Could Obamacare Repeal Split the Union Apart?

Then the Supreme Court decided Dred Scott, I doubt that they intended to split the Union apart, probably the opposite.

When Chief Justice Roberts engineered the decision that allowed states to opt out of the Medicare expansion, I suspect that he too had no such intent.

But that may be the consequence.

As the data on state budget implications of the Repeal making its way to the Senate becomes frighteningly clear, it is starting to seem as if the result will be to put opt-in (generally blue) and opt-out (generally red) states on fundamentally economic and political paths.

In Blue states, the economics and politics will do deep damage to the Republicans, with likely single party domination in many more blue states.  The reverse will be true in red states, at least until the voter rolls expand — and every effort will be made to prevent that.

At what point, with the states divided into single party red, and single party blue, how long till various forms of secession start to be appealing to both sides?  Remember that the right’s obsession with state’s rights tends to blind them to the advantages of the Federal role.

A frightening prospect.  But when one party stops representing a huge swathe of the country, that is what happens.

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Article on Why the Left Gave Up Violence

The Washington Post has a great article on why the left gave up violence.  The two first are basicially that it is counter-productive, and that there are better ways to get change.  Te other however, is much more interesting, and worthy of much thought:

The third and most important reason for giving up violence can be found in the new makeup of the American left. Emerging out of the rubble of the 1960s, the modern left, which coalesced around George McGovern’s quixotic 1972 presidential run, effectively represented a gathering of fugitives. African Americans, Hispanics, women, gay men and lesbians, Native Americans, and workers: These long-ostracized groups, which came to replace the New Deal coalition anchored by the white working class, were the very peoples against whom violence had been done for so long. Their painful histories made them instinctively averse to, and intolerant of, political violence. Those who had survived lynchings, beatings, bombings, sexual violence, forced removals and economic exploitation were least disposed to employ them in return. In 1972, those groups were often on the far left, but they eventually became the spine of Barack Obama’s electoral coalition.

Even while the fringes of the left were drawn to violence by overwhelming frustration (not to mention FBI provocateurs), most were profoundly ambivalent, probably in major part for these reasons.

It occurs to me that the only way the right seems to have to respond to those whose claims and philosophy has been shaped in part by a family history of being at the very least at risk of being victims, is to embrace their own victim-hood — and the facts just do not support those beliefs.

This also suggests that the left might be better than we fear at reaching out to the right self-perceived victims on the basis of common “victimhood.”  At a minimum, in individual conversations, those on the left can tell stories that might create some sense of sympathy.  Of course, the sociopaths (like the Donald) will never feel any such empathy, but I simply refuse to believe that 30% are sociopaths.

And, a society built on an understanding of the risk of victimiztion would surely be a better one.

 

 

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 US Has Three Paties, Not Two, and Coalition Government, Not Single Party Government

Brilliant and transformative reporting by Politico on the collapse of  the Trumpcare/Ryancare agenda shows that we have passed a critical step in moving from having two parties to three.  A consequence is that we no longer have single party government, but coalition government — and a dysfunctional coalition at that.

The key paragraph describes the crucial March 6 meeting of the Freedom Caucus, just after the release of the plan.  The members of the Caucus were deeply aware of the intense pressure about to be put on them, and fearful of one on one appeals:

In a conference room in the Rayburn House Office Building, the group met that evening and made a secret pact. No member would commit his vote before consulting with the entire group — not even if Trump himself called to ask for an on-the-spot commitment. The idea, hatched by Freedom Caucus vice chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), was to bind them together in negotiations and ensure the White House or House leaders could not peel them off one by one.

With about 36 members, and although only about two thirds formally took the pledge, given the numbers, that was really the end of the game.  The Caucus were so protective of each other that at one meeting, when Ryan tried to get each of them to state where they stood, the gorp in effect refused.

So, going forward, once the Caucus takes this position, nothing can get passed without Democratic help, and that’s even before counting the most moderate members of the House.  Perhaps even more importantly, the group has demonstrated that they are willing to take and hold by such a position, regardless of cost to President, Speaker, and their nominal party and its agenda.  Add the requirement of a coherent intellectual structure (which they have, using a technical definition of coherent) and you pretty much have at least a congressional party in the Freedom Caucus.

There are many problems with having coalition government, but right now perhaps the worst is that there is no institutional experience in managing such a situation.  Indeed, the only ones who seem to have thought it through are the Democrats, including particularly Nancy Pelosi, who had in the last Congress brilliantly kept her caucus in line and used that unity, with the very skilled help of the President, to extract maximum advantage.

Going forward, this means huge leverage for the Democrats, provided they maintain the message discipline of keeping sufficiently quiet that they do not force the two Republic sub-parties back together.

It also means that there has to be a serious question as to whether through public splits and primaries the sub-become really separate parties, and perceived as such by the public.  It helps that there are already strong links to at least two Senators.

Trump is already attacking Ryan, even if only indirectly so far.  Given the Caucus veto on any successor, and given the total lack of appeal of the job of speaker, its hard to imagine any path forward that way.   It is all a recipe for disaster for the group formerly known as the Republican Party.

 

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.