Free Markets, Free People
As we near the mid-term elections and people start paying attention (and early voting begins), we’re naturally seeing some tightening of the races. However, one thing that hasn’t been tightening, per many polls, is independents going for the Democrats.
Anyone who has watched elections over the years knows full well that indies are the swing vote that, for the most part, determine the outcome of most elections. Some refer to them as the mushy middle. Others see them as voters truly independent of the 2 party system and not satisfied with either. And during each election, they pick the side which best represents the direction they’d prefer to see the country go on the often mistaken assumption that the winner will head that way.
All that being said, keep in mind as you hear stories about tightening races that one thing that hasn’t been tightening is the Democratic hold on independent voters – at least not in this election cycle. Why?
Remember, this is a Congressional election and as much as the GOP might like it to be a referendum on Obama (and to some degree it will be) it’s mostly about the Congress we have. Indies aren’t very enamored with it or its leadership (Nancy Pelosi is at 29% and Harry Reid is lower). A new poll makes the point:
The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll found that 61 percent of likely independent voters in 10 battleground House districts — a critical swing demographic — think the leadership under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is more liberal than they are.
“That’s a very significant finding that tells you where independents are likely to go,” said Mark Penn, president of Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the poll. “In terms of independents, Reid and Pelosi are viewed as out of step.”
And that feeling is likely to effect the independent vote, because it is strictly a numbers game that keeps the leadership in place. Change the numbers, i.e. vote for the other party’s candidate, and if the change is large enough, you change the leadership. Pelosi’s the most likely to lose her leadership job (and, rumor has it that even if Dems somehow hold on to the House, she may not be Speaker), but if Reid manages a win in Nevada, his power in the Senate may be neutralized by GOP gains in that chamber.
I got a bit of a chuckle with this quote:
“The inability to define Boehner and McConnell as out of touch with mainstream values was a strategic failure of the Democrats in the election,” said Simon Rosenberg, a veteran of the 1992 Clinton war room and president of NDN, a center-left think tank and advocacy group.
“The Democrats have done a bad job this election cycle defining the Republican Party as out of touch with American values,” he said.
It is hard to define the other side as “out of touch with American values” when the Democrats were proving every day and in every way how out of touch they were. The GOP does indeed have it’s ‘out of touch’ problems, but they’re insignificant in comparison (at least at the moment) to the Democrats.
Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, said many Democrats have played into the Republican strategy by attacking business.
“A lot of the Democrats are resorting to economic populism, and the polling shows that voters aren’t buying it,” he said. “ ‘Corporate America’ is a Washington term. Outside Washington, that’s business and the people who employ you.”
The anti-business, government union party – is that really how the Democrats want to be identified? Is it any wonder independents are deserting them in droves?
Sharon Angle might not be anyone’s choice for Senator if she were running against anyone else, but apparently when the opponent is the much loved Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, she’ll do just fine:
In Reno’s Washoe County and Las Vegas’s Clark County, Republican turnout was disproportionately high over the first three voting days, according to local election officials. The two counties together make up 86 percent of the state’s voter population.
Some 47 percent of early voters in the bellwether Washoe County so far have been Republicans, while 40 percent have been Democrats, according to the Washoe County Registrar. Nearly 11,000 people had voted in Washoe over the first three days of early voting, which began Saturday.
Voter registration in the county is evenly split, 39 percent to 39 percent. The disproportionate turnout is a concrete indication of the Republican enthusiasm that is expected to portend a nationwide GOP wave.
Early voting is often an indicator of how a race will go on election day as it tends to demonstrate which side has, as the article notes, the most enthusiasm about the election. Right now the numbers are pointing to a decided advantage for the GOP.
Well, you say, that’s a heavily Republican county. What about turnout in a heavily Democratic one? The news is pretty much the same:
In Clark County, which is heavily Democratic, more Democrats than Republicans have voted, but Republicans are outperforming their share of the electorate.
Out of the nearly 47,000 votes cast in Clark County, 46 percent were Democrats, 39 percent Republicans, according to the Clark County Election Department. But while Democrats make up 46 percent of the county’s registered voters, Republicans constitute just 33 percent.
Harry Reid, the best argument going for not using seniority as a basis for picking your leaders, may end up being a statistic. Perhaps his loss will push unemployment back up over 10%. It would be a fitting end for a politician who has done much to "lead" us into the mess we now suffer.
I know its early and yes, I know he could eek out a win, but I’m just feeling it in my bones. Angle will be a junior Senator with little power and someone Nevadans can get rid of in 6 years if she turns out like I think she will. But I think they’re realizing that in relative terms, she’s a small price to pay for getting rid of Harry Reid.
I say, “Amen” to that.
"I’m going to be very honest with you — Chris Coons, everybody knows him in the Democratic caucus. He’s my pet. He’s my favorite candidate," Reid said.
"Let me tell you about him: A graduate of Yale Divinity School. Yale Law School. A two-time national debate champion. He represents two-thirds of the state now, in an elected capacity. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen him or heard him speak, but he is a dynamic speaker. I don’t mean loud or long; he’s a communicator. So that’s how I feel about Delaware. I’ve always thought Chris Coons is going to win. I told him that and I tried to get him to run. I’m glad he’s running. I just think the world of him. He’s my pet."
If you’re in DE and don’t have a reason to vote for O’Donnell yet, but you’re dissatisfied with the track the country’s on as is over 60% of the country, then perhaps this acknowledgement that Harry’s “pet” will reliably vote for whatever Harry wants in the Senate (assuming Reid is successful in retaining his seat) should provide one. Lapdogs for unpopular political leaders pushing unpopular agendas are always people you want in high places (talk about a tone deaf “endorsement”. It should be worth at least a minus 5% for Coons.).
So, if you want amnesty, cap and trade, even more taxation, higher spending, a bigger deficit and more government, vote for Harry’s “pet.”
It appears that Congressional Democrats are finally at the “acceptance” stage of the grieving process over their upcoming losses in Congress. And the reality of those losses is propelling some to look at the lame duck session of Congress as the last opportunity to pass some of their and their clientel’s most desired legislation.
In the House, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters last month that for bills like "card check"—the measure to curb secret-ballot union elections—"the lame duck would be the last chance, quite honestly, for the foreseeable future."
And you can count on them pulling out all the stops to do so. The same goes for the Senate:
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate committee overseeing labor issues, told the Bill Press radio show in June that "to those who think [card check] is dead, I say think again." He told Mr. Press "we’re still trying to maneuver" a way to pass some parts of the bill before the next Congress is sworn in.
Of course they are – the handwriting on the wall is in seemingly permanent marker. What they’re doing, frankly, isn’t surprising or unusual. But it could be very damaging. John Fund quotes Jay Rockefeller as saying, “I’ve got lots of things I want to get done”. The lame duck also said:
"It could be a huge deal," he told Roll Call last month. "We could get the country on a sound long-term fiscal path."
Which Fund opines, undoubtedly means new taxes in exchange for extending some (but not all) of the Bush tax cuts.
But wait there’s more. Fund lists a few probable lame duck priorities for the Democrats:
Senate ratification of the New Start nuclear treaty, a federally mandated universal voter registration system to override state laws, and a budget resolution to lock in increased agency spending.
Then there is pork. A Senate aide told me that "some of the biggest porkers on both sides of the aisle are leaving office this year, and a lame-duck session would be their last hurrah for spending." Likely suspects include key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Congress’s "favor factory," such as Pennsylvania Democrat Arlen Specter and Utah Republican Bob Bennett.
President Obama failed to mention climate change legislation during his recent, Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil spill was that he wants to pass a modest energy bill this summer, then add carbon taxes or regulations in a conference committee with the House, most likely during a lame-duck session.
That’s a very ambitious and, frankly costly and destructive lame duck legislative agenda.
Whether or not they can get all those balls in the air remains to be seen. Blue Dog Democrats, who face the toughest races of all, may not be as easily gulled into supporting any of these items given the fallout from health care reform.
But that probably won’t stop Pelosi and Reid – of Obama – from pushing the agenda since they have to be aware this is likely their last chance to do so. And they proved with health care that they’ll throw anyone under the bus to get what they want.
To include the American people.
And that message: is if your political opponents are in a hole of their own making, don’t throw them a rope.
That’s precisely what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was in the middle of doing prior to this past week. He was the lone Republican Senator working on the “climate” bill with Senators John Kerry (D-VN) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Additionally, he was also the only Republican Senator working on immigration.
This past weekend, Graham pulled out of the cap-and-trade “climate” bill, leaving it in doubt – although word now has it that it was Harry Reid (D-Desperate) who decided it must wait for immigration. That would actually make sense since it is Harry Reid who is in re-election trouble in a state with a large Hispanic population who’ve complained Democrats haven’t done anything with immigration.
Graham seems to have finally awakened to the fact that he has an opportunity to slow both cap-and-trade and immigration down and hobble the administration’s agenda in this Congress. Today he made it clear that immigration was off the table, as far as he was concerned, for this year – if not next:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the sole Republican working on a bill to legalize illegal immigrants, in effect put the bill on the shelf on Tuesday, saying that a debate now would destroy any prospects for passage and that the issue needs to wait until 2012.
The remarks likely signal the end of any serious chance for broad immigration legislation to pass this year, since Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, was the best hope for a partnership with President Obama and Democrats who want to write a bill.
Unlike the cap-and-trade bill, there has been no immigration bill yet written. So, given the process, even given priority, legislation would take months and months before passage. Graham was the forlorn hope of Reid and the Democrats on immigration. He effectively slammed that door in Reid’s face yesterday. And he’s playing some smart politics in how he’s framing his decision. He’s tapping into that latent anger within much of the country about the refusal of the federal government to secure the borders.
“It is impossible for me and any other serious Democrat to get this body to move forward until we prove to the American people we can secure our borders,” Mr. Graham told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I believe we can do it by 2012 if we’re smart,” he said.
Ms. Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, disagreed with Mr. Graham’s evaluation of border security. She said she knows the southwest border as well as anyone and, by every measure Congress has laid out, the border is more secure: Fewer illegal immigrants are being apprehended, and more fencing and infrastructure have been deployed.
But under close questioning by Mr. Graham, Ms. Napolitano could not say whether she would declare the border secure if she were still the governor of Arizona. She called it an “unfair question.”
“It is a fair question, and I’ll give you my answer: I don’t think it is,” Mr. Graham said. “I think since the last effort to solve immigration the border situation has deteriorated.”
Popular position that plays well to the Tea Partiers and again points to ineffective government. Essentially, in one week, Graham has made the completion of the Democratic/Obama agenda much, much more difficult – if not impossible – during this session of Congress.
You may recall my post yesterday when I pointed to the probability of some sort of action on immigration after the Easter break because the Hispanic vote isn’t very enthusiastic about Democrats right now and November is approaching?
Well, Ezra Klein has picked up on the vibe too:
I’d say it’s pretty unlikely that comprehensive immigration reform happens this year. But then, who cares what I think? Harry Reid is in charge of the Senate, and he says he’s got 56 votes, and it’s gonna happen. “We need a handful of Republicans,” he told an immigration rally in Las Vegas.
The cynical take, of course, is that Reid is running for reelection in a state that’s about 20 percent Hispanic. But that suggests an important change in the political reality: The cynical thing for Democrats to do in an election year might be to pursue immigration reform. And that would make immigration reform a much likelier addition to the agenda.
Now granted it doesn’t take the equivalent of a political rocket scientist to figure this out. Congressional Democrats are wildly unpopular, November midterms threaten to wash them out of the Congress like you might wash all the pollen on your driveway down the sewer and they’re casting about anywhere for a way to re-energize their base. And, if you look at the last election, Hispanics went for Obama with 67% of their vote.
Reid claims he has 56 votes. He also says he needs “a handful of Republicans”. Obviously Democratic Senators up for re-election in ’10 are going like the idea. But needing that handful of Republicans means at the moment he probably hasn’t got any – well, maybe Lindsey Graham.
And note who Reid is talking too – certainly not Tea Parties, but instead “immigration rallies”. The guy who draws 100 people to a campaign event in his hometown is out addressing immigration rallies – yeah, back to that “political rocket scientist” crack.
So it appears the argument I was making yesterday and Klein is making today, seems to have some legs. I gave you part of the game plan yesterday as to why Democrats want to introduce it now and Klein repeats it. But, speaking of cynical, he lays out some other reasons as well:
If Democrats actually pursue immigration reform, their [Hispanics -ed.] participation becomes likelier. And if Republicans — or tea partyers, or conservative talk radio — overreact to the prospect of immigration reform, their participation becomes virtually assured. That last bit also suggests another reason Democrats might want to see immigration on the agenda: It’s got the possibility to tear the Republican coalition apart. Beltway Republicans are very, very concerned about losing Latino voters, and so they try to be careful on the issue.
Or – the GOP base will be pushing one way and the assumed spineless Beltway Republicans will be tiptoeing another while the very outcry drives Hispanics to the polls.
I can’t refute or dispute Klein’s prediction at this point – we’ve seen similar things happen in the past. But I do agree completely that it is a cynical plan – but then that’s politics isn’t it. As many are fond of saying, “it ain’t bean bag” and, as is often the case – getting re-elected, by whatever means necessary (to include “let’s pretend we’re doing something on immigration and the GOP are the bad guys”) usually takes priority over any real concerns about what is good for the people of the country.
Poor Harry Reid. You can understand why Rush Limbaugh calls him “Dingy Harry”. For a public servant of many decades who is supposedly practiced in the art of public speaking, he sure can mess it up. Today I assume he was trying to tell us that the 9.7% unemployment rate that the government claims and the number of unemployed reported this week didn’t go up as high as expected. This is how it came out:
“Today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good,” Reid said Friday on the Senate floor.
I’m sure those 36,000 are just happy as can be about that, Mr. Reid.
But as most informed folks know, that 9.7% figure doesn’t really reflect the full extent of unemployment. The government’s “U-6″ number is much closer, but isn’t used because – well, take a look and you’ll figure it out for yourself:
The U.S. jobless rate was unchanged at 9.7% in February, following a decline the previous month, but the government’s broader measure of unemployment ticked up 0.3 percentage point to 16.8%.
Despite the Obama administration claim today that those measures they’ve put into place appear to be working, the U-6 says otherwise:
The comprehensive gauge of labor underutilization, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs. Though the rate is still 0.6 percentage point below its high of 17.4% in October, its continuing divergence from the official number (the “U-3″ unemployment measure) indicates the job market has a long way to go before growth in the economy translates into relief for workers.
Here’s the key and a reason you should take all this happy talk with a grain of salt:
A U-6 figure that converges toward the official rate could indicate improving confidence in the labor market and the overall economy. This month pushes convergence even further away.
And it “pushes convergence … away” by a significant amount.
One of the things to be wary of is the administration will start believing its own press and at the first sign the U-3 begins to dip, figure it can begin to further its tax and spend agenda. Until you see the U-6 headed in the same direction as the U-3 and showing significant drops, nothing is getting better on the employment front. And until that happens, the recovery is not going to “take off”.
Despite all the rumors of back-room deals already agreed upon by the Democrats the House may be short of the votes necessary to pass the Senate version of the Health Care Reform bill.
Of course the rumored plan is to have the House pass the Senate bill without change and then have the Senate amend it to the House’s liking through the reconciliation process which only requires 51 votes to pass.
Not so fast.
First the House has to pass it – and, according to at least one source, they may be as many as 100 votes short. Michael Barone explains why House Democrats may be less than enthusiastic about voting for this bill:
Why are House Democratic leaders having such trouble getting the 217 votes needed for a majority (because there are vacancies now in two Democratic-held seats)? Look at it this way. Imagine you’re a Democratic congressman from a not entirely safe district. The leadership comes to you and says, We’d like you to vote for the Senate bill. Oh, and by the way, we can’t change a word in it. You’ve got to vote for the Cornhusker Hustle and the Louisiana Purchase and all that other garbage.
But hey, the leadership guy will go on, there’s no risk, because the Senate will fix everything through the reconciliation process. You will be suspicious of this. You will note that using the reconciliation process requires favorable rulings from the Senate parliamentarian, rulings over which you have no more leverage than you have over phases of the moon. It requires 50 Democratic senators willing to go along with reconciliation, and given the poll numbers that have been coming out lately that’s not a sure thing. And it requires steady leadership from Harry Reid—who just last week, without notice to the White House, the House leadership or the senators involved, yanked a Baucus-Grassely bipartisan “jobs” bill and substituted a much smaller one of his own.
A. First you have to trust Nancy Pelosi enough to vote on it.
B. Then you have to trust Harry Reid to do what he says he’ll do – i.e. initiate the reconciliation process and address the specific points the House wants changed.
C. You have to hope there are enough Democratic Senators (not in tight races) who’ll go along with reconciliation. And finally,
D. You have to hope that the process is favorably ruled upon by the Senate parlimentarian.
If all of that doesn’t come to pass and the Senate bill passes unchanged, the Democratic member of the House has handed his political opponents in this year’s midterms some ready made ammunition. He or she will have voted for the Louisiana Purchase, Cornhusker Kickback and all manner of other other objectionable portions of the bill. Concludes Barone:
The only protection you have against this is the assurance that the Senate parliamentarian and scared incumbent senators will come through for you, and that Harry Reid will pursue a steady course.
So your response to the leadership is either, I gotta think about this, or, Hell no. The House Democratic leadership’s problem is that it cannot credibly promise that the Senate will keep its part of the bargain.
In terms of trust, my guess is Senate Democrats rank somewhere below used car salesmen and lawyers.
Bi-partisanship has become the new battle cry of the left, at least for PR purposes. They no longer have the power to pass anything without at least one Republican vote in the Senate. So instead of purposely excluding Republicans as they have for a year (and blaming their own failings on GOP “obstructionism”) they now have to make a show of calling for bi-partisanship and hope they’ll be able to pick off at least one hapless GOP Senator. If they don’t, then they can again blame the Republicans for “obstruction” instead of their failure to find a suitable compromise necessary to pass the legislation in question.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Pluto) did the GOP a favor, although I’m sure Republicans don’t realize it yet. He shot down a “jobs bill” that was the result of bi-partisan work by Democratic Senator Max Baucus and Republican Senator Charles Grassley.
Cost? Over $100 billion. Contents – Pension bailouts, handouts for chicken farmers in Arkansas, an extension of the anti-terror Patriot Act, and a number of other little goodies. Had that bill passed, Republicans would have again earned the derision of the public for “not getting it”. It would be seen as “business as usual” despite the expressed anger of the public over such handouts, bailouts and deficit spending.
Reid instead has decided to unilaterally rewrite the bill to include only 4 things:
* A new tax credit for hiring workers
* Extra money for highway projects
* Small Business tax breaks
* Build America Bonds
The price tag? A reported $15 billion dollars. The reaction from most of the left and the Paul Krugman’s of the world is going to be brutal. Of course the Blanche Lincoln “reelect me” aid to Arkansas chicken farmers, the Chuckie Schumer Pension Bailout along with all the other goodies that made up the remaining $85 billion in the original bill aren’t going away. They’ll be considered in different legislation. That’s to say, no one in the Senate seems to have listened to a thing the polls or public have been hammering them about for months. It is indeed business as usual.
Let’s be clear here, though. Harry Reid want’s a “clean bill” on this not because he’s changing his ways, not because that’s what the American people want and not because he’s a smart politician.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is rewriting a jobs bill after Democrats complained of too many concessions to Republicans.
Yeah, that’s right – King Harry just saved the Republicans from themselves (at least for the moment). You see, there was just too much of that bi-partisanship stuff.