Republican

5 Obamacare Facts Republicans Don’t Want To Talk About

K-Sebelius Resized

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius- Photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund via Flickr

If Kathleen Sebelius personally sabotaged Healthcare dot gov, shouldn’t she be the GOP 2016 frontrunner?

The National Memo

1.  People Want To Give It A Chance

2.  If Canceling Insurance Is Bad, Repealing Obamacare Would Be A Nightmare

3.  We Don’t Have Real Sign-Up Numbers And That’s Not A Big Deal — Yet

4.  Republicans Have Made The Problems They’re Complaining About Worse

5.  The Law’s Biggest Disadvantage Is Now Its Biggest Advantage

 

Kos’ Sunday Talk: Beyond repair

Daily Kos

Monday morning, in an effort to distract America from the technical difficultiesplaguing healthcare.govPresident Obama staged a #FalseFaint operation.

Although he did a heckuva job, Obama’smission was not quite accomplished.

Luckily for him, the website’s problemspale in comparison to those faced by the Republican party.

No doubt, the biggest issue currentlyafflicting the GOP is the virus known as “the tea party“; as shown in poll afterpoll after poll, it’s dragging Republicans down to previously uncharted depths.

Now, I’m no expert, but it seems to me that the GOP’s best bet might just be tostart over from scratch.

 

Morning lineup:

Meet the Press: Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R); Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D); Rep.Peter King (R-NY); Roundtable: Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), Neera Tanden (Center for American Progress) and Republican Strategist Alex Castellanos.Face the Nation: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA); Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); Roundtable:Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal), Former Press Secretary to LBJ Tom JohnsonBob Woodward (Washington Post) and Author Phil Shenon.

This Week: Former Vice President Dick Cheney (R); Sen. John Barasso (R-WY); Sen.Joe Manchin (D-WV); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna BrazileS.E. Cupp(CNN), Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) and Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard).

Fox News Sunday: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R); Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); RoundtableBrit Hume (Fox News), Peter Baker (New York Times), George Will (Washington Post) and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Former Obama Health Policy Adviser Dr. Ezekial Emanuel; Rep. John Fleming (R-KA); Ross Douthat (New Yorrk Times);Cornell Belcher (CNN); A.B. Stoddard (The Hill)

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: the first eyewitness account from a Westerner who was on the ground in Benghazi during the deadly al Qaeda attack on the U.S. consulate (preview); an interview with former Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morell (preview); and, a backstage look at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (preview).

GOP’s Obamacare conspiracy: Sabotage from the inside

GOP's Obamacare conspiracy: Sabotage from the inside

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asks a question during the committee’s hearing with contractors that built the federal government’s health care websites, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. (Credit: AP/Evan Vucci)

Salon

Yes, the Affordable Care Act rollout of the exchanges is a mess — and I agree with Brian Beutler and Jonathan Cohn that liberals should be pressing the White House hard to get it fixed, and with Ezra Klein that the ACA’s “success doesn’t depend on spin or solidarity. What matters for the law — and for the people who are depending on it — is how well it actually works.”

So I definitely don’t think the president and his administration should be let off the hook for the very real problems that have plagued the program this month.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that whatever their own responsibility for what’s gone wrong, the White House shares responsibility with the Republicans who have spent three years actively attempting to undermine the law. I’m not talking about repeal votes, which (while silly after a while) were totally legitimate, or about running against the program in subsequent elections, which was again entirely fair. No, I’m talking about actions designed — usually openly — not to make the law work better in their view, but to make it harder for the law to work well.

While some of these had obvious direct effects, most of them did not. And it’s hard, in most cases, to draw a direct causal line between disruptive actions and specific malfunctions in the Web site. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe that any of these actively helped make the program run smoothly, and very easy to believe that the cumulative effect had at least some part to play in the October fiasco. So with all that said, here’s a very incomplete set of eight ways that Republicans attempted, perhaps successfully, to undermine the ACA:

Filibustering personnel: In particular, Senate Republicans prevented the confirmation of an Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid until May, 2013. That’s the agency that has the lead in getting things running. The general conventional wisdom, almost certainly true, is that neither an acting director or a recess appointed director has the clout within an agency of a properly nominated and confirmed presidential appointee.

Passing on state-run exchanges: With over half the states refusing to set up their own marketplaces, the job of the federal government was much larger than originally envisioned. And this was clearly not done with good intentions: ask 100 Republicans whether they believe the states or the federal government does a better job running things, and at least 99 are going to say the states.

Defunding: While the recent major defunding push failed, House Republicans successfully restricted funding for Health and Human Services and the agencies in charge of implementing the ACA, forcing Secretary Sebelius (and presumably various others at the department and various agencies) to scramble to make up for it.

Myths and lies: How many times since March 2010 has someone at the White House or a Democrat in Congress called over to HHS to ask about some crazy rumor that the press or a constituent was asking about? How much time was dedicated to figuring out what it was all about so that it could be properly refuted?

The big lawsuit: Granted, there’s some legitimacy in challenging the Constitutional status of a law, as long as it’s not frivolous, and the partial success of the lawsuit is sufficient to show it wasn’t entirely frivolous. Still, the type of attack involved in the lawsuit made it clear that reform opponents, if they couldn’t defeat the law, would be happy to leave it dysfunctional.

Other lawsuits: There have been plenty of these, and many of them really have been frivolous. As with the one that reached the Supreme Court, all of these have had the effect of delaying implementation, given that the status of the law was under fire.

Medicaid expansion: Not only did the state-by-state fights over Medicaid expansion mean that the program could not work as intended — the ability of states to opt out opens up a large hole for the not-quite-poor — but again, just dealing with this must have been yet another distraction.

Suppressing outreach: The administration knew that it had a major task in publicizing the rollout. What made that harder (and, presumably, distracted them from the critical task of making everything work smoothly) was a bizarre and perverse effort to undermine outreach: organizations such as the NFL were threatened if they helped to publicize the law, and an advertising campaign attempted to scare young people away from wanting to carry any health insurance.

Again: it’s hard to draw a straight line between any of these efforts and the administration’s failures. What we do know, however, is that time is limited; any day that a department secretary spends on one part of her job is a day she can’t focus on a different part. And then some of these had direct effects of increasing the amount of work the federal government had to do (such as the decisions not to run state exchanges) or to delay when they could do that work (such as the lawsuits). Others restricted the resources available. And some were just distractions.

Which leaves the question: how does the October rollout go if none of this had happened? If there had been aggressive oversight by Republicans in the House, and perhaps a few repeal votes, but otherwise elected Republicans had done their best to carry out the law even if they disagreed with it? We’ll never know the answer, and again this kind of question is definitely not intended to deflect the share of the responsibility that the president and his administration should take. But my guess? It would have been a whole different ballgame.

- Don Babets

 

North Carolina GOP Official Who Called Blacks ‘Lazy’ In Daily Show Voter ID Interview Resigns

This article was scheduled for posting this morning.  I apologize for the delay…

*******

The guy being interviewed is one of many officials in North Carolina that have given Black students in particular North Carolina precincts, voting problems beyond belief for this day and age.  Good riddance is the nice way of watching this man’s exit from the NC legislation process.

The Huffington Post

A Republican precinct official in North Carolina resigned from his position Thursday, after The Daily Show aired a segment on the state’s voter ID lawin which he criticized “lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything.”

Don Yelton stepped down from his position in the Buncombe County Republican Party, Buncombe GOP Chairman Henry Mitchell told WRAL.

“When I was a young man you didn’t call a black a black,” Yelton said during the interview. “You called him a negro.”

In a press release, the Buncombe GOP — which has the slogan “Moving forward without forgetting our past” on its website — called Yelton’s comments “offensive, uniformed, and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party.”

“Let me make it very clear, Mr. Yelton’s comments do not reflect the belief or feelings of Buncombe republicans, nor do they mirror any core principle that our party is founded upon,” Mitchell stated. “This mentality will not be supported or propagated within our party.”

Yelton “did not seek the approval of any party official before accepting the interview request,” officials said.

 

Kos’ Abbreviated pundit roundup: Analyzing the Tea Party

Daily Kos

Jon Favreau at The Daily Beast:

The Tea Party is the problem.The Tea Party is the most destructive force in American politics today. Over the last few weeks, it has demonstrated again that its intent is not to shake up the establishment but to burn down the village. As a Democrat, I disagree with its policy positions, but its policy positions alone are not what make the Tea Party so dangerous. What makes the Tea Party dangerous is its members’ willful disregard for the most basic tenets of American democracy. They do not believe in the legitimacy of our president. They do not believe in the legitimacy of decisions handed down by our Supreme Court. Unlike President Obama, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, or a host of other Democratic and Republican lawmakers who grasp the basic reality of politics, they have never, not once shown a willingness to compromise on anything. Merely uttering the word is enough to draw a primary challenge.

All this, despite the fact that the Tea Party represents the views of a small, ever-shrinking fraction of Americans. Even within the Republican Party, its members’ favorability hovers around 50 percent, the lowest of all time. Their recent legislative strategy, a word that can be used only in its loosest sense, led to 144 Tea Party House members voting against a bipartisan compromise simply to open the government and avert default. But when Reuters polled people who weren’t satisfied with last week’s outcome, only 2 percent said it was because the House passed the Senate’s bipartisan bill. Only 5 percent said it was because Republicans compromised. Only 3 percent said it was because default would have taught our government an important lesson. Most people said their main dissatisfaction was with the ugly process the Tea Party dragged us all through.

And yet, somehow, this small minority of Tea Party House members, who represent less than one half of one legislative body in one branch of government, has been given enormous influence over the national agenda—a situation without precedent in American political history. It’s insanity.

Maria Cardona at CNN:

The problem for Boehner as a leader of a fractured caucus is that he is listening to only a small but loud fraction of the American electorate. The voices of this America are vengeful if they don’t get their way. [...] [G]oing to the mat for the tea party might enable Boehner to push them hard to avoid this destructive path next time. It might give him the backbone he will need to stand up to them in the coming months and listen to the other “America” that represents more reasonable middle-of-the-road voices. These also happen to be a majority of the country — Republicans, Democrats and independents. They are the voters that decide presidential elections and are precisely the ones the tea party is alienating. [...]The bigger problem for moderate and pragmatic Republicans is that the tea party doesn’t care about the Republican Party’s shrinking White House prospects. But it does care about its own and about keeping control of the House of Representatives. This could be enough to get the tea party to rethink its strategy.

Americans have had it. The most recent CNN poll shows 54% of Americans think it is a bad thing for the country that the GOP controls Congress. For the first time ever, polls show 60% of voters are ready to boot all of Congress out — including their own representatives.

Jules Witcover at The Baltimore Sun:

Today, Mr. Cruz’ one-man assault on President Obama and more significantly on the leadership of his own party, both in the Senate and across the Capitol in the House, personifies a new McCarthyism on the Hill. It requires a similar intervention by the moderate voices among the congressional Republicans if the party is to restore its own reputation as a partner in responsible governance.Some will argue that Mr. Obama, as president, should remain above any personal confrontation with a single senator low on the totem pole as a freshman, leaving it to the Republicans to deal with Mr. Cruz. Such a presidential intervention, it will be said, will only elevate the brash Texan in the national spotlight, encouraging him to engage with Mr. Obama as a political equal.

But in the 1950s, Eisenhower learned the hard way that trying to ignore Joe McCarthy only encouraged him to press on with his phony attacks on communist infiltration of the Eisenhower State Department and elsewhere. Cruzism has not yet sunk to similar depths today. But the looks and smell of it are all too familiar to any observers of the era of McCarthyism still around.

Peter Schweitzer at The New York Times writes about how our campaign contribution system is essentially legalized extortion:

Consider this: of the thousands of bills introduced in Congress each year, only roughly 5 percent become law. Why do legislators bother proposing so many bills? What if many of those bills are written not to be passed but to pressure people into forking over cash?This is exactly what is happening. Politicians have developed a dizzying array of legislative tactics to bring in money.

Take the maneuver known inside the Beltway as the “tollbooth.” Here the speaker of the House or a powerful committee chairperson will create a procedural obstruction or postponement on the eve of an important vote. Campaign contributions are then implicitly solicited. If the tribute offered by those in favor of the bill’s passage is too small (or if the money from opponents is sufficiently high), the bill is delayed and does not proceed down the legislative highway.

Speaking of money, Juan Williams profiles the money war in the GOP:

As a very high-ranking Republican told me last week: “We have a total split between people who give us $30 and the people who give us $30,000.”The $30 donors are the Tea Party donors. The $30,000 donors are business groups. [...]
It has long been obvious there is money to be made in catering to right-wing anger by demonizing liberals in general and President Obama in particular. But, as Cruz and Palin demonstrate, the new whipping boy for the Tea Party is the current set of Republican leaders.

It is now Republican against Republican. Specifically, Tea Party Republicans against non-Tea Party Republicans.

The only force available to counter Tea Party dollars is big bucks from big business.

Finally, on the Healthcare.gov rollout, Chris Jennings, deputy assistant to the president for Health Policy, cuts through the media frenzy and lays out the facts:

The core of the law — health insurance — works just fine.These plans will not sell out. The prices will not change. We’re only three weeks into a six-month open enrollment period. And while the website will ultimately be the easiest way to buy insurance, it isn’t the only way.

You can call 1-800-318-2596 to apply. You can download an application on HealthCare.gov and mail it in. Or you can check out LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov to find out where you can apply in person. We’re confident you’ll find the new way of buying health insurance much easier than the old way.

The president did not fight so hard for this reform just to build a website. He did it to make health care more secure for people who have it, and more affordable and accessible for people who don’t. That’s what the Affordable Care Act does.

Texas Republican Judge Switches Party, Denouncing GOP as Party of Bigots and Hate-Mongers

This is is not the only defection the GOP will be facing in the next couple of years…

Alternet

A Republican Judge from San Antonio, Texas, has announced he is quitting the GOP and will seek re-election as a Democrat, saying that he can no longer be part of political party whose identity is based on hate, bigotry and destrying people’s lives.

Bexar County Judge Carlo R. Key made his announcement in a YouTube campaign video, where the image shifts between the judge sitting at his bench and screenshots of Republicans—from Sen. Teed Cruz to state politicians—boosting their agenda or career by harming others.

Key’s words speak for themselves. Here’s a transcript, where he ends by urging others who share his moderate temperament and respectful demeanor to join him.

I have tried to live a life of principles. These principles have been shaped by mi familia, my community and my country. In fact, it is my dedication to these principles which has lead me to the law in the first place and has guided me to becoming a judge. These values are simple. I believe that justice demands fairness. It demands careful and intelligent probing of evidence. And above all else, justice can only be served without prejudice toward race, color, creed or whom you choose to love.

These principles have served as the bedrock upon which my rulings have been made. They are also my driving force. That is why I can no longer be a member of the Republican Party. For too long, the Republican Party has been at war with itself. Rational Republican beliefs have given way to character assassination. Pragmatism and principle have been overtaken by pettiness and bigotry. Make no mistake. I have not left the Republican Party. It left me.

I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their ecomonic status. I will not be a member of a party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office rather than disqualifying them. I cannot place my name on the ballot for a political party that is proud to destroy the lives of 100s of 1000s of federal workers over the vain attempt to repeal a law that will provide health care to millions of people throughout our country.

That is why I am announcing that I am now running for re-election as a Democratic candidate for County Court of Law 11 in the 2014 elections. My principles have led me to the Democratic Party. I can only hope that more people of principle will follow me. If you believe these values are your values, then I respectfully ask you to join me and let’s work together to keep dignity, fairness and respect for rule of law in our county courts.   

Texas Democrats welcomed the judge’s decision but said they were not surprised by it.

“I’m not surprised,” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project. “Republican state leaders in Texas have moved so far out of the mainstream. They have become so divisive that fair-minded Texans are turning away. Judge Key is a prominent and respected public official, so his actions appropriately draw attention, but every day I hear from people who formerly supported Republican candidates, but now won’t do it.”

BIG TROUBLE…

 

The Huffington Post

Democrats Have A Shot At Taking Back The House As Republican Popularity Continues To Drop: Poll

A new survey of 25 GOP-held districts shows dwindling favorability for Republican members of the House in the wake of the recent government shutdown.

The survey, conducted by liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling and funded by MoveOn.org, is the third in a series of polls that indicate Democrats have a shot at taking back the House of Representatives in the 2014 election cycle.

The results of the latest survey show that incumbent Republicans in 15 of the 25 districts polled trail generic Democratic candidates. When combined with the results of the previous surveys, the polls show that generic Democratic candidates lead in 37 of 61 GOP-held districts.

When voters were informed their Republican candidate supported the government shutdown, 11 more districts flipped and one race became a tie.

Democrats in the House only need to see a net increase of 17 seats in order to take back the majority. This poll indicates that Democrats could see an increase of as many as 49 seats.

Public Policy Polling indicated several caveats to the results. The surveys were conducted during a high-profile budget crisis debate, a year before the elections will take place. And incumbent Republican candidates were compared to “generic Democrats,” who may not represent the actual candidates each district will see.

“Democrats must recruit strong candidates and run effective campaigns in individual districts if they are to capitalize on the vulnerability revealed by these surveys,” Public Policy Polling’s Jim Williams said of the caveat, “and they must maintain a significant national advantage over Republicans.”

Recent polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and NBC/Wall Street Journal are consistent with the survey’s claim that the Republican party took a hit from the fiscal crisis. Pew found that more Americans blamed Republicans for the shutdown, and NBC/Wall Street Journal found that the Republican party was “badly damaged” by it.

GOP strategist slams ‘the stupid wing of the Republican Party’

Daily Kos

Good times for the GOP:

Republican strategist Mike Murphy chided what he called “the stupid wing of the Republican Party.””There’s tension and there ought to be a questioning of whether we ought to listen to such bad advice,” Murphy said when asked about the influence of conservative groups. “We took a huge brand hit. It’s self-inflicted. … I’m glad there are no elections tomorrow.”

(snip) “I don’t want to go down this road again,” [Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.] said in an interview with The Associated Press, noting that she disagreed with congressional conservatives’ tactics during the budget fight. “What we take from this experience is that there are obviously common-sense problem solvers, and that’s where the party needs to be.”

Nicer than Murphy, Ayotte only implied that Tea Party Republicans lack common sense. I guess that’s a little less harsh than calling them stupid.

Wait, there’s more. Senator Orrin Hatch strongly criticized groups on the right that “aren’t even Republicans but who think they can control the Republican Party.”

Hatch then spoke about the “radicalness” of some of these groups, and when Chuck Todd asked if he was referring to the Heritage Foundation, led by former Senator Jim DeMint, Hatch said “well, yeah.” He added that he and many other Republicans are asking whether Heritage has become “so political” that it’s “in danger of losing it’s clout and its power.”

As for Murphy’s comment, I think we all remember the line from Forrest Gump about stupidity, right?

The President’s Pivot

I like the author’s analogy.  I tend to speak about President Obama’s strategic moves in terms of playing chess, but having read Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War, I think Mr. Blow’s comparison is spot on…

The New York TimesCharles M. Blow

That quote, from Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese treatise “The Art of War,” perfectly captures President Obama’s strategic victory over Tea Party members of Congress on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling debate. It also explains his immediate pivot to another topic that Tea Partyers hate and over which their obstinacy is likely to get the party hammered again: comprehensive immigration reform.

This is a brilliant tactical move on the president’s part. And Republicans know it.

As the G.O.P. was nearing its moment of collapse on the shutdown and debt ceiling, Representative Raúl Labrador, Republican of Idaho, said, “I think it’d be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with him on immigration.” He continued: “And I’m a proponent of immigration reform. So I think what he’s done over the last two and a half weeks — he’s trying to destroy the Republican Party. And I think that anything we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind: which is to try to destroy the Republican Party and not to get good policies.”

The conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer laid out the president’s calculus more bluntly on Fox News: “With immigration, he wins either way. I’m not sure he thinks he can get it passed, seeing the resistance among the Republicans to the deal over the budget. I think he knows he’s not going to have a good chance of getting immigration through, but he thinks — and he’s probably right — that he can exploit this for the midterm election as a way to gin up support, for the Democrats to portray the Republicans as anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, etc.”

Republicans have a tough choice.

They can ride shotgun once again with the politically suicidal Tea Party faction, a group that the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found this week to be “less popular than ever.” They can allow the most strident voices on the far right that oppose comprehensive immigration reform — Rush Limbaugh has likened it to the Republican Party’s “authoring its demise” — to direct their path and further alienate Hispanic voters, who are increasingly coming to see the party as an unwelcoming place. Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote by 44 points last year, and the Republican National Committee’s own autopsy on that loss surmised:

“If Hispanic Americans perceive that a G.O.P. nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e., self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

Or Republicans can take the less likely path and demonstrate that they’ve been cowed enough to move ahead on a major piece of legislation that is supported by the majority of the American people — a July Gallup poll found that 71 percent of Americans believe that passing immigration reform is important. And that would be good not just for the president’s legacy but for the health of the country as a whole.

In a 2012 paper published by the Cato Institute, Raúl Hinojosa Ojeda, director of the North American Integration and Development Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, used computing models to estimate the following:

“Comprehensive immigration reform generates an annual increase in U.S. G.D.P. of at least 0.84 percent. This amounts to $1.5 trillion in additional G.D.P. over 10 years. It also boosts wages for both native-born and newly legalized immigrant workers.”

Comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing and the thing that Americans want. But the far right is hardly concerned with what’s right and has little appetite for agreeing with the will of the majority of the American people (despite talking ad nauseam about standing up for the American people).

The far right is angry at the government and the man at the top of it. According to a Pew Research report released Friday: “Anger at the federal government is most pronounced among Tea Party Republicans. Fully 55 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party say they are angry with the federal government — about double the percentage among non-Tea Party Republicans (27 percent) and Democrats and Democratic leaners (25 percent).”

They have been blinded by that anger. The president knows that. And he knows that blind soldiers don’t often win battles. In choosing to pivot to immigration reform, he has created a win-win scenario for himself and the Democrats. Clever, clever.

Remember the pundits who urged Obama to cave?

MSNBCSteve Benen

Even as the American mainstream turned against congressional Republicans during the recent crises, there were quite a few Beltway pundits who urged President Obama to give in to GOP demands. We talked earlier about what lessons Republicans may have learned from this fiasco, but I can’t help but feel curious about what, if anything, commentators learned, too.

Let’s take National Journal’s Ron Fournier, for example, who argued just last week that Obama “must negotiate” with GOP leaders. He said it was necessary as a “matter of optics,” adding that Republican “obstinacy” is “no excuse.” (Remember, in context, “negotiating” with Republicans meant exploring what concessions the president was prepared to offer – in exchange for nothing – because GOP lawmakers said it was a precondition to their willingness to complete their basic responsibilities.)
Obama ignored the advice, showed some real leadership, and prevailed. A week later, with the benefit of hindsight, Fournier’s advice appears rather misguided.
Which is what made the National Journal writer’s new column that much more interesting.
Just as he did to John McCain in 2008 and to Mitt Romney in 2012, President Obama defeated a lame Republican political team. The GOP’s right wing foolishly shuttered the government and threatened default in exchange for an unreasonable and unattainable concession: Scrap Obamacare. He refused. The GOP caved.
It was all so predictable.
Hmm. If it was all so predictable that the president would stick to his guns and Republicans would cave, why did Fouriner argue – literally just last week – that Obama should stop sticking to his guns and start making concessions to Republicans?
The rest of Fournier’s argument is somewhat confusing. He wants to know, for example, if Obama can “lead.” Didn’t Obama just prove that he could “lead” quite well by winning this fight? In this case, Fournier suggests “lead” means “making Republicans do what they refuse to do,” which doesn’t seem like an altogether fair definition of the word.
The column goes on to ask if Obama “has the guts to anger liberal backers with a budget deal on Social Security and Medicare,” failing to mention that Obama has already angered liberal backers by offering a budget deal on Social Security and Medicare. Fournier also asks, “Is he willing to engage sincerely with Republicans?” overlooking all of the efforts the president has already made to do exactly that.
The columnist also wants to know if Obama wants “a legacy beyond winning two elections and enacting a health care law,” overlooking the Recovery Act, ending the war in Iraq, decimating al Qaeda and killing Osama bin Laden, rescuing the American automotive industry, reforming Wall Street safeguards, advancing civil rights, and scoring several major foreign policy victories.
Fournier says there are “any number of conservative Republicans with a pragmatic streak,” overlooking the fact that each of them have already rejected the notion of a balanced compromise on the budget. Fournier says facts about the shrinking deficit are “both technically wrong and selectively misleading” when they are in fact both technically correct and objectively true.
Fournier also uses words like “governing” and “success” as synonyms for “a center-right debt-reduction deal that most credible economists consider wholly unnecessary.”
The piece goes on to argue, “There is already a lack of seriousness in the air.” On this, I heartily agree.
Update: Fournier believes the item above takes his post from last week out of context. I disagree, but I’m eager for fair-minded readers to consider the relevant pieces and reach their own conclusions. Here’s his piece from last week, in which Fournier argues that Obama “can’t cave,” while also arguing that Obama “must negotiate” with Republicans who were demanding he cave. Here’s his piece from this morning, in which Fournier argues that the president’s posture against negotiation led to a “predictable” victory.
I continue to believe a fair and informed reading supports the observations published above, but I would encourage interested parties to read further and evaluate the arguments on the merits.