Tea Party & the Auto Bailout

Duncan Black:

While our liberal media coddled and adored them, the truth was that the Tea Party never actually had anything to be angry about. Obama didn’t take their guns, or raise their taxes, or give free Cadillacs to strapping young bucks. He did continue to be black, so there’s that I guess. They couldn’t be mad at the Wall Street bailout, because that’s who was funding them. The only thing that kinda sorta made ideological sense was the auto bailout. So that became their thing.

Duncan’s link goes to a post at Media Matters by Eric Boehlert around rightwing hatred of the auto bailout and the electoral consequences of it for Mitt Romney.

There is something really bizarre about the frontal assault on the auto bailout from the right. It’s one of the most tangible and consequentially good moves of the Obama administration. Unlike the healthcare bill, it’s something that is fully realized today.

Someone tell Michelle Rhee that Dan Malloy just isn’t that into her

Disgraced former DC schools chief Michelle Rhee is on a quixotic search to pretend she’s a Democrat in good standing, despite her pursuit of taking away workers’ rights and helping Republican governors bust teachers unions. In her Washington Post op-ed on how real Democrats support her education prioritization strategy, which reads like a Joe Lieberman op-ed arguing that real Democrats support endless war, Rhee offers up an example of how Democratic governors have worked with her on education issues.

Increasingly, those who staunchly side with unions at any cost appear to be in the minority, while more Democrats are saying we have to look at education differently. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) pushed through a law bringing more accountability into schools over early and strong union objections.

Gee Michelle, that sounds really impressive! Except, oh um, this statement from Malloy’s Senior Communications Adviser Roy Occhiogrosso:

“As much as the governor respects people’s rights to be a part of the education dialogue, Ms. Rhee has at times been a divisive figure. And the governor is determined to try and have this discussion about education reform in a way that’s not divisive.”

Governor Malloy actually worked with the teachers’ unions on education reform, not Rhee, who as you can see above, from whom he has publicly distanced himself.

There’s certainly a question about where the Democratic Party stands when it comes to supporting workers’ rights. There are certainly some elected officials like Rahm Emanuel, Andrew Cuomo and Arne Duncan who support Rhee’s brand of union busting. But there are also a lot of Democrats who still stand up for workers’ rights, including the rights of public teachers. For Rhee to say that the Democratic Party is squarely in her camp is an overstatement. But to say Dan Malloy is with her is an outright lie.

Krugman on the Republican hatred of workers

Paul Krugman gets seriously shrill in his dissection of Mitt Romney’s revealing 47% comments and how they reflect what the contemporary Republican party thinks about workers. The whole thing is worth reading, but this passage stands out:

For the fact is that the modern Republican Party just doesn’t have much respect for people who work for other people, no matter how faithfully and well they do their jobs. All the party’s affection is reserved for “job creators,” a k a employers and investors. Leading figures in the party find it hard even to pretend to have any regard for ordinary working families — who, it goes without saying, make up the vast majority of Americans.

Am I exaggerating? Consider the Twitter message sent out by Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader, on Labor Day — a holiday that specifically celebrates America’s workers. Here’s what it said, in its entirety: “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Yes, on a day set aside to honor workers, all Mr. Cantor could bring himself to do was praise their bosses.

I’d missed that Cantor tweet, which is pretty damned outrageous. How hard is it to just say we appreciate who work, be it in a skilled trade or a service industry job or behind a desk in businesses owned by other people?

Krugman goes on:

Where does this disdain for workers come from? Some of it, obviously, reflects the influence of money in politics: big-money donors, like the ones Mr. Romney was speaking to when he went off on half the nation, don’t live paycheck to paycheck. But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride.

It’s also worth noting that Romney is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and most politicians either enter Congress millionaires or have easy pathways to become millionaires through lobbying or high level jobs in industries like finance or defense. Promoting policies which help the super rich now will lead to opportunities to become super rich for these Republicans.

I’m not convinced that as an institution the Democratic Party is particularly good on helping workers out. No progress on workers rights has been made under the Obama administration. But at least the Democrats pay lip service to workers.

What Digby Said

Watching this crap ad from Koch Brothers funded Americans for Prosperity, Digby has the right response:

Like I said, they just hate anyone who isn’t rich. There’s no other rational explanation for this. It’s based on a highly successful program that should have been instigated much earlier. It would help business, help property values, help municipalities and help people. But it might also be perceived as a useful government program which means it must be stopped.

Common Ground

Apparently President Obama gave a speech today attacking the Ryan budget. In the Q&A he went after the GOP for making rightward shifts which prevented them from finding common ground. Jed Lewison writes:

Obama continues hammering Republicans for moving so far to the right. “Cap and trade was originally proposed by Republicans … now they say we shouldn’t even be thinking about environmental protection.” “The individual mandate … originated as a conservative idea. … Now suddenly this is some socialist overreach. So, as all of you are doing your reporting, I think it’s important to remember that the positions I’m taking now on the budget and a whole host of other issues … [20 years ago] would have been squarely centrist.” It’s Republicans that have shifted.

David Dayen, writing in response to President Obama’s contention, notes:

Isn’t it Democrats who have shifted as well? For this to be the case, for the Democratic leader to have co-opted a whole bunch of Republican plans on the biggest economic issues of the day, represents the clear fact that the Democratic Party has ideologically become akin to where a moderate Republican would have stood in the 1960s. And the claim is always that this is a function of politics, that it’s about compromise, it’s about moving things forward. That’s against the entire point of today’s speech! Obama was saying precisely that Republicans are NOT willing to compromise. If these shifts in ideology were about compromise, it would presume that a compromise has actually been reached. But it hasn’t. Democrats have drifted right and Republicans have drifted right along with them, with common ground still elusive.

It really isn’t news to note that America has a right-wing political party and a far right-wing political party. Except it seems to be ignored by most Democrats, who instead try to explain away why President Obama and his cohorts on the Hill consistently adopt positions which are proudly touted as conservative.

On a certain level, the President is being willfully obtuse about why he has not found common ground with the Republicans, who are indeed further to the right than they used to be. Politics is about creating contrast with your opponent. Today Obama tried to make contrast between himself and the Republicans, who introduced a massive transfer of wealth from the 99% to wealthy elites in the form of the Ryan budget. But if there was common ground between the two parties, not just in general concepts (eg: we should cut entitlements and cut taxes) but in specifics, there would cease to be the element of contrast which is necessary for every political campaign. Politics would stop and no party which is out of power would ever agree to adopt it. While the likes of President Obama dreams of a post-partisan world where elites agree to take from the rest of us in small, reasonable bites, this isn’t something the GOP will go for.

Dayen notes in closing:

Far from changing this conversation, the online progressive movement of the past several years hasn’t really even arrested the forward motion. This is the real story of American politics, when you get out of the day-to-day struggles.

Yes, indeed. The online progressive movement has been alternately a beard used by conservative Democrats like Obama to convince the base of the value of conservative ideas or completely ineffective at presenting a real left flank in American politics, one to which Democrats are held accountable. There are plenty of reasons for it, but the most obvious is institutional capture by the Democratic Party. It’s either that or a fundamental aversion to tell the public the truth about what is happening in our country, after years of lying about the virtue of electoral politics as a vehicle for achieving progressive change that moves us to the left. In any case, it’s destructive and it’s depressing.

The Era of Mugging

Duncan Black:

Right now we have one political party that is very up front about and proud of their desire to mug everyone in the non-millionaire club, steal all their money, and give it to rich people. It’s time for the other political party to recognize that the era of dumb compromises is over, and if they’d actually come up with a way to help people, instead of a plan to set up a program to provide the incentives to blahblahblahblahblahblah….

Duncan’s closing point is that if the Democrats actually put forward aggressive policies to help people, those policies would also be politically popular, which is probably true.

Is the GOP primary finally over?

Mark Halperin starts to ring the knockout bell:

Mitt Romney’s Illinois win could be the beginning of the end of the Republican nomination fight. In order to get there, he faces two challenges: He’ll have to convince on-the-sidelines Republicans to endorse his candidacy, contribute to his campaign, and muscle Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich out of the race. And he’ll also have to persuade the media to reflect the reality that Romney is the only candidate who can win a majority of the delegates needed for the nomination and that he has a good chance of reaching that milestone well before the party meets for its Tampa convention in late summer.

The Romney campaign had made progress on both those fronts before his Illinois win, but the commanding victory is likely to accelerate his cause in the coming days. Once that happens, the normal rules that have prevailed in past nomination fights will kick back in. Santorum and Gingrich can choose to stay in the race, but they will be marginalized and unable to slow Romney down in his accumulation of delegates. They will become ghost candidates, on the ballot and campaigning, but effectively lifeless. Chatter about a contested convention will be greatly diminished.

Or, at least, this is the narrative the political press and Romney campaign will be pushing. For Romney to get the required number of delegates to win the nomination, he would need to win less than half of the remaining delegates, while Santorum would need to win 70-80% of them. That seems highly unlikely.

At some point there simply must be a reckoning that the Republican Party has nominated a candidate who is incredibly unpopular with their ultra-right base. It’s not clear to me that this will prevent Romney from mobilizing the base in the general election, nor is it clear that any significant portion of the Republican base will abstain from voting because Romney is their candidate. While the GOP primary has been shorter and less closely contested than the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton voters largely and enthusiastically came home to vote for President Obama. Of course the ideological differences between the two were functionally non-existent, while Romney and Santorum have historically greater differences. Again, time will tell.

While there has been plenty of acrimony between Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, this is politics. At whatever point that Santorum and Gingrich end their candidacies, expect them to pull on big, red Team R jerseys and to helping Mitt with trying to win in November. That’s how partisan politics works and it’s unlikely to stop working that way just because parts of the conservative base are cranky about Mitt Romney not being historically radical enough for their tastes.

Cutting Medicare is bad, unless our guy does it

The Democratic establishment is out guns blazing today. Is it in response to the Washington Post report yesterday that President Obama would still take a deal that exchanged some modest (and imaginary) revenue increases for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security?

No, of course not.

Predictably, it’s about Congressman Paul Ryan’s Version 2.0 budget. As with the last version, this one promises to gut Medicare and the rest of the social safety net, while providing massive tax cuts to the 1%.

Don’t get me wrong – the Ryan budget is a monstrosity and easily worse than any cuts proposed by President Obama, the Gang of Six in the Senate, or conservative House Democrats like Steny Hoyer and Heath Shuler.

But the notion that it’s a cataclysmic event when one major political party proposes destructive cuts to Medicare, but completely kosher for the other major political party to propose destructive cuts to Medicare is partisan absurdity. The reality is it’s a huge issue that both political parties agree in austerity and gutting the social safety net. The only difference is one of magnitude.

Keep in mind, Heath Shuler is working with House Republicans on a new “grand bargain” which would be put forward after the November election, so as to avoid public scrutiny. Elites in Washington want to embrace austerity, even as it’s clearly unpopular. It’s not clear that they will succeed, but obviously we’re heading back into deficit hysteria. Hopefully along the way, the White House, DNC, DSCC and DCCC figure out whether or not they support austerity so there can be honesty and consistency in their public messaging.

Super Tuesday!

As if the Gods of Excitement hadn’t done enough already with this month Chevy Truck Month and the beginning of the March Madness tournament, today is Super Tuesday. Ten states will primary or caucus today, accounting for nearly 20% of the delegates.

Up for grabs are Georgia, Massachusetts, Idaho, North Dakota, Alaska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and Ohio. Nate Silver is projecting a strong night for Romney, one which he will come out with the most delegates in almost any scenario:

This scenario assumes that Mr. Romney will win Massachusetts and Virginia very easily, and Vermont and Idaho fairly easily (winning all 32 delegates in Idaho because of the way the state’s rules are structured). It assumes a narrow Romney win in Ohio and a narrow loss in Tennessee, and that Mr. Romney wins either the Alaska or North Dakota caucuses, but probably not both. Mr. Gingrich wins Georgia only, although by a big margin; Mr. Santorum wins Tennessee and Oklahoma, although by smaller margins than were expected a few days ago.

Silver goes on to note that because of increased media expectations and the intense focus on Ohio, Georgia and Tennessee, Romney might not walk away with a performance that is sufficiently impressive. Additionally, with Kansas, Mississippi, and Alabama holding their contests within the next week, Romney will continue to face scrutiny in regards to his ability to win Southern states.

The “Can Romney win in the South?” line of criticism seems about as reasonable as the “Will woman and Hispanics turn out for Obama?” criticism of the 2008 primary. These core Democratic constituencies broke heavily for Hillary Clinton, but came home and turned out for Obama at historic levels in the general election. Whether Romney wins Mississippi or Alabama in the primary has no real relevance. If he gets the nomination, he will have a near-lock on the Deep South and this is true even if base enthusiasm for him is tepid. Much of this line seems to be aimed at continuing the primary. That isn’t to say that the fact that Romney likely isn’t drawing strong support in the Deep South during the primary is irrelevant, but it’s unlikely to be a factor that prevents him from getting the nomination.

Romney holds off the white knight for now

Originally posted at AMERICAblog Elections: The Right’s Field

Jonathan Karl, ABC News, February 17, 2012:

A prominent Republican senator just told me that if Romney can’t win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race.

“If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,” said the senator, who has not endorsed anyone and requested anonymity.

George Stephanopolous, ABC News, February 28, 2012:

“What [Romney’s performance] tonight has done, I think, is kill any talk in Republican circles of finding another white knight to come into the campaign.”

At least for the moment, that is. Losing his home state of Michigan would have been devastating for Romney. But as it is, he only barely won and Rick Santorum will take home the same number of delegates as Romney. To the extent that Romney has killed the talk of a new “white knight,” it is just barely and just for the moment. He certainly hasn’t suddenly created a popular groundswell in the Republican base for his candidacy. Super Tuesday is a week away and it will be a major test that could produce wins for Romney, Gingrich and Santorum. If Romney gets his clock cleaned next Tuesday, watch for the talk of the white knight to reemerge.