Democrats & Liberals Archives

Come on! This should be a No-Brainer.

I mean, really folks: voting for matching revenues to spending, whether there’s substance to it or not, should be an easy measure for Republicans to be bipartisan on. After all, it will restrict government spending, keep those damn Democrats from spending the country into a hole. What’s the upside of a party line vote that can be so easily used to portray Republicans as hypocrites on fiscal matters?

The problem with being the party of no is that it makes you very predictable, and sooner or later, as Democrats have apparently figured out, it can mean that you are forced to say no to some things that common sense and your own principles should have you saying yes to.

Wednesday, with the State of the Union, Barack Obama took advantage of this, rolling out achievements and proposals that Republicans should have been applauding, but couldn't. I got to laughing at how many times the Republicans sat on their hands.

Republicans need to read their Emerson:

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.

But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day. In your metaphysics you have denied personality to the Deity: yet when the devout motions of the soul come, yield to them heart and life, though they should clothe God with shape and color. Leave your theory, as Joseph his coat in the hand of the harlot, and flee.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

The Republicans, with their foolish consistency, their insistence on making every vote a test of purity, have perhaps removed some of their politician's ability to deviate from their precious ideals, but they've also removed from their folks the ability to choose wisely when choosing as such means choosing differently.

We do not see all ends, nor are all our theories correct. Perhaps it's easy to argue to the point of beating the dead horse all the principles you're so fond of having your party adhere to, but in the real world, adherence to the textbook definitions and party-plank bumperstickerisms only leads us down the road of impractical cognitive paralysis. We end up judging right and wrong by litmus tests, rather than results and consequences.

Politics itself, in my mind, is always about the negotiation between the opinions of the American people, and the interests of the country. This can help us, or hurt us. It helps us when by intent or accident, the policies that emerge are in harmony with our true needs and our wisest desires, when it helps us digest the big problems into humanly solveable little ones. It helps us when a deal made allows a good law to move forward past partisan resistance, or that of a special interest. But it can hurt us when people use it as a means simply for arbitrary advancement of themselves or ideas, regardless of what results.

This qualifies here. The Republicans are so intent on completely disclaiming responsibility, on completely hindering the Democractic Party agenda, that they've forgotten that there are pressing, urgent matters other than their own political advancement. The Republicans allowed the legislation I've spoken about here lapse in the earlier part of the last decade. After that, they, not the Democrats, set the momentum for taking the budget off the rails. The staggering increases in national debt and the level of the deficit occured under Bush, whose deficits set records even though his deficits didn't include the yearly expenditures to run the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

This is a sign that the strategy is beginning to backfire. But without a relationship with the voter based on an honest debate on policy, on a quest for practical, good-quality governance, rather than a neverending crusade for a political abstract, the Republicans won't have the room to manuever to do the smart thing, much less the right thing.

Keep that in mind, Republicans and right-wingers out there. Sooner or later the sheer predictability and inflexibility of this approach will give Democrats just enough leverage to break the Republicans down over it. What Americans want out there is not infinitely malleable by word-games and political gambits. Simply saying no all the time to the Democrats means that sooner or later, votes like this one will come up, and enterprising liberals will take the opportunity to make the Republicans regret their no-votes.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at January 29, 2010 6:13 PM
Comments
Comment #294776

Stephen

You have been telling Republicans how to do their business. You want them to jump on the Democratic band wagon. But that wagon is stuck in the mud of corruptions and incompetence.

Today the public prefers Republicans by nine percentage points and among independents Republicans lead by 46% to 24%.

You can still advocate for Democrats, but you don’t speak for “the people” anymore. You speak for the establishment who currently control the government, however, so you might consider not trying to talk like an outsider defending the rights of the people.

Posted by: Christine at January 29, 2010 10:14 PM
Comment #294782

Christine-
Did I touch a nerve?

When you’re finished insulting my party, Tell me why it’s Democrats ALL standing for the principle that programs must be paid for, and tax cuts must be balance by reduce spending. Then tell me why the Republicans are ALL saying no to that.

As for who speaks for the American people, I think the constitution makes that perfectly clear: A President, elected every four, A Couple Senators per state, elected every six, and lastly, between a single, and perhaps dozens of representatives, elected and re-elected every two.

They speak for their country and their states on an ongoing basis until the voters decide otherwise.

If I accepted your premise, I would be a fool. You don’t get to just claim such mandates, you must prove them in an election.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2010 1:18 AM
Comment #294803

Stephen, you accuse Christine of insulting your party, but early in the article, you call the Republicans the “party of no”. I hope you can see why she might take offence

Posted by: Jim Buckley at January 30, 2010 11:50 AM
Comment #294808

Stephen

But you DO accept my premise.That is what you are always arguing for. It is just that you are wrong about the “will of the people.” You want Republicans to do what you want them to. I keep on explaining that they don’t have to. They just have to follow the law; they don’t have to follow the Democrats.

I would refer you to your own posts from 2004-6 about how well elected representatives represent “the people.”

Your own argument in this case contradicts you. I agree that those elected represent the people in that legal sense. Republican senators and representatives were elected by the people of their districts. They have the duty to do what they think is best too. What goes for Republicans also goes for Democrats. That is sort of how democracy works.

I agree that Democrats have the legal and institutional power. They are the establishment. So they cannot pretend to be outsiders fighting “the Man”. Obama is “the Man”.

Please tell me how I “insulted” your party by pointing out an obvious truth that you have pointed out on many occasions.

Posted by: Christine at January 30, 2010 1:56 PM
Comment #294812

Jim Buckley-
I didn’t say she couldn’t insult it. If she dislikes her party being called the party of no, so be it. But she should tell me why it is that her party voted even against the principle of fiscal prudence, even though it’s supposed to be a hallmark of the party’s thinking.

Christine-
Here’s an easy question: why block this? It’s not an especially liberal bit of legislation. It’s very centrist, as a matter of fact. It should appeal to Republicans, given both their recent problems with their image as fiscal stewards, and their concerns about the budget, if they are truly sincere about them.

That’s what grabbed me about this. If compromise is truly what you’re encouraging, then this is just what you’d want to see. If your claim is that Democrats are too liberal for the American people, this is something you should reward, not obstruct. If your claim is that what you’re following is the will of the people, then the question becomes why this is against the will of the people.

This vote, though, just doesn’t make sense in any of those paradigms. It doesn’t even make sense if you want the Republicans to take credit for fiscal prudence. It only make sense if your goal in all this is to just arbitrarily starve the Democrats of positive achievements. Reining in the budget where Republicans could not, or would not would be a positive achievement.

You keep arguing a generalized point here, but I’m telling that the very problem with this tactic is that it’s too generalized to productively work towards your stated goal. There’s too much collateral damage going on, too many things that moderate Americans, or even conservative Republicans would find unobjectionable in many of these policies.

The time has come for you to admit that this is a radical, unprecedented strategy in American history.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2010 3:15 PM
Comment #294813

Mike E-
I am one of the people your party lost with attitudes like yours.

To put it plainly, because the Republicans tried to force their views on everybody, because they pushed their policies, even when their policies were disastrously wrong, I decided that there was no good in being generously compromising with them, unconditionally willing to work with them.

How is it that you expect accommodation that you don’t give?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2010 4:09 PM
Comment #294818

Read back some of your posts Stephen. Talk about trying to push their views on everybody.

Posted by: KAP at January 30, 2010 6:07 PM
Comment #294821

KAP-
There’s a difference between being pushy and stubborn about your opinions, and effectively trying to shut out a democratically elected majority from its ability to pass legislation.

I guess that illustrates the difference in sensitivities here. I complain because my fellow Democrats in Washington are not being allowed by an obstructive minority to carry out their constitutional mandate. You complain because I’m being blunt and advocating fiercely against what you believe in, despite the fact that you are not only free to respond to me in kind, but often have done so, with me both incapable and unwilling to do much to get in your way.

My basic philosophy can be paraphrased from those words from Emerson above: speak in hard words what you believe today, and what you believe tomorrow, speak in equally hard words.

You should differentiate between a crass attempt to deprive people of constitutionally granted power, which can result in the law imposed upon the majority being out of line with its wishes, and somebody simply saying loudly and persistently what you don’t want to hear and don’t agree with.

I can live with having an intense, fierce debate about policy. What I will not stand for is the Republican Party insisting on getting its way whether the voters give them the constitutional power to do so or not.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2010 8:07 PM
Comment #294826

Stephen

Now you are asking a different question. I suspect that Republicans just don’t trust Democrats on Paygo, since it specifically does not include entitlements, which are the big drivers of the budget deficits. Personally, I don’t have a problem with paygo, but I also figure that Democrats will subvert it.

Anyway, Democrats control the whole show. They can do what they want. They don’t have to spend a dime if they don’t want to.

Just for completeness, I did a google search on paygo. I found this.

The PAYGO system was reestablished as a standing rule of the House of Representatives (Clause 10 of Rule XXI) on January 4, 2007 by the 110th Congress:[12] [13][14]

It shall not be in order to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report if the provisions of such measure affecting direct spending and revenues have the net effect of increasing the deficit or reducing the surplus for either the period comprising the current fiscal year and the five fiscal years beginning with the fiscal year that ends in the following calendar year or the period comprising the current fiscal year and the ten fiscal years beginning with the fiscal year that ends in the following calendar year.[15]

Less than one year later though, facing widespread demand to ease looming tax burdens caused by the Alternative Minimum Tax, Congress abandoned its pay-go pledge.[16] The point of order was also waived for the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 which included revenue reducing provisions and increases in spending that increased the deficit, which paygo was designed to prevent. It was again waived in May 2008, upon the consideration of the 2007 U.S. Farm Bill by the House of Representatives. In this last bill, the advocates of the measure claimed that it was in compliance. However, the Rules Committee issued a report indicating at least a technical violation: “While there is a technical violation of clause 10 of rule XXI [paygo], the conference report complies with the rule by remaining budget neutral with no net increase in direct spending.”[17]

It is sort of like the fat man with the donuts again.

Posted by: Christine at January 30, 2010 8:59 PM
Comment #294830

Like I said Stephen your calling the kettle black again. Because one party has a different opinion you call it obstructive and a majority of people in this country I must add. Then your party wants to figure out how to pass HC by any means possible BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR ALL OF US, IMO that’s FORCING YOUR VIEWS ON ALL OF US. Republicans are Republicans, Democrats are Democrats, and Independents are Independents, each has their own IDEOLOGY “LIVE WITH IT.”

Posted by: KAP at January 30, 2010 9:27 PM
Comment #294838

Christine-
Oh, I see, they don’t trust the Democrats.

So, not trusting them, you don’t support their efforts to hold themselves to a standard, who’s every waiver can be made into a political liability?

For the Republicans, supporting pay-go rules has a number of advantages. For one thing, it burnishes the credentials of the party on the subject of fiscal matters. For another thing, it keeps the other party from triangulating like Clinton did. Finally, Democrats can be held accountable for their excesses.

You keep on returning back to the same old tired arguments rationalizing this crud. I begin to wonder what cannot be justified in the name of supporting conservative principles.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 30, 2010 10:48 PM
Comment #294840

Stephen

I think that Clinton’s triangulating produced decent results. I would be content if Obama started doing that.

I support an effective type of paygo and I certainly don’t support 100% of what Republicans do. I am not a member of any party. Republicans screw up a lot. It is just that Democrats screw up more, IMO.

Beyond that, I don’t like it that Republicans have bloated the government, but - again - I see Democrats want to do it more.

IMO politics is generally a necessary evil. I support those who want to have government be leaner, efficient, smaller and less intrusive. If Democrats do that, I will be on their side too.

There are differences among Democrats. That is why Evan Bayh or Jim Webb are better than Harry Reid or Patrick Leahy. Dianne Feinstein is better than Barbara Boxer. Joe Lieberman was a decent Democrat until you guys kicked him out. The biggest problem is that you have that harpy Nancy Pelosi in charge with that crooked Jack Murtha backing her up.

BTW - I have reasonable confidence that the congress will improve in November and better things will happen.

Posted by: Christine at January 30, 2010 11:17 PM
Comment #294846

Christine-
Yes, Clinton’s triangulation sometimes produced decent political results. I was a big fan of triangulation.

But there’s one thing you’re missing: The Democrats triangulated because they were the less popular party. Now, you expect them to behave the same way when people want their agenda more than the Republicans. Some Democrats still try to triangulate, despite this fact, and since they were doing so out of a majority that otherwise might have been able to get things done, they are despised. The relevant question is, like you’ve posed so many times, if we’ve got sixty, what do we need the Republicans for? Compromising like they’ve been compromising ground the process to a halt, lost us support with the public.

I know you cite polls to tell me that Democrats shouldn’t tackle Healthcare Reform, but recall that I’m pretty aware of where polls generally are, and what I know about where the polls were at the beginning of the year, when Republicans started this, is that the Republican positions were lower.

The Republicans had to mount a campaign of dragging Democrats down to get those poll numbers. They were not naturally there for the most part. Even then, most of the key components of the Democrat’s healthcare plan still poll well, in plurality or majority, especially the Public Option, and the Medicare buy-in. So the picture you paint, of a public revolt against healthcare reform, is an oversimplification, not to mention misleading.

Additionally, I don’t think the Republicans badmouthed healthcare on legitimate grounds. Frankly, I think they lied about it, to get those negative poll results, and I can site multiple cases to back my argument here. And I won’t let you forget the poll numbers I found a while back that indicate that folks think that the current bill in the Senate doesn’t go far enough.

So why should we triangulate with the Republicans? First, there’s no compromise position. We’d have to virtually let them write the legislation. What’s the point of being the majority if we have to do that? Would you suffer the same indignity, of having to let every bill be written by the Democrats to have it passed?

Heck, if this keeps up, that may be your eventual fate, if this plan is successful. But if that was what voters wanted, wouldn’t they have voted in a more even split, wouldn’t they have dialed back rather than dialed up the Democratic Party Majority? You can spin it all you want to, but in the face of the first two years of Republican Obstruction, from the White House and the Senate, the voter’s response was to increase the majority in the Senate and put a Democrat in the White House. If we were reading this without a whole bunch of rationalization, I’d say the country was saying that it wanted a change from Republican Policy, a change the Republicans have yet to allow for the most part for ideological and political reasons.

But you folks won’t compromise or triangulate. In fact, you’re punishing people who compromise, who triangulate. You’re discouraging it, in the name of a purist philosophy that demands that people give you what you want, even when you’re not in position from which majority rules would give it to you naturally.

Have you considered that this hard-headed approach towards those outside the party is what got your people in trouble in the first place? You wouldn’t acknowledge other’s points of view, or let the government try other methods, and as things got worse, the tensions working against your party got worse themselves, until such point as America finally resolved that tension.

Then, your party tried its luck with that again, raising the stridence of your message even more, and working in Congress and the White House to stop the Democrats cold, keep change from occurring.

That tension got resolved in 2008.

I don’t think that Americans have suddenly taken that hard of a shift to the right, and I don’t think they were simply in some delirium in 2008. I think the Republican party is perhaps in a stronger position than it was at it’s low point in 2008, but at the expense of having yet again put itself in tension with what American really want, and I think if push comes to shove, Republicans will not fare well, even if they damage the Democrat’s prospects.

I think the Republican Party has in fact raised the level of tensions between their politics, and what the rest of the country really wants. Have you not noticed the increasing harshness of your party’s appeals, much less the comprehensive resistance?

Republicans had the advantage last year that Healthcare Reform was something the Democrats chose to address, rather than being forced into being addressed by public sentiment. But will they be able to filibuster a jobs bill with the same impunity?

Or put another way, do you want Obama to be able to get up on that podium, and passionately denounce the Republican’s opposition to putting a jobs bill to an up and down vote? That is the price of being the party of no, the party that simply tries to deny everything that the other party wants. What I’ve been trying to tell you is that sooner or later, this inflexible approach on the Republican’s part is going to leave them having to oppose something that they’re better off not opposing.

And in fact, Democrats can already, and already have crowed at the fact that the Republicans are so relentlessy contrarian, that they’ll even oppose a bill that is arguably in their political best interests to support.

If the Republicans cannot be a party of compromise, then every day the Democrats remain in power, they’ll be more and more vulnerable to having to say no to these kinds of things, because the Democrats have noticed the pattern, and there are a number of things they can vote for as a party that will not be objectionable to the average person.

The less what the Republicans oppose makes sense to oppose, the more the tension develops between their assertion that this is a principled stand they’re taking, and the reality that it’s a political tactic that they’re employing.

When it becomes clear that the Republicans are blocking everything, even bills like this, The American people will want to know why, and they won’t necessarily buy into your sentiment that it’s all for their own good.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 31, 2010 8:44 AM
Comment #294850

Stephen

You were the one who implied that the Republicans should avoid situations were triangulation was possible. Now you say that Democrats wouldn’t/shouldn’t do it anyway.

Your argument betrays partisanship of the most virulent kinds. You say triangulation was good when Democrats were weaker, but now that they are stronger they can force their will. Substitution is the test of fairness. Substitute the names and see if you think it makes sense.

The Democrats do not have the mandate for change that they thought they did last year. Good. If you think they have it, fine. We will see how that works out. One thing you cannot do is pretend to be speaking truth to power.

The fact is that the Democrats are more powerful in Congress than any Republican has been since Warren G. Harding. If they cannot run the show with all that, they are just incompetent. President Obama is THE MAN. He cannot run against the establishment, since he IS the establishment.

Obama is driving the car and the Democrats are in the front seat. Yet they continue to complain that the Republicans in the back seat are running the show. Does that really make sense to you?

Democrats ran on NOT being Bush. Indeed they are not. But there is no much there beyond that. It looks like the complaint that Obama was not up to the presidency for lack of experience was also valid. Maybe he will learn on the job.

Posted by: Christine at January 31, 2010 9:44 AM
Comment #294853

Christine-
Triangulation is what you do to take advantage of a political situation that isn’t in your favor. Democrats have one of the best political situations possible, at least numbers-wise.

It would only suit our purpose to compromise for the sake of reducing tensions if we could serve our own purposes as well. But what the Republicans demand is that the Democrats essentially vote Republican policies in. That will not fly with their constituents.

But if Republicans were more willing to compromise, then compromises in return would be more fruitful.

You got me wrong, really. I’m not by nature unwilling to compromise when I feel it necessary and productive. I was willing to go along with the Iraq war once Colin Powell made his convincing case. It was only when it became clear that a terrible mistake had been made on the intelligence that I regretted that decision, and only after the failure of Bush’s policies that I started advocating against those policies.

But even then, I still advocated for victory, and the changes in policies necessary to get it, until I lost hope that we could calm the situation down there with force of arms. And even then, I wanted America to leave the Iraq war in the most responsible manner possible.

If I am a partisan, I’m not so much a Democratic Party partisan, as I am Partisan of getting things done and problems solved in a practical manner. I argue with Republican supporters of that dangerous and obnoxious blockade of congressional action, just as I argue with liberal supporters of killing the Healthcare Reform bill in Congress.

I make exceptions for political frippery only as long as it helps to get things done.

And the Republican Party right now is ****ing all that up. That’s why I’m so bitterly opposed to them. We have had one of the most serious economic disasters of modern times, and these people still don’t get that there are mistakes to resolve. They’re still so wrapped up in pure partisanship that even common sense fixes get held hostage to their vain dreams of taking back the majority from the Democrats.

I find it a lot harder than I used to to keep calm. I once believed that Republicans would realize that under their policies, everything that they promised would go wrong under the Democrats has instead gone wrong under them. We’re having to bail out the banks now because Republicans, and those who triangulated with the Republicans let Wall Street do what it wanted. Now I can accept some compromises, compromises that allow people to believe on solid grounds that they haven’t been cut out of the process. I can even accept, if you look at the Senate Bill I support, serious compromises of policy in order to get it passed. I did not blame Obama for his patient attempts to reach out to Republicans.

The one thing I cannot tolerate is the continuation of a known mistake. The Republicans seem to do nothing but that, having painted themselves into a corner with their supporters. That is why I am so fiercely opposed to your party now. Can you understand that for me, impractical politics is hard enough to stomach, without adding the element of the stubborn refusal to turn from error?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 31, 2010 11:05 AM
Comment #296648

What an amazing partisan dissertation on how the author is not a partisan!

How is it that only the Republicans have a “…..continuation of a known mistake…”? But of course any liberal policy that is not working is not a mistake; it just needs more tax money, more regulations, maybe a few bans and mandidates tossed in. You know, to make people “want” to do things!

Don’t you just love how liberals make us want to do the right thing? By either banning any other option or taxing it so much that you can only afford to “want” to do what a liberals things you should!

Liberals seem to confuse wanting to do something, with being forced to do something!

It seems liberals think that allowing people to actual have freedom of choice is a “…continuation of a known mistake”.

Posted by: Heather at March 3, 2010 7:14 PM
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