Showing posts with label Debt Ceiling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Debt Ceiling. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2012: A 1916 Rerun

Now that the election is over it's time to focus on politics.  Much has been made of Nate Silver's having been shown to be right about the results while the pundits, especially at Fox News, were not.  Many still do not understand what he was forecasting.  They assume that because his model gave Obama a 90% chance of winning with 51% of the popular vote and over 330 electoral votes that Obama had won by a landslide.  Even though he had won most of the battleground states such as Ohio, most of them were by a small margin.   

The county map on the left shows the subtleties across the nation better and how close the popular vote really was.  The over 3,100 counties are coded on a range of red for Romney to blue for Obama.  In the next two to four years there could still be a shift in the political winds.  

1916 was a close election after between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes.   Hughes was just as confident as Mitt Romney that he was going to win but lost by just over 3% of the popular vote.  Hughes went to bed election night thinking he had won.  A reporter telephoned to interview Hughes.  He was told (as Doris Kearns-Goodwin tells it) "the President-Elect is sleeping" the reporter responded "when he wakes up you should inform the President-Elect that he is not the President-Elect anymore."  That election was followed by the landslide of 1920 by Warren G Harding who promised a "return to normalcy" under prohibition with the US not participating in the League of Nations.


Could this happen today as two states, Washington and Colorado, actually voted to legalize marijuana this year?  The battle now turns to the states and the humdrum of budgets and foreign policy.  In my home state of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is under pressure from the right not to implement the Affordable Care Act (aka. Obamacare) and may be forcing the faculty of the state's 14 publicly owned universities into a strike affecting over 120,000 students.    Nationally a high stakes debate on the budget has begun between Obama and Congress (the 'Fiscal Cliff') and wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan which strangely resembles the political chess game in the new Spielberg movie on Lincoln which covers a similar topic.  What happens next depends on what happens now.  

Some are predicting an apocalyptic event on Dec 21 of this year.  This qualifies as a scientifically testable theory as it can be proven true or false, just as Nate Silver's forecast on the outcome of the election was.  Though with a much lower probability of success.

**Related Posts**


The Supreme Pennsylvania Medicaid Decision

States as Laboratories and Lavatories of Democracy



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2012: Still a 2004 Rerun


In May I wrote that Romney's VP pick would show how afraid he was of the wrath of the far right in the Republican Party.  The more like Santorum he was the more afraid he was.  Santorum did call Paul Ryan, while speaking in Iowa, a "conviction conservative".  Democracy Now had a long discussion about Ryan's background with fellow progressive Wisconsinites John Nichols and Matthew Rothschild showing he is a reasonable facsimile of Santorum.

Banning Abortion is an issue he feels strongly about as well as privatizing Medicare and Medicaid.  His position on gay rights may be evolving just like Romney's in the face of the Chick fil A insanity.  It will take about a week for the impact of Romney's choice to be known on the polls.  I don't forecast elections.  That is Nate Silver's job.  There are more important questions in elections than who's ahead.

**Related Posts**

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The 14th Amendment: MVA (Most Versatile Amendment) Award Winner

Enacted in the wake of the Civil War to correct the prior injustices which occurred, three constitutional amendments were ratified: the 13th in 1865 which banned slavery, the 14th in 1868 which I shall discuss later, and the 15th in 1865 which guaranteed the right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude" but unfortunately not gender.  That came in 1920 with the 19th amendment.  The 14th amendment is the longest of these amendments and comes in five sections.  It reads:

AMENDMENT XIV
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment to age 18.

Section 1 contains the equal protection clause and has been the legal foundation for the supreme court ruling banning segregation in the south, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, same sex marriage, and many other civil rights laws.  It also contains birthright citizenship which many immigrants value.  Sections 2 and 3 are meant to prevent future secession by the states.  Stephen Colbert has a humorous discussion of how North Dakota might not meet Section 3.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
ThreatDown - Fake States, Sharia Weather & Monopoly
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Section 4 relates to the validity of public debt for the payment of pensions.  In the debt ceiling debate the Congressional Black Caucus, The Progressive Caucus, and Senator Bernie Sanders Called on President Obama to use this to bypass congress.  He declined.  Others state that the Supreme may have to get involved.


Before the 2010 election there was talk of amending first section of the 14th amendment to take away the birthright citizenship to those born to illegal immigrants. This is a good discussion of the implications of such a change.  Hopefully such talk has ended.

I called the 14th amendment the most versatile because it can be applied to everything from citizenship to public debt to civil rights.  Other amendments may be more sacred such as the first for civil rights, the second for gun lovers, or the fifth for criminals but they are for more specific things.  Health care reform is being challenged for it's constitutionality which the Supreme Court will have to resolve.  Detractors claim that the individual mandate violates individual rights.  Advocates claim that Article III gives Congress the responsibility to provide for the general welfare of the US population.  I'll bet the 14th may be used to resolve this dispute.
  






**Update**

Rep. Donna Edwards D-MD talks about the deficit deal and invoking the 14th amendment as Standard and Poor's downgraded the US's credit rating for the first time.  This interview was before the downgrade.



**Related Posts**

Debt Ceiling Duel or Duet?

 

Measuring Democracy in the World?

 

The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context

 

What is Sanity?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Right Stimuli (or as the Tea Party would say Stimuluses)

As filming of the new Batman film begins in Pittsburgh this week, stories are circulating about how much money it will pump into the local economy for hotels, restaurants, and the entertainment industry.  This may be true for the hotels, restaurants, and the rest of the local entertainment industry, many of whose employees are uninsured.  Once the filming is over and the trucks have packed up the businesses will go back to normal and any benefit will go as profit to the owners of these establishments.  Will this benefit trickle down to those in the local economy who need it the most?

The fleeting and imaginary benefits from private stimulus spending, which many in Congress who are holding up raising the debt ceiling admire, pale in comparison to the real power struggles that go on between corporate superpowers such as UPMC and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield where the real losers are the patients who depend on them for medical care.  The Western PA Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare put on a
parody of the struggle using Batman & Robin to symbolize real heroes work to correct injustices for the real downtrodden.  The event first took place at Senator Pat Toomey's office and then at Senator Robert Casey's.  It is summarized in the YouTube video below.




The best way to assist those in need is to provide it directly to those who need it the most.  The movies may provide some badly needed diversion but it falls well short of a long tern solution to our economic woes.

**Update**

The same day the lamestream media CNN aired this report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta about a mini Darth Vader campaigning in Congress against cut's in children's Medicaid.  The boy who played Vader in a Volkswagen commercial has a heart condition and was well placed for media attention and attention from Senators while the rally on Friday is totally ignored by Senators Toomey and Casey..  The irony of such a disconnect is amazing.  While one feels bad for the boy, in a true Medicare for all system such an effort would be completely unnecessary. 







**Related Posts**

Highmark/UPMC Tussle | Healthcare 4 All PA Education Fund 

 

Pat Toomey: In More Than a 30 Second Ad 

 

Obama Debt Ceiling Approval Ratings Reflect Approval Ratings on Health Care Law

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Obama Debt Ceiling Approval Ratings Reflect Approval Ratings on Health Care Law

Last year I wrote posts on how disapproval of the healthcare law passed in March of last year reflected the fact that the law was not "liberal enough" and if you included those who thought it wasn't liberal enough with those who thought supported it you would have a majority.  In the most recent CNN Poll on President Obama's job approval ratings Obama's approval rating is listed as 45% and disapproval at 54%.  The next question in the poll of 856 Americans, plus 153 cell phone users, tries to break down the reason why they disapprove into either 'too liberal', 'not liberal enough', or 'unsure.'  The overall margin of error is +/- 3%.  Of the 54% who disapprove, 38% said too liberal, 13% said not liberal enough, and 3% were unsure.

This result is very similar to ones found for approval of the health care law which I've linked to below.  When the 13% who think he is not liberal enough is added to the 45% who approve that adds up to 58%. The last time this poll was conducted from April 29 to May 1, 51% approved of his performance and 7% said he was not liberal enough which adds up to the same 58%.  The poll does not ask voters to describe what "liberal enough" means.  Later questions ask voters about approval ratings of other major figures in the debt ceiling debate such as House Speaker John Boehner (43% favorable, 32% unfavorable, 12% never heard of) the ratings for other major figure from the poll are summarized below.  None of them fare any better than the President.

4. We'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say
if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of
them. (RANDOM ORDER)

Favorable
Unfavorable
Never
heard of
No
opinion
VP Joe Biden
July 18-20, 2011
43%
43%
6%
8%
Speaker of the House John Boehner
July 18-20, 2011
43%
32%
12%
13%
House Democratic Leader House Nancy Pelosi
July 18-20, 2011    
35%
52%
7%
6%
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
July 18-20, 2011
27%
32%
27%
14%
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
July 18-20, 2011    
29%
37%
25%
9%
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
July 18-20, 2011    
27%
33%
28%
12%
Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor
July 18-20, 2011   
18%
21%
46%
15%
The Democratic Party
July 18-20, 2011   
45%
49%
1%
5%
The Republican Party
July 18-20, 2011    
41%
55%
1%
4%
The Tea Party movement
July 18-20, 2011   
37%
47%
4%
12%


As stated before, the poll does not ask what too liberal or not liberal enough means.  It does ask if the respondents believe that President Obama should compromise with Congress 68% say yes and a virtually equal number (66%) say that Congress  should compromise with the President.  The poll does not say which compromises the respondents would like to see.  Given the low favorability ratings of the Tea Party and majority who either approve of Obama's or disapprove because he is 'not liberal enough,' I would not anticipate that the majority of them would support compromises on entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 


**Related Posts**

POLL: Dislike of healthcare law crosses party lines, 1 in 4 Dems want repeal - TheHill.com (But Doesn't Ask Why)

 

Debt Ceiling Duel or Duet?

 

The US and Republicans Want Health Care Law Repealed....? 

 

Making Sense of the Pat Toomey-Joe Sestak Senate Race

 

Health Care Law - New Rasmussen Poll Down the Memory Hole

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Debt Ceiling Duel or Duet?

In these times of economic anxiety the political parties and the news media are playing a cynical poker game with our nation's resources. The latest manifestation of this struggle is the battle over the debt ceiling which is the limit on the amount of money the federal government can borrow. At a healthcare meeting in January, Congressman Mike Doyle D-PA told us that this was the coming partisan battle just after President Obama caved in to Senate Republicans on the Bush tax cuts to get the passage of START treaty, an unemployment extension, the 9/11 first responders health care bill (which would have been unnecessary with a real universal Medicare for all system in place), and the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal bill for LGBT's in the military.  Since 1917 the ceiling has been raised many times with little fanfare but this time it's being used to bargain for cuts in entitlement social programs (not in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya) like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid or tax increases on the rich.  The deadline for talks is August 2.  Economist Jeff Madrick has a good discussion of the ramifications if no deal is reached.



Unlike other doomsday deadlines, such as the May 21 deadline for the rapture, this one appears to have at least some credibility.  The government would not be able to borrow and spend any more money and social spending would come to a halt which would hurt many of the most vulnerable of society.  Republicans are committed to making a deal this time with President Obama to only have spending cuts on social programs.  In return for some concessions on taxes Obama has signaled a willingness to make some concessions on entitlements.  Last weekend he also announced that Elizabeth Warren would not be nominated to head the Consumer Protection Bureau which she helped found as a way of appeasing those on the far right in the Senate.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed giving the President the authority to arbitrarily raise the ceiling without approval from Congress thus eliminating the need to raise taxes and unpleasant spending cuts.  Whether the compromise is constitutional or not is another matter but it may be the best outcome for those on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for now.   A real deal for economic justice still eludes millions in the US and billions around the world. 



Obama could have let the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire last December without Congressional action and he might have more bargaining power now. Time will tell if the deals he makes are worth the big compromises.  Elizabeth Warren is now considering a run for Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat against Scott Brown.  If she does run will he really get behind her as he runs for reelection?

**Update**

Mother Jones magazine has a good explanation of the background and political chess game surrounding the debt ceiling.  Republicans in the House seem to be intransigent to McConnell's plan.   The government is scheduled to run out of money on August 2.

What's Happening With the Debt Ceiling Explained


**Relevant Posts**


States as Laboratories and Lavatories of Democracy

 

Variability in Health Care Survey Reports but not in Vermont's Health Care Plan

 

Highmark/UPMC Tussle | Healthcare 4 All PA Education Fund

 

Sanders 'Filibusters' Tax Deal for 8.5 Hours, Tells Senate: 'We Can Come Up With a Better Proposal' | The Nation

 

Pat Toomey: In More Than a 30 Second Ad