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November 21, 2012

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I'm wondering what everyone thinks should be done to change the way we nominate a candidate and how it would actually happen.

Obvious, grasshopper. I should nominate the Democratic candidate and Bellmore should nominate the GOP candidate. McKinney could handicap the race.

Let the contradictions heighten....or, do we really have a choice in the matter? They're gonna' heighten anyway.

Shorter GOP lesson from the Romney loss:

"Moar Lying"

I think the lesson that a lot of (R)'s are taking away from the 2012 election cycle is that they need to rein in the crazies and the haters. The (R)'s have no future as "America's reactionary party".

IMO that is splendid, even if it means a better electoral result for them going forward. I can have a conversation with someone who thinks, frex, that reducing the deficit is a higher priority than making health care available to a broader segment of the population. I can't really have a conversation with someone who thinks Obama is an atheist communist Muslim who was born in Kenya.

Running on appeals to the paranoia of bigoted working class whites is kind of used up, because there just aren't enough of them to cobble together a majority of the voting public anymore. It's a reality, and I think it's starting to dawn on the (R) establishment. All good, IMO.

The next thing (R)'s are going to have to confront as a reality is that a lot of the people who vote for them actually benefit from our version of the the "welfare state". Their people are going to have to decide if they really want to give up their SS, and Medicare, and Medicaid, and food stamps, not to mention all of the other less obvious ways that federal money finds its way into their pockets.

The coming decade or two are going to be interesting.

I think the lesson that a lot of (R)'s are taking away from the 2012 election cycle is that they need to rein in the crazies and the haters. The (R)'s have no future as "America's reactionary party".

I'm not seeing this at all. Instead, I'm seeing them double down on everything they tried to win the election. Obamacare cutting as part of the Fiscal Cliff? In Ohio, the first thing the legislature did was introduce yet another bill to defund Parenthood. And as far as the crazies are concerned, how about secession and the early start for the War on Christmas?

These are just a few off the top of my head, but I know there is plenty more. Maybe Jindhal is trying to talk a new game, but the seething masses who gave the Republicans their anger and energy in 2010 are still in charge of the bus. He doesn't stand a chance.

On the question of whither goest the Republicans--I think this has to be broken down into parts.

My guess is that the leaders of the party will look for someone who is just as committeed to replacing democracy with oligarchy as Ryan is, just as much an AYn Rand/Grover Norquist bullshitter but with a StRonnie smiley face. In other words a change of style but not of substance. And this could work. Republicann poiticians are used to beig liars. They have to be in order to win elections since nobody wants Republican policies to be applied to themselves. Akins and that other guy lost because they weren't good enough liars.

The Tea Party base is not motivated by policy. After all they are often benefciaries of gifts that Ryan wants to stop giving and they didn't notice that last time around. They are motived by the need to hate and the need to feel that the R politician they vote for will use govenmental power to screw over all those undeserving Other People while delivering he gifts to the deserving Tea Partiers. SO the new Ronnie Lying Smileyface Repubican for President needs to have a hating message. Well RR did that successfully. HE ran on George Wallace's message twice succdesfully. So The Repubicans need a liar that has a hater message but a nice-seeming demeanor.

And then there are all those Republican voters who are just selfish. They want tax cuts for themsleves and they want a reasonably well managed and maintained society to to be funded magically and they want their deficits to be paid for by the people who did NOT cause them. Will they vote for a REpublican Smileyface Lying Hater? Sure, if the smileyface lying hater promises tax cuts.

So the question is can the smileyface lying taxcutting hater fool the Beltway Pundits? Sure. Of course. David Brooks will rationalize anything to justify voting R.

Next question: can smileyface lying taxcutting hater fool enough independents to win? Well, RR did it.

SO to me it comes down to this: can the Republicans find a candiate who seems to be a nice guy while pushing the same old shit? A better snakeoil salesman, in other words.

SUre they can. I don't think it's Bobby Jindal since he looks too nerdy, but they can find someone somewhere who can lie effectively enough to get elected.

After all Romney was a crappy liar ( too blatant) and he only lost by I guess its around three percent or four percent.

BTW it looks like Rmoney will end up getting about 47% of the vote. Tee hee.

Paul Ryan is the most likely Republican candidate in 2016, which is highly suggestive of where the party platform will go.

I think another problem for the GOP is that their activist base is comprised of people who are, at least when it comes to politics, dumb. .

Paul Ryan is the most likely Republican candidate in 2016, which is highly suggestive of where the party platform will go.

Very likely.

So one thing that needs to be done is to begin attacking the "job creator" myth.

What creates jobs is jobs. Give lower and middle-class workers decent jobs, not to mention health insurance, so they have some financial stability, and they will be more comfortable buying a new car or refrigerator, taking a vacation, etc. Presto. More jobs.

Yes, you need investment capital, but that doesn't mean you need people sitting around dreaming up algorithms that trade stocks and derivatives in nanoseconds.

What you need is actual investment. That responds to demand.

"If you build it they will come."

How do we get to (wherever the Republican Party needs to go to win again)?

Well, happily, there already is a template to follow. In the mid-1970s, after losing to that arch-conservative (as they saw it) Ronald Reagan for the second time, the Democratic Governors sat down and worked out where their party needed to go. They had experience actually running a government (as opposed to either all the legislators or the party "activists), and they wanted to put that practical experience to work.

The Republicans have a bunch of Governors now; surely one or two of them have what Bill Clinton had to put something together to make things happen.

I admit, however, that I suspect debbie is correct. Before the Governors succeed in moving the party back to electoral viability, the party will first try doubling down on someone with solid ideological purity.

Democratic Governors sat down and worked out where their party needed to go.

When? Where?

They had experience actually running a government (as opposed to either all the legislators or the party "activists"

Yeah, activists like Martin Luther King Jr. sure are losers. Have those guys ever accomplished anything at all?

I mean, an activist is sort of like a community organizer, amirite? Can you imagine how worthless a leader would be if they were both a community organizer AND a Senator?

I have to agree with Turbulence.
I remember, not long before the 1992 election, someone looking at recent winning and losing candidates for President and concluded that being a former Governor was the kiss of death.

The purpose of a primary is to find a candidate that can win swing states. So primaries should start with the states with the closest results in the last presidential election.

Turb,
I was thinking specifically of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Also, by the mid-1980s, Dr King was long gone from the scene. The activists in the Democratic Party by then were a whole different deal. Much less about civil rights; much more into economic populism.

"the party will first try doubling down on someone with solid ideological purity."

I seriously doubt that your average Republican would characterize Romney as somebody with "ideological purity" of any particular degree, such that you could "double down" by picking somebody even more ideologically pure.

Conservatives would think nominating somebody who was ideologically pure would be more in the line of "trying something new". Political reality dictates that anybody running for the Republican nomination has to claim to be a conservative. Doesn't mean Republicans particularly believe the claim.

http://blip.tv/davidhorowitztv/bill-whittle-6444929>Bill Whittle is getting a lot of talk right now. But I don't think he'd be "doubling down" on what Mitt Romney represented.

the Democrats only copied the Republican way cause it worked for the Republicans. what did we get? Blue Dogs, they are not Democrats. lol. Republican lite. and that got the country further to the Right. and to where we are now. in deep do do.

Republicanism is the problem. plain and simple. but don't expect the Democrats to be anything but be Republican lite/Blue Dogs.

watch out for the Bushes once again to foist their lethal brew upon America. One 911 was too much. Not like Bush et al cared about the warning from AlQeade's coming attack. they lie just as well as St. Ronnie. a part hispanic Bush will sell like no Jindal or anybody else. Jeb Bush alone or his son is the Poison that could be awaiting us one day.

that's the new face of the Republican party. that is if there is a new face.

the idiocy of the Republican message is the problem for the Republicans. as shown by Rmoney and the present group of Owners/Republican Elite. Doubling down is what they will do until they "figure" out that insulting the voters they need doesn't work. the Elites were the money behind the campaign. since Rmoney was just a lackluster "R" face. like said up above. a New Smiley Faced liar is all that is missing. everyone in charge is why Rmoney lost. i mean, couldn't the MONEY tell Rmoney to be nice in public and not "scare" the 47% with the harsh truth of Republican ideology. Get real, the people know rotten deals when it isn't all prettied up,like the Great Satan St. Ronnie did to the pile he sold Americans.

but as of yet. insulting the voters they want and need is still the modus operandi.

if Republicans keep on their present course, America might have a chance to get off the Political Suicide Cliff we are on. i do think the Republican will double down till they have to change. Gerrymandering the House doesn't work so well when it comes to the Senate. They already have the Supremes doing their Dirty work.

with Gingrich,Faux Lies, and David Brooks and Koch and the REpublican Party in charge, how much will it take or how long will it take to figure out hatred backfires? who knows?

I seriously doubt that your average Republican would characterize Romney as somebody with "ideological purity" of any particular degree, such that you could "double down" by picking somebody even more ideologically pure.

Exactly, Brett.

So next time, I expect we will get someone with nothing like Romney's history of moderate positions. That will actually mean that he will have a far harder time attracting votes from the center, because there will be no room for saying "he doesn't really believe that nonsense; he just has to say it to get nominated." And the true-believers will be astounded when he does substantially worse than Romney did.

One conclusion on the R side is that it is necessary to double (or quadruple) down on making voting harder (and some states have already started). This time the courts struck down a lot of legal shenanigans but (as far as I can see) mostly not on substance but on timing, i.e. those de facto suppressive measures were introduced too late but might be acceptable for the next election because there would be enough time to implement them and to inform (or deceive) the populace.
A radical step would be to require every potential voter to register anew for every election and make the system as complicated as possible. Deliberate and selective underfunding would guarantee that the voter rolls will be and stay short (and be skewed towards the 'better' citizens). The decisive first step would have to be SCOTUS striking down the Voting Rights Act or at least the parts that allow the Feds to veto anti-democratic measures by the states. The court has accepted the challenge and we will see, whether there'll be another Citizens United, i.e. expanding the case* far beyond the original topic. Had Romney won, it would have been possible for the GOP to just wait until some 'liberal' (i.e. moderately conservative) justices got replaced by 'reliable' ones. Then an anti-VRA decision would have been guaranteed. But with Obama reelected their only chance is that Kennedy can be duped once again.
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Btw, from what I heard the Obama team breathed a sigh of relief when Jon Huntsman went down in the primaries. They can only hope that the GOP will go for double down and not for a serious soul search followed by a real turn for the center and the (real) independents.
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To restate my old position: Federal elections should be managed on the federal level and not be left to the states. There have to be universal standards that can and will be enforced. And in my opinion it should be that every citizens (of appropriate age) should be able to vote including felons (extreme example: a McVeigh voting absentee on his way to the execution). There should be no loopholes. And there should be automatic and universal registration that stays valid when a citizen moves. Again, this is for federal elections. State elections are a local issue where federal involvement should be minimal (and limited to curb gross violations of the most basic standards).

*I think the court decided correctly in favour of CU but otherwise totally blew it.

Or perhaps they won't, because he'll more than make up in increased Republican turnout what he loses from the center. You'd have to try it to know.

I'm somewhat agnostic about the results, my only point was the absurdity of characterizing nominating somebody ideologically pure as "doubling down" on what Romney represented. In order to "double down" on the former Governor of liberal Massachusetts, you'd practically have to pick somebody from outside the party, as there aren't any significant figures in the GOP to the left of Mitt Romney.

This may be an indication of how ideologically narrow the party has become, but a left wing doesn't become a right wing just because you throw the bird in a trash compactor.

I guess I expressed myself badly. I wasn't trying to say that they will double down on what Romney represented. But rather that they would double down on extreme conservativism as the route to electoral victory.

I doubt anybody will even consider the Republican Party adopting left wing positions. But it is possible to be less conservative than the norm of the current party without becoming a flaming liberal. The fact that many members of the party will call you a "socialist" does not mean that you will actually be anything more than mildly (rather than extremely) conservative.

I suppose my point was simply that, when the standard bearer in the battle against Obamacare was the creator of Romneycare, there's a lot of room for the GOP to chose candidates further "right" without embracing anything non-Democrats would see as "extremism".

I'm sure you recall http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Yorker#.22View_of_the_World.22_cover>this classic map of the US from the perspective of the New Yorker. I think the liberal view of the ideological spectrum has a lot in common with it. (Conservatves' view, too, which is why they think Al Gore was a communist...)

There's an amazing amount of ideological room between Mitt Romney and the GOP's right wing for a future nominee to explore, looking for that sweet spot that attracts the center without turning off his own party.

But have a look at the presidntial primaries on the R side. Romney and Huntsman seemed to be the only ones that could be taken seriously (Paul is a special case, not viable himself but he works as a perfect catalyst in the debates). The others were mad and/or textbook examples of hypocrisy and corruption. Will it be Palin/Bachmann vs. Gingrich/Trump and Santorum/Huckabee next time? Possible. Best case (or rather least bad) scenario would probably be Jeb Bush and Rubio ("I'am no scientist"), shameless panderers both just without the fake-liberal baggage of Mitt.
Maybe one day there will come a national Center Party born of a fusion of conservative Democrats, secular conservatives, moderate libertarians and actual independents that has no ties to the rel-nuts and competes against the Genuine Liberal Party. Yes, daydreams.

"Romney and Huntsman seemed to be the only ones that could be taken seriously" by a Democrat. Maybe Republicans don't want to run candidates who would be taken seriously by Democrats? Maybe they want to run candidates who can be taken seriously be Republicans?

The Republican base is sick and tired of candidates who disagree with them on major issues, and doesn't see why they can't have a candidate who agrees with them, instead. Naturally, such a candidate is not going to be highly regarded by Democrats; Is there a reason Republicans should accord that much weight?

The Republican base is sick and tired of candidates who disagree with them on major issues, and doesn't see why they can't have a candidate who agrees with them, instead.

OK...then why don't properly conservative candidates win the nomination?

I mean, the primary contest is effectively a market. And candidates like McCain and Romney are the winners in that market; they win primaries and get the nomination. So are you saying there's a structural market failure at work here?

"to take seriously" does not necessarily mean "to agree with". Democrats would take a Goldwater seriously, not a Trump while completely disagreeing with the former's political ideas (which the atter simply lacks).
As for why a Son of Cain or a Mitt R. wins in the primaries, I'd say it's because the buffoons, madpersons, fanatics and mountebanks steal each other's votes, and each has just a splinter of the base behind him or her. The establishment candidate waits until they have run out of fuel or have torn each other to pieces. Last man standing takes the votes. The establishment can only contriol the 'big' races, in the local ones their candidates can be pulled down by the 'true believers'. Also in local races there tends to be only one challenger to the 'chosen' one. If there is more than one, the establishmnet candidate usually wins as a result of the vote splitting.
Don't forget that both parties support primary challengers in the opposition party.

Maybe Republicans don't want to run candidates who would be taken seriously by Democrats? Maybe they want to run candidates who can be taken seriously be Republicans?

Republican party affiliation is at 25%. I am sure there are plenty of Democrats who would be perfectly happy if the Republicans run candidates who are only taken seriously by 25% of the population.

Back in the real world, the Republicans are going to have either begin genuinely supporting policies that make the lives of people other than their current base better, or they are going to keep losing the popular vote in national elections, like they have 5 of the last 6 presidential elections.

"to take seriously" does not necessarily mean "to agree with".

This.

When one realizes that that ACA and the bipartisan commission for deficit reduction were Republican ideas, one realizes that it is not the process of consensus that is at issue, it is the process of defining themselves as the opposition that is at issue.

Maybe if they did it like Groucho Marx, it would be more acceptable. (at least to me and the Count)

It might be a market of sorts, but it's scarcely what you'd call a free market, given the amount of influence the party establishment exercises over the process, and the degree to which winner take all distribution of delegates miss-allocate them to plurality winners.

A key factor for 2016 will be whether the Tea party can continue it's insurgency, or the party establishment succeeds in it's efforts to co-opt them.

Well, before 2016 there will be 2014. Tea Party power will show (or fail) in the midterms, and it will not be overshadowed by the presidential race. If more Teapartiers win in the primaries and fail in the election itself (giving the House to the Dems) then that could mean their end and nix their influence in 2016. Or their ranks in the House increase further and then they can force the establishment to run one of their's for president (resulting in a real disaster either for them or for the country).

Maybe Republicans don't want to run candidates who would be taken seriously by Democrats? Maybe they want to run candidates who can be taken seriously be Republicans?

I quite agree taht Republicans don't need to go for candidates who can be taken seriously (by which I assume you mean "agreed with") by Democrats. But if they want to win election, they need to run candidates who will be taken seriously by the independents who are a huge and growing part of the electorate.

As a first step, they might try nominees who can be taken seriously by those of us who are conservatives, have been Republicans for decades, but still have a grip on reality. From the last round, that came down to Huntsman (and a couple of others who were barely candidates long enough to notice). But the others who were on the ballot, and in the debates, over the course of months? Oh please!

There's an amazing amount of ideological room between Mitt Romney and the GOP's right wing for a future nominee to explore, looking for that sweet spot that attracts the center without turning off his own party.

I think the problem is that the sweet spot you describe simply doesn't exist, or at least is so small that no one's ever going to find it. Or, to put it another way, attracting the center is what turns off the party, so there is no doing one without doing the other.

I mean, even when you consider the various factions within the modern GOP, including the ones who are there only for lack of a better place to be, there are just too many ideas that lack sufficient mass appeal. There are some things here and there that could gain traction, just not enough to build a recognizably conservative or Republican platform.

For example, take Ron Paul, get rid of the desire to gut social safety nets, and you end up with something not too unlike Dennis Kucinich, at least not enough unlike him that anyone's going to say, "Oh, look, there's a Republican."

"Or, to put it another way, attracting the center is what turns off the party, so there is no doing one without doing the other."

That's not necessarily true. There are issues where the center agrees with the right, just as there are issues where it agrees with the left. Were that not so, the center would BE the left, after all!

The problem, IMO, is that the Republican establishment, culturally, has more in common with the left, than it has with its own base. (We have a center-right populace, but a center-left political class.) This causes them to avoid good center-right issues like immigration.

For the issues where the center is just ambivalent, the better approach is to explain the right position, instead of avoiding it. You can't persuade people to agree with you if you don't try.

Well, cynics have long said that the worst idea the GOP ever had was to try to explain its plans to its intended victims...pardon...potential voters.
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As for the issue of immigration, as far as I can see it, it is the (GOP) establishment that would be willing to have a serious* debate while the most vocal part of the base seems to consider anything left of the Nuremberg laws as treason (or as Bill'O of Fox puts it, it's about the threatened white male power sructure). The donor class wants tons of cheap workers with no civil rights but some legal residence status (so they can be exploited legally). Most on the liberal/left side would be open to a solution with a sliding scale that (depending on the individual) would reach from 'instant citizenship for this one' to 'kick this one out and never let him in again'. The number and power of people that would support unconditional citizenship and unlimited is negligible enough to be ignored (unlike the pure nativists at the other end of the spectrum). So a solution about 2/3 of the country could accept could be had quickly provided some backbone would be grown by the Boehners and Mitches**.

*as in 'interested not just for they hay that can be made out of it'.
**and both could join to stab the weaselsnakes Cantor and Ryan with their own poisoned blades.

The problem, IMO, is that the Republican establishment, culturally, has more in common with the left, than it has with its own base.

I would say rather that the GOP establishment (or at least the less conservative parts of it) have more in common with the center than they do with either the GOP base or the Democratic base.

The only way your analysis would be correct is if you hold that the GOP base is further from the center (defined as the position of those who see themselves as moderates, and are at least semi-independent of either party) than the Democratic base is. Are you sure that is correct? Because if it is, the road back for the GOP may be a lot longer than expected.

The problem, IMO, is that the Republican establishment, culturally, has more in common with the left, than it has with its own base.

The bigger problem is that the base, at least as you seem to be defining it, is not sufficiently large to win national election. And that is symptomatic of the abandonment of the more reasonable ground the GOP used to cover - more below.

For the issues where the center is just ambivalent, the better approach is to explain the right position, instead of avoiding it.

The thing is, as soon as people come around to the more reasonable ideas the GOP has to offer, the Democrats become willing to adopt them, which means those ideas then become the wrong ideas and evidence of a desire to destroy America.

People, liberal ones, often complain that the Republicans manage to move the line to the right and that the Democrats move along with it. But the other side to that is that the Republicans have painted themselves into a rhetorical corner, leaving them with a shrinking base, particularly as the demographics of the country are not going their way.

All IMO, of course.

The Democratic base isn't big enough to win national elections either, in case you haven't noticed. You've got to get a fairly large chunk of the center, and hope that Republicans don't turn out, to do that. I mean, you do realize that if they'd run a candidate who was able to enthusiastically turn out Republicans, without alienating the center to a serious degree, (No, this isn't logically impossible.) they'd have won the election just past?

Both parties are limited in the nature of the opponents' positions they can co-opt, by the nature of their own bases. Let's say, for instance, that the GOP manages to start gaining ground, by making a persuasive argument that it's better to be employed in a right to work state, than to be an unemployed union member... That the sort of policy the Democratic party can co-opt? I don't think so.

Part of the problem for the GOP is that their establishment, due to it's cultural differences from the base, does a lousy job of determining which policies it should co-opt, and which policies it should defend. Because frequently they wish they could try co-opting policies which will gain them next to nothing from the center, while seriously alienating the base. While refusing to defend policies where the center actually agrees with their base.

Immigration is a great example of this: There are very few demographic groups in this country among whom amnesty is popular. (Which is why the Dream act went nowhere.) But here the establishment is, trying to use the election as an excuse why they have to embrace amnesty, a policy loathed by their base, and not at all popular with the center.

This is also an example of the fundamental long term stupidity of the Republican establishment: Those demographic changes you cite weren't any accident, they were engineered over several decades, where the federal government relentlessly refused to secure the borders in the teeth of supermajority public opinion in favor of doing so.

And so, they not only lost the votes of people who would have appreciated the border being enforced, they helped Democrats re-landscape the playing field to give themselves a permanent advantage.

They really are "the Stupid party".

The next thing (R)'s are going to have to confront as a reality is that a lot of the people who vote for them actually benefit from our version of the the "welfare state". Their people are going to have to decide if they really want to give up their SS, and Medicare, and Medicaid, and food stamps, not to mention all of the other less obvious ways that federal money finds its way into their pockets.

My counter: The (D's) are going to have to find a way to keep paying for all of the goodies and to avoid competing among themselves by promising more . . . and more . . . and still more. I keep mentioning deficits because they are here and they are real. Do the (D's) have the stones to tell their constituencies that it's time to pull back and get by on less because we are running out of money, there's a limit to what we can borrow and printing money doesn't work?

Once you give someone something on a regular basis, it's hard to pull it back without pissing that someone off. A significant portion of the (D's) constituencies vote, as Russell indicates, for more government outlays.

If you want to know how the (R's) will make a come back, it will when the moderate/centrist left splits off from the dependent/diehard progressive left and joins a fiscally conservative, more socially liberal (R) party (or possibly a new, right of center party, who knows?).

So, you claim it was all a devious plan executed over decades (by Democrats???) to swamp the country with people that one day could be made citizens with a stroke of a pen in order to turn the US into a Dem One Party State?

I keep mentioning deficits because they are here and they are real.

Don't you freaking get it yet, McKinney, that historically Democrats reduce the deficit, and Republicans increase it? Again, please live in a fact-based world for a day or two. You'll find that you like it much better.

The D's have never had any trouble paying for the things they promise to voters. It's the R voters who want something for nothing and the R politicians who promise them that while deliberately creating deficits in order to "drownd the government in the bathtub".

Do the R voters have the stones to acknowledge that the deficit is primarily the fault of their party and their votes? Do red state R voters have the stones to give up their muliplicity of subsidies?

I doubt it. But I don't think that the R party will succeed in decimating the New Deal or the Great Society because voters (even R voters) like those programs and while R politicains have to lie while running for office in ordser to roll back the clock to the Gilded Age they ahve to pass legislation and the legislation reveals who they really are and what they really believe--and that will get them voted out of office.

Actually, I think history shows that, if you're looking for a lower deficit, divided government with a Democratic President and Republican Congress is best. Unified government with Republicans sucks.

But mostly what it shows is that it really helps to have a stock market bubble during your time in office.

Is there a connection between bubbles and government or are they more or less independent of who has the say in DC?
Personally (admittedly being economically illiterate), I'd say bubbles follow a cycle and the main effect of government is the speed of bubble growth and the point when they busrt ort deflate. I think both parties compete in speeding up the bubble growth but the Dems are slightly better at dealing with the results. Both of course hope that the bubble deflates (Dems) or bangs (GOP) on the other party's watch. The donor class profits from both growth and bang, less so from deflation*. As the old saying goes, there is profit in both creation and destruction.

*not in the fiscal sense of the word

If you use the Clinton years as the sole reference point, history supports the notion that deficits fall when a Democrat is in the white house. Which proves nothing and is irrelevant to the present, for those of you who are enamored with facts.

Clinton's 8 years, which ended with a recession (which was no more Clinton's fault than the rest of the economy can be related to his presence, with one exception) featured a steady reduction in the fed's prime lending rate, significant post-cold war defense spending reductions, the dot com boom (followed by the bust) and widespread accounting tricks that over inflated corporate balance sheets, fueling the appearance but not the reality of greater economic growth. Clinton's main policy contribution was that he was a free trader, which made him indistinguishable from his Republican predecessor. Clinton didn't end the cold war, didn't run the fed and didn't invent the internet. He did continue the Bush admin's NAFTA efforts and got that passed.

Again, for the fact/reality-based community, how much have our deficits been these last four years? Over a trillion a year or not? Bringing a 1.3 trillion deficit down to 1.1 for one year doesn't earn anyone a hearty 'well done'. The deficit fell in one year under Bush, and by a much greater percentage. Big deal. Next year the deficit is predicted to be under a trillion. We'll see. The future has a habit of being unpredictable.

The deficits under Bush, btw, were pissant compared to Obama. Here's a link: http://www.davemanuel.com/history-of-deficits-and-surpluses-in-the-united-states.php

Two other factor play into the deficit thing: growth rate and employment rate. Both have been crap these last four years.

If Obama can fix this, kudos and more. How he plans to do so AND fulfill his promises to his constituencies remains to be seen.

Bringing a 1.3 trillion deficit down to 1.1 for one year doesn't earn anyone a hearty 'well done'.

Of course not from you! Compare to Bush II, Bush I and Reagan? Ummm.....

The deficits under Bush, btw, were pissant compared to Obama. Here's a link: http://www.davemanuel.com/history-of-deficits-and-surpluses-in-the-united-states.php

Your link shows that Carter lowered the deficit, the Reagan-Bush I years doubled the deficit, Clinton created a surplus, Bush II turned the surplus into a record deficit and tanked the economy, leaving Obama with a Great Recession - causing large deficits in his first year (largely because of the wars and historically low tax rates on the wealthy) which have been (again!) brought down.

Two other factor play into the deficit thing: growth rate and employment rate. Both have been crap these last four years.

Wonder why that was. Nothing like a Republican-induced Great Recession to give a Democrat something to fix.

If Obama can fix this, kudos and more. How he plans to do so AND fulfill his promises to his constituencies remains to be seen.

Yes it does, thanks to the election!!!!!!!!!

It's interesting that the enthusiasts for a different sort of Republican here are concentrating on the changed economic polices a candidate could have. I think a bigger question is whether the current Republican primary system allows a "moderate" candidate on cultural issues. In particular, would a Republican candidate get nominated if he/she held any one of the three following positions:

1) That creationism is scientifically untrue
2) That gay marriage should be allowed
3) That abortion should be allowed for cases other than rape and incest?

In the UK it is certainly possible to be a successful right-wing politician economically and agree with all these three positions. In the US, as far as I can see, these positions render candidates unacceptable. I don't think Republicans are going to get many independent votes when they prove themselves hostile in this way to science, women and gay people.

Clinton created a surplus

How'd he do that?

Huntsman disqualified himself in the eyes of the base by publicly stating that he believes* in science and (worse!) considers climate change to be real**. That was enough.
---
As for the causes of the recession, I think the Democrats have to share the blame. They may not have been as enthustiastic (on average) about limitless financial deregulation but for the most part did nothing to impede it.

*no religious connotation
**not even (iirc) adding what he thinks about the cause

The original question seemed to be about the structure of selecting a candidate.

A basic part of the problem is that most people don't know much about the candidates at primary time, especially at state level and in non-presidential years. It's hard to motivate people to vote in the primary when they don't have strong feelings about the race. Single-issue and single minded voters have a disproportionate weight in the primaries, which has made governing a big problem for Republicans. Grover Norquist and the NRA, for example, provide very simple criteria for these voters. Perhaps if a group came up with a set of questions to assign a Reason score to each candidate in the primaries, it would provide some counterweight to the crazies. Not holding out a lot of hope here, but trying to address the structure of the problem.

(No, this isn't logically impossible.)

Not logically, no. But practically, yes.

Both parties are limited in the nature of the opponents' positions they can co-opt, by the nature of their own bases.

The question is whether or not they are limited to the same degree, not whether or not they or both limited. But there's already a history to consider, which was more my point. Take the mandate in the ACA as an example. Or cap and trade. Consider the abandonment of scientific knowledge in many areas, often leaving the Democrats looking like the only sane people left in the room.

I'm sorry to have to say this, but the nature of the Republican base is that it includes too many (it's not everyone) religious zealots and bigots and they too often vomit up people with nutty ideas who send everyone outside the base running and screaming (for good reason, no less). And they're creating a generation or two of people who will come of political age thinking "Republicans? Yuck!", and it will continue to affect their thinking for the rest of their lives. Gerrymandering and voter suppression aren't going to be enough to counter this for very long.

At any rate, it appears we simply disagree on the premises of this argument, Brett, so there's little hope we're going to agree on the conclusions.

"Grover Norquist and the NRA, for example, provide very simple criteria for these voters. Perhaps if a group came up with a set of questions to assign a Reason score to each candidate in the primaries, it would provide some counterweight to the crazies."

That's an amusing thought, but I find the notion that an objectively computed "reason" score would make the NRA look bad compared to gun controllers about as hilarious as the notion that it WOULD be objectively computed in practice.

I do0n't think a Reason score would provide a counterweight to the crazies. The Reason crowd are crazies and they know their own pretty well, I think.

BTW it does look like Norquist's strangle hold on the party migh tbe loosening a bit ad this is big news because Norwuist was never about just refusig tax increases. Norquists' goal was to increase deficits to the point that thye could be used as an excuse for gutting New Deal programs such as Medicare and Great Soxiety programs out of existance. If enough Republican politicians stop playig by his playbook then the party will be making a genuine step back from craziess toward the political center.

The deficits under Bush, btw, were pissant compared to Obama. Here's a link: http://www.davemanuel.com/history-of-deficits-and-surpluses-in-the-united-states.php

The last fiscal year of Clinton's office was 2001 (the fiscal year begins a quarter early. The fiscal year 2001 began Oct. 1, 2000, the fiscal year 2009 began Oct. 1, 2008, etc.)

In fiscal 2001, there was a federal budget surplus of 1.3% of GDP. That's how Clinton left things for Bush.

In fiscal 2009, there was a federal budget deficit of 10.1% of GDP. That's how Bush left things for Obama.

In fiscal 2010, the deficit went down to 9% of GDP, in fiscal 2011, it went down to 8.7% of GDP, and in fiscal 2012, which just ended, it went down to 7% of GDP. That's what Obama is trying to do to leave things better for the next guy to take over. Every budget he has signed, the deficit has improved.

Now what some people are going to try to do is to blame the fiscal 2009 budget, which Bush introduced about a year before Obama took office and signed in September of 2008, on Obama. All the appropriations bills that Bush signed throughout 2008, which went on the fiscal 2009 budget, they will blame all that on Obama. The 700 billion dollar bailout bill that Bush signed in fiscal 2009, which Obama later reduced, that's Obama's fault. The 5.8% Social Security COLA announced in October of 2008? Obama's fault. The recession in which the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month by the time Obama took office? His fault. Plummeting tax revenues for the 2008 year? Blame Obama. Aid for automakers, passed in 2008? Put it on Obama's bill if it makes the Bush numbers look better. Housing crisis? Blame it on Obama. Or at least the CRA, right?

It's a thoroughly romulent argument.

Now maybe you don't think presidents have any influence on the budget. But by law, they have to write it up and send it to Congress. And whatever happens to it there, it ends up on the president's desk and he can send it right back to them if he doesn't like it.

If your only choice is between the party of Reagan/Bush and the party of Clinton/Obama, and you make your decision based on fiscal conservatism, and you can do math, you choose Clinton/Obama.

"In fiscal 2001, there was a federal budget surplus of 1.3% of GDP. That's how Clinton left things for Bush."

If you look it up, you will find that the federal debt went up that year. Something that doesn't happen if you *really* have a surplus. As opposed to a smaller deficit made to look like a "surplus" by the sort of accounting the government puts people in prison for when used outside the government.

Having revenue going up because of a stock market bubble, faster than divided government can agree on how to spend it, kind of helps, too.

But I don't think there's any disputing that Bush was a financial disaster. I'd say he spent like a drunken sailor, but drunken sailors are spending their own money. Not a lot of evidence to suggest Republicans are capable of fiscal restraint when they control both elected branches.

So... think the Clinton years were great? Fine, let's get back to Clinton spending levels. I'm seeing a big push to make the "temporary stimulus spending" the new baseline for federal spending, with any reduction from it an outrage. We can't do that, we have to get back down to sustainable spending levels, instead of making a crisis an excuse to permanently enlarge government.

In fiscal 2001, there was a federal budget surplus of 1.3% of GDP. That's how Clinton left things for Bush.

In fiscal 2009, there was a federal budget deficit of 10.1% of GDP. That's how Bush left things for Obama.

Someone's confused about who has budgetary authority.

Someone's confused about who has budgetary authority.

Someone didn't bother read Duff Clarity's entire comment.

Someone didn't bother read Duff Clarity's entire comment.

Someone did, actually. Pretty much all of DC's comment revolves around who is sitting in the Oval office.

Which, as I said, is not really all that relevant.

Someone did, actually.

Ah, you read but did not comprehend. OK. My mistake.

Which, as I said, is not really all that relevant.

I think the President has a significant impact on what sort of budget is eventually passed. As DC explained:

Now maybe you don't think presidents have any influence on the budget. But by law, they have to write it up and send it to Congress. And whatever happens to it there, it ends up on the president's desk and he can send it right back to them if he doesn't like it.

I'm really confused why OMB exists and why it reports to the President. I mean, the President doesn't have any budgetary authority, so what are those people employed doing? Couldn't we save $90 million every year by getting rid of OMB since it doesn't do anything?

"I think the President has a significant impact on what sort of budget is eventually passed."

Does he have impact on whether a budget gets passed? 'Cause it's been a remarkably long time since one got passed. I believe the Senate has entirely given up on even trying.

Does he have impact on whether a budget gets passed?

That depends. Does he have veto power?

"That's an amusing thought, but I find the notion that an objectively computed "reason" score would make the NRA look bad compared to gun controllers about as hilarious as the notion that it WOULD be objectively computed in practice."

Not talking about making the NRA look bad. Just that it not be enough to pass these particular litmus tests while holding whacko positions on science, sex and conspiracies. Publish the list of questions, score the answers, and let voters decide whether those questions make sense to them. Call it a Whackability Index, if Reason seems an over-reach, which it probably is.

Would somebody please explain (for my benefit, if not Brett's) how a Budget Resolution in either House of Congress relates to the appropriations bills which actually go the POTUS for signature or veto? The way I have heard it, it's the appropriations bills which actually authorize The Government to spend money. How does a Senate "budget resolution" affect the price of cheese?

--TP

Just some stuff from Wikipedia:

Prior to 1974, Congress had no formal process for establishing a coherent budget. When newly-elected President Richard Nixon began to refuse to spend funds that the Congress had allocated, Congress needed a more formal means by which to challenge him. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 created the Congressional Budget Office and directed more control of the budget to CBO and away from the President's Office of Management and the Budget. The Act passed easily as the administration was embroiled in the Watergate scandal and unwilling to provoke Congress.
The budget resolution serves as a blueprint for the actual appropriation process, and provides Congress with some control over the appropriations process. No new spending authority, however, is provided until appropriation bills are enacted. A budget resolution binds Congress, but is not a law. It does allow for certain points of order to be made if the President does not follow the resolution. There may not be a resolution every year; if none is established, the previous year's resolution stays in force.

So, you're saying that in 2008 and 2009, Congress appropriated just what Bush proposed in his budget proposal. If not that, then...what?

Because it sure sounds as if you're saying that budget request is approximately equal to budget appropriations is approximately equal to actual spending.

I'm saying that Bush had a significant impact on what budget was eventually enacted. Was Bush the sole decider? No. But he had a significant impact.

If you don't think he did, why are we paying $90 million/year for the OMB? What the hell are they doing for $90 million if the executive office doesn't have a significant impact on budgeting?

Someone's confused about who has budgetary authority.

Someone's confused about what budgetary authority actually means.

The president, by law, has to submit a budget to Congress in January of each year. Then Congress produces a budget resolution using the president's budget as a base, or not. A budget resolution is worth less than toilet paper unless it results in appropriations bills with presidential signatures on them.

Congress can't create one penny of discretionary spending without a president's signature, or an override of a veto, and it can't add one penny of mandatory spending ("entitlements") without a presidential signature, or an override of a veto. All the discretionary spending the federal government does has to be approved every single year, either by a presidential signature or an override of a veto.

What the budget resolution that Congress produces does is provide a bunch of rules for them that supposedly help them pass the appropriations bills that they need to send to the president by the end of September. A budget resolution isn't the law of the land. It's like the resolution you make each January 1 to pay off your credit cards this year.

If the president doesn't like the appropriations bills he can say, "No discretionary spending this year". Congress can either override his veto or the spending gets cut off on October 1. Or he can tell Congress, I'm not signing this, but I'll sign a continuing resolution so spending keeps going on at last year's pace until you get this figured out".

To me that sounds like a hell of a lot of power, and with a hell of a lot of power comes a hell of a lot of responsibility, or as we call it here, blame.

Which is why Bush is to blame for the 10.1% of GDP budget deficit of the fiscal year 2009. He signed the checks.

Are you willing to assign the same amount of responsibility to Obama for $4T in additional debt for the 3 years following that, plus whatever happens in the next 5 years?

Are you willing to assign the same amount of responsibility to Obama for $4T in additional debt for the 3 years following that, plus whatever happens in the next 5 years?

Yes, except that I would praise him for keeping the economy alfoat by deficit spending, rather than making sure Biff could buy a bigger yacht and needlessly obliterating large swaths of Iraq.

I might go into debt to buy a dump truck so I could make money hauling fill, or I could do so to buy sports cars just to crash them into stuff.

Know what I mean?

Are you willing to assign the same amount of responsibility to Obama

You mean do I blame Obama for cutting the budget deficit?

Absolutely, it's one of the reasons I didn't vote for him. In the face of the biggest recession since the 30s he should have been spending more money, not less.

If corporations couldn't create jobs, he should have.

But anyone who voted on the basis of fiscal conservatism voted Democrat, same as it has been since Ike left office.

I remember, not long before the 1992 election, someone looking at recent winning and losing candidates for President and concluded that being a former Governor was the kiss of death.

You mean after former governors had been elected in 1976, 1980, and 1984?

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