During the ABC's "This Week" Roundtable Sunday, in an attempt to belittle the latest excellent job creation numbers to come out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (236,000 jobs created in February), Conservative fanboy George Will made the following incredibly clueless observation:
WILL: If the workforce participation rate were as high today as it was just 12 months ago, the unemployment rate would be 8.3 percent. If the workforce participation rate were as high today as it was when Mr. Obama was inaugurated, the unemployment rate would be over 10 percent.
Think about that statement for a moment. Will is actually arguing that job growth under Obama... growing at a rate of more than twice what is needed just to keep up with population growth, and actually produced a 0.2% decline in the Unemployment Rate last month... isn't growing fast enough to make up for the economic catastrophe created prior to President Obama taking office, and therefore is a failure. According to the Fox "business" Channel, jobless claims are actually on the decline.
And sooooo... what? We should return to the GOP economic policies that created the disaster in the first place?
For reference, by this point in Bush's presidency, the unemployment rate had gone from 4.2% the month he took office to 5.4% in March of 2005 following the longest post-war economic expansion of the 20th century and two consecutive balanced budgets under President Clinton (by contrast, unemployment has fallen under President Obama from 7.8% to 7.7% following the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and a $1.4 TRILLION dollar Deficit).
In a move as predictable as Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, Democrats are using Social Security scare tactics to gain ground before the November election. President Barack Obama is not only tolerating this classic old politics maneuver by his party — he is leading the charge.
Amid a flurry of Democratic Party news releases and press conferences warning voters that Republicans are targeting Social Security for destruction, the President devoted his radio and Internet address last week to commemorating the 75th anniversary of the signing of the law that created the program. He cautioned that "some Republican leaders in Congress don't seem to have learned any lessons" from the past and are "pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress." This familiar refrain might indeed help the Democrats limit their midterm losses, but Obama's involvement shows that on this issue he is putting party before bipartisanship and that he sometimes can be tone-deaf to the human element required to change Washington's acid culture.
Make no mistake, if the Democrats lose big in November, it will be because they failed to recognize the world they live in, the world so clearly and simply revealed by Ms. Egwuekwe's data presentation. And if they lose big, they will do so in the name of "pragmatism", "political realism", "post-partisanship", "consensus" and the like. They will lose spectacularly in the name of fighting against "polarization" and "ideological rigidity" and in the name of "mov[ing] beyond the tired debates between right and left," as President Obama said in announcing the resumption of off-shore oil drilling, "Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again."
In short, if they lose big in November, they will do it because they are utterly clueless, utterly indifferent to the suffering of tens of millions of Americans who put their faith in them. If the Democrats lose big in November, it will be because they totally deserved it for dereliction of duty.
Here's a brief CNN interview with Egwuekwe from December:
How can the Democrats win in November? Start by replacing Larry Summers with LaToya Egwuekwe. Then go out and find a dozen more just like her--or as close as you can get.
This is exactly what I've experienced. Take, for example, the ongoing unemployment benefits debacle. Two million people just lost their benefits, while Congress sits on their hands.
ME to local Congressional staffer: What's going on with the unemployment benefits?
STAFFER: We have nothing to do with that, we passed it and the Senate didn't.
ME: Yes, but you still have constituents affected by this. What are your plans to pressure the Senate and help push it through?
STAFFER: Let me put you through to your Senate office. [Ringgg.]
STAFFER2: Can I help you?
ME: Yes, my unemployment ran out and I'm calling to find out if there's legislation to add another tier of benefits.
STAFFER2: Let check that. (On hold for ten minutes.) I just checked, and we haven't really looked at what's in the legislation.
ME: So two million people just lost their benefits and you haven't looked at the legislation? Nice. Thanks for your help.
I was talking to a well-known blogger last night and was bitching about this. "How is it that the Democrats aren't on the offense about this?"
He said something about how hard it was to "coordinate the messaging, get everyone on the same page..."
"Yeah, but that's my point," I said. "Why should anyone have to coordinate outrage over this many people out of work with no benefits? No one should have to tell them to do that, and the fact that they don't seem to care is why we lose elections."
Jake Tapper on This Week interviews David Axelrod on the healthcare bill, pushing the right-wing narrative that people don't want this bill. Axelrod responds that when you push on into the details, the public supports the things this bill does:
TAPPER: David, pluralities, if not majorities of the American people do oppose this bill. Doesn't he have a point?
AXELROD: Well, first, let me note that Senator Brown comes from a state that has a health care plan that is similar to one that we are trying to enact here, and that people in his state are overwhelmingly in support of it. He voted for it and said he wouldn't repeal it. So we're just trying to give the rest of America the same opportunities that the people of Massachusetts have to get health insurance at a price they can afford.
This bill is important to the American people, Jake, and when you get underneath the numbers and you ask people, do you support giving people more leverage against insurance companies so that they -- if they have preexisting conditions, they can get coverage, so if they get sick, they don't get thrown off, so they don't have these huge premium increases of the sort we've just seen announced in states around the country, they say yes. When you say, do you want to give small businesses and people who don't have insurance through the job the chance to get insurance in a competitive marketplace where they can get it at a price they can afford and give them tax credits to help them do that, they say yes. And when you say, should we reduce the overall costs of the health care system over time, they say yes.
But that's the program. That's the plan. And it is important to the American people that we have the fortitude to go ahead against it, to leave the politics aside, to leave the partisanship aside, to resist the special interests and get the job done.
TAPPER: But according to polls, the American people do not agree with what you think--
AXELROD: The polls are split, Jake. I mean, one of the interesting things that has happened in the last four or five weeks is that if you look at -- if you average together the public polls, what you find is that the American people are split on the top line, do you support the plan? But again, when you go underneath, they support the elements of the plan. When you ask them, does the health care system need reform, three quarters of them say yes. When you ask them, do you want Congress to move forward and deal with this issue, three quarters of them say yes. So we're not going to walk away from this issue.
Sen. Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat prominently mentioned in connection with the White House in recent years, is ready to announce he won't seek re-election, saying he's fed up with Congress.
"To put it in the words most Hoosiers can understand: I love working for the people of Indiana, I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress," Bayh said in comments prepared for an announcement later Monday in Indianapolis. His statement was obtained by The Associated Press from a Democratic official who declined to be named publicly.
Bayh's departure continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Democrats Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Patrick Kennedy of Mass. The announcements have sprung up in rapid-fire fashion amid polls showing a rising anti-incumbent fervor and voter anger over Washington partisanship, high unemployment, federal deficits and lucrative banking industry bonuses.
Sen. Evan Bayh's exit gives Republicans a prime pick-up opportunity. Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R) is running for the seat. Bayh was leading Coats by 20 points (55% to 35%) in a recent Research 2000/DailyKos poll.
Republicans now have Senate pick-up opportunities in at least eight states -- Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, and North Dakota.
To take back control of the Senate, Republicans will need to gain a net of 10 seats.
Democrats have pick-up opportunities in at least three states -- New Hampshire, Ohio, and Missouri.
Democrats have been hammering Coats for his residence, his lobbying and more. And a Democratic official says Bayh was ahead.
"They polled last week and were way ahead of Coats," the official said, adding that petitions were due tomorrow and the Bayh campaign's "were all done."
The decision "must have been a last minute, personal decision."
As for who could run to replace Bayh, look to Reps. Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill. Democrats are working to convince either -- both of whom represent swing districts in the Southern part of the state. Ellsworth, the former Vanderburgh County sherriff, is seen by some observers as, potentially, the strongest Democratic candidate. Hill is a former Indiana high school basketball star.
Also, look to see if Rep. Mike Pence on the Republican side reverses course and decides to jump into the race now.
While the other cable-news networks ran President Obama's conversation yesterday with House Republicans in its entirety, Fox News cut in midway -- particularly as it was becoming startlingly clear that Obama was making eminent sense and scoring Republicans for the phony "solutions" they keep throwing up to counter his health-care proposals.
Best of all, Fox's Trace Gallagher immediately leapt in with a popular GOP talking point -- namely, that Obama was "lecturing" the congressmen:
Gallagher: The President at times being a little bit combative, and supporting -- I mean, he did acknowledge a couple of mistakes along the way, but much like he did in the State of the Union, has very much held firm to the beliefs in what his administration has done.
I want to bring in the host of Special Report, Bret Baier, he's with us now. He has watched along with us. And the Republicans, before they went into this session had said, you know, we don't want to be lectured by the president. There was a little bit of lecturing there, and the president was a little bit combative at times.
Baier: Yeah, a little bit of that, Trace, but I also thought there was a decent, good give and take on the specifics.
Just remember: All the partisanship at Fox is on their "opinion" shows. Their news shows always play it straight and objective. Or, ah, fair and balanced.
Amanda Terkel at Think Progress points out that Fox then turned to Rep. Peter King, who then slagged Obama, for the duration of the event. She has screen shots of the other networks during that same time period.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Wednesday ripped the Senate's "newest members" for the lack of comity in the upper chamber.
In a floor speech Wednesday night, Dodd said there is "nothing wrong" with partisanship, but added he has "been deeply disturbed by some of the [healthcare] debate I have heard, usually from newer members, usually those who have been here one, two, three years, who do not have an appreciation of what this chamber means and how we work together."
Dodd did not name names, and spokesmen for the Connecticut senator did not respond to requests for comment.
[...] During his speech on Wednesday, Dodd repeatedly revisited his disappointment with the newest members of the Senate: "It is always the newest members who fail to understand how the Senate has worked for more than two centuries. We need to get back to that sense of civility once again ... Even though we have had very strong disagreements, I never once in my life in this chamber ever questioned the patriotic intentions of any member ... the idea you challenge another's patriotism, honesty, their integrity, does a great disservice to this institution, in my view."
He later added, "Again, I regret sometimes the newer members who fail to understand the importance of maintaining that which our Founders envisioned when they created this institution."
Yes, Sen. Dodd, the same Founders who were so angry over their treatment by the crown that they started a violent revolution were certainly much more concerned about manners. Tarring and feathering was simply an elaborate social ritual!
Sen. Dodd is upset about this, and rightfully so. It seems that Sen. Al Franken has this upsetting habit of demanding information from Republicans, and even mocking them when they evade him. One of them apparently went whining to Sen. Dodd and asked him to chastise the horrid Franken.
In case you didn't know, rudeness about political ideology that destroyed this country is on a par - nay, far exceeds the misdeeds of those questioned.
Despite the current constitutional crisis, despite the abandonment of every principle that truly made us the land of the free, the Beltway contingent still believes the problem is merely one of etiquette.
But really, who am I to argue? Maybe they have something here. I’m partial to something I once read in a Regency novel (Jane Austen, I believe). When a societal outcast whose behavior was quite beyond the pale was presumptuous enough to present his hand to you in public, the proper response was to extend to him or her only your pinky.
Get it? You’re such a lowlife, you’re not even deserving of a handshake! I spit on your vileness – in the most polite possible way! I fling my pinky at the likes of you!
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this just might work. Think about it: You’re at a Georgetown cocktail party, and Alberto Gonzales is making small talk by the shrimp bowl. “Your name?” he says, extending his hand.
This is the man who’s decimated the Bill of Rights, mind you. What to do? Do you rip off your shirt, revealing a Code Pink T-shirt and embarrassing the rest of the guests with your sheer crassness – or do you extend your pinky? (Oh, I think you already know the answer.)
Say you’re at a speakers panel somewhere and someone invited Donald Rumsfeld. You’re in the receiving line afterward and you’re getting a little weirded out, yes? Well, you have a few options here. Think it through: If you get into a loud shouting match over the seemingly pointless deaths of soldiers and civilians in Iraq, or threw a vial of pig’s blood on his French handmade shirt, what real impact will you have? (Not to mention, it’s terribly déclassé.) Rummy will just tune you out and everyone else will pretend they didn’t hear you.
Ah, but if you extend your pinky, you’ve said it all – in the most genteel way possible.
Yes, while we may eventually live in a nation of radically reduced liberties, a broken economy and a state of perpetual war, we will have the satisfaction of knowing when the going got rough, we didn’t descend to their level.
We did the right thing. We extended our pinkies, thus earning the thanks of a grateful Village.
Or if that doesn't appeal to you, Sen. Dodd, you could always tell your lobbyist friends to go screw them themselves and vote on behalf of the taxpayers... just kidding!
Hell has officially frozen over. After more than a decade of hyper-partisanship and knee-jerk, reactionary opposition to the other, the entire political spectrum of Meet the Press's roundtable panel--Markos Moulitsas, Joe Scarborough, Ed Gillespie and Tavis Smiley--all agree on one thing: the health-care reform bill sucks. There's the vaunted bipartisanship Obama sought.
I do believe that you have to stand on your principle. With all due respect to the White House and the President, who deserves who deserves great credit for taking this issue on and pushing further down the field than any other seven Presidents have done, you still have to ask, where is the principle that we started out with, and how firm have we stood on that principle? I thnk the danger for this White House is this: that the President and his team appear to be incrementalists. I warned the last time I was on this program, quoting Dr. King, about taking “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”
The sad thing is how clear this is to us here outside the Beltway, and how badly calculated this was to those inside the White House. And I don't think this was some malevolent intent on their part, but just a triangulating, DLC/Centrist move that completely didn't take into account that we now inhabit the post-Clinton/Bush era. I don't think there's any question that the White House must accept responsibility for the lameness of the bill--although they'll never do it publicly and risk giving more fodder to the GOP media--Feingold and Webb are already pointing fingers.
And at this point, I don't know what can be done to make this better. Tempting as it might be to thrown in the towel, the ramifications of that politically (you throw a bone like that to the GOP and nothing will get through Congress next session) will be a nightmare, and besides which, there's no guarantee they'd be able to achieve anything, much less anything better on a second go-round. So all in all, I have to agree with Joe Scarborough, as much as it deeply pains me to do so: we've been screwed.
There's no questioning the historic nature of the vote. What the Democrats did to get there is pretty ugly (I can't believe we cut a deal with anti-woman C-Street true believer Bart Stupak), but we did get there, and most people will see some real improvements in their lives as a result. Now it's on to the Senate, where hopefully women's rights won't be treated as peripheral to the political process.
Hours after President Obama exhorted Democratic lawmakers to "answer the call of history," the House hit an unprecedented milestone on the path to health-care reform, approving a trillion-dollar package late Saturday that seeks to overhaul private insurance practices and guarantee comprehensive and affordable coverage to almost every American.
After months of acrimonious partisanship, Democrats closed ranks on a 220-215 vote that included 39 defections, mostly from the party's conservative ranks. But the bill attracted a surprise Republican convert: Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana, who represents the Democratic-leaning district of New Orleans and had been the target of a last-minute White House lobbying campaign. GOP House leaders had predicted their members would unanimously oppose the bill.
Democrats have sought for decades to provide universal health care, but not since the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid has a chamber of Congress approved such a vast expansion of coverage. Action now shifts to the Senate, which could spend the rest of the year debating its version of the health-care overhaul. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to bring a measure to the floor before Thanksgiving, but legislation may not reach Obama's desk before the new year.
At the Capitol, Obama urged the few Democrats who were still wavering on Saturday afternoon to put aside their political fears and embrace the bill's ambitious objectives. "Opportunities like this come around maybe once in a generation," he said afterward. "This is our moment to live up to the trust that the American people have placed in us. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. This is our moment to deliver."
The House legislation would for the first time require every individual to obtain insurance, and would require all but the smallest employers to provide coverage to their workers. It would vastly expand Medicaid and create a new marketplace where people could obtain federal subsidies to buy insurance from private companies or from a new government-run insurance plan.
Though some people would receive no benefits -- including about 6 million illegal immigrants, according to congressional estimates -- the bill would virtually close the coverage gap for people who do not have access to health-care coverage through their jobs.