Can we all just step back for a moment and think about the fact that it was Nancy Pelosi who saved the global economy last night?
The fiscal cliff bill passed the Senate late New Year’s Eve. The House refused to take it up then. But Speaker Boehner already agreed that he would allow any bill passed by the Senate to go to the House floor for debate.
Now, modern House politics generally follows something called the Hastert Rule, which basically says that a bill won’t be allowed to reach the floor unless it has support from the majority of the majority. In other words, since Republicans control the House, only bills that are supported by the majority of Republicans generally get debated. Speaker Boehner already agreed to waive that rule and allow the bill to be debated regardless of popular support from his own party.
Here’s the thing: House Speakers do not want to need minority votes. Speaker Boehner does not want to ever have to go to Nancy Pelosi and ask her if she can get enough of her caucus to vote on something. If he can’t control his own party, he’s a weak speaker.
Last night, the fiscal cliff bill needed 218 votes to pass. It passed 257 to 167. Here are the statistics that are really interesting: Only 85 Republicans voted for it. That’s only 35% of the caucus. The rest of the votes came from Democrats.
Speaker Boehner failed to lead his own party. He couldn’t guarantee enough votes from his own caucus, and so Nancy Pelosi — who actually knows how to lead her Democratic caucus — had to come in and save the day.
It’s worth noting that this whole bill is a joke. But it’s better than nothing. And at least the global economy isn’t in shambles.
It’s been a couple of days since President Obama won his bid for re-election. I was a nervous wreck in the hours before the election was called. While all of the polls showed that the President had an advantage in the electoral college, his state-by-state leads were fairly small — most of them only had him ahead by a point or two — and if Republicans could get out the vote, those states could easily switch.
But it’s over now. Obama won. Democrats gained some ground in the Senate. And Republicans retained a slightly smaller majority in the House. In January, we will essentially have the same government we have now. Barack Obama will be President, Joe Biden will be Vice President. Harry Reid will control the Senate. And John Boehner will be Speaker.
We still have a divided government. And that means that something has to change.
President Obama handily won this election. If Florida ever finishes counting its votes, the President will have won 332 electoral votes to Governor Romney’s 206. This election wasn’t even close in terms of the electoral college.
If 2010 was a ‘shellacking’ for Congressional Democrats, 2012 should be for Republicans as well. Republicans were poised to take control of the Senate. In August, no one thought Democrats had a chance of retaining control, but they actually ended up gaining seats. While Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to be holding the Speaker’s gavel in the next Congress, the minority leader’s party will have a stronger voice in the House.
With the same basic government that has been in a near gridlock for the last two years, how are we going to function for the next two? We can’t go on like this anymore.
The age of the Tea Party has to end. The conservative experiment of far right, extreme ‘no-compromise’ partisan politics within the Republican party has failed. And Republican leaders need to step up and take control of their party again.
I would love nothing more than to see a Congress with Harry Reid as Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. I say that not because of any party or ideological affiliation, but because the Republican party has ceased to function.
The United States lost its perfect credit rating. While Republicans blame the Obama administration and Senate Democrats, they fail to look at the actual reasons given by the credit agencies. Those agencies specifically cite the Republican party and its lack of leadership while in control of the House of Representatives. Raising the debt ceiling is a no-brainer. It’s been done dozens of times over the last several decades. The Tea Party comes into Congress, doesn’t understand what the debt ceiling is, and the government loses its credit rating.
Over the summer, political writers were reporting that Republican leaders were waiting until the Presidential election was over before it decided on a strategy for the new Congress. The rumblings suggested that, should Governor Romney lose the election and Barack Obama remain in the White House, GOP Congressional leaders would begin to take back control of their party.
Over the last two years, John Boehner has been the most inept Speaker of House in modern history. His election was the result of a large influx of Tea Party Republicans who neither understood the role of government, nor how a two-party system of government works. They refused to compromise. When Speaker Boehner would discuss and negotiate legislation with President Obama or Senate leadership, he simply could not guarantee votes on any particular issue — his caucus was too unpredictable.
Speaker Boehner needs to find some way controlling his party again. Republicans do not control the Senate and they do not control the White House. Representatives are elected to govern this nation, not thwart the legislative process.
That being said, Democrats also have to realize that they do not control the House. And they should not act like they do. The American electorate chose a split Congress. And the time for playing partisan politics is over. This country is in the midst of an economic recovery and massive social change. We simply cannot afford another two years to be wasted on petty politics.
(Pictured: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker John Boehner, President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell)
The two-party system is genius. When it works, it works well. Both parties have visions for how the country should operate. When they disagree, they come together and debate. Out of those debates, negotiations, and compromises come the best option for America.
Congress is not expected to be back in session until the new Congress convenes on January 3, 2013. President Obama’s first phone call that day needs to be to Speaker Boehner. He needs to meet with the Speaker and they need to discuss and work out a plan for how they can work together. All Congressional leaders — the Speaker, House majority and minority leaders, and Senate majority and minority leaders — need to work with the White House to find a way to work together.
Republicans, we need you to do your jobs. The Tea Party experiment has failed. We need you to believe in facts. We need you to accept your role in governing again. We need to you to stop obstructing the legislative process. Democrats clearly have an agenda, and there are parts of it with which you do not agree. That’s okay. If you have legitimate disagreements with a policy position, engage in debate, negotiations, and compromise. That goes for Democrats, too. The fact is that we have a divided government that needs to come together for the good of the nation. Work together and make America great again.
I may be somewhat idealistic, but I’m cautiously optimistic about the new Congress. House Republican leaders are just as tired of not getting anything done as the rest of the country is. I’m hopeful that they will begin to compromise and negotiate in good faith once again. When parties work together, things get done, and America is great.
I was looking for an electoral map projection on the Fox News website to see how their projections compared with reality. I couldn’t find one, but they did have this nifty do-it-yourself projection tool.
This is how I see Obama winning even without Ohio:
Of the swing states, he has to win:
- Virginia (according to HuffPost*, he’s up by +2 points)
- Colorado (+1)
- New Hampshire (+2)
- Iowa (+3)
(*HuffPost tends to be a little more conservative than other news outlets with their polling averages)
Those states, combined with traditionally-blue states and D.C. should get him to 270 even without Ohio. But if he loses even one of them, he’s toast. Romney would only come up to 268 if he lost all four of these swing states and won Ohio. Recent polling over the weekend also suggests that Florida might actually be in play again as well. But for my projections, I just assumed it would go to Romney. If Obama could win Florida and just one other swing state, he’d pass 270 handily. Other swing states such as Nevada and Wisconsin are almost certainly going to go blue, so I already credited Obama with those electoral votes.
According to recent polls, Ohio is pretty firmly blue. But there are too many unknowns right now. The state has passed voter suppression laws. Its early voting times and policies are confusing and screwed up.
And, oh yeah, Mitt Romney’s son bought the company that owns the voting machines. I don’t know what kind of access that gives him to actual numbers, but something just smells fishy about the whole thing. [*I was wrong about Tagg Romney owning voting machines. Romney’s son doesn’t own those machines, but some of his biggest donors do.] So, in short, I’m not ready to give Ohio to Obama just yet. There’s just too much that could go wrong.
If he does end up winning Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, he has much easier to road to 270. He could lose Colorado and Iowa, but he’d have to keep New Hampshire and Virginia. Or he could lose Virginia and New Hampshire, but win Colorado and Iowa. Or a couple of other scenarios. The point is, it’s very plausible that he’d win if he won Ohio, considering he’s up in all of those states.
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight is projecting that the President will win 307 electoral votes. Silver has an extremely intricate statistical analysis formula that correctly predicted the winner in 49/50 states in 2008. He’s currently giving President Obama an 86% chance of winning the electoral college. His analyses are also giving Obama at least a 70% chance of winning in the swing states I listed above.
The point is that this is an uphill battle for Romney. Ohio is crucial to his reaching 270, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. President Obama, however, can
easily conceivably win this election even without Ohio.
Let’s forget about partisan politics for a moment. Let’s not focus on taxes, the economy, or foreign policy right now. Let’s not even discuss the candidates’ plans for FEMA and disaster relief. Let’s just look at one of the most important aspects of the presidency: leadership.
This is Mitt Romney’s version of leadership during Sandy. I realize that he was not in a position to send any kind of federal help or really do anything. In all honesty, President Obama’s actions during Sandy really could win him the election — the nation saw him acting as the President and showing true leadership in a crisis situation.
Romney, though, made a crucial misstep. The day after Sandy pummeled the East Coast, the Romney campaign transformed their campaign event into a relief event. The campaign encouraged supporters to bring canned food, non-perishables, diapers, etc. to be donated to the Red Cross.
Here’s the problem — the Red Cross doesn’t want any of that. It’s a natural, very human reaction to want to donate food and other necessary items to relief organizations. As individuals, we may very well want to do that and organize community-wide food drives to help those in need. But the Red Cross specifically says on their website that in most cases, they do not accept any donations other than cash. When you donate a lot of other items — food, clothing, water, etc. — the Red Cross has to put staff members on the ground to sort through it, to make sure it’s good, to organize where it needs to go. That takes a lot of manpower they could be using in the field.
It is entirely understandable for individuals to make a mistake like this. The desire to collect food and donate it comes from the right place, but it’s not the right thing to do in most cases. That’s why we need leadership.
Mitt Romney’s response to Sandy was a complete failure in leadership. Not only did he collect thousands of dollars of food (for a photo-op, no less — but let’s not talk about that), but as a national candidate, he sent the message to thousands — millions — of other people in the United States that they should do that, too.
I understand that Governor Romney needed to do something for the face of his campaign. He needed to seem presidential in the wake of this storm, even though he had no presidential power to execute.
I can’t blame the governor for wanting to make a grand gesture, but when you’re running for an office that will require you lead the nation through natural disasters like this, you need to make sure you’re displaying strong leadership skills.
Mitt Romney didn’t. He could have used this time at the end of the campaign to focus on bipartisanism and come together, as President Obama did, to help those affected by Sandy.
If this is the type of leadership for which Governor Romney is so famous, then America is in trouble if he is elected.
This is true leadership. The President cancelled several days of campaigning so he could work with the governors of the states affected by Sandy. Pictured above is President Obama and New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie aboard Marine One. These two are political enemies. The vitriol with which Christie has spoken about the President and his policies over the last several months is astounding. Yet they came together to provide relief to New Jersey citizens.
This is what leadership is about. We can argue about politics, and the economy, and whether or not gays should be allowed to marry all we want, but the job of the President is to be a leader. Not just the leader of his party. Not just the President of the Democrats. Not just the President of the one percent. A leader does not write off 47% of the country just because it’s politically inconvenient. A leader works with his political enemies for good the nation.
Mitt Romney’s failure in leadership during this time is utterly astounding when compared to President Obama’s example of what the presidency actually means.
A False Equivalency
News reports and headlines coming out of the Republican National Convention last week were pretty disturbing. As much as Fox News and the Republicans complain about the evil “liberal” media being biased, many of the reports I heard bent over backwards to be “balanced.”
Case in point: I was driving home from class the day after Paul Ryan’s pants-on-fire speech, and the radio station I listen to broke for news. The reporter gave an overview of Ryan’s speech and noted that “some on the left are challenging the truth of some of Ryan’s claims.”
Other headlines in newspapers and websites read similar to “Dems Question Ryan’s Facts.”
The media set up a dichotomy in which each position could be construed as valid. By noting that it was “the left” or “democrats” that questioned the facts in Ryan’s speech, news outlets fueled a partisan controversy.
Those reporters could have said, “Ryan was wrong. Here’s why.” Pointing out something that is factually wrong is not being unbalanced. That’s the job of the news media.
I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that it doesn’t matter who gets elected — we all want the same thing, we just have different approaches to get it. That’s not the reality.
There is a false equivalency that people are people. One side can be more right than the other. Republicans don’t believe in climate change. They’re wrong. Factually. Scientifically. Ethically. There is hard data and a consensus in the scientific community that says climate change is real. Yet newspaper headlines keep the “debate” over its validity in question by lending credence to the right’s rejection of facts.
The news media is so terrified of being considered biased toward President Obama or the Democrats that they have stopped doing their jobs. They give equal time to unequal ideas. But they don’t seem to understand that.
There is a difference between the fundamental ideologies of the left and right. But they are not equal. Not even a little bit. And when the news media embraces this false equivalency, it does a huge disservice to the American electorate.
I should mention that while some news outlets strive to show the equivalency of the different positions, others are actually tackling the issues head on. It’s just a shame that most of the tackling happens in the prime time ‘opinion’ and ‘commentary’ segments, not during the actual news shows. And trust me, GOP, when CNN starts calling you out on your BS, you’re very wrong.