When President Lindon Baines Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, he is known to have said that with that Act, Democrats were losing the south for a generation. LBJ turned out to be prophetic, except underestimating the amount of time. For Democrats, the South to this day remains largely a lost cause. But half a century later, demographic and generational shifts - along with a young President Obama - have made it so that Republicans are now afraid that they are losing the new generation and the reality of America's new demographic makeup. Have the Republicans thought about what will happen to that shift if the Supreme Court joins the attacks on our voting rights?
It's not a good time to be an Establishment anything. Especially a Republican.
Last week, Bloomberg released a new poll showing President Barack Obama at a 3 year high in approval ratings. Meanwhile, the Republican Party had a favorability rating of 35%, the lowest ever in a Bloomberg poll.
Meanwhile, the sequester is looming, and the public backs Obama and Democrats. From the Bloomberg article:
Public views of congressional Republicans’ record places an added burden on them in the standoff over automatic spending cuts. Americans by 43 percent to 34 percent say they are more to blame than Obama and Democrats for “what’s gone wrong” in Washington. Still, another 23 percent aren’t sure which side bears more responsibility.This past Sunday, Bob Woodward, dean of the Establishment press, hit Obama as "moving the goal posts" in regards to demanding revenue as part of a balanced plan to attack the deficit. Of course, that is nothing but the cry of an Establishment figure who is seeing his power and influence slipping away. As detailed here and here, revenue was always part of the deal to replace the sequester. The ones moving the goal posts are the Republicans, as that's what they always do. That Woodward, cheerleader of the Bush Administration's wars, is now turning his fire on a President who refuses to give him the same access is no surprise. The fact that it's having so little effect in the real world outside of the Beltway is another indication of the problems that the Establishment is facing with Obama.
Republicans “are not willing to work at all with the president,” said poll respondent Horace Lee Boyd, 64, a political independent and retired wholesale merchandiser who lives in Cullman, Alabama. “When you cease to compromise, you cease to accomplish anything. We’re at a stalemate. He’s willing to compromise and they aren’t.”
The narrative of the Medicaid part of the decision has centered around the court's one rebuke to the government: that the federal government could not threaten existing Medicaid funding to states that refuse to participate in the extended program. As I pointed out in my previous piece, while the Administration claimed that it had such powers under the Affordable Care Act, however, it never planned to use it.Well, it turns out that the Republicans are running out of excuses to turn down free money faster than you can say 'hospital lobby.' Republican governors who were vehemently opposed to Obamacare are now quickly falling in line, reversing their positions about not accepting Obamcare money for Medicaid. New Jersey governor Chris Christie became the latest caver, following the flip flop of the decade from Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, the original plaintiff challenging Obamacare.
And that's because it doesn't need to. The expansion of Medicaid - at 100% funding by the federal government for the first three years (and 90% thereafter) - will be insanely difficult for even the reddest states to turn down. For the first three years, it costs them nothing - just what will be their excuse not to get free money?
Congressional Republicans are preparing to counter increasingly dire warnings from President Obama about the impact of automatic budget cuts with a plan to give the administration more flexibility in instituting $85 billion in cuts, a proposal they say could protect the most vital programs while shifting more of the political fallout to the White House.In the mean time, Sen. Lidsay Graham is practically begging his Republican colleagues to give up on their no-more-revenues craziness.
Chill Pill for Liberals: Why Republicans Won't be Able to Decouple the Defense Cuts to Restore Post-Sequester
I'm sure that's what some Republicans may be thinking as well.
There are a few problems with that playbook, however: first, there is nothing keeping them from proposing such a bill right now, yet, they have not. Second, this president isn't looking to play softball with Republicans when it comes to sensible cuts to the Pentagon.
Not so fast. Once you let the inmates run the asylum, they less interested in winning elections and more interested in controlling the asylum, it turns out. The same rabid wingbats who forced McCain's election-year makeover in 2008 and forced him to retain that stand in 2010 are now ready to chew him up. McCain is holding townhalls, and the angry white Teabaggers are out for blood:
Arizona took center stage in the national immigration debate Tuesday as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured the state's border with Mexico and Sen. John McCain defended his proposed immigration overhaul to an angry crowd in suburban Phoenix. [...]
One man yelled that only guns would discourage illegal immigration. Another man complained that illegal immigrants should never be able to become citizens or vote. A third man said illegal immigrants were illiterate invaders who wanted free government benefits.
No one believed me a year and a half ago when I said it, but as a result of a 2011 debt ceiling deal I am certain John Boehner now regrets making, Republicans are now squealing as the President and Democrats turn up the heat on the sequester - the automatic across the board spending cuts slated to go into effect on March 1 unless Congress acts to prevent them. Today, the president spoke, flanked by first responders, about the cuts and their impact on civil society as well as military readiness.
Here's some of what the president had to say:
Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.
[Israeli] President Shimon Peres will honor US President Barack Obama with Israel’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Distinction, just as Obama conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, on Peres at a presidential dinner in Washington in June.And why is the president of Israel choosing President Barack Obama for this honor? Well, I will let his office speak for itself.
Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life. As president of the United States of America, he has stood with Israel in times of crisis.
During his time as president, he has made a unique contribution to the security of the State of Israel, both through further strengthening of the strategic cooperation between the two countries and through the joint development of technology to defend Israel against rockets and terrorism.
So, after USA Today reported on a White House draft legislation on immigration reform - something the president has always said he would do in the event Congress follows its usual path of doing nothing - Republicans began melting down faster than wax in a lit candle. Suddenly after months of complaining that the president won't put his own plan out to deal with the debt, Republicans are seething that the president has his own plan on immigration.
Sen. Hydration, I mean Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida accused the White House proposal of following some sort of failed path even though he wouldn't say just what in the White House draft he disagreed with. John McCain appeared on Meet the Press and implored David Gregory to get off his lawn.. I mean John McCain appeared on MTP and insisted that the president's bill would fail because... well, no Republican actually gave any policy reason why the president's bill would fail, so I'm guessing it would fail because Republicans think it's got Obama's cooties on it. Yet other Republican senators are complaining that the president isn't calling them to sign them a lullaby or something.
This is what has become of the Republican party. Even on things they know they have to ultimately do, like immigration reform, and do those mostly to the president's liking, since if they had gotten their way, we'd be talking about self-deportation programs instead of a path to citizenship, Republicans are complaining that things will blow up if the White House puts its ideas on the table. Why? Because - and astonishingly, they admit this openly - anything with Obama's name on it is toxic to the GOP base, and evidently, the elected Republicans lack the courage to stand up to their extremist base on anything.
The Democratic proposal would establish a 30-percent minimum tax rate on incomes over $1 million to raise about $54 billion over 10 years. It would raise $1 billion more by subjecting tar sands oil to a tax to pay for oil-spill cleanups and by ending a business tax deduction for the cost of moving equipment overseas.
The remaining $55 billion would come from $27.5 billion in defense cuts from 2015 to 2021 and $27.5 billion in farm-subsidy cuts.
This morning, Republican leadership in Congress was in a frenzy. They were holding press conferences, appearing on television, and doing everything short of getting cotton mouth on national television. The GOP's full court freakout is supposedly their attempt to pin the tail on the donkey - namely the attempt to pin the tail of the sequester on the Democrat named Barack Obama. They had an 'Obamaquester' hashtag and everything.
That the GOP is trying to paint the president with something they themselves giddily voted for back in 2011 is not new. What's new is the urgency. They are putting up a face that the sequester will go into effect if they don't get their way to replace it with devastating cuts in the safety net, but the real urgency, I believe, came from a line in the president's State of the Union Address last night. Specifically, this part:
Now, some in Congress have proposed preventing only the defense cuts by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits. That idea is even worse.
- Raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and index it to the cost of living! (Wow, this guy is talking about a living wage!)
- Pass the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
- Universal preschool.
- Create jobs by helping the middle class and making the wealthy pay more. (That's right, the rich aren't done paying yet.)
- Build more renewable energy resources and attack climate change.
- Full benefits to same sex families of the military.
- Victims of gun violence and their families deserve a vote on taking weapons of war off the streets, on limiting the size of magazines, and on universal background checks.
- A comprehensive immigration reform plan must include a pathway to full citizenship.
- Congress must address election reform; no citizen should be deprived of their right to vote because they have to wait too long to cast a ballot.
The President is about to lay down the law, I assume with Boehner weeping in the background. Go wild!
A few hours ago, the Senate - for the second time in six months, voted to pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act - by a vote of 78-22. All 22 votes came from Republican men. Sen. Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Vice President Biden - the original author of the VAWA in 1994, have called on the Republican House to swiftly pass it and get it to the president's desk.
The question is, will the Republican leadership in the House follow the direction of 78 senators from both parties, or will the succumb to the 22 Teabaggers? Among the supporters of violence are such luminaries as the Republican leader of the Senate, the newly branded Republican Savior Marco Rubio and Tea Party's face Rand Paul.
The latest installment of the GOP civil war, sparked by President Obama's resounding re-election, involves a battle between two of our most beloved right wing figures: Karl Rove and The Donald. Backing up the birther crowd that refers to itself as the Tea Party, Donald Trump took umbrage at Rove's new Super PAC aimed at defeating the super-crazies in Republican primaries, calling Rove a "total loser."
It is true that Karl Rove is a consummate political strategist. He does not care one iota about what his candidates believe. He only cares about one thing: winning. Right now, even he can read the writing on the wall. Even he can see that demography is destiny. Even Rove can see that the American electorate is fast growing more diverse, less tolerant of prejudices, and more embracing of social responsibility. Not that Karl Rove believes in diversity, tolerance or social responsibility, but even he can see that Republicans can no longer win national races with rhetoric about how women ought to be forced to carry rape-pregnancies to term.
Karl Rove wants to win, and he wants to raise money to keep the crazy-sounding GOP candidates from winning primaries. But how did these crazies suddenly start taking over what used to be Rove's party? Who brought them along for the dance? Why, Karl Rove did, of course. It has taken a president with exceptional political acumen and the elections of 2008 and 2012 to teach Karl Rove that the crazies won't do anymore. But Rove harnessed, activated, and got out to vote the crazy crowd when it benefited him. Rove's proudest political achievement, the 2004 election victory of George W. Bush, was earned largely on the back of state ballot initiatives to deny same sex couples legal equality.
- Marco Rubio is avowedly anti-choice.
- Marco Rubio supports the discriminatory federal marriage amendment and opposes the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.
- Marco Rubio supports ending all taxation on the Mitt Romney class (i.e. eliminating the capital gains tax).
- Marco Rubio is super pro-gun industrial complex.
- Marco Rubio supports raising the social security retirement age, cutting benefits, and destroying the social safety net.
Unfortunately for them, no such solution exists. The president has made it clear on multiple occasions that he will not accept anything less than a clear path to earned citizenship for those who have been in this country, have not committed crimes and are contributing to our economy and society. Immigration advocates have made clear much the same thing.
But the Republican impetus to desperately search for a way to deny citizenship to these immigrants is more than just a policy blunder. It is an insult to say to those members of our society that they should never be able to earn their way to becoming an American. It is an insult to tell them that they are welcome to sacrifice for our country, to work hard to produce for our economy, to work every bit as hard as any American citizen, but not to become a part of our great democratic experiment. Make no mistake, that is what this is about. This is about denying the vote to as many brown people as possible, for as long as possible.
Michael Tomasky has a very cogent piece on the subject of drone strikes against US citizens who have gone over to Al Qaeda. I won't rehash it here, save to use it as a starting point; his opening, though, is very telling, and something we forget at the peril of turning a very serious subject into a caricature of Left v. Right.
There is a caricature of the Left that its view is that war is always wrong, and force should never be used; in regards to the fight against Al Qaeda, it views the war analogy as fundamentally flawed, and more traditional law enforcement methods should be employed. Meanwhile, the caricature of the Right is that force should always be foremost in our quiver, even if diplomatic efforts haven't been exhausted. John McCain's Cato-like exhortations to "bomb bomb Iran" leap to mind. I have no doubt that a large swathe of the Right would welcome an invasion of nuclear-armed Pakistan to deal with the "terrorist threat".I’ve always written about politics with part of my brain focused on the question of what I would do if I were in Politician X’s position. This line of thought came so naturally to me that I imagined everyone did this. But I guess everyone doesn’t.
I've now read the DoJ white paper unearthed by Michael Isikoff (nice job! And by the way, who leaked that one, eh?) that justifies the killing of US citizens. You can read it for yourself here. It’s certainly not something that makes the breast swell with pride. But it does make me wonder what I would do in this situation, and I can’t honestly come up with easy answers. While I don’t condone what the Obama administration is doing here, I’m also suspicious of high-horse denunciations, because I think the question of whether an American forfeits his due process rights when he joins an enemy army is a complicated one.
So, we're less than a month away from Fiscal Cliff Part Deux, and this is the GOP opening gambit:
There’s no way in the world House Republicans would agree to raise any new revenue in order to avoid the upcoming automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, a senior GOP lawmaker said Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m all against raising any additional revenue on this. Look, these are written into law,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a deputy majority whip, told TPM between votes. Cole said there are other, preferable ways to make the sequester cuts that he is open to, but new revenue will not be part of the equation.
“We just had additional revenue for the federal government, so I don’t see any way in the world the sequester won’t happen either as written or renegotiated or reallocated cuts. But I don’t see any revenue coming in the picture.”
The beginning of the president's second term has not been been good news for the Republicans. But it's been worse news for their talking points. Today, as if the GOP needed one more cruel truth to finish off their talking points, the Congressional Budget Office has released its estimate for this year's budget deficit. The rude awakening for the GOP lies herein:
If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $845 billion, or 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), its smallest size since 2008. In CBO’s baseline projections, deficits continue to shrink over the next few years, falling to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2015.Wait, what? No more trillion dollar deficits under Obama? Uh oh. What happens to that talking point now? But it gets worse for the Republicans. It's not just that Obama has cut the deficit to under a trillion dollars. He's cut it in half, with respect to the size of the economy, since the last budget from a Republican White House.
The federal budget deficit, which shrank as a percentage of GDP for the third year in a row in 2012, will fall again in 2013, if current laws remain the same. At an estimated $845 billion, the 2013 imbalance would be the first deficit in five years below $1 trillion; and at 5.3 percent of GDP, it would be only about half as large, relative to the size of the economy, as the deficit was in 2009.Put another way...
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