Wednesday, November 17, 2010

As the House turns...

So after some movement by Rep. Clyburn on the Democratic side, and some minor rumblings on the republican side, the "leadership" in both parties, Congressionally speaking, will remain unchanged. Establishment goper and man with the tan, Representative john boehner, will be the next Speaker of the House. Current Speaker Pelosi will retain her top spot within the Democrats in the House. Senator "speak softly and carry a small stick" Reid will remain the Majority Leader in the Senate and Senator mcconnell will stay as minority leader there. House Tea Party Caucus chair, republican, michelle bachman was said to be making some moves for a "leadership role". Rep. bachman recently discussed how the "ear marks" she has been so against aren't bad when they are for things like highways, bridges and roads in her district. The not always truthful congresswoman (see President Obama's trip "to India" and more) said she wouldn't be against "earmarks" if they were "redefined". First off, Rep. bachman, some people call highways, bridges, and roads, infrastructure. You may remember the word from President Obama saying it over and over again, pushing Us to invest in it ("invest" means spend on). In fact, the President has spent on such infrastructure, in bills that you, your caucus, and your party railed against. Before you and other "anti-stimulus" folks started requesting the funds and touting the money spent at resulting ribbon cuttings. Secondly, banning "earmarks" doesn't necessarily cut spending. Congresspeople will still get spending for their districts, maybe your redefining will simply change the word for it. Infrastructure does need to be invested in. It creates jobs, and it upgrades a system in desperate need. There were four water main breaks in my town in the last month. Infrastructure. But I digress. "Earmarks" have been a campaign buzzword for a while. You may remember candidate mccain (r) muttering about them. Lately, it has been the plot for a little drama between some freshman congresspeople and the established in their party. There have been some "flip flops" on the issue. Earmark opposer rAynd paul (r) now refers to his campaign whipping toy as a "bad symbol", assuring us that "he will advocate for Kentucky's interests", as senator. On the other hand, earmark supporter mitch mcconnell (r) recently said he would now support banning them. For some it's the reality of the new job and for others it's the reality of who their party just elected.

One "leadership" role seems to be up in the air. After the "huge" win for the rnc, it looks like funny man michael steele will be out as chair. I guess that's what they mean by "merit pay"? I hope the Democratic Party is thinking about the Chairs of, at least, their "Congressional campaign committees". We'll have to wait and see. What will happen when the new congress takes their seats in a couple months is unsure. Will there be a government shut down? Some republicans say that would be a "mistake". It would certainly be a costly bit of "governing". One thing's for sure, republicans want rich people's taxes to stay the same rate they've been for the past ten years, despite their failure to "trickle down". When Democratic Senator Chuck Shumer offered to extend current tax cuts to every one except millionaires, "the answer was no". There's talk of the "lame duck" Congress taking up a vote for a Middle Class Tax Cut, like the way taxes on small businesses and people making under $250K were cut by the current Congress. The republican response? It's "a terrible idea and a total nonstarter." I do not understand why their was not talk of the Obama Tax cuts past and future. The "bush tax cuts" are to expire on a time line set by the law that created them, a law that was passed through budget reconciliation. As put it "These sunset provisions were placed in the tax laws in some cases to garner enough legislative support to get the bills passed, or to get around rules that existed on cutting revenue without passing an offsetting spending cut." I don't understand why bringing the tax rate for those making $250,000 and up back to President Clinton levels (a 3+% increase) is so horrible given the state of the debt, the deficit (revenue vs. expenses), and all the pain currently being felt by the bottom 95% of Americans. Another example of bad communication and letting one side set the debate. But I digress. We'll talk more on taxes, revenue, and spending some other time.

So we don't know if the man who apologized to bp, for the President of the United States's tone and demands, is going to be the chairman of the energy committee. Will the republican who doesn't believe in climate change because the bible says god won't destroy the world again will be on the energy committee? Are "fiscal conservatives" really running from being appointed to the Appropriations Committee that decide cuts to Federal spending? How many tied to industry, former and future lobbyists, will chair new House committees? We will have to see. We know that one republican "leader" has said that his "number one priority is making President Obama a one term President." Now that's governing over politics. But undermining the President of the United States by Elected members of its Government seems to be fine nowadays, unlike 2001-2008. Future House Majority "leader" cantor just told a foreign leader in a private meeting not to worry, the republicans would be a "check on the president". He couldn't have meant "a check" for a foreign nation, could he? No. I wonder if we'll see those investigations of the President that are so popular when a Democrat is in the office, but Un-American, or "looking backwards", when a republican one is.

So now that the backlash (aside from barbara bush) against TLC tv show host and half term governor, is subsiding. Almost every one of her endorsements lost. The republican "bribe" targets for defection have been identified. And "leaders" are more settled upon, we'll just have to wait and see if the new Congress will accomplish anything together, or separate. I will say this. I have never seen a President talk to the opposing party, who was in a significant minority, as much as President Obama. And he continues to try to. He has held open, public discussions with them, has taken their questions and used their ideas in legislation, including health care. He has compromised, sometimes in opposition to many in his own party. Not that he'll get any credit for it, but we'll talk more about "the news" some other time.

Let's end on the two funniest moments so far. First, did you hear about the anti-government health care freshman congressman who wants his government health care to kick in quicker. How about the one about Fla. tea party candidate, republican, allan west's chief of staff, conservative talk radio host joyce kaufman, having to step down already due to her show's connection to a threat that lead to the closing of 300 schools. Wait is that second one funny or scary?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. (Warning: Sharing may lead to socialism, the new communism, or is that terrorism? Whatever. Happy Turkey Day!)
david calamoneri
Hoboken, Nj USA

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What does it MEAN?

OK. Deep breath. Without repeating the views on the "why?" from my previous post, here's my analysis on the "what happened?" with a small side of, to quote Yosemite Bear, "What does it mean?"

Two quick observations: 1. (Economic) Change has not come fast enough for Our impatient society. The economy, and all the metrics that define it, are what have people angry, desperate, and anti the incumbents who haven't fixed it yet. 2. The tea party is the republican party and cost the republicans the Senate (See Delaware, Nevada, and Colorado).

The Senate "gains" made by republicans (two fewer than predicted) were mostly in open seats. One vacated by the President. Three seats were vacated by retiring Senators bayh, dorgan, and specter (Was he ever a Democrat?). "Centrist"/obstructionist Democrat, Blanche Lincoln lost her seat in Arkansas. And the "worse than losing the House" defeat of the night was the one Progressive Democratic Senator, the only one to stand up to the patriot act, the Progressive Champion, Senator Russ Feingold losing. More on him and his ilk some other time. Needless to say, Senator Sanders (I-VT), you're job in the US Senate just got that much harder.

In the House... 60 seats. That's a whole lot of seats for a party to pick up. To find a larger change in the House of Representatives, you have to go back to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's day when, shortly after the Great Depression hit, 71 seats were gained by republicans in response to the slow recovery and social security. The Democrats had such a big lead at that point the House did not switch majorities. Of course, very few of these House races were followed by the media like the crazier Senatorial and Gubenatorial candidates were. So, we may not know the local details of why Americans chose particular candidates. We can certainly think about the National trends and themes these candidates most likely used and tapped into. It all goes back to the economy, and lack of communication and individual pocket book realities, when it comes to what is being done, and has been done, to help it grow. It has been growing, ever so slowly. For a lot of people, it's just not fast enough.

Josh Marshall brought up a great point when he typed "I'm terribly surprised that everyone everywhere on the political spectrum (here and there) is using Tuesday's results as confirmation of the assumptions they've held all along." Some progressives look at the fact that half of the "blue dog" caucus was voted out, and say the Dems would be more enthused to vote for "liberals". It could also mean that the Democratic Party is losing "the center", though any "centrist" that voted for rand paul, or anyone else like him, wasn't voting with the political center. The only thing we know for sure is if the economy, and the number of JOBS (there's a word you're going to hear a lot) grew faster, and confidence in America's economy increased faster (an end to the phrase "in this economy" would help) a lot of this anger toward everyone in Washington (except the ones just sent there) would not have existed.

In other news from Tuesday's election, Iowans (with the help of outside groups, of course) voted out three judges, because of their decisions, based on standing law, pertaining to same-sex marriage. Something does not sit well with me when it comes to having the Judicial system chosen the same way policy makers are. In California, big oil's prop 23, that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came out so firmly against lost Big, as did legalizing pot for recreational use. Zack Galafanakas did try his best though.

So, the republicans won the House of Representatives. The Democrats held on to Senate.Candidates o'donell, paladino, angle, buck, mcmahon, fiorina, and whitman (Governor Jerry Brown!) lost. There's an openly gay Mayor in Lexington, Kentucky. Anti-civil rights act/anti-making bp pay candidate rand paul, florida tea partier marc rubio, and they're decapitating us, they're decapitating us jan brewer won. Half of the blue dog Democrats were voted out. All supporters of net neutrality were voted out. Outside money played a large role in this midterm election. Some of which was vehemently undisclosed, hiding under roberts's Supreme Court's "citizens united" ruling, in PAC's like rover's crossroad gps. Some outside money may have even be foreign (see chamber of commerce funding). We'll leave the talk of plutocracy for another web log. For now we'll just have to see what the new and old republicans accomplish governing in the House over the next two years. I wouldn't want to argue based on speculation. My guess is the debates will be about jobs and taxes.

To Progress,
david calamoneri
Hoboken, NJ USA