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Posted by on Aug 27, 2009 in Health, Politics | 63 comments

Watching the Democratic Implosion

explosion.jpgSpeaking as one who was a moderate, Northeastern member of the Republican party (generally referred to in abusive terms as a “RINO” by the party faithful) for many years, I find that I can definitely relate to the Blue Dog Democrats these days. It’s not easy when you decide to eschew the most radical, fringe ideas of your party and attempt to reach across the aisle and work with “the enemy.” That was hammered home again today when I read about Rep. Pete Stark, (D-Calif) who decided to call the Blue Dogs “brain dead” and accuse them of all manner of sins.

A key House liberal suggested Thursday that party moderates who’ve pushed for changes in health care legislation are “brain dead” and out for insurance company campaign donations.

Moderate Blue Dog Democrats “just want to cause trouble,” said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., who heads the health subcommittee on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

They’re for the most part, I hate to say, brain dead, but they’re just looking to raise money from insurance companies and promote a right-wing agenda that is not really very useful in this whole process,” Stark told reporters on a conference call.

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that many of these members are from districts which are far from liberal in their demographic profile and that they might like to be elected again next year, these insults are nothing new. Some of the comments I’ve received here at TMV in response to criticism of H.R. 3200 have included pointless drivel about my alleged “buddies in the health insurance business” or how I must own stock in those companies. It’s the same old story.

The treatment of the RINOs hasn’t been much different in the Republican party. If you’re not 115% in line with the platform, you must be part of “the enemy” and of no use. It was more noticeable, in some ways, when the GOP still held power, but it hasn’t faded entirely. And now that the Democrats are in charge of all the chips on the table, there’s a certain wry satisfaction in watching them throw themselves on their own swords in a similar fashion. At least there’s one thing that both sides can agree on, it seems. You must drive out the heretics.

That worked so well for the Republicans, as evidenced by their current hegemony over all power in Washington, it’s no surprise that the Democrats would wish to emulate them. Let us know how that works out for you, ok?

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  • DLS

    And I encounter complaints I largely haven’t earned, when pushing back against Stark-like stuff here…

    Oh, well. Implosion or “fracture” as I call it (and after all, what they’ve done all year is incoherent), and the obvious concern a number of Dems are starting to get about their re-election prospects that is accompanying increasing public concern is not, or rather, shouldn’t be any surprise at all.

    As for Stark himself, he’s been notorious for years, and it’s no surprise he’s among the strident now.

  • DLS

    “If you’re not 115% in line with the platform”

    Actually, much anti-GOP sentiment was because they were being like Dems Lite, notably in the fiscal realm (as well as with expansionism). Also, one reason the GOP has sidelined itself now (as distinct from what the Dems are doing to them in Congress) is that it seems not to know what its program is, or more accurately, what it should be.

  • Unfortunately, there are notable Democrats that believe a “true liberal” could win in any district. However, none of them is willing to take my challenge to move to Lubbock, Tx and run in Tx-19. Heck, they won’t even move into Chet Edwards district and challenge him in the primary.

    This is the same problem the Republicans have when you hear people say that the reason they lost Congress and the White House is that they weren’t conservative enough.

    Both sides are wrong. America is a moderate country. Our government is designed to force compromise and negotiation. A quick read of The Federalist Papers will explain in great detail the evils of extremism.

  • @DLS:
    Actually, much anti-GOP sentiment was because they were being like Dems Lite, notably in the fiscal realm

    DLS, I won’t deny there was *some* of that going on in some quarters, but in the Northeast, a lot of the “RINOs” were (and remain) fairly staunch fiscal conservatives, like myself. It’s the whole Rockefeller Republican contingent. What split us a lot more was the fact that many of the more libertarian Republicans not only opposed the Iraq war (what was a BIG one) but also were never on board with the Christian Conservative social agenda. (Opposing gay marriage, no middle ground on abortion, etc.) And there was a serious push to purge the party of the heretics in that regard.

    The Democrats are now seeing something similar, as I read it. If you’re not 100% on board with a program of single payer, government run, socialized medicine, you’re not wearing the correct team colors and should be “dealt with.”

    All I can say is that 2010 is going to be one of the more interesting mid-term cycles we’ve seen in a while. Even out here in N.Y. Kirsten Gillibrand is currently sucking air in the polls if George Pataki decides to run for Hillary’s old Senate seat, as he has implied he may. And that’s NEW YORK. Imagine what can happen to all those House seats in traditionally red areas where newly minted Democrats took their seats on the coat tails of the Obama phenomenon. Get out the popcorn. The movie may be about to get to the big car chase scene.

    • HemmD

      I don’t know jazz, those blue dogs who took tons in campaign funds for playing the Republican part in blocking health care reform will be well financed for their upcoming elections. I believe the state of the economy and local unemployment figures will have more of an effect than a health care bill that has been watered down and made palpable for business interests will be a minor distraction. Blue Dogs biggest worries will come from the grass roots progressives who will, as you say, try to take them out in Primaries. They could be bled dry of funds before they evn have to face another no-nothing Republican. In the generally poor, conservative districts from which Blue Dogs come, work will be the make or break issue.

    • Rambie

      “…there was a serious push to purge the party of the heretics in that regard. The Democrats are now seeing something similar…”

      Which should bring enough people together to form a third party: Fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

      I was hoping the Dems would move more Moderate but the fringe-elements strike again.

      • Kastanj

        It’s not moderate to make ultimatums against a bill that most Americans support:

        “Defenders of the public option, however, should have little to fret about: the most neutrally and accurately-worded polls on the public option — these are the ones from Quinnipiac and Time/SRBI — suggest that their position is in the majority, with 56-62 percent of the public supporting the public option and 33-36 percent opposed.”

        When the GOP says that America is a center-right nation, they’re forgetting that they are assuming people actually know what is left and right, and that the people know what the GOP and the DNC stand for, respectively. The entire GOP soul is now devoted to keeping the facade up, to keep the goalposts shifted to their unnatural locations. It’s all in defiance to reality, and a continuing rejection of the attempts to cover the artificiality up with media blitzes and profiling will see it crumbling.

      • Don Quijote

        Which should bring enough people together to form a third party: Fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

        Which would get it’s ass handed to it…

        Why do you think the social conservatives took over the Republican Party? There just aren’t that many true fiscal conservative.

  • Kastanj

    “The Democrats are now seeing something similar, as I read it. If you’re not 100% on board with a program of single payer, government run, socialized medicine, you’re not wearing the correct team colors and should be “dealt with.””

    Actually, the problem is not the opposition but the lack of a reason for the opposition. That, and the pretenses of greater impulses than the desire for lobbyist money. The blue dogs don’t have a good cause for their position, so they get rightly criticized for being weak and self-aggrandizing.

  • DLS

    “none of them is willing to take my challenge to move to Lubbock, Tx and run in Tx-19”

    The problem for them is, as the vitality of the nation has shifted along with population migration and jobs southward and westward, their future is in the Sunbelt (increasingly populated by people from those places, who often bring their liberal or Democratic politics with them), and they shouldn’t be dysfunctionally self-destructive here, or remain stuck (if not fully physically) in the declining places.

    * * *

    “lack of a reason for the opposition”

    There are several obvious reasons, which have been listed on this site among other places numerous times, which may continue to be ignored at the lib Dems’ and their associates’ (and increasingly, fewer others’ or almost nobody else’s) peril.

    * * *

    “It’s the whole Rockefeller Republican contingent.”

    Yes (big government is here to stay, and “good” big government is okay [tm]), which we saw hints of in New York City before it went bankrupt…

    “many of the more libertarian Republicans not only opposed the Iraq war (what was a BIG one) but also were never on board with the Christian Conservative social agenda.”

    Most libertarian Republicans (or typical mainstreamers who have that standard American libertarian character) weren’t fervently anti-war like a handful of “purists” and the paleo-cons (who aren’t libertarians) were.

    I ignore the social conservatives and their hyped-and-hated subset the Religious Right and stay with the basic division identified by Amitai Etzioni as Whigs (libertarian, “economic conservatives”) and Tories (the “social conservative,” authoritarian, et cetera, “traditionalist conservatives”). The latter can have the flag and eagle, as I’ve said before. This basic split is something I peruse with fondness were we to go someday to proportional representation and four to six-plus political parties, beginning with the partition of the Democratic and Republican Parties (causing the GOP to form two basic parties with the Religious Right, paleocons, etc., going elsewhere).

    As to the current GOP’s prospects, it’s an interesting thing. The Mid-Atlantic it could probably do okay at penetrating, but New England is so liberal and different from the mainstream the GOP is likely never to do well there. Even “Republicans” there must behave as Democrats even more than Arlen Specter has in Pennsylvania to the south, arguably.

    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/countycartnonlin1024.png

    The only question is if the GOP is merited that much more in trying to penetrate declining New England as the Democrats should risk spending excessive time, trouble, and money on the Great Plains.

  • Anna

    A handful of more-liberal politicians making unfortunate remarks about Blue Dogs and the Democrats are “imploding”? The Democratic party has (in my recollection) never been a party of lockstep agreement/support of anything so by your logic, the Democrats are in a perpetual state of “implosion”. Sometimes, it’s very irritating but for the most part, it’s a good thing that actually gives some semblance of “loyal opposition” which is a role that the Republicans (in general) should be playing and have failed miserably. If more liberal politicians want to try a primary run against Blue Dogs in more conservative districts…guess what…they probably won’t win if they’re too liberal, not much purge there.

    • HemmD

      Anna”it’s a good thing that actually gives some semblance of “loyal opposition””As I’ve probably stated too often, the problem is not opposition within the party, it’s the commercial nature of that opposition. When a fiscal conservative blue dog holds a position that increases the cost of health care, it’s more about hypocrisy than party cohesion. When they do it for lobbyist money, they cross a line.

  • DLS

    “Imagine what can happen to all those House seats in traditionally red areas where newly minted Democrats took their seats on the coat tails of the Obama phenomenon.”

    Especially after their increasingly worse behavior this year. I doubt it’ll be 1994, but it’ll be interesting.

  • Kastanj

    “The latter can have the flag and eagle”

    You know they will need more than that. They want to take the dignity from American gays and truth from American curriculums at all costs and that is why the GOP is toxic to many who are open to pretty tough fiscal conservatism. Opposition to civil rights for gays is such a despicable and completely indefensible position that it breaks the mind to even try and sympathize with a party that stands for it. Ditto for all the sobbing and whining about the poor defenseless CIA operatives who will have to take responsibility for giving random people the concentration camp treatment just because they were following orders.

    I have no predilections when it comes to economic ideology (which is why I support healtcare reform in America considering that system costs the most and delivers so little) but I cannot abide homophobia and rationalizing of torture that took the life of innocent people. I do not favor classical liberalism or social democrats, but I’d rather eat my eyelids than extend a hand to the party of “Enhanced Interrogations” and Prop 8. Deal-breakers.

  • And those reports of guys like Max Baucus taking big money from health care conglomerates were what? Fabricated?

    Truth is that the Blue Dogs haven’t explained their opposition to things like the public option. They claim to be concerned about fiscal responsibility, but the public option is actually more fiscally responsible than just having mandates.

  • $199537

    I’m not sure the Democrats are imploding, they’re just doing the same things they always do. They rose to power mainly because of the GOP’s ineptitude and the charisma of Obama, which isn’t enough to sustain them for long.

    These arguments about whether the US is more right-center or left-center are really sort of silly, the point is the US is more to the center of either the far-right or far-left zealots that seem to dominate both parties. The GOP seems to be gaining back some ground not because of any competence on their part but largely because Democrats are just acting like themselves.

  • Far left zealots? What do they want to do which is unsupported by opinion polls?

  • What do they want to do which is unsupported by opinion polls?

    Well, let’s start with the many voices we read right here who have been saying it’s time to forget the Republicans (and the blue dogs in some cases) and just push through the public option on their own. How much of the public supports that idea? 24% according to this poll.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/august_2009/24_say_democrats_should_pass_health_care_reform_without_gop_votes

  • DLS

    “A handful of more-liberal politicians making unfortunate remarks about Blue Dogs and the Democrats are ‘imploding’?”

    Or fracturing, as I have said before. The Dems have become increasingly conflicted among themselves, and the legislation and efforts they have been making on behalf of their goals, have become increasingly incoherent (word used correctly). They no longer are only increasingly divisive insofar as the public is concerned (that is old news from the start of this year), but among themselves.

    This is trouble of their own making.

    “They rose to power”

    And, as we suspected to various degrees before this year, they have increasingly misused it.

    * * *

    “You know they will need more than that. They want to take the dignity from American gays and truth from American curriculums at all costs”

    Religious-right hype is unmerited, and it is no serious threat to the USA (as opposed to the rare cases elsewhere, such as the “not biblical enough” school-curriculum fighting in Texas, which nobody seriously fears would happen to the USA as a whole or even to several other Religious Right-favored states). In Washington, the Religious Right gets a weak sop once in a while but otherwise are taken for granted (they’ll vote GOP because the Dems truly hate them), which they often have resented.

    As to the “public option” and other controversial things pushed by the Dems who are digging their own graves month by month:

    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1317/would-americans-welcome-medicare-if-proposed-in-2009

  • DLS

    ” to form a third party: Fiscally conservative and socially moderate”

    1. That was the modern GOP (even socially liberal) were it not dysfunctional and otherwise troubled.

    2. A third party is probably hopeless unless we get proportional representation where it is appropriate (multi-seat representation) and some impetus from outside to partition the GOP and the Democrats.

    • Rambie

      DLS: “1. That was the modern GOP (even socially liberal) were it not dysfunctional and otherwise troubled.”If you think the last 10-15 years of the GOP was Fiscally conservative and socially moderate then I’m not sure you’ve been paying attention. Which I know you have been. Like others have said, the Dems have always been fighting within their party (which I also think is good) which also used to occur in the Republican party too. Like Jazz said, “there was a serious push to purge the [Republican] party of the heretics in that regard.” The Republican party turned into lock-step party around the 1994 election. I think DaGoat was right, “I’m not sure the Democrats are imploding, they’re just doing the same things they always do. They rose to power mainly because of the GOP’s ineptitude…”The GOPs time will come again when the Democrats ineptitude brings them down. All this has happened before and will happen again. I think part of the “ineptitude” of the GOP these last 8 years was they started to believe their own hype and infallibility. Which will also be two things that will occur to the Democrats.

  • Jazz,
    There have been lots of polls about public health care going back years that show more than 50% approval for the idea: http://pollingreport.com/health.htm

    And of course Rasmussen is notoriously unreliable.

    Next?

  • JSpencer

    If I could tweak the Mark Twain quote just a tad. . . I believe the rumors of the democratic implosion have been greatly exaggerated.

  • DLS

    “Democrats are just acting like themselves”

    when left free of adult supervision [grin]

  • DLS

    “If you think the last 10-15 years of the GOP was Fiscally conservative and socially moderate then I’m not sure you’ve been paying attention. Which I know you have been. ”

    You’re right. I have been. What do you think underlay much of the 2006 and 2008 election results? It wasn’t just Iraq or antics of the Bush administration. (In fact, this was partial motive for 1994, as well.)

    “The GOPs time will come again when the Democrats ineptitude brings them down.”

    It’s certainly happening and increasing sooner and faster than so many of us had anticipated (or feared?).

    This is not a full failure of the Dems. We will get a Dem health bill eventually. But there are problems.

    It does raise Dem differences, exposed by ineptitude and rashness, and they are news themselves now.

    Related:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125139821712464287.html

    P.S. Stark is indeed notorious. (Yes, I pay attention.) As part of the 1990s health care effort, Stark wanted to use it as his vehicle to remove indexing of federal tax brackets (bringing back the “creep”).

  • bradt

    A few years ago, the Democratic Party couldn’t wait to get their hands on anyone willing to put a D next to their name on the ballot in order to retake the House. Many of them won fairly conservative areas and they can’t vote like they represent San Francisco if they want to keep their seats. There is a coming Democratic implosion, and then it will be the Republicans turn again to underwhelm voters.

  • flint41

    I don’t see many democratic hands “reaching across the aisle” here. It has become futile to speak of improving the safety net for the indigent, or creating mechanisms for controlling provider costs. No, it has to be “public option,” and anyone who doesn’t agree with that is the enemy.

    The “public option” is bottomed on the proposition that the cost of insurance can be dramatically slashed if we can just break the stranglehold the insurance cartel has on the health care system. I have dutifully considered all the cut-and-paste presentations urging that insurers are bleeding us white with excessive profits and “administrative costs,” and have corrupted the system to boot. These claims will not withstand a close comparison with the statistical data. They are, in my opinion, purposed to obscure the fact that we will be creating a ruinously expensive entitlement with the “public option.” And I know exactly what that makes me: a retarded, Rove-programmed, mean-spirited drug cartel shill. Compromise? “Moderation”? Get real.

    • HemmD

      “These claims will not withstand a close comparison with the statistical data. “Care to back your opinion with data – a link would be nice.”They are, in my opinion, purposed to obscure the fact that we will be creating a ruinously expensive entitlement with the “public option.””So your assertion is the a public option with mandates is more costly than our current system where there is a direct relationship of corporate profits to increased cost? The higher the cost, the greater the profit? Really. By all means, please elaborate.

      As my 7th grade math teacher used to say, show your work.

      • flint41

        Hemm, being on MSNTV, I can’t post links. It didn’t take me more than a few minutes of Googling, however, to turn up data on historical insurer profits. Collectively, they reaped 20+ billion in 2007, and 17+ billion in 2008. The years prior to 2007, though, were very mediocre, and I think we have to look at the pattern over time. I think we also have to give due weight to the fact that some of the largest insurers, such as the various Blue Cross / Blue Shield organizations, are tax-exempt non-profits.

        As to “administrative costs,” I think Ezra Klein’s recent attempt in WaPo to sort out the food fight between the Heritage Foundation and Krugman supports the conclusion that the “public option” will not be a “magic wand” here. As I recall, he estimates the “administrative costs” of group policies issued to large employers at about 7%, and the true “administrative costs” of Medicare at 4
        to 5%.

        • HemmD

          I now understand why you didn’t provide links, sorry. Let me present a few.

          ” Collectively, they reaped 20+ billion in 2007, and 17+ billion in 2008″

          Maybe you ought to take a closer look.

          For the 10 biggest health insurance companies were seeing their profits rise over 400 percent between 2000 and 2007. If BC/BS is non-profit and one of the top ten, you make the other nine even more “profitable.”

          Source: Company 10-k filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission. You know, the guys that know something about profit.

          If you wish to toss in all companies, aren’t you making a huge argument against regional co-ops? The big ten hold roughly 65% of all policies across the 50 states. Wonder why their profits are so high while the smaller plans have lower profits?

          http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02536r.pdf

          “. As I recall, he estimates the “administrative costs” of group policies issued to large employers at about 7%, and the true “administrative costs” of Medicare at 4″

          So the 3% difference covers advertising, marketing, high exec salaries, and an army of people whose sole purpose is to deny claims and find reasons for policy rescission to avoid patient costs?

          • flint41

            Ah, well, I can’t access the site today through my rusty MSNTV, so I’ll try to respond to Hemm through Disqus email.

            So why do you suppose your source selected 2007 as his comparator rather than 2008? Because profits were much higher in 2007, no? That’s what I call “selectivity.”

            I misspoke when I said you could easily call up the profitability figures for the health insurer industry. I haven’t been able to retrieve the numbers I quoted from memory in my first post. You can get a snark-free chart for the 10 largest insurers in pdf at netincomeofmajorhealthinsurers. So, yes, they did make much more in 2007 than in 2000. But insurance (and I was in it for 30+ years) is a game of ups and downs. You have to look at the averages, over time.

            So the Big 10 made 8.4 bil in 2008, up from 2.4 bil in 2000. According to NCHC, total health care spending will reach 2.5 trillion in 2009. You do the math. And no, the Big 10 doesn’t include BCBS or any of the other tax-exempt non-profits. On what rationale are we supposing that a “public option” vehicle will be able to significantly undercut their pricing? Let me further invite your attention to the fact that, according to Price Waterhouse, the cost of malpractice litigation, including “defensive medicine,” is about 153 bil a year. 153 bil vs. 8.4 bil, but we gotta stamp out the 8.4.

  • Flint41,
    the public option is only part of the reform aimed at cutting long term health care costs. Costs that will be “ruinously expensive” if we do nothing.

  • flint41

    And, actually, I wasn’t seeing this as a stark choice between doing nothing and embracing HR 3200. In my simplicity, I had supposed there might be some middle ground.

    • ProfElwood

      There really is, it’s just being ignored. I ran across this last night. It’s a rather friendly dialog between a more liberal and a more conservative commentator. Basically, the real barriers to genuine health reform are political posturing and special interests (big surprise!). It takes a few minutes, but it’s worth it.

      http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/22054

  • andrewp111

    What the hell is the point of being in power if you can’t impose your will on the country and make things as you want them to be? The whole point of a political party is to have a completely unified front and to impose your party’s vision, regardless of what the majority of the public thinks. The obligation of rank and file members is to salute and obey its party leadership, even if they have to lose their seats in the next election. This is especially true when your party controls the white house as well. What matters is imposing the president’s vision, and members that lose seats as a result are taken care of with judgeships and administration appointments.

  • Okpulot Taha

    Jazz Shaw writes, “…generally referred to in abusive terms as a “RINO” by the party faithful….”

    This is not as problematic as you believe. A large group of us discussed and debated what is and who are RINO types. Our final list at a federal level is very short:

    Congress: Mike Castle, Mark Kirk, Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, Mary Bono Mack, John McHugh, Dave Reichert and Chris Smith.

    Senate: John McCain and Olympia Snowe.

    We are actively working at having those RINO types voted out of office. On a state level, California, we have a number of successful recall efforts underway.

    Readers interested in learning more about RINO types, I have a database online which presents extensive information about each RINO type:

    http://www.purlgurl.net/~puma/rino.html

    Relax, Jazz Shaw, making your way onto a RINO list is very difficult.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • flint41

    Thanks for the link. One would certainly get no argument from me that Dr. Gawande’s study is crucial here. One doctor prescribes a couple of aspirin, another runs up $7,500 in diagnostic costs on the basis of the same symptoms.

  • Okpulot Taha

    Rambie comments, “Fiscally conservative and socially moderate.”

    This is a winning combination but I do not think America is ready for common sense politics.

    Our economic crisis and recent news of an unreal deficit is driving more Americans towards being fiscal conservatives, regardless of political party affiliation. Americans are fearful which leads to cautious conservative thinking. This matter of money has, de facto, ended any chance at national health care and ended any chance at cap & trade; America cannot afford those policies. Americans are clearly becoming fiscally conservative in keeping with Rambie’s notion.

    On social issues, the days of God and no abortion are over. Americans are moving away from strict religious group affinity and are becoming more accepting of once controversial issues such as gay marriage. God is out but abortion remains a bit of a sticky issue.

    On the right side, the moment a conservative preaches God, he loses. On the left side, the moment a liberal preaches partial birth abortion, he loses. Americans are socially moderate with a lingering conservative nature.

    Traditional patriotism still rules with strength. Mention socialism, Americans are up in arms, sometimes quite literally.

    Democrats are imploding. My estimation is Obama will be a one term president and many Democrats will be swept out of office during 2010 elections.

    Obama’s downfall is debt and deficit. Lot of other issues like not keeping campaign promises but debt and deficit will have Obama lose in 2012 year. Same is true of most Democrats, 2010 and 2012 year.

    This implosion of Democrats is witnessed in many ways. Top of the list, again, is debt and deficit. Near top of this implosion list is Democrats in-house fighting and name calling Americans; mobs, thugs, Nazis and such. Democrats are eating their own, this is implosion. Democrats are insulting Americans, this is implosion.

    From a political pundit analysis perspective, Democrats are completely disorganized. This is evidenced by Obama’s lack of party leadership and his scatterbrain approach to delivering his policies to America; there is no unified well directed effort on the part of Democrats. There are many other problems such as Obama labeling the Cambridge police department “racists” results of which were instantly displayed in popularity polls. All of these problems, major and minor, are evidence of the Democratic party imploding.

    Republicans are organizing, finding common issues, gathering strength and gaining in polls. Republicans are bouncing back much quicker than I ever expected.

    “Fiscally conservative and socially moderate.” I strongly agree with Rambie on this but America is not quite ready for such a common sense approach; America is extremely polarized.

    Democrats are imploding. Republicans are exploding.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • Guest

    Let’s forget the labels – how about having everyone agree that a debt to GDP ratio of 70% is very, very bad? How about focusing on paying down the debt? How about keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medicade from going bankrupt? How about creating a pro-business climate instead of driving out businesses?

    • ProfElwood

      The debt problem is what I’m hearing about the most, from widely different viewpoints. It seems as though we’re quickly reaching a breaking point where politicians and special interests are so closely tied together that they can’t address any issue until it’s too late. In my lifetime, I can’t think of a single major program that has been cut because it wasn’t working. Farm subsidies are one of those blatantly obvious failures, where a group of corporate farmers soaked up the money, then used the money to lower grain prices, which hurt the family farmers that the subsidies were supposed to help. Now, it’s a permanent program, which can’t be fixed because the corporate farmers can lobby far better than the family farmers.

      I personally think that the only way to turn this around is for people to start voting for parties that represent their ideals, regardless of size. When the two main parties lose their grip on power, then some real dialog can start.

  • The long term debt issue is why we need health care reform. Unless you’re prepared to gut Medicare and kill grandma in the process.

  • Okpulot Taha

    John Higgens writes, “…how about having everyone agree that a debt to GDP ratio of 70% is very, very bad?

    ProfElwood writes, “The debt problem is what I’m hearing about the most….”

    I think most average Americans do not realize what an extreme problem is our debt and deficit spending. While Americans realize we are suffering bad economic conditions, I believe most are stuck in the “right now”, this is, little or no forward thinking.

    This trillions of dollars in debt and deficit is simply not sustainable. Critical to this is when coming inflation really sets in, this is highly likely our debt and deficit will skyrocket, perhaps to two or three times as much as current estimates. Jimmy Carter’s economic mess will look like prosperous times.

    Taxing the rich, massive tax increases on all Americans, neither will ever be enough to solve our debt and deficit spending. Our borrowing sources are depleted, lenders are backing away, our credit status is that of junk bonds. America has even reached a point we cannot simply “print” more money.

    There is only one solution. This solution is extreme reductions in federal and state spending. America must take Draconian measures to economically survive. Again, this debt, this rate of wild eyed deficit spending is not sustainable. America is in so deep, my personal estimate is government spending must be slashed by at least fifty percent to give us an outside chance at economic survival.

    America is headed for a world of hurt, if we continue on this reckless economic path.

    My vote in 2010 and 2012 will be given to those who offer strict fiscal responsibility, regardless if Democrat or Republican. America has reached a point of simply fighting for survival as a nation; playing partisan politics could prove economically fatal for our nation.

    …then there is national health care with a two-trillion dollar price tag, not to mention cap & tax.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • casualobserver

    It’s too early to foretell the 2010 election, but at least on match-ups thus far, the Dems are not winning.

    The Dems have over-reached, but more importantly, have failed to deliver on what they said the election was about. For 4 years, we heard nothing but criticism for maintaining a ill-managed mideast occupation. Obama is not only continuing it, but wants to send even more troops. The left breathes not a word of discontent.

    Bush runs up deficits in the hundreds of billions from both the mideast occupation and domestic spending we cannot afford……..NCLB, prescription drug and farm subsidies………..the left rails. Obama now looks to triple Bush deficit numbers and the left thinks it’s great stuff.

    The Dems must believe no one else’s memory stretches back more than 6 months.

  • superdestroyer

    What people are seeing is the future of politics where the Democrats will be the one real political party. The political fights will just be within the Democratic Party structure instead of between Republicans and Democrats.

    Also, anyone who believes that the Republicans will make a come back does not understand demographics. When you realize that the starting first grade class this year is less than half whites, then you realize that the long term prospects of the Republicans are zero.

    What America has to figure out is how to maintain a massive welfare state to placate the non-white voters while not setting taxes so high that it kills the economy. The Democrats are stuck with the idea they cat tax the top five percent of earners at 100% and not affect the economy. The Democrats are also stuck with the idea that the U.S. can support a massive welfare state while maintaining open borders. The Democrats also have to decide who there will be private investment at the same time that they try to heavily regulate all parts of the economy.

  • sylviasoraya

    Okpulot Taha writes, “There is only one solution. This solution is extreme reductions in federal and state spending. America must take Draconian measures to economically survive. Again, this debt, this rate of wild eyed deficit spending is not sustainable.”This is true, we must stop spending money we don’t have. Individual Americans are truing up their personal financial positions right now. The mortgage crisis caused each of us to analyze our own debt. Americans understand being “upside down” in their mortgages, follows then, that they understand the Government is “upside down” in debt. There are no assets to back up the debt. Americans fully understand the financial crisis. They are a better educated electorate. Their votes will follow this awakened knowledge. Rino, Blue Dog, Progressive, Conservative, Republican, Democrat; in 2010 labels will not matter to the educated voters. Every candidate will have to answer for his or her actions in the legislative process. The constituents are speaking; are the politicians listening? Ultimately the test will be how well the politician REPRESENTED their district or state, not their political label.

    • “There is only one solution. This solution is extreme reductions in federal and state spending. America must take Draconian measures to economically survive. Again, this debt, this rate of wild eyed deficit spending is not sustainable. America is in so deep, my personal estimate is government spending must be slashed by at least fifty percent to give us an outside chance at economic survival.”

      This is what we call Neo-Hooverism. If we were to slash government spending by 50%, the economy would simply wither and die. Not to mention all the medicare and social security recipients you would be condemning to death as well.

  • Don Quijote

    To all conservatives out there, for the sake of entertainment, let us play a game of make belief.Let us assume the economy stays in the crapper for the next four years( very likely), let us assume that the Democrats were to lose 41seats in the house over the next two election cycles (highly unlikely), the Democrats were to lose 11 seats in the Senates (even unlikelier) and that a Republican were to win the White House in 2012 due to the crappy economy(far likelier), What would you expect their economic policies to be? What would you expect the deficit to be? What would you expect them to do about Iraq & Afghanistan? What would you expect then to do about health-care? the environment? the Defense Budget? Corporate Subsidies?

    • Kastanj

      Cut taxes in America, Afghanistan and Iraq. Cut taxes for hospitals, doctors and insurance companies. Cut taxes for the environment. Cut the taxes for the military. Cut taxes for corporations. Cut taxes for the executive office and *especially* cut taxes for the CIA. Raise taxes on the prisoners in Gitmo!

      • Don Quijote

        Cut taxes

        But what will that do for the federal deficit & debt?

  • DLS

    “The Dems have over-reached, but more importantly, have failed to deliver on what they said the election was about.”

    And they are disorganized, as another poster noted (now? “fractured”), which is why their legislation they rush sloppily to produce and hurriedly pass is so incoherent. It’s aimless (and frantic) instead of purposeful and deliberative (and coherent, and last of all these days, beneficial rather than harmful!).

  • DLS

    By the way, Jazz, save the following for, say, the Dems’ self-discrediting lower-than-ever maneuver with “reconciliation” if they stoop to doing it out of desparation or resentment (against we the people).

    Note the appropriate imagery at the base of the stem.

    (“Dems on the warpath”)

    http://a1.vox.com/6a00cd9710850e4cd500e398ac1f310004-pi

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Rwmohawk2.jpg

  • DLS

    “The Dems must believe no one else’s memory stretches back more than 6 months.”

    All you need to do is look at their appeals and arguments (what we often see here, too).

    We know there won’t be entitlement reform — that’s the last thing the Dems will ever do.

    All we can say with some relative relief is that they haven’t gotten all they’ve wanted yet, and that the USA is not yet, at least, stuck in a debt trap that they have worked more than anyone to create for us.

    Oh, and of course Obama never was guaranteed to be re-elected, despite the Honeymooners’ claims.

  • DLS

    “What would you expect then to do about health-care? the environment? the Defense Budget? Corporate Subsidies?”

    Or something that hasn’t gotten much press currently, but which was a blunder, complete with an annoyingly sappy name, the Dubya-administration-created Department of Homeland Security?

    (Equally or more sappy from the Dems, as I’ve said before, but at least understandable given them and their target audience, would be a “Department of Human Needs” [retch] with a “Bureau of Income Security” and a “Bureau of Health Security” at least within that newly created Department; a new Department of Human Resources or Department of the Environment [gulp] also makes more sense than what the Bush administration, the GOP, did last time it ran Washington.)

    Given that they don’t seem to know, or at least to agree, sadly, nor can we know or predict much.

  • DLS

    OK, time to consider what we could have in place of our status quo with the Duopoly, and to respond to Don Quijote’s question in a fun way. (Note to Superdestroyer: Includes specific items you’ll like.)

    “When the two main parties lose their grip on power, then some real dialog can start.”

    1. I believe the laws will have to be changed for this to happen, and specifically local and state laws, the “bottom-up” approach, because Washington will never do it, and while Washington will intrude in state and local affairs if it recognizes this threat anywhere, there is (still?) a limit to what it can do.

    2. Breaking up the Duopoly and having at least four to six (or more) parties is long overdue, in my opinion, and this is why I’m one of the rare non-extreme lefties or “progressives,” etc, who also is in favor of proportional representation in multi-seat legislatures (or even in executive bodies someday) where this is warranted. (The lefties want it because their extreme views ordinarily are rejected and are not represented. Our government is supposed to be representative, not defy us or be tyrannical.)

    Multiple seats: Proportional representation. Single seats: Approval voting. Four to six-plus parties.

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/prlib.htm

    http://bcn.boulder.co.us/government/approvalvote/center.html

    [a book I already have]

    http://books.google.com/books?id=snVhXVdyk90C&dq=approval+voting&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=N–XSs_YOpHANomR4bcF&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    These are the best things to seek; more conventional things like:

    Revising terms of office, banning re-election or imposing term limits, budget restriction amendments to the Constitution (supermajority for deficit or borrowing; ban on deficit or on borrowing), line-item veto, the most overdue things,

    Revising Congressional districts (combining sets of contiguous Census districts or ZIP codes and considering county lines and natural or political boundaries), radical measures like random selection (“jury duty”; “civil conscription”) for seats instead of by elections, in bodies like the U.S. House,

    would be much more possible as well as better were the Duopoly ended in this country.

    Other radical measures like revision of powers of federal versus state governments (formally giving to Washington nearly-unlimited powers, the de facto state sought by the Left for decades), or changing the definition of the states as well as their number, size, and boundaries (possibly involving metro area unification with local governments), all could be considered and better achieved if we wanted it.

    (Don’t forget what remains controversial but what is highly popular and could be eventual, anyway, the direct election of the President and Vice President. Or, it could be an approval vote with the second place finisher becoming the Vice President, or making it into an appointed position. [The same could be true for all Executive positions, to end the Dem-manged Congressional approval political circuses.] We could even elevate the position of the Speaker of the House into a truly principal position in Congress as a counterweight to the President; this originally was suggested by an author after Watergate and be awarded to the “Opposition” major political party to function as leader of the Opposition, but I believe this shouldn’t be misused to enshrine the Duopoly, but only happen if we had a true multi-party (polypartisan) system with proportional representation, ideally.)

    * * *

    To respond to Don Quijote’s question by asking it in a more elaborate and entertaining way:

    I should add that the following caustic (my preferred descriptor for this man’s style) post-1994 work (now hosted at a rare truly-far-right Web site; the guy was a libertarian, not a paleo-con like those at this site, typically) is probably appropriate here, not only in decrying “the illusion of choice” but in asking aloud what might happen after 1994, which remains appropriate today in going gung-ho in discussing the Republicans now, and in 2010 and 2012. Good, clean, fun reading.

    “Instead of a moderate leftist, they got …”

    “The public had been tipped over, and had had enough; it was fed up. An old friend reminds me that the Republicans could well have campaigned on the simple but highly effective slogan of their last great party victory of 1946: “Had Enough? Vote Republican!” In short, the right-wing populist, semi-libertarian, anti-big government revolution had been fully launched.”

    “There are a few critical tests of whether [GOP or its agenda] is really, in actual deed, keeping faith with the [‘]revolution[‘] or whether he [or she], or the other Republican leaders, are betraying it. …”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard155.html

  • DLS

    While we’re seeing the USA made worse, at the same time we know that federal entitlements, especially Godzilla Social Security and Medicare, are unsustainable (the Trustees and others have tried to get people to understand this, for years; the problems will begin in only a few years), as are the vast (and largely unfunded) future government liabilities, including employee retirement (which is going to face a harsh change when reality cannot be avoided in, say, twenty years) — while the Dems are making things worse than ever already (and leading us closer to a debt trap as well as to more de-industrialization with climate craziness, for example), another nation’s public now wants change, and is going to face some unpleasant realities, even before encountering its eventual future bigger problems.

    No, not Europe and its future already assured to be worse than that of the USA’s. Rather, Japan.

    Who knows, it might be the main issue next week or the following in the Economist.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125139678660664269.html

    Background

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/20097/

  • DLS

    I wonder if the GOP will dare resurrect the following ad (see story).

    After all, it probably had something to do with Obama’s campaign (though the GOP’s ended on time).

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,950231,00.html

  • Silhouette

    Braindead was not the word to use at all…tsk tsk..

    No, the proper phrase would’ve been “greedy sellouts”. Much more accurate…

  • Okpulot Taha

    Sylvia Soraya comments, “Individual Americans are truing up their personal financial positions right now.”There you are, an example of sound and rational budgetary thinking, least amongst our peoples. Currently, savings rate by American families is soaring after decades of recalcitrant credit card spending and debt. Americans are finally smartening up. Our politicians continue to be about as smart as a bucket of rocks and more corrupt than Bernie Madoff.There is a question about my “Draconian” measures to cut federal and state spending. This is easily accomplished without jerking the safety net out from under Americans in need. Accomplishing this from a financial perspective is easy. Accomplishing this from a political perspective is difficult.Here is California, last year, illegal aliens cost taxpayers 13 billion dollars. This is about half of the current budget deficit in California. Multiply this 13 billion by 50 and you have a “rough” idea of what illegal aliens are costing us on a national level. Easy solution, close our southern border then shut down jobs for illegal aliens. No need to deport, simply take away those jobs; illegals will leave on their own.A lot of jobs would be opened up for Americans willing to take on subsistence level work and wages. Those unwilling to take this work, tough luck, you are on your own.America can announce a military withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq in precisely six months, “We are leaving, you are on your own, if the Taliban and terrorists return, we will simply fly over and bomb you.” Lots cheaper to drop bombs than to send in foot soldiers.Pork barrel spending can be made illegal, “You include irrational porkulus spending in a bill, you will be brought up on ethics charges and possibly removed from office.”Aid to foreign countries, “America is suspending all aid to foreign nations for a period of five years. We cannot afford to provide aid.” Shut down national parks, keep all people out. Close our space program. Open up offshore oil drilling and exploration in Alaska with well planned rules to protect our environment. Take away Pelosi’s luxury aeroliner; you politicians will fly commercial. End all the subsidies for agriculture, diary and meat industries. Effect a severe crackdown on financial crime; Wall Street. Get rid of all the czars and pointless wasteful government offices and branches. Shift the burden of financial responsibility to states. Declare all union contracts null and void then renegotiate reasonable wages and especially pension and retirement packages, under federal court supervision. Cut taxes for all Americans and small business. Make illegal all special interest groups who lobby politicians.Those measures and similar measures are easy to effect but very difficult to sell to politicians.A prime example of politicians screwing us over is tort reform. Revamping rules on civil litigation can save hundreds of billions, maybe a trillion per year. Recently at a town hall meeting, a politician says, “Tort reform is politically difficult.” Well, yeah, because the American Bar Association is a very major campaign contributor to politicians. This is politicians screwing us over to keep their campaign war chests overflowing with special interest donations.I could write for hours on this topic. Bottom line is America can effect Draconian measures to reduce federal and state spending *without* taking away our safety nets for those in need.Sylvia writes, “Individual Americans are truing up their personal financial positions right now.”This is precisely what federal and state governments are to do. Problem here is politicians refuse to do this fearing loss of votes. This is all about votes and power, none of what our politicians are doing is about what is good for America.Appears to me the only solution is widespread protest by Americans, both on the streets and in the voting box. America is failing, America is becoming a two bit Banana Republic. If Americans do not stand up, take to shouting, take to protesting, our children and their children will live in a socialist style Banana Republic once known as “America, The Land Of The Free”.Okpulot TahaChoctaw NationPuma Politics

  • sylviasoraya

    Okpulot Taha points out, “Easy solution, close our southern border then shut down jobs for illegal aliens.”Of course this would be a savings for taxpayers. It would also be a windfall for young employable Americans. There would be jobs again for our teenagers and college students, busing tables, washing dishes, flipping burgers, operating the drive up windows, mowing lawns, raking leaves and many more jobs taken by illegals. Construction jobs would open up for many. Getting rid of illegals is a double win for America.

  • Okpulot Taha

    Sylvia Soraya comments, “Getting rid of illegals is a double win for America.”

    Oh no! This is unconscionable, least according to Obama and his boys, “We are morally responsible to take care of those criminals coming to America to leech upon the financial lifeblood of America.” Of interest, RINO John McCain supports this liberal bleeding heart philosophy, “We are our lazy no-count brothers’ keeper.”

    Jazz Shaw titles his well written article, “Watching the Democratic Implosion” and this left liberal bleeding heart philosophy is a major component of this ongoing Democratic implosion. Those boys are climbing over each other to see who can outspend the other, “My bucks are bigger than your bucks!”

    Tunnels for turtles! Why do drunk Chinese whores engage in unsafe sex? Tax exemptions for toy arrows made of wood! Free health care for all peoples of our world who come to America illegally! Our boss is the Black Messiah, we are his chosen disciples! We are omnipotent. We are the saviors.

    We can do no wrong.

    Rather delightful to watch the Democratic party implode because of their egotistical arrogance, about as delightful as watching the Republican party implode last year. Obama is voted into office, along with Democrats, because of backlash against illiterate idiot George Bush. Now we have a literate idiot sitting in the Oval Office. No change, one was illiterate, the other is literate, but both are idiots.

    Sylvia adds, “…busing tables, washing dishes, flipping burgers, operating the drive up windows, mowing lawns, raking leaves….”

    Reminds of decades back, reminds of my husband and I working our way from poverty in Oklahoma to the Land of Milk and Honey, California. We took on those types of jobs, we worked oil fields in west Texas, picked cotton in Arizona and worked alongside illegals out in crop fields of the Imperial Valley of California. Without those types of jobs we would have not been able to leave the poverty of farming in Oklahoma to a decent life in California.

    Today, California is the land of tacos and pesos. I’m thinking we will go back to Oklahoma.

    Today, those jobs Sylvia mentions are no longer available. Those jobs belong to illegal aliens. Today, a family could not make the same “Grapes of Wrath” journey we did decades back; opportunity for American families to better their lives is stolen away by illegal aliens.

    All of this is more than just the Democratic party imploding, this is America imploding.

    Telling you, folks, America is headed for ruination if we do not take serious actions, if we do not take control over our nation back into our hands. America is imploding.

    KABOOM! Bye-bye America, hello Banana Republic!

    Say, buddy, can you spare a dime for a girl down on her luck?

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • sylviasoraya

    Okpulot Taha sees America headed for ruination, “Telling you, folks, America is headed for ruination if we do not take serious actions, if we do not take control over our nation back into our hands. America is imploding.”I see this word ruination and I think ruined nation. Imploding and ruined that sums it up.

  • flint41

    Ok, I see I didn’t get all of Hemms comments through the email. The 7% figure for “administrative costs” is applicable, as I said, only for group policies issued to large employers. The “administrative costs” of Medicare are, on the whole, quite a bit less than those of private insurers. In my opinion, that explains why one can’t pick up a paper without seeing something about another huge Medicare scandal. They lose 80 billion a year by automatically stamping “approved for payment” on everything sent to them.

    Health insurer profits, compared to other industries, are mediocre. Just how much mileage do you think you can get out of that 8.4 billion?

    As for the rest of it, you are simply spitting venom based on your repeated watchings of Sicko. It is very dangerous to deny coverage without a sound basis in the policy to do so, and yes, they take material misrepresentations made on applications very seriously indeed.

    You can have the last word. I didn’t come here to ping-pong talking points.

  • Leonidas

    Progressives are the Religious Right of the Democratic Party. They use the same tactics to the same extent. They are pretty much one and the same.

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