Paul Krugman clearly left his optimism behind when writing this column. I imagine the bolded part being read by Peter Griffin:
Barring a huge upset, Republicans will take control of at least one house of Congress next week. How worried should we be by that prospect?
Not very, say some pundits. After all, the last time Republicans controlled Congress while a Democrat lived in the White House was the period from the beginning of 1995 to the end of 2000. And people remember that era as a good time, a time of rapid job creation and responsible budgets. Can we hope for a similar experience now?
No, we can’t. This is going to be terrible. In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a catastrophe for America, one that condemned the nation to years of political chaos and economic weakness.
Sadly, I think Krugman is right. This is going to be terrible, especially for the economy.
The economy, weighed down by the debt that households ran up during the Bush-era bubble, is in dire straits; deflation, not inflation, is the clear and present danger. And it’s not at all clear that the Fed has the tools to head off this danger. Right now we very much need active policies on the part of the federal government to get us out of our economic trap.
But we won’t get those policies if Republicans control the House. In fact, if they get their way, we’ll get the worst of both worlds: They’ll refuse to do anything to boost the economy now, claiming to be worried about the deficit, while simultaneously increasing long-run deficits with irresponsible tax cuts — cuts they have already announced won’t have to be offset with spending cuts.
So if the elections go as expected next week, here’s my advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I continue to hold out some hopes that Democrats hold the House, but I’m not too optimistic. I think it’s a near certainty that we hold the Senate.
This is the most powerful messaging around the need for Senate rules reform that I have seen:
Q On that same issue, because a lot of progressives — and you said you’re not the king — well, a lot of progressives feel that senators, especially in the minority they think — we call them the House of Lords.
And are you in favor of any form of filibuster reform? Because there are several bills being talked about. And there is a unique time that — by the way, we’re also very happy that Vice President Biden went down to do a fundraiser for Alan Grayson. He’s the type of Democrat that speaks out and fights. And that’s what the progressive community really likes.
But he also might have the opportunity in January to be — to help out. And can we get — or are you for any of the bills that are out there to support — to change this rule that is paralyzing the administration?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve got to be careful about not looking like I’m big-footing Congress. We’ve got separate branches of government. The House and the Senate have their own rules. And they are very protective of those prerogatives.
I will say that as just an observer of our political process that if we do not fix how the filibuster is used in the Senate, then it is going to be very difficult for us over the long term to compete in a very fast moving global environment.
What keeps me up at night is China, Germany, India, Brazil — they’re moving. They make decisions, we’re going to pursue clean energy, and the next thing you know they’ve cornered half the clean energy market; we’re going to develop high-speed rail in the span of five years — suddenly they’ve got high-speed rail lines going; we’re going to promote exports, here’s what we’re going to do — boom, they get going.
And if we can’t sort of execute on key issues that will determine our competitiveness over the long term, we’re going to fall behind — we are going to fall behind.
And the filibuster is not part of the Constitution. The filibuster, if you look at the history of it, may have arisen purely by accident because somebody didn’t properly apply Robert’s Rules of Procedure and forgot to get a provision in there about what was required to close debate. And folks figured out very early, this could be a powerful tool. It was used as a limited tool throughout its history. Sadly, the primary way it was used was to prevent African Americans from achieving civil rights.
But setting aside that sordid aspect of its history, it was used in a very limited fashion. The big debates, the big changes that we had historically around everything from establishing public schools to the moon launch to Social Security, they weren’t subject to the filibuster. And I’m sympathetic to why the minority wants to keep it. And in fairness, Democrats, when we were in the minority, used it on occasion to blunt actions that we didn’t think were appropriate by the Bush administration.
This really puts the framing back around Democrats are trying to make America better while Republicans are rooting for America to fail. Powerful stuff, especially when coming from the President.
Why is Alessandra Stanley still allowed to write about politics? Lines like this make me want to pull my hair out:
Mr. Stewart made other jokes on Wednesday, but it was actually more disconcerting to watch Mr. Stewart apply the standard liberal critique to Mr. Obama than it was to see the president of the United States bandy words with the host of a late night comedy show. Mr. Obama, after all, is more practiced, having set precedents with similar star turns when visiting David Letterman, Jay Leno and the women panelists of “The View.”
First, anyone who watched The Daily Show last night would know that Jon Stewart delivered pretty much the same critiques that he, uniquely from a television perspective, has been delivering throughout the Obama administration.
Second, this is just awful writing. What is “disconcerting” about Stewart’s delivery of “the standard liberal critique”? We don’t know because Stanley never tells us.
Adam Sewer has more at the Plum Line.
Over at Daily Kos Joan McCarter has a really exciting post about the momentum Scott McAdams is showing in the Alaska Senate race against Tea Partier Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski, who is displaying a Lieberman-like surge for personal power. McCarter publishes these internal numbers from the McAdams campaign:
Scott will be close. The numbers in the last week for the two target areas have decreased on Lisa and increased on Scott. Our target was Anchorage/women. Anchorage is now 30/28/26 Miller/Murkowski/McAdams. Last week it was 31/36/23 Miller/Murkowski/McAdams. Undecideds in Anchorage are now 13%, up from 6%. 53% of remaining of the total undecided universe is in Anchorage. A week ago women were 65/29 Positive to Negative for Lisa; in the last week this has changed to 51/41. Clearly our targeting is working. We are pouring everything on at this point.
McCarter goes on:
Miller’s ethics problems have consumed all the oxygen in his campaign for two weeks, and he’s using that to remind Alaskans that Murkowski has been somewhat less than squeaky clean in her own tenure. That’ll serve to remind Alaskans, particularly Democrats, that they don’t really like Murkowski that much either. McAdams has emerged as serious candidate and valid contender.
Miller can’t go 48 hours without sparking a new scandal. In the last day, records from his tenure in Fairbanks North Star Borough show that he admitted to lies about his actions of using Borough computers for personal, political activities. This has been an ongoing scandal for the last week or two and is getting major play in Alaska. And last night, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC was told by Joe Miller that being gay was an individual’s decision. Oh and to get this interview, Maddow basically had to walk through a building at breakneck speed to get Miller to talk. Classy!
James Galbraith has a must-read piece in Mother Jones on the attack on the middle class. He provides a stirring defense for Social Security, Medicare, and the importance of unions for the growth of the middle class. It’s really worth a read.