Showing posts with label budget deficit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budget deficit. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jackie Salit: Not Enough for Obama to Simply Criticize Congressional Leaders

How Barack Obama Can Be a Non-Partisan President (By JACQUELINE SALIT, SW News Herald - Chicago)

Power politics has a way of erasing the memory of how things happened in the first place. That’s because when institutions come to power, they want the stories about themselves to reinforce their institutional strength. They never like to credit outsider, non-institutional forces, even if the outsiders’ role in a set of events was pivotal.

Both President Obama and the Republican-led Congress seem to be grappling with this very tension in the budget negotiations going on now. Republicans won control of the House in 2010 because independent voters put them there. Obama won the White House in 2008 because independents chose him. Yet the budget negotiations — both in their form and in their content — are thoroughly rooted in a Democrat/Republican reality.

The Republicans want spending cuts. The Democrats want to preserve the safety net. Obama believes that his job is to stitch together a solution that draws from both. Put another way, he’s trying to be the non-partisan president. And no doubt, the president’s advisors hope that independent voters — who decided the last two elections — (actually three, since independents in open primary and caucus states picked Obama over Hillary Clinton) will see him that way.

Maybe they will. Certainly, independents — now 38 percent of the country according to the latest Pew poll — have made it plain enough that they don’t like partisanship, they don’t like ideological dogmatism and they don’t like… well, parties. Even if they vote for them.

Obama would do well, not just to remember that history, but to make it a more visible feature of how he governs. Independents catapulted him — first to the Democratic nomination and then to the White House. When he says that the American people “feel a sense of urgency, both about the breakdown in our political process and also about the situation in our economy,” he can also acknowledge that the American people are doing something about it, namely leaving the Democratic and Republican parties and becoming independents. According to the Pew Research Center, only 23 percent of Americans self-identify as Republicans, down from 25 percent in 2008 and 30 percent in 2004. 35 percent identify as Democrats (the same as 2008) even though the 2008 elections were expected to swell the ranks of Democrats. Independents, now 38 percent, were 32 percent of the electorate in 2008.

For many Independents, it’s not enough for Obama to simply criticize Congressional leaders for their partisan intransigence. He has to show that he’s willing to back certain structural changes in the political process that make such intransigence more difficult. This means taking a stand in support of open primaries in which Independents can vote. And imagine the shock waves that would follow an Obama appointment (in consultation with leaders of the Independent movement) of two Independents to vacant seats on the Federal Election Commission.

Moves like these would show Independents that the president understands the history of recent electoral unrest and that he is ready to stand up for  changes in the process that promote inclusion over party control and partisanship. Over the long term, that’s what Independents are looking for.

Friday, April 15, 2011


  • The Right's Wrong Plan (Rep. Charles Rangel, HuffPost) Instead of promoting a plan to create jobs, Republicans marked their 100th day in control of the House with an agenda to end Medicare and cut the lifeline of millions of Americans. Introduced last week by Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP's "Road to Ruin" budget proposal does do two things: it hurts the poor and helps the rich. Viewed as an effort to reduce the debt, the Republican budget is both irresponsible and immoral.
  • Obama's Debt Reduction Plan Is a Political Step In the Right Direction (By Douglas E. Schoen, That being said, the president did make a strategic blunder by specifying that he wants to raise taxes on upper income Americans – having only four months ago agreed to the opposite in his budget deal with the Republicans. That budget deal is what got independents back to him at least temporarily following the midterm elections – an advantage that has been dissipating over time.
  • GOP Losing Battle, Winning War (John Zogby, Forbes/Data Place) A 55% majority disagreed, with 32% agreeing and 13% not sure. Among the all important independent voters, 57% did not agree with Ryan’s Medicare proposal. Among Republicans, 54% liked the proposal, which in our polling is a relatively low number for GOP voters on policy proposal identified with their party. Also, 17% of Republicans were not sure, which is again a high number from GOP voters and shows they have real doubts about such a significant change to delivery of health care to senior citizens. Two-thirds of those 65 and over, people who have been voting for Republicans, disagreed with Ryan’s Medicare plan.
  • House Democrats Win First-Quarter Money Battle (By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, NY Times/The Caucus) “Republicans’ radical agenda to end Medicare and play chicken with a government shutdown, while protecting taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil, is turning off independent voters and energizing our Democratic supporters,” said Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
  • Lack of primary competition gives Obama an edge - With no serious challenges for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012, the president can target the independent voters crucial to victory, while his Republican rivals must move right to win their party's nomination. (By Mark Z. Barabak and Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times and Washington Bureau)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Obama and the Budget, Trump and the Repubs, Slouching Toward 2012

I watched President Obama's speech yesterday and it made sense to me. I just don't see our present Congress having the backbone to carry out a plan that raises taxes on the top richest 2%. And again, without serious structural political reform, these problems will not be addressed in any serious way that will actually help the American people. President Obama would do well to support the kinds of reforms that independents are calling for -- open primaries, independent redistricting commissions, nonpartisan elections.

  • Obama leaves GOP in no mood to deal (By: Glenn Thrush and Manu Raju, Politico) Still, some are optimistic that with the president’s decision to get more forcefully involved in the debt issue, that there could be a way forward to craft a bipartisan compromise –and some hope that could happen as part of an agreement to raise the $14.3 trillion national debt limit, which the Treasury Department has warned must occur within the next few months. But Republican leaders in the Senate are in no mood to compromise with Democrats on the debt limit vote, and are urging their members not to filibuster the vote so Democrats are forced to find 51 votes from their own caucus.
  • Obama risks losing liberals with talk of cutting budget (By Zachary A. Goldfarb and Peter Wallsten, Washington Post/Business) President Obama faces a growing rebellion on the left as he courts independent voters and Republicans with his vision for reducing the nation’s debt by cutting government spending and restraining the costs of federal health insurance programs.

  • Trump’s Rise Highlights a Flawed Field (By NATE SILVER, NY Times/FiveThirtyEight) The counterpart to the Fairfax Five are the Factional Five. They are unpopular with independent voters and, instead, are competing mostly for Tea Party voters and other conservatives that vote within the Republican primary. They tend to be good at drawing attention to themselves, especially on blogs and cable television shows. These candidates are Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump and Ron Paul.
  • Could Trump Lose GOP Primaries, and Legally Run in General Election? (By Katrina Trinko, National Review/The Corner) If Donald Trump wants to see how he fares in the GOP primaries, and then run for president outside the GOP, there are only four states where his participation in a GOP primary could impact a non-Republican run in the general election. Those four states are Mississippi, Texas, Ohio, and South Dakota, according to Ballot Access News editor Richard Winger.  What sets them apart from the other states is that their “sore loser” laws, which bar candidates from running as an independent candidate and/or third party candidate in the general election after losing a primary, impact presidential candidates. In most states with sore loser laws, that’s not the case. 

Commentary: GOP's crowded field presents a problem for President Obama in 2012 (By Laura Vecsey, Patriot News - PA) Unaffiliated voters in Pennsylvania pushed Obama to victory here in 2008, but PPP found that independent voters are split between Obama and the top three GOP contenders. Obama wins independent votes only over Palin and former House Speaker Gingrich.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

John Avlon: The president has to lead on deficit reduction

John Avlon says President Obama has to lead on deficit reduction, but unless the President is willing to lead on election reform and support the growing ranks of independent voters in the country, there won't be any real change.

Be in the know: Today's political bullet points (CNN/John King USA) From John Avlon: This speech is critical for repairing the president's credibility with independent voters – and he should not think that merely returning to his 'raise taxes on everyone making over 250k' riff will cut it – either politically or practically. The president has to lead on this issue and the time is now.