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Saturday Morning News Roundup

Saturday Morning News Roundup

In the aftermath of not just Barack Obama’s victory but what was a solid night for progressives in general, some conservatives have simply lost their minds. Take for example the CEO of Applebee’s. According to Mr. Zane Tankel, ObamaCare will be so costly for the restaurant that they’ll probably have to shrink their workforce and they won’t be building any more restaurants.

One of the latest myths that Republicans are conjuring up is that it is all Hurricane Sandy’s fault. If it weren’t for an act of God, Mitt Romney would have won the election. Republicans began to trot this line of reasoning out shortly before the election. Here’s what Nate Silver had to say

When the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, Mr. Obama’s chances of winning re-election were 73 percent in the FiveThirtyEight forecast. Since then, his chances have risen to 86 percent, close to his highs on the year.

But, while the storm and the response to it may account for some of Mr. Obama’s gains, it assuredly does not reflect the whole of the story.

Mr. Obama had already been rebounding in the polls, slowly but steadily, from his lows in early October — in contrast to a common narrative in the news media that contended, without much evidence, that Mr. Romney still had the momentum in the race.

As the above graph clearly shows, Mitt Romney did have some momentum after the first debate. Joe Biden’s strong performance in the vice presidential debate put a halt to that momentum. The second and third presidential debate were clearly won by Barack Obama. Obama was undoubtedly ahead in the polls by the time hurricane Sandy hit. The other thing, and almost more importantly, is that it really didn’t matter what was happening in the national polls. Instead, the important thing was what was going on in Virginia, Ohio, Colorado and the other battleground states. The conservatives don’t want to talk about that. Mitt Romney never moved the needle in places like Ohio.

Just because Allen West has lost his re-election bid in Florida doesn’t mean that he is crazy. It doesn’t mean that he will go away.

By |2013-11-03T18:19:41-04:00November 10th, 2012|Elections, Party Politics|Comments Off on Saturday Morning News Roundup

So what happened? How did Barack Obama win?

Several weeks ago, some Americans made broad pronouncements that Barack Obama had lost the election. He was desperate. It was over. I stated that the widely available facts did not support this conclusion; that Barack Obama was going to lose, nor that he was in trouble. There are any number of blogs and websites for tracking polls and giving us, the voters, real time information. By far, the best and most accurate was Nate Silver’s 538 blog, which is now part of the New York Times. Nate Silver is part of the New York Times, not because he is a liberal, but because he has developed a model that is extremely accurate. He has the ability to take an individual poll, compare it to historical values and then weigh the poll accordingly. I have known about and followed Nate Silver since 2006 or 2007. All I can tell you is that he is a geek who knows that he is extremely smart and he understands that his reputation is on the line every time he makes a prediction.

As we learned in 2000, in the United States with the current configuration of its electoral college (which should be abolished, but I’ll save that discussion for another day), the popular vote doesn’t matter. If you want win the White House, you have to figure out how to win the electoral college. Early in this race, every thoughtful pundit knew that there were simply a handful of states that mattered. I’m not arguing whether that is right or wrong. I am stating this as a fact. Large states like Texas, Alaska, California and New York simply don’t matter. No amount of money that Barack Obama would spend in Texas was going to switch Texas to a Democratic state. On the other hand, there’s no amount of money that Mitt Romney could spend in California or New York that would turn either to a red Republican state. So, we knew the contest came down to swing states. These are states that have an unusual population. They have a balance of big cities and rural areas. Rural areas tend to go Republican. Large metropolitan areas with diverse populations tend to vote Democratic. There are only a few states that have the right mix – Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. The presidential election came down to these states.

The other thing that we have to factor into the equation is the fact that Barack Obama had more electoral votes in his pocket at the beginning of Tuesday than did Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney started with 180 electoral votes. Barack Obama start off with 186. These were states that were clearly in the bag. These were states that everyone knew the back in December how they were going to vote. Then, over the next several months, Arizona and North Carolina broke for Mitt Romney, giving him an additional 26 electoral votes. At the same time, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania broke for the president. This gave the president an extra 57 electoral votes. So early Tuesday morning, before any of the polls opened, Barack Obama had 243 electoral votes in his pocket. Mitt Romney had 206. Mitt Romney had to come up with 64 electoral votes and Barack Obama had only come up with 27. While some people were freaking out over this state or that state the contest really came down to Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin – 89 electoral votes. Mitt Romney basically had to run the table.

Mitt Romney and his campaign staff decided that they could win the election if they could manage to win white males by a landslide. That didn’t happen. Barack Obama won the youth vote. Barack Obama won the Latino vote, the Black vote and won 42% of white women. Barack Obama also won the majority the Jewish vote in states like Florida. Barack Obama won the majority of Americans making under a hundred thousand dollars a year. This broad coalition of minorities, women and the non-rich equals victory.

Barack Obama put together a winning coalition. Mitt Romney decided he did not need a coalition. He could win the United States by alienating everybody and embracing white men. Thankfully, in 2012, that’s not a winning strategy.

By |2012-11-08T22:31:51-04:00November 8th, 2012|Elections|Comments Off on So what happened? How did Barack Obama win?

The Progressive case to vote against the Senate Healthcare bill

Many years ago, Markos was a dude like you and me. At parties, once everyone was all liquored up, folks would listen to him. It is the same way with me. Once everyone has a few, they will listen to anyone. That was then. Now, Markos has an audience of hundredss of thousands, if not millions. Markos has grown with his audience. He has tailored his rants. He makes thoughtful arguments that some of the best columnists in the world don’t or can’t make.

Markos makes an excellent case for giving the Senate a big fat raspberry.

(Raspberry at 2:19)


Ezra Klein takes me to task for my opposition to the mandate, pointing out that Switzerland, among other systems, have mandates that require citizens to purchase health insurance from private insurers. It’s true. They do. Those countries also have strict regulatory regimes that heavily regulate those insurance companies. In Switzerland, for example, insurance companies cannot profit from the essential benefits plan everyone must purchase. That’s kind of an important detail missing from the Senate’s monstrosity of a bill. In addition, Switzerland also strictly regulates the price of medicines and medical devices — something this Senate has explicitly refused to allow.

Give me those kinds of restrictions to the Senate bill, and I’ll rethink my opposition.

Then there’s Nate Silver and his 20 questions For Bill Killers, which I’ll happily answer:

  1. Over the medium term, how many other opportunities will exist to provide in excess of $100 billion per year in public subsidies to poor and sick people?

The assumption here is that this bill is the only option on the table. The House still has a say in the matter. And really, the point of reform isn’t to shovel taxpayer dollars to the insurance companies, it’s to expand care and lower costs. I’m not willing to surrender on costs.

2. Would a bill that contained $50 billion in additional subsidies for people making less than 250% of poverty be acceptable?

This betrays a simplistic view of liberals, as if our answer is to merely shovel money at a problem. What we’re looking for is good policy, which in this case, would also be good politics. So no, throwing money at the insurance companies doesn’t change a thing. The insurance industry would simply absorb the new subsidies just like universities have raised tuition to shovel up any increases in financial aid.

3.  Where is the evidence that the plan, as constructed, would substantially increase insurance industry profit margins, particularly when it is funded in part via a tax on insurers?

Where is the evidence that insurance companies would rig the system to extract record profits? I don’t know. Perhaps the last decade or two might provide the answer.

4. Why are some of the same people who are criticizing the bill’s lack of cost control also criticizing the inclusion of the excise tax, which is one of the few cost control mechanisms to have survived the process?

Because it is a measure that would disproportionately affect blue collar workers in high-risk jobs, or workers that have given concessions on wages to preserve good benefits packages. Limit that provision to people making over X amount (say, $100K/year), and I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

5. Why are some of the same people who are criticizing the bill’s lack of cost control also criticizing the inclusion of the individual mandate, which is key to controlling premiums in the individual market?

Because without premium caps or a public-run competitive option, there is no incentive for them to lower their premiums. They have a monopoly, and monopolies aren’t in the business of unilaterally reducing their prices. There are two ways to force them to do so — government regulation or market competition. The former is out, and the latter is inadequate.

6. Would concerns about the political downside to the individual mandate in fact substantially be altered if a public plan were included among the choices? Might not the Republican talking point become: “forcing you to buy government-run insurance?”

If you start worrying about Republican talking points, you’ve lost the game. They’re accusing Democrats of trying to kill grandma. They’re not going to back off because a talking point isn’t 100 percent accurate. 2010 will be the year of the “commie socialist Democrats”, no matter what health care reform bill is passed.

In any case, Republicans have tried to destroy socialist programs such as Medicare and Social Security for years. If people like a program, there’s nothing the GOP can do about it.

Please read more of his thoughts. I think that Markos has done an excellent job at summarizing the thoughts of those of us who are trying to get behind this bill. There are some good things in this bill. Unfortunately, I feel that supporting this bill is like buying a car without the engine. There simply ain’t much there.

By |2009-12-16T22:44:17-04:00December 16th, 2009|Healthcare, Senate|Comments Off on The Progressive case to vote against the Senate Healthcare bill
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