets millions?   The market says that’s the way it should be!   The worth of what the back up defensive back is much more than the inner city teacher.  A wall street trader probably offers less to society than that of an honest small town cop (given recent events, a lot less.)  But in our society, the wall street trader has the most value.

        • Markets are the most efficient means of distributing goods, Scott. That is self-evident enough that you can even watch yourself proving it on your next trip to the supermarket, or the used-Volvo lot, or the sporting goods store.

          People spend their own money very carefully; government, which is so much more a religion than any market-oriented approach could ever be, spends other people’s money recklessly and political markets are the one sort of market that loses control of the signals, which results is metastatic government. Examples abound.

          These lessons are everywhere, and serious people can observe them at work, even study them.

          • And the sky is blue when the sun shines.   And if it gets cloudy, it might rain.   Thank you for the nice high school talk about markets, Martin.  Alas, your level of simplicity does little in terms of addressing real problems.   At your most silly, you seem to suggest there is a dichotomous choice — either choose markets or choose government.  Of course, all but a tiny fringe want some government.   Most Republicans want a lot of government — many even more government than a number of Democrats.    You need about thirty levels of more depth and sophistication before you have anything more than stale milktoast there, Martin.

    • Both the Republicans and Democrats have been hyper-partisan. Don’t you just love how I can always pull out stuff like that to make it look like I’m a pragmatic moderate instead of a wise leftist? Notice the subtleties here. I don’t have to define what hyper-partisan means, or whether it’s actually a bad thing. I just say it as if it’s a bad thing and that immediately should make you dense righties feel guilty for pressing on about “freedom” and “choice” and silly pre-post-modern concepts like that.

      Bush used reconciliation to get around filibusters, and no I don’t have to come up with any links that prove that or that suggest he was doing it for illegitmate reasons, or any of that. I decree it. Now, shut up and listen to me prattle on about both sides some more to bolster my “wise moderate” facade. Both sides have abused filibustering to the point that nothing gets passed without a super majority, and both sides overshoot when they are in control. And the fact that the country moves steadily to the left even with that overreaching by the Republicans is simply because we wise leftists have mastered the process of getting our way no matter what. Besides, my definition of overreaching for the two sides is completely different. Overreaching for Republicans is actually standing behind their campaign rhetoric and opposing expansion of government. Overreaching for Democrats is failing to properly indoctrinate the proles into being happy with their leftist programs.

      I think it’s time for moderates on both sides to reach out to each other, figure out a way to have effective cooperation to solve really severe problems facing the US, problems which, if not dealt with, could grow. Of course, these moderates on both sides have to agree that more and more government is a good and wonderful thing. I mean, anyone who doesn’t believe that isn’t a moderate, are they? They are a Neaderthal rightie. And that type certainly doesn’t need to be influencing the process, so if you wise moderates on the right would just jettison all that anti-government rhetoric you’re so fond of, it would be so, so much easier to achieve the earthly utopia envisioned by wise leftists like me.

      I think it’s up to Obama to forge an alliance with such a group of centrists made up of the moderates I just described, and then try to expand to find ways to take effective action. Because it’s clear that those darn teabaggers and others who believe the same things as the Nazi-like thugs who run this blog are never going to be part of any effective action, so Obama needs to short-circuit all of them by cozying up to people like Olympia Snowe. She’s from Maine, you know, and she’s a wise pragmatist like me. And Obama thinks like me too, so I’m sure that getting all those people together is the way to proceed, and we’ll get all kinds of wonderful leftist programs in place, and those who cooperate with Obama will get special deals the satisfaction of doing the right thing.

      What I like about Brown’s health care ideas (even if Mass can’t be a model everywhere) is that it injects a return to federalism and magnifies the role of states to take different paths. And just shut up about I pimped for Obama’s federal takeover for months, just shut up about that! I’m for federalism! Really I am! Now let me bring up my usual stuff to assure you all of how I’m a special insider who has special knowledge of this whole area, the way I do for just about anything political. My wife is a CPA, works in a hospital, and is working on an MBA in health care management. The more I learn from her about the state of the health care system in the US, the more convinced I am that it currently is unsustainable, and near collapse. And it’s not either collapsing because the government controls almost half of it, so just shut up about that! It’s those nasty, profiteering business people, and certainly not the saints who run Medicare and Medicaid.

      The simple answers — ‘let government do it and regulate it’ from the left, and ‘let the market handle everything’ from the right, are ideology-based, not reality-based. It’s two sides spinning narratives built around their pre-existing beliefs. And I’m not either ignoring the possibility that the current problems are because government already controls over 40% of healthcare money because of my pre-existing beliefs. I’m just not. I decree it. That fact is irrelevant, and it’s not either a strawman to say the right just “wants the market to handle everything.” Anyone who wants to reduce government involvment is automatically a dangerous free-marketeer who wants government completely out of the process. I decree it.

      Now let me get back to playing the judicious moderate, so that I can go home tonight and tell my wife how much smarter I am than the dense righties who hand out around here: These are serious issues, and neither side has been too impressive in how they’ve dealt with it. Bottom line: both sides need to change. Less ideology and politics as blood sport, more pragmatism and politics as problem solving. And if that leads to more government intervention in healthcare, well that’s just because wise leftism is ultimately the way to go.

      But, as I said months ago, I’m not commenting here any more. And coming back and commenting on this thread in now way contradicts that. It’s just another of my multiple truths. Like Sadr winning over Maliki. And Obama cutting spending. I know all of those things intuitively from my godlike powers of political science and my vast influence that is based on my book, which is not either a dreary muddle published by a vanity press, so stop saying that!

  • Weirdly, the link in the last post seems to be heading to a post on the stock market.  I’ll try it again, and if it fails I’ll drop the effort: http://scotterb.wordpress.com/2OO9/12/22/the-war-on-christmas/