Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What does the MA Senate race mean?

As most or all of you know, unknown Republican Scott Brown beat the sitting Attorney General of Mass by 4 in a Senate special election. This race was primarily a referendum on Obama and the huge effort to reform health care. The results are crystal clear. In DEEP blue Mass, which Obama won by 26 (!), a basic political nobody from the GOP won and took Ted Kennedy's seat, which he'd held since 1484.

Don't believe anyone who tells you to the contrary, this election, coupled with the New Jersey governor's race in 2009 (blue state incumbent governor kicked out) and the New York mayor's race (highly popular incumbent BARELY squeaks to reelection) tells you the voters are as pissed at those in power now than probably at any time since 1932. Seriously. Right now, the dems have the power, and the voters are FURIOUS. As I recently said, if the McCain/Obama election were rerun right away, McCain would win solidly, possibly in a landslide. And Obama himself isn't unpopular. The voters are in a blind rage!

Phase I of the Obama presidency (Solid win, mandate to do big things, some willingness to do big things) is now over. The democrats are highly likely to run around like terrified rats on a sinking ship, scurrying to do what they think they must to save their own skins. The actual interests of the US of A will of course come in a distant second. This bodes ill for health care reform, immigration reform, energy reform. Of course, a do nothing congress is child's play to run against. America has all these big problems, you folks had all the power for two years, and you did diddly squat. Don't need Karl Rove to run THAT campaign!

The BIG question is what happens to Health Care reform. The democrats, as Andrew un-boldly predicted, are publicly swearing off hardball options, like ramming a bill through fast before the new Mass Senator is seated, or having the House vote on the Senate bill without a single change (It could then be signed by Obama). The chance of no health care bill has now gone up exponentially. That would very likely lead to an electoral wipeout in 2010, with the GOP taking back the house and coming very close in the Senate (dems currently hold 59 seats, counting Lieberman and Sanders, two independents) with the GOP holding 41.

If my very sunny predictions about the economy turn out to be wrong, the dems could face an electoral wipeout of epic proportions, particularly if they don't pass the unpopular health care bill. So why pass it? Because running against it in the abstract, as the GOP has, is MUCH easier than running against it as a law. Are you opposed to insurance companies NOT being able to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions? Try selling THAT to voters. Against greatly increasing coverage? Easier sell, but easy counter-sell. Want to give insurance companies MORE power? Good luck selling that. Selling this law, however much I despise the current bill, is HUGELY easier than selling it as a bill.

More to the point, the bill, however hugely flawed it certainly is, is a gigantic step in the right direction, overall. It turns the insurance companies partially into public utilities, a key step on the way to phasing them out, which is critical for the prosperity of America in the long run. It helps millions of people, almost immediately, by restricting health insurance company practices. It takes a big step (though not a huge one) towards universal coverage. It raises revenue, which we desparately need to do. The federal government BOTH spends too much AND taxes too little. Sorry GOP folks, but 2+2 =4, not 7.3, no matter how much you wish it too. If you support the continued existence of Medicare, Medicaid (in some form), social security, national defense, and don't wish to default on our debt, taxes must rise. Its really that simple. And the HC bill DOES raise some money. Of course it spends it as well, but the spending may end up shifting some spending within the health care system from the private sector to the government, resulting societal savings in HC overall, which I hugely support. So its worth fighting for, and, politically speaking, worth dying for, as horrendous and awfully flawed as it is.

Now we're in phase II of the Obama presidency. He's at about 50%, large, fairly compliant majority in the House, speaker totally on his side. Senate Leader is going to lose his seat in 2010, so he's not nearly as on Obama's side, but he STILL HAS 59 SENATORS. Can they get anything done? If not, they're not worth fighting for, except insofar as the GOP WOULD get things done, bad things, which would harm the republic, put us deeper in the fiscal hole, and make the US a far less fair and just country. The actions of the Senate in the next 2 weeks will tell us a giant amount about the next 10 months, before the 2010 elections.

And since full campaign mode will begin about early Summer, I am hugely pesimistic about big things getting done that are tough. So basically, with HC on the 5 yard line, first and goal, we just took a false start penalty and a sack. Is Obama going to play it safe, and try and kick a field goal (most likely result) (get a much smaller, watered down even further bill through in reconciliation) or is he going to try and force it into a very small space and let his receiver go make a play (call on the public to FORCE the Senate to vote-- but Harry would have to declare war and cooperate-- which he wouldn't).

Make no mistake, my readers. The democratic agenda is toast. Not because we only have 59 Senators, but because as a party, especially including our president, we are unwilling to take the big risks that bring big rewards.

I wanted Gore to run. When that didn't happen I was for Hillary. I hardly had a kind word to say about Obama. A year in, I can't say I've regretted the decision to support Hillary over Obama, even once, for even one second.

Woe is us.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oops. The new polls are MONSTER favorable to Brown, the Republican in Mass. I retract my earlier prediction. I don't have the foggiest idea what's going to happen in Ma. tomorrow. Not a clue.