Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tax mushiness

At some point, the Senate will decide to:
a) extend all the Bush tax cuts
b) extend some of the Bush tax cuts
c) temporarily extend all the Bush tax cuts
d) temporarily extend some of the Bush tax cuts
e) do nothing and let all the Bush tax cuts expire

To me, though, a = c and b = d.  See, we have elections for Congress every two years, and this year being divisible by 2, it means we have them this year.  And whatever Congress does now can be undone by Congress later.  And the people in Congress now are likely to be different from the people in Congress later, with a lot more having an R next to their name in the future. 

So if you are Democrats in charge right now, or, god forbid, the head of the party because you happen to be President, you might want to stake out some definable position that plans for Republicans being in the majority come 2011.  To be more clear, if Obama thinks that extending all the Bush tax cuts indefinitely is a bad idea, but won't veto it if it is only a "temporary" idea, then he's trying to fool himself or us or both.  Because if he won't veto it now, why would he veto it in a year when extension passes the Senate again?  If extending them is bad for the deficit now, why not later? 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

25 is the loneliest number

Doesn't matter who actually speaks this sentence, suffice it to say that it is a politician running for re-election:
"...partnerships that improve our infrastructure are a good idea, but must be paid for, should not add a dime to the deficit and should be covered by..."
This politician chose the dime.  That is probably 1b for [insert coin of choice when demonstrating your fiscal bonafides].  1a is the penny.  Not far behind is the nickle.  But no one would ever say quarter.  Why is that?  Inflation?  50 years from now will politicians use the quarter more often in such statements?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Deserved Bloodbath

Today I received a Democratic National Committee survey in the mail, asking me to check off various boxes, rank issues on a scale of 1 to 10, etc.  At the end there was a space for comments, and by that time I was pretty well ticked off so I unleashed as much verbal fury as would fit into three lines.  After reading it, I wondered why I was so pissed at Democrats and Obama in particular.  I know that the Republicans are the ones holding up climate change legislation, gay rights, etc.  So why am I pissed at Obama? 

Well, I think it gets down to the guy I thought we were electing and how he has gone about his presidency.  The fierce urgency of now?  Urgency to vote, I guess, but not to get out of Gitmo, end Don't Ask Don't Tell, do something, anything about climate change.  From his inaugural address:
A nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

The recession is over for Wall Street, and has been for awhile (and even during the recession, those guys weren't exactly out on the street) but unemployment is hovering at 10%.  He proclaimed himself pleased at the size of the stimulus, even though some really smart folks (Krugman) were screaming bloody murder that it was too small.

The guy's autobiography was entitled the Audacity of Hope.  Name for me one audacious thing Obama has done since taking office. 

I probably won't stay home in November.  But a lot of Democrats will.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

[blank stare]

How the hell do people like this get elected? 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Always darkest... before the dawn, or the lights go out completely?

That the Democrats will lose seats in the House and Senate come November seems like a sure thing.  History says so: the incumbent presidential party almost always loses seats.  The economy says so: bad economic growth is bad for the incumbent party.  And polls say so: Gallup's generic D v. R Congressional poll recently had the score as R + 10.  It is worth discussing, though, if these are inevitable and what, if anything, could the Democrats do in the next 2 months to alter their fate?
You may recall from the 2008 campaign that this was also a dark time for the Democrats: the Republican convention was on the calendar, and John McCain had taken a lead in the generic poll:
It is hard to say what caused a reversal in Obama's fortune after McCain took the lead.  Was it simply a reversion to the status quo that had been established during the summer, where Obama was consistently ahead?  Was it people getting to know, then turning against, Sarah Palin?   Was it McCain's bizarre response to the economic crisis? 

The only reason I bring this up is because, during that late August/early September period -- and during the primary battle with Clinton -- Obama supports were begging, pleading, screaming for him to come out swinging.  People thought he was being too passive, but in the end, he prevailed.  Does that hold any lessons for the 2010 midterms?  What is Obama thinking?  Has he had some master plan all along, working under the assumption that there's no need to do anything until at least September because no one is paying attention?  Is Obama going to coordinate with Reid and Pelosi to make Republicans take unpopular votes?  That is something most now-apathetic Obama supporters have been waiting for them to do all along. 

Of course, you could certainly argue that such political theater won't affect the outcome of the midterms much at all.  Indeed, those who really push the economic angle think that the Dems defeat was sealed in January of '09 when a too-small stimulus bill was passed.  This is certainly Krugman's take, and I'm very sympathetic to that view.  But I still think that Obama's actions matter somewhat, at least at the margins, and that's where control of the House of Representatives will be either won or lost (and majority is everything in the House). 

The vote-master has more on this, and he's always worth reading.