Brian Beutler reports that Democrats are going to focus on "jobs, jobs, jobs" in order to woo back voters. The only problem is that the first "jobs" bill, the stimulus package, is popularly considered a bust, even though it's been very successful at saving and creating jobs.
Democrats didn't defend the stimulus going in - remember how it almost lost because everyone just assumed it would pass - and they didn't defend it from withering GOP attacks after it passed until it was too late. Now, the conventional wisdom in the public is that the stimulus bill was a massive pork boondoggle that didn't create one job, even though it actually created a ton. Of course, it didn't create enough jobs, but Stiglitz and Krugman warned about that at the time the bill was passed - the bill wasn't big enough, and even then 40% of it was inexplicably devoted to useless tax cuts.
The question now is, how do Democrats focus on jobs in a way that provides results this year (aka pre the 2010 elections) when to do so means passing a second massive stimulus package - something the Democrats are loathe to do, and the public is loathe to accept, because Democrats didn't defend it the first time? Even worse, as Krugman noted the other day, because the first bill was too weak, its effect wasn't great enough, and people now mistakenly think that stimulus bills don't work at all.
There's been a lot of screwing up since day one last January. And every screw up has larger ramifications that come together and cause larger problems later on. The mistakes of the first stimulus package and its aftermath are now impacting our ability to show real jobs growth before November, and thus impacting our electoral prospects as well. It's all tied together.
Before we look at moving on, let's just remember what got elected in Massachusetts last night:
Now it has happened. Massachusetts voters have turned Senator Ted Kennedy?s seat over to the GOP. [...]
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Muse in the MorningSprouting(Click on image for larger view)Another graphic inside... HornsThe muses are ancient. The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them. Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and[...]
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Wow. I'm not sure what to make of this. Though it clearly sounds like House progressives aren't willing to simply pass the Senate bill and be done with it.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said any hope for a compromise between House and Senate health care reform legislation is dead following his state's election of a GOP senator last night.Great, back to President Snowe again. There is another option. We get rid of the filibuster once and for all, and pass this sucker. I've been very tepid on the notion of getting rid of the filibuster, but at this point, the GOP has made clear that they plan on filibustering everything - and the Democrats intend on letting them - and that is not the way it was intended to be used. At the very least, perhaps there is a way to water down the filibuster, significantly, so that it can't be used endlessly. I remember reading that such an option was being discussed.
"I think the measure that would have passed, that is, some compromise between the House and Senate bill, which I would have voted for, although there were some aspects of both bills I would have liked to see change, I think that's dead," Frank said in an interview Wednesday morning on Sirius-XM Radio. "It is certainly the case that the bill that would have passed, a compromise between the House and Senate bills, isn't going to pass, in my judgment, and certainly shouldn't."
.... Meanwhile, Frank said health care legislation should go back to square one, and that prospect offers hope of finding a bipartisan solution.
"We are back to where we were maybe even years ago. That is, there is now no bill that I believe can pass or should pass," he said. But, he added, Dems may find a newly willing ally in Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the only Senate GOPer to vote in favor of any health care legislation. "Sen. Snowe may be willing to work now with her Democratic colleagues, and maybe 3, 4, 5, 6 other Republicans would be, to try and put something together. If that's not the case, and Sen. Snowe and others aren't for some fairly significant changes, then we'll go into the election with the health care status quo."
A year ago today we were all celebrating the Inauguration of President Barack Obama! It was probably the most exciting thing I have ever been part of-millions of Americans, Democrats like you and me, were watching history being made, and all of us had played a part in electing this new president.
A year from now, South Carolinians will have a new governor-and you and I can again have a role in making history. Will you join me in working to elect a governor who will put our state back on the right track?
South Carolina desperately needs a fresh start under a Democratic administration. For 20 of the last 24 years we have had a Republican governor, and we all pay the price for their refusal to lead the state into the future.
As the Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, I spend every day working to build an organization to give our candidates the support they need to win in November. I know we will never have as much campaign money as the Republicans, but we can win anyway with the commitment of time and donations from Democrats like you.
Will you help? To have the resources we need to elect Democrats we must double the number of members of our Yellow Dog Club. Yellow Dogs are the dedicated Democrats who give at least 10 dollars a month to the SC Democratic Party. If you can do this from now through the election you'll make a real difference-join by clicking here.
You can also help by volunteering-click here to let us know you're willing to pitch in.
And you can make a one-time contribution to our efforts by clicking here.
A year ago today we knew President Obama was going to make this country a better place. Now we in South Carolina are more aware than ever that our president can't do it alone-he needs other elected officials to help him get the job done. We can do our part by electing Democrats who will work with him to put our state and nation on the right track.
You can do your part by clicking here to join the Yellow Dog Club and let our candidates know you're serious about helping them.
In Politico's ironically titled, post-election headline, "Forces of change now target Obama," the authors conclude by quoting Scott Brown's ironical pollster, Neil Newhouse: " 'Change,' he gloated, 'can go both ways.' "
Yes, Neil, they can. But of greater, if somewhat deferred, gloat is that I suspect you're about to learn, on behalf of your one-term boss, that change can exceed the twofold limits of "both" by finding a raucously bumpy Third Way, Obama-style.
Earlier in the Politico piece, the foreshadowing was cast: "Is the Massachusetts humiliation a sign that Obama and congressional Democrats should embrace the inevitability of mortal conflict with Republicans and respond with a sharper, and more combative policy and political message?"
To me, as well as to the White House, I imagine, that question verges on the rhetorical. Because I tend to instinctively channel Obama's brand of practical politics, the most practical option left open to Obama, it seems, is, ironically, the fiery populism of FDR's 1936 campaign, laden as it was with bottom-up denunciations of "economic royalists."
In populism there is often more sound and fury than monumental and imminent change -- here, my realistic instincts suffer not, despite my proddings toward a more inherently unrealistic stance -- but what choice does President Obama have?
In Washington's arena of "mortal conflict," Republicans have been chasing Democrats all around the field. While the former have been slashing away with political machetes, the latter have responded with kid gloves. Now -- although retaliation in kind may not protect or preserve their congressional majorities -- Democrats, led by the president, must remove the gloves and begin slashing back.
It's that, or curtains for sure.
The electorate is beyond seething; the indisputable moment has come -- rather, has been thrust and presented -- for the Democratic Establishment to match the body politic's temperature in both heated words and every attempted deed. The conspicuous target: Wall Street. The collateral casualties: Republicans who defend it.
In this, real populist change is indeed possible; even moderate to conservative Democratic pols would have no trouble justifying an intensely anti-Wall Street record to the angrily unemployed in 2010. In fact, a radically populist, left-leaning shift could save the former's jobs.
What's more, Wall Street's customary political-finance boodle should prove of little alternative attraction to thinking conservative Dems, since next time around the electorate's anger undoubtedly will outweigh corporate, special-interest campaigns. Dems of all stripes should welcome Wall Street's hatred, since what it "really complain[s] of," as FDR thundered in '36, "is that we seek to take away their power."
Beyond that, however, real and aggressive change -- in terms of instant job creation -- will be an impossibly hard fiscal nut to crack. After what Republicans will charge was a (merely attempted?) $1 trillion spending spree on health-care reform, plus an $800 billion stimulus package in the bag, in addition to a stratospheric deficit and entombing national debt, congressional Democrats must settle for sound and fury.
Perhaps by the end of 2010 voters will forget the organic reason why: the Dems' exclusive obsession with health-care reform. Nevertheless, Dems can remind voters -- lots of sound, belching fury -- that it was Republicans who favored tax cuts over outright job creation in 2009.
As precise truth and accuracy in political history go, this would fail as an exemplary moment. But, like Republicans, Democrats in 2010 will have to go heavy on the creative politics and light on the real history.
In conclusion I return to a Politico passage of insight: "Brown?s campaign was notable for how it embraced many of the same rhetorical themes that Obama himself used. He ran on the same talk of change and the same disgust with the establishment that carried Obama to power.... But Brown's message was tinged less with hope than with anger."
Translation: Congressional Democrats and President Obama must, in an inexorable exercise of mortal combat, redirect that anger toward Do-nothing Republicans, in the 1948 style of FDR's successor as well.
Good thing that whole filibuster-proof majority was used so boldly and efficiently.[...]
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I'm not talking about your Bayhs and Liebermen; I mean actual Democrats. Before the voting ended, perhaps anticipating the inevitable, Alan Grayson (D-FL) hit the nail right on the head without gratuitously mentioning any names. In a follow-up to his HuffPo OpEd of a few days ago, he said we need a "different kind of Congress."
What we HAVE now is government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists.
What we WANT now is government of the people, by the people, and for the people... We want our elected officials to spend their time seeking solutions for ordinary people-- jobs, health care, education, energy, and so on. Instead, so many of them spend all their time groveling for $5000 PAC checks from their true masters, the lobbyists. But you've spelled out the alternative.
And that alternative has a name: People Power. The power to fuel a political campaign with small contributions, phone calls, knocks on the door, and even bumper stickers. Lobbyists can't match that.
Together, we are creating and demonstrating a whole new paradigm of government. A government in which our elected officials know that their best shot at reelection is not catering to lobbyists and selling favors, but rather helping people, inspiring people, and leading people toward a better life for all.
One year after President Obama's historic election, we have lost the seat of Senator Ted Kennedy and have seriously jeopardized his life's work of seeing that all Americans have access to health care. Back-room political dealing in the Senate delayed this bill, weakened this bill, and tarnished it in the eyes of the American people. The message to Democrats is clear. People have had enough of establishment politics on both sides... The people are looking for a new generation of accountable leadership. We must do what we were elected to do: get rid of the old politics of Washington and the Senate and get to work for America's working families.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said late Tuesday that much of the Democrats' loss in Massachusetts should be chalked up to their candidate, Martha Coakley.
Wasserman Schultz, in some of the most direct on-the-record comments blaming Coakley, noted Democrats have a good special election history and laid the blame at the feet of Coakley.
"Quite a bit of this loss can be attributed to the campaign," Wasserman Schultz said on MSNBC. "The buck stops with the candidate, at the end of the day."
"We started out from the place that the White House said, ?We?ll accept anything. If you get 60 votes, we?ll take anything,?" Weiner told reporters. "There was a basic decision made to let the Senate write this bill in any way they thought they could to get 60 votes without any true, muscular leadership on the part of the White House," Weiner told reporters.
"Their argument has been, 'This is only way we get 60, okay?' Well, now we have 59. So, thank you," Weiner said.
Weiner, a liberal who has been critical of the healthcare legislation's steady move toward the political center in recent months, lashed out Obama for not fighting for a proposal to create a government-run public option insurance program and suggested the president is out of touch.
"There was a moment in late August, early September where public option was going up and the president?s numbers were going down because the American people learned for themselves what they wanted and were disappointed that they didn?t have a president leading," Weiner said.
Congress should walk away from the entire healthcare reform campaign, Weiner contended. "It?s not the end of the world. Look, we can come back to healthcare," he said. "It wouldn?t be the worst thing in the world to step back and say, look, we?re going to pivot to do a jobs thing. We?re going to try to include some healthcare pieces in it."
Unfortunately, the Republicans were able to craft Brown's campaign as an insurgent struggle for the working people against ever-intrusive big government. All they had to do was point their finger at overnight bank bail-outs & mandated private health insurance, then scream about corporate welfare and attacks on individual freedoms. Too many Democrats stayed home, no longer energized by the possibility of change, only deflated by the politics of appeasement. We need the Democratic leadership to keep the keys to our treasury, rather than allow the banking, health insurance, and big pharmaceutical interests to raid it under the banner of the Democratic Party. If we stand for the people, the people will stand with us. Campaigns for progressive congressional challengers offer the greatest promise for re-energizing the base and mobilizing Democrats to vote in mid-term elections.
Washington faces the danger of drawing the wrong conclusions, of believing that the current Democratic Party leadership must abandon a progressive agenda for labor rights and immigration reform and, instead, bow to the most reactionary forces in American politics. Quite the contrary. The Party must redefine itself as the voice of working people, of immigrants, of women, of the populist.
On a practical level, the Democrats need Plan B for providing quality and affordable health care. Where is the other bill? I keep waiting for it-- for the alternative that isn't 2,000 or 3,000 pages, but just a simple paragraph or sentence: Expand Medicare to begin at age 55... and require health insurance companies to drop pre-conditions.
On the economic front, now is not the time for retreat but for a strong offensive against unemployment. We need a Green New Deal, something along the lines of the WPA during the Great Depression; a new incarnation to fix our infrastructure, develop renewables, and construct mass transit. For the Democrats to bounce back, they need to put America back to work.
Last night, we Democrats lost the U.S. Senate seat that had been held for nearly five decades by America's Senator, Ted Kennedy, and his brother, John F. Kennedy, before him. Shame on us.
Shame on us for not more actively highlighting the many areas where we Democrats help America's working families. We are the party that wants to reform healthcare. We are the party that wants to provide quality education to all children. We are the party that respects the rights of all Americans-- women, GLTB, and minorities. We are the party that demands the rule of law, even in the face of horrendous enemies.
We are the majority party, no matter what any single election might show. We need to exercise our majority power so that the Americans who benefit by our policies will fully understand which party is consistently waging the fight on their behalf. We need to ensure all Americans understand there is only one party, the Democrats, who are on their side.
The election of Scott Brown as the junior senator from Massachusetts will result in many Democratic philosophical quandaries. We should never, though, come to the conclusion that Progressive politics suffered a defeat. As our friend, Alan Grayson, has declared "If the only choice the people have, is between a Republican and a make-believe Republican, the voters will always pick the real deal." We have to continue to press our Progressive agenda, as it is the only way America will move forward to truly fulfill America's mandate as the "glimmering city on the hill."