Are We Headed For a 2018 Veto Proof Budget?

Two events in the last couple of days suggest that Democrats and Republicans may have to combine to pass a veto-proof budget for next year.

Trump has announced that a shut down would be a good thing.  That might be good for Republicans fearing a primary, but not for those fearing the Democrats, as many will be  by the fall.

The 2017 budget appears to be relying on a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, put together over Trump’s at least apparent disapproval, to get over the top.  Moreover, the budget contains a surprising number of “up your’s Donald” provisions, and almost nothing of what he wants.

So, a veto proof budget may be the only way to keep the country functioning, and that may align with congressional and Senate interests in both parties.

What a year!

P.S.  The used to be a joke that new Congressman of both parties were told by thee seniors – “always remember who the real enemy is.” The newbie would name the opposing party and the elder statesman would reply: “No, the Senate.”  Maybe the answer in both parties, and now both chambers, is becoming “the President.”

Hard not to see why.



Applying the “Rules” for Government Shutdown Crises to the Current Situation

There are two basic rules for government shut downs:

  1.  Congress gets blamed not the White House.
  2. Shutdowns are an opportunity to the Executive to demonstrate competence.

So, it is a reasonable question ask how these will apply this time around.

With respect to the blame game, the normal rule would be to blame Congress — and typically the majority party, which will be different from the President.  It is going to be really hard to pin the blame on minority democrats, and although ironically, their choices are driving all this.  But apart from this, the reason that the White House usually wins the messaging, and ultimately the substance, wars, is that it speaks with one voice.

So you can throw that out the window this time.  The messaging chaos, the internecine battles, and the constant leaking almost guarantee that the White House can not win this one, except with very narrow constituencies.

As to the  opportunity to demonstrate competence, note that I said “demonstrate,” not “achieve.”  Anyone who can see anything in the history of the last 100 days that suggests any competence to demonstrate — I have an infrastructure bill to build a new Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.

Much more likely is that the bureaucracy will not go out of its way to minimize harm — except to the most vulnerable, and those efforts will be undercut by those wearing the metal flag pins, and in turn the facts will be leaked.  It will be chaos.

The Democrats know all this, so they have no incentives to trade.  It could be a long shutdown.  What a way to celebrate 100 days, unless Republicans realize that a small set of relatively minor defeats is better than a very big one.

The Party-Switch Way Forward For the Senate

While there are many reasons for the slowness of the institutional response in the political system to Trump, one actually can be fixed quite easily.

Right now, the press are energized, the courts seem to be standing up for judicial supremacy, and the investigatory agencies are still able to get the most disturbing facts before the public.

The problem is that there is no truly independent set of investigations going on, because of the Republican failure.

The simple solution is for three or more senators to shift parties for the purpose of establishing the appropriate investigatory process.  Such a switch, perhaps by McCain, Lindsey and one more, could be limited to the organization of the Senate, and the Rs could still vote with their colleagues on all substantive matters if they wished.  Those three would have to expect to be primaried, but who knows, by the end of this they might be the safest Republican senators.

Anyway, just the threat of this should be enough to get McConnell to back down, set up a true investigation, and allow it to go wherever it goes.  The tax returns alone might be enough.


One of the Opportunities that a President Trump Opens Up To Recast the Political System — A Broader Range of Viable Candidates

Amid the shock, fear, and gloom, it may be harder to see beyond to the opportunities that Trumps non-plurality election may create.

At a minimum, the election shows that the electorate is willing to consider a broader range of kinds of people as potential presidents.  Indeed, the election of Obama and the nomination of Hilary Clinton, and perhaps even the success of Sanders, showed the same thing, albeit in a different way.

So perhaps, we should be thinking about what kind of a person progressive might be grooming to be a candidate, and thinking way beyond the traditional categories of governors, senators, and maybe mayors.

Maybe we should be thinking about people whose candidacy would be about their history with ideas and movements, rather than with power.

Maybe the feminist candidate should be someone who has run Emily’s list, not been a Senator.  Maybe the equality candidate is someone who has promoted equality through projects and advocacy, rather than writing tax bills.  Maybe the innovation candidate should be someone who has created not leveraged businesses, but whole new kinds of ideas that also work in the market.  Maybe the authenticity candiate is someone who has spent a lifetime bursting bubbles of pomposity.

In any event, they should be people capable of communicating real ideas, grounded in understanding and direct experience.  That would demonstrate authenticity far better than a rosy biographical video.  They should also be capable of taking on Trump tweet for tweet, fact to lie, vision for fear, community against division, day after day, with equivalent attention.  Al Frankin, time to go back to your roots.

A primary election between a number of such people might well yield a much stronger ultimate candidate and be a proving ground and launch pad for a cabinet of experts, rather than of plutocrats.

Lets start thinking about those kind of candidates, and how they should be positioned.

P.S.  This would actually require that the DNC be ready to return to the structural organizing role that the RNC in fact played in this election, because such candidates would not necessarily have built up the needed organizatins themselves — and that, as we learned with the Clinton campaign, might be a strength.

Understanding the World Election Pattern

The second Austrian election confirms the overall world pattern.

When the vote splits authoritarians against anti-authoritarians, the anti’s win.  But when the anti-authoritarians, for whatever reasons, split between the anti-authoritarians and the authoritarians, the authoritarians win.

So in the US, enough anti-authoritarians, for reasons of anger, message, ignorance, voted for Trump, he won, despite clear authoritarian tendencies and threat.

Hopefully this is a simple warning to the world.  In votes that are about the future of democracy, anti-authoritarians have to do everything they can to attract all the anti-authoritarians, even at the price of short-term and ultimately less important issues.

If you stick to to those policies, you may be effectively abandoning the democratic system, and they you lose the policies anyway.

Strange Op-Ed on “Can the Democrats Move Right?’

Ross Douthat has an op-ed in the Times that I find hard to understand.  I think his suggestion is that you move to the center (and I do not think he means Rockefeller Center) because that’s how you win elections.

But which of these arguments as to why Democrats should do this works as reflecting accurate facts?

Democrats lost the popular vote.

Democrats lost the demographic groups that are expanding.

Democrats lost to a campaign that embraced the agenda of corporations and banks

Democrats lost to a person who has shown he values the “family values” that Democrats supposedly have contempt for.

The key to winning was states that will gain electoral college votes, specifically those in the Midwest.

The voters agreed with the wining candidate on most issues.

The policies the winner seems to be pursuing will help the people who voted for him.

There are plenty of reasons for the defeat, and they will become clearer over time.  But I very much doubt that any of them really support a “move to the right” strategy, even though after most elections moving to the center would be a good idea.

No, this election needs a more sophisticated analysis of what is going to happen to low-information voters as they realize that the job situation for them is going to get worse and worse into the foreseeable future, and specifically, that the person they voted for does not have their interests at heart.  In other words, what does the fact that Tea Party voters, feeling betrayed, turned to Trump, tell us about what Trump voters will do after realizing a second betrayal.  Or rather, what will happen when the Trump campaign is willing to turn more intensively to demagoguery to hold their voters support in the face of that risk (like recycling the flag issue, surely not.)

The answer, surely, is simply turning low information voters into high information voters.






Another Way to Track Impact of the ACA Repeal

A few minutes ago, I blogged about the idea of creating a registry of people who have died as as result of repeal of the ACA.

Maybe the Democrats should try to get a bill passed that CDC should take on the tracking task.

If it were not passed, at least when Republicans attached the validity of the data in the non-governmental one, the response would be:  “You can not complain, you prevented the establishment of a registry upon which all could rely.”

Its a time for creativity and determination.