The Intransigent Conservative
Friday, January 25, 2013
View the story "Friday’s Florilegium (1/25/13)" on Storify
Friday’s Florilegium (1/25/13)
· Fri, Jan 25 2013 20:44:45
the Senate approved a deal
that will keep the 60-vote threshold for halting a filibuster but will streamline some of the more cumbersome procedures. These changes, crafted in part by John McCain, will effectively “
thwart the power of a small band of conservatives
who have used the Senate’s complicated rules to their advantage.”
Sean Trende (
) writes that a statistical analysis of future presidential, House and Senate races suggests that Democrats should be wary of wishing for filibuster reforms. Trende’s analysis shows that Republican trifectas (control of the presidency, House, and Senate) are much more likely than Democratic trifectas in the near future,
by a 20% to 3% margin
“Even if (Harry) Reid were to lower the number of votes needed to move legislation through the Senate to 20 votes, it still wouldn’t significantly advance the Democratic cause in Congress,
because the Republican House acts as an effective filibuster
Trende writes that Democrats may have a short term structural demographic edge over Republicans in the race for the presidency, but in the long run each party has won the popular vote twenty times. For control of the House, he notes that given the current district configurations and tightly packed geographic Democratic constituencies, it is difficult for Democrats to retake the House (except in wave years).
Trende assumes that Democrats will win two-thirds of the presidential elections in the short-to-medium term, and will win the House 20% of the time.
“Take 2012 as an example. With an electorate that featured one of the most favorable demographic tilts toward Democrats in recent memory, with a president winning by a decent margin, and with Democrats even winning the popular vote for the House by a point,
Republicans won the third-largest number of seats they have enjoyed after an election since the 1920s.
Almost half of Trende’s column is devoted to a rigorous statistical analysis of the Senate, using Monte Carlo simulations to quantify the Republicans natural advantage in future Senate races. He estimates the percentage of the vote that each state will cast for each party, using the past five presidential elections as a base line with a few statistical corrections.
The Senate is a natural GOP gerrymander
. Consider: Mitt Romney lost by 3.8 points, but still carried 24 states. John McCain lost by 7.3 points, but carried 22 states. On the other hand, when John Kerry lost by only 2.5 points, he carried just 19 states.
Twenty-seven states currently have Republican PVIs
, meaning that in a completely neutral environment, we’d expect them to vote for a Republican.”
“…running our simulation 2,000 times, we find Republicans winning control of the Senate
74 percent of the time
, with 51 seats on average… And even if this is a touch too optimistic for Republicans, our House and presidential estimates are probably a touch too optimistic for Democrats.”
Already we can see the problem for the Democrats -- control of just the Senate is very difficult for them to maintain over the long haul
. At the same time, Republicans should never achieve a filibuster-proof majority; the best they do in our simulation is 59 seats, once every 1,000 elections.”
Since we know that Democrats have almost no understanding of basic math, it comes as no surprise that they also have no understanding of how unlikely it is that they will control the White House and all of Congress.
“Weakening the filibuster was a perfectly sensible goal for liberals back in the 1970s, when Democrats arguably had natural Senate and House majorities, and their main goal was to diminish the ability of Southern Democrats to cross the liberal leadership.
But it makes much less sense today
There’s no immediate benefit for Democrats
, little short- or medium-term benefit, and some potentially catastrophic downsides for them during that time frame.”
Why filibuster reform is problematic for Democrats. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/01/24/why_democrats_should_fear_filibuster_reform.htmlSean Trendē
Jonathan S. Tobin (
) answers Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s infamous question, “What difference does it make?”:
“An administration that sought, for political purposes, to give the American people the idea that al-Qaeda had been ‘decimated’ and was effectively out of commission
had a clear motive during a presidential campaign to mislead the public about Benghazi
. The fact that questions are still unanswered about this crime and that Clinton and President Obama seem more interested in burying this story along with the four Americans that died is
an outrage that won’t be forgotten
“The problem here is not just what she considers an irrelevant question from Johnson or a mere ‘difference of opinion’–as she characterized Senator John McCain’s scathing attack on her record on the issue–
but a belief that four dead Americans in Benghazi was really not such an earth-shaking event
‘What difference does it make’
is an answer that ought to hang over Hillary Clinton for the rest of her public career. It is just one more indication that what happened after Benghazi in the State Department was akin to a cover up. Should Clinton run for president in 2016,
this is a story that won’t go away
. Nor should it.”
Hillary's "What difference does it make?" answer about admin Benghazi lies will haunt her in 2016. http://goo.gl/EFl89Jonathan S. Tobin
Robert J. Samuelson writes that there was a “
” to Obama’s second inaugural address. There are, in fact, daunting realities to the problems of paying for the retirement of the baby boom and climate change, which cannot be solved solely with rousing rhetoric and political grit.
“Excluding (Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid) programs from even modest budget cuts — as Obama seems inclined to do —
imposes huge costs on the young
. Their taxes will rise, big deficits will persist or spending cuts will be concentrated on other programs more important to the working population (for starters, grants to state and local governments). There’s no honest way around these conflicts, but
Obama pretended they don’t exist
“On climate change, the difficulty is greater. Environmentalists argue that emissions from fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) need to be cut 50 percent to 80 percent by mid-century to avoid a ruinous warming.
The problem is that there’s simply no plausible way to get from here to there without, in effect, shutting down the world economy
… The politics of climate change are excruciatingly difficult. Do we make heroic efforts (involving more regulations, subsidies or energy taxes) to curb emissions when any U.S. decreases would have only a tiny global effect?”
“Why are Americans so disillusioned with politics? One reason is that our leaders — and this applies to both parties — often create narratives that seem uplifting and convincing only because
they are completely detached from underlying realities
. These fantasies transcend routine rhetorical flourishes and self-serving exaggerations and simplifications. But sooner or later, the realities assert themselves. People grasp that they’ve been misled. They feel betrayed; there’s a backlash.”
President Make-BelieveOn the baby boom, Obama said: "We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country an...
, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes that Obama may be tired of listening to entitlement program critics, who are alarmed about the mounting evidence of increasing state dependency, but this debate is far from over, “because the country's social-welfare spending is generating severe and mounting hazards for the nation.
These hazards are not only fiscal but moral
“Over the 50-plus years since 1960, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, entitlement transfers—government payments of cash, goods and services to citizens—have been growing
twice as fast
as overall personal income.”
“According to the BEA, America's myriad social-welfare programs (the federal bureaucracy apparently cannot determine exactly how many of these there are) currently dispense entitlement benefits of
more than $2.3 trillion annually
“In 1960, according to the Office of Management and Budget, social-welfare programs accounted for less than a third of all federal spending. Today, entitlement programs account for
nearly two-thirds of federal spending
“According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau,
nearly half (49%) of Americans
today live in homes receiving one or more government transfer benefits. That percentage is up almost 20 points from the early 1980s.”
“At this writing, about 35% of Americans (well over 100 million people) are accepting money, goods or services from ‘means-tested’ government programs.
This percentage is twice as high as in the early 1980s
“As entitlement outlays have risen, there has been flight of men from the work force… Arithmetically speaking, the recent American flight from work has largely been
a flight to government disability programs
… On the current trajectory, the Social Security disability fund is projected to run out of money during Mr. Obama's second term.”
“The moral hazard embedded in the explosion of social-welfare programs is plain. Transfers funded by other people's money tend to foster a pernicious
‘something for nothing’
mentality—especially when those transfers seem to be progressively and relentlessly growing, year by year.
This ‘taker’ mentality can only weaken civil society
—even as it places ever-heavier burdens on taxpayers.”
Nicholas Eberstadt: Yes, Mr. President, We Are a Nation of TakersIn President Obama's second inaugural address, he not only outlined an ambitious agenda for his second term but also seemed intent on shu...
Paul Kengor wonders if we are at the end of the Reagan era, now that a self-described conservative, Reagan-loving electorate has twice voted for Obama. Kengor accurately lays the blame squarely on this ignorant, senseless, and self-contradictory electorate.
“Alas, with Obama’s re-coronation, liberals are glorying in an altogether new epoch, one of supreme significance to their ideological resurgence:
the end of the Reagan era
… Sadly, I must admit, as a Reagan scholar and admirer, that they are largely correct.
Obama’s reelection does, to a notable degree, end the Reagan era
“…Barack Obama is indeed in the process of undoing the Reagan era. He has done so courtesy of
a hopelessly oblivious American public
, one that exhibits mindlessly schizophrenic voting behavior.”
“…when you break down the data, and ask voters questions like whether they prefer more taxes and more government, well, they generally don’t —
even when they vote that way
. They favor the conservative vision. It appeals to them. And though your television may have convinced you that half of America is gay, well, it’s far and away not — and the vast majority don’t support gay marriage either (not yet), or taxpayer-funding of abortion.
No, but they vote for candidates who do
“The deeper truth, however, is that the American voter cannot be trusted;
the American voter cannot be depended upon to vote rationally
. Other elements, far more decisive, influence their voting behavior, such as (among others) the personalities and personas and public images of presidential candidates, the campaigns run by the candidates and their advisers (the David Axelrod factor), and, most critically of all, the liberal mainstream media that serves as a 24/7 full-time partisan/propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.”
The End of the Reagan Era?Barack Obama's re-christening has arrived. It commenced with a small private ceremony January 20, Sunday - God's day. The actual festivit...
, Gallup's Editor in Chief, concludes with their polling that Obama faces obvious challenges ahead since “
less than four in 10
Americans rate the nation's current situation on the positive end of a zero to 10 scale and that
slightly less than half
project that the state of the nation will be positive in five years.”
“The 48% who give a six to 10 ranking when asked to project the status of the U.S. five years from now is tied with the 1979 measure as
the lowest in Gallup's history of asking the question
. Additionally, the 40% who give a negative rating (zero to four) when asked to look ahead is
lower than at any point in history
. These negative ratings include 10% who say the situation of the country in five years will be zero, the worst they can imagine.”
“In short, Republicans overwhelmingly say that the best times are behind the country, while Democrats look ahead and say the best times are ahead… The 60-percentage-point (
15% versus 75%
) partisan difference in optimism about the state of the nation in five years is particularly noteworthy. Democrats are overwhelmingly positive about the state the nation will find itself in in five years,
while Republicans are just as markedly negative
Americans Downbeat on State of U.S., Prospects for FuturePRINCETON, NJ -- U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term at a time when Americans are as negative about the state of the count...
Bryan R. Lawrence, founder of investment firm Oakcliff Capital, writes that the Treasury Department’s annual financial report highlights that our finances are unsustainable unless GDP growth rates increase and health care is delivered with better results and lower costs.
“The 2012 annual report for the federal government, released last week, continues to use dubious accounting standards to avoid putting the cost of government retirement promises into the headline deficit of $1.1 trillion… One example is the cost, in today’s dollars, to make Social Security and Medicare solvent for the next 75 years.
This grew to $38.6 trillion, an increase of $4.7 trillion over the prior year
“Every year of slow growth decreases the amount brought in from payroll taxes.
This hits younger Americans twice
, with a smaller economy and higher personal income tax rates to pay for baby-boomer retirements.”
“Without the 3 percent growth that the U.S. economy has historically delivered, the promises we have made ourselves will be even more unaffordable.
Why aren’t we focused on boosting growth?
“…if the pilot programs (in ObamaCare) fail, personal income taxes on all Americans would have to increase to unprecedented levels.
Taxes that high will crush growth
, making health-care promises even less affordable.”
Health care threatens to crush U.S. growthThe 2012 annual report for the federal government, released last week, continues to use dubious accounting standards to avoid putting the...
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