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July 27, 2009


My sense is that Baucus doesn't want cover to get a bill passed, but rather cover not to get a bill passed.

I don't think Baucus is trying to get Republican votes in the hopes that the Republicans then won't attack the bill after it passes.

My guess is that Baucus's game plan is to claim that he would need a number of Republican votes to make a bill work, fail to get those votes, and then oppose the bill that emerges from HELP on the grounds that it isn't bipartisan.

Baucus can then give his friends in the health insurance industry what they want--no reform whatsoever--while blaming the GOP for its failure to forge the chimerical bipartisan solution that he claims he wants.

I just cannot get around concluding that real reform would involve giving some mighty powerful and influential folks a haircut. And after years and years of increasing their share of our country's wealth (and their feelings of entitlement to it), they are deeply offended by any reform that would decrease their $$.

If we cannot beat them here, with 70% of the country knowing the health care system is FUBAR, what issue can we beat them on?

The important takeaway is that much like on National Security ("soft on terror!!!!") the right is going to say inflammatory, unkind and almost certainly unfair thing about whatever the Dems do, why not just treat this as a sunk cost and not worry what they are going to say, since they are going to say functionally the same thing regardless of what you do?

You're getting ever more desperate, Publius, and it's showing.

Even if there was no stimulus, the economy was going to recover, eventually. The point of the stimulus was just to make it recover sooner. So you can't just wait for a recovery to finally occur, and then say, "Aha! The stimulus WAS a success!"

The Obama administration put out a projection of the economy with, and without, stimulus. (Both projections showed an eventual recovery.) We are currently worse off than the "without" projection.

This has to be considered evidence of a failure of the stimulus. Rebutable evidence, perhaps, but evidence none the less.

"And that brings us to today. If the stimulus fails, it will fail because it wasn’t big enough and didn’t get out fast enough."

And no other possibility is admissible, right?

Actually, the GOP line of attack is that it was a failure before it was even passed. Note the grammar here - http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/07/republicans_do_massachusetts_dems_stand_by_obamas_comment_on_cambridge_cops.php

I guess links don't complete automatically here. Here's a quote from what I posted:

"The president was slow to point out any wrongdoing in the wake of the Iranian election and his administration was quick to force through a failed stimulus plan even though they 'misread' the economy. This is certainly a questionable rush to judgment coming from a president who hasn't exactly been quick to call out unconscionable behavior by a merciless foreign dictator or gotten his facts straight before advocating a trillion-dollar mistake to address our ailing economy. Is it really presidential for him to cast harsh judgment of a law enforcement official without all the facts? These questions warrant an answer from Michael Capuano."

That's from an NRCC mailer targeted against Dem MA representatives apparently.

I like that the GOP somehow thinks that pointing out Obama's haste in passing a stimulus and condemning this cop and his hesitance to condemn Iran is somehow a coherent point that will resonate with anyone.

Pooh, I've been saying the same thing except without the compact appropriateness of "sunk cost." Yes, the Republican machine will be vicious about everything, including things they've supported in the past, and will be hypocritical, inconsistent, and anti-honest about it. So there's no point in expecting anything else.

We may welcome good behavior in any quarter and believe that virtue can break out anywhere without counting on it.

A mailer sent out before or after the stimulus failed?

I'll grant you that it was perfectly predictable that Republicans would describe a Democratic stimulus program as a failure; As predictable as that Democrats would describe it as a success, and predict greater success if it had spent 150% of our remaining borrowing capacity, instead of 90%.

Somewhere under there is an underlying reality, in which the stimulus either did or didn't fail, really, and economic numbers worse than predicted if there was no stimulus are surely not evidence of it's success.

Gitmo still open. (no realistic plan to close it?)
DADT still in place
Gates still Sec of Def
Increased spending at DOD
Increasing war in Afghan
No health plan on the horizon (or one that will make things worse?)
Foreclosures up
Bank profits up
Credit Card companies still playing their games.
Democratic Leadership Counsel types in charge of economy/national security state
State Secrets defense still being used to justify spying on citizens.
Preventive detention still on the table as an option.

One could go on.

The Republicans have grasped this reality — it remains to be seen if the Democrats do.

is Reid still SML ? yes ? then, no.

Publius: I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately Democratic leaders give credence to the GOP attacks by bending to them, rather than by balking and ignoring them. When you're dealing with a group that will say "no" to absolutely everything, that group should just be ignored and the focus of work should be results. It applies to politics and every-day activities. If you win, you come out the big victor and the "no" group has even more egg on their face.

I guess the Democratic leaders can't see that.

there is an underlying reality, in which the stimulus either did or didn't fail,

It hasn't done either yet, Brett. Although some of the modifications pub mentions did make the thing less stimulative (slower), which was quite stupid.

I think it's a Happy Workplace thing: the GOP is obstructionist, anti-everything, etc., but they're also the Dems' co-workers. Incumbancy being what it is, some of them have worked together for decades.

They know one another in a real, personal, day to day way. They do NOT know their constituents in the same way. Hell, even the industry lobbyists have made it a point to assign specific individuals to individual Congresspersons and develop "long term working relationships" with them.

Tribalism is as human as junk food. Congress isn't immune. Congress is as tribal as anyone else - but the members of their tribe aren't We-the-People, nor even the Folks-back-Home; the members of the Congresstribe are other Congresscritters. Including the GOP idiots.

So, no, they don't want to disappoint, or upset, or alienate, the other members of their own tribe.

*sigh* we're so f*cked, in so many ways...

the only time you see real unity in Congress is when there's a new group of brown people we can bomb. they're all Happy Together when those times come 'round.

What Brett said at 6:38a

Why bother attacking republicans on this? Why not just figure out how to make your Blue Dogs happy?

Publius spent the last post abusing Blue Dogs and lamenting that the opportunity for reform might be lost forever because the Blue Dogs wouldn't change. But, why not just accommodate the Blue Dogs and move on with things?

But, why not just accommodate the Blue Dogs and move on with things?

A major theme of the prior post is that what the Blue Dogs want - the accommodation you suggest - is the status quo ante, and that there's reason to view a non-trivial portion of claims to the contrary as being made in decidedly bad faith. It's difficult to reform without changing anything, and I'd be inclined to view even what's already been proposed as containing large amounts of preemptive accommodation in that direction. That would indicate a glaring tactical failure, obviously; it takes a special kind of foolishness - or arrogance - to enter into a bargaining situation asking for no more than what you hope to eventually end up with.

Because a) The Blue Dogs want to do two things, they want the bill to cost less money, and b) they want to oppose many of the provisions that would make it cost less money. Ergo, c) the changes they want to make will make the bill worse.

Also, the Blue Dogs don't seem to actually want anything except to grandstand and prove how important they are to rake in health insurance bucks. Or to just help the Republicans kill the bill.

So basically, because accommodating them would make the bill a lot worse, and many of them aren't actually interested in accommodation.

This is not a comment on this topic, but is a note about Andy Olmsted's book. I had previously stated that it could be ordered on line at Vantage but this turns out not to be the case. It can be ordered but only by telephone (1 800 882 3273). It will be available sometime in August on line at Amazon or Borders.

I am using this method to tell people because I can't print it directly on Obsidian Wings. If someone knows how to get this message across I would be grateful.

Wes Olmsted

Just want to note that although I seldom agree with his conclusions, I admire Brett's advocacy.

As for CaseyL's comment: So, no, they don't want to disappoint, or upset, or alienate, the other members of their own tribe. If this is true, the R's in Congress certainly were not worried about offending their Democratic colleagues from oh, 2002 to 2006, were they?

Aren't you tired of them blasting the D's for being considerate and caring and compassionate in foreign relations - and then demanding to be treated this way themselves?

The point of the stimulus was just to make it recover sooner.

No, the point was to soften the impact of the downturn.

The Obama administration put out a projection of the economy with, and without, stimulus. (Both projections showed an eventual recovery.) We are currently worse off than the "without" projection.

This supports my point above. In both the "with" and "without" projections, the economy ultimately recovers at about the same time. The blow is merely softened during the downturn by the stimulus.

And, of course, what stimulus opponents aren't terribly eager to cop to is that when the fight was ongoing, they criticized Team Obama's estimates -- which we now know to have been far too rosy -- as being too pessimistic. So if Team Obama was off (they were), then Team GOP was even further off.

"If the stimulus fails, it will fail because it wasn’t big enough and didn’t get out fast enough."

These are two very different things and for the most part they work in very different directions.

Fast: food stamps, increased unemployment benefits, tax rebates, cash, targeted vouchers.

Big: infrastructure projects, most make-work projects.

When we had this discussion in January, I spent many words criticizing the Democratic stimulus plan for being too loaded with the big projects and not enough with the fast responses. I still believe that to be true.

A large part of your argument about how we can't judge the stimulus to be a failure or success stems from the fact that the stimulus money hasn't been put into the economy yet because the Democratic proposal was too big in the projects department and not big enough in the 'now' department.

From that perspective, the stimulus has indeed been a failure.

"Even if there was no stimulus, the economy was going to recover, eventually."

The Depression of 1807 lasted until about 1814, seven years.

The Panic of 1819 lasted until about 1824, five years.

The Panic of 1827 lasted until about 1843, about 16 years. Yikes.

The Panic of 1857 was a piece of cake, only about 18 months long.

The Panic of 1873 lasted until about 1879, six years.

The Panic of 1893 was relatively short, only lasting three years, until 1896.

This comes from http://www.recession.org/

Add them up, BTW, and you get just shy of 40 years of financial panic and hardship in the pre-regulation 19th century

"Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor"


The Great Depression is generally considered to have run from 1929 until the mid to late 1930's, or until we entered WWII, depending on what indicators you want to judge by.

Net/net: "eventually" may not really be a convincing argument.

Here is the link you want, Zach.

You just need to add the HTML tag: < a href="URL" > word < /a > without the gaps I inserted to prevent the tag from actually functioning.

See here for other HTML tags.

Gary, I never know how to read those HTML instructions. Are the quotation marks communication or syntax? IOW, do I enter a URL, or do I enter a quotation mark, a URL and another quotation mark?

Wes Olmsted, I have forwarded your message to Hilzoy, who is currently on vacation in Rwanda, and who also has quit blogging, so she may not reply for some time, and I have also forwarded it to the current blog owners/posters, and perhaps one of them will post the information.

I'd be interested in staying in contact with you in future, if you'd feel like giving me your email address; if you do, you can write me at gary underscore farber at yahoo dot com, turning the obvious words into their symbols. Thanks if you feel like doing that. If that address is obscure to you, post a message on this thread, and I'll make it more explicit.

I wish you all the best with the book. There's advice about publishing (I have a past as a professional book editor for major book publishers) I wish I could have given you beforehand, which is mostly moot now, but it's not impossible that there might not be future issues worth discussing.

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