Category Archives: the 2014 election

The Budget Committee, December, 2013

 
 

If this budget committee spends all this time coming up with a budget that doesn’t reflect the will of the majority then we will know that the war between the 1% and the rest of us is still on. However if they do come up with a “little deal budget”, a moderate budget, it tells us very little.

Since the GOP still seems bent on maximum chaos until 2016, we were almost certain that this work group would produce either no budget or a budget Democrats wouldn’t be able to swallow. Recently a third possibility has emerged, which suggests that, if the GOP is trying to keep things on the down low until the 2014 election (and they have been keeping quite a low profile lately), then they will approve a more moderate budget. News leaking out of the budget committee suggests that this may indeed be the case.

Republicans have already accomplished , after all, so much of their agenda in the 30 states that are Republican-controlled. They have won so many victories at the state and local level and through the incomprehensible rulings in the courts that they probably feel that if they just don’t attract too much attention between now and November then they can keep their majority in the House and also win a majority in the Senate (because Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare).

We shall see what they do at the continuing resolution deadline and when the debt ceiling needs to be raised again. Democrats should not assume that anything has been won if the Republicans don’t raise a fuss right now. They will be trying to look demure (you can laugh here) to get ready for their future (and fantasy) victory. We cannot afford a Republican government while the GOP is on its crusade to drastically cut government. It will be interesting, but hopefully not frightening, to see what that budget committee comes up with.

Democratic action groups must do all in their power to come up with well-constructed campaigns, articles, strategies, and ads to get Democrats elected in the next two elections. We, the people who believe that right now we need Democrats in office, need to contribute to Democratic action groups (when we can) that will help Democrats win in 2014 and again in 2016. There is a lot at stake; at this moment more than ever.

Elect Democrats in 2014.
 
This is the view from the cheap seats.
This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

Can Democrats Win the House in 2014?

 
 

I keep exhorting Americans to vote for Democrats in 2014 but most of the data I am seeing on the internet is not optimistic about attaining this goal. All 435 seats in the House empty out and refill in the 2014 election. This would seem like the perfect occasion for Democrats to win control and make it possible for Obama to avoid being a “lame duck” President and to accomplish some of his agenda. (Although commentary this past week suggests that if he doesn’t win approval to crack the military whip in Syria he will need one of those proverbial nine lives of a cat to avoid subsiding into total political obscurity.) If he gets to tackle jobs and the economy we will see if a bit more stimulus might nudge our very slow economy into a slightly higher gear.

We have actually been pretty much led around by our noses by the Republican Party whose insistence on cutting the deficit and on relative austerity have not been effective at producing a healthy economic environment. Since Obama has been unable to implement most of his economic policies it seems wrong to blame our becalmed economy on President Obama. I would like a chance to see if his ideas would work. Electing Democrats in 2014 would give us two years to see if stimulation would create at least a stiff breeze in our economy.

Republicans did not get much of an opportunity to gut our social safety net even though Obama has offered up Social Security (I’m not sure why as it is the most acceptable of the safety net programs) at least twice while the Republicans refused the bait and let the “grand bargain” languish. Hopefully, with all the things Obama would have on his plate if the House magically skewed Democratic in 2014, he would leave the safety net intact for now. Most Americans seem to believe that the safety net is full of holes that allow those “takers” to sucker the American government into supporting them, although they are also “fakers” and should not actually qualify for government assistance. Therefore, most Americans would like to see the safety net programs made simpler and more carefully targeted to bolster the truly needy, rather than enabling the truly greedy. I don’t mind if we tackle this; I just say all in good time.

So what does the 2014 election for House seats look like? There seems to be no definitive answer to this question but there is speculation by experts in the field of predicting votes. However, I warn you, this speculation, although full of numbers, is about as clear as mud.

The current breakdown in the House is:

201 Democrats              2 Vacant seats               232 Republicans

The author of the article I was reading, Jessica Taylor, of MSNBC (see link below) gives us the following projected data:

v Only 21 seats are true toss-ups (less than 5%)

v 262 incumbents are in safe races and are unlikely to fluctuate

v Fair Vote, a group making projections for elections, will not project a winner for 61 races, because of outside factors which make the races difficult to call

v The Cook Political Report says 7 races are toss-ups, 22 lean Republican or Democratic

v The Rothenberg Political Report says 5 races are pure toss-ups, 13 toss-ups that tilt Republican or Democrat, 11 toss-ups that lean Republican or Democrat

But, this only talks about 29 of the 61 unpredictable votes and is not really very enlightening. Everyone does seem to agree that 61 seats are not predictable at this time.

Competitive seats, Ms. Taylor tells us, dropped from 103 to 99 after redistricting (because of extreme gerrymandering-me, not Ms. Taylor) and after the 2012 elections competitive seats shrunk again to 90. The Fair Vote group expects Republicans to pick up 48 more seats than Democrats so in order to break the odds Democrats would have to win 55 of the 61 special factor races. What a nightmare this is for me and my desire to try out Obama’s jobs/economic agenda. However, there are still a few of those who are optimistic (or living in a fantasy world) voices on the World Wide Web.  I asked Google, can Democrats retake the House in 2014? All sources seem to agree that the Democrats need to take 17 seats without losing any to win the House. Here are some of the links:

The sad part is that since one-third of the Senate is also in play Democrats could lose their majority in the Senate and then the Republicans would control both houses of Congress. I hate to see those pundits win who predict that Obama will subside into the traditional lame duck status of most second term Presidents before he even really gets a chance to be top duck . 

Hold onto your hats, everyone, government, if the Republicans win both houses, could be headed to that little oven that shrinks things. (Shrinky-Dinks?)

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

 

 

 

IRS, No IRS, the ACA and the flat tax – Sexy

 
 
While watching Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday evening, June 5, 2013, my ears were sort of quiescent as they were being assaulted with more of the usual Republican bile about the 157 times that Mr. Shulman of the IRS visited the White House during the past four years, and the sad tales of small-time Tea Party 501(C)(4) filers who got audited, and Bill O’Reilly opining that all this definitely gives powerful credence to Obama’s involvement in profiling and targeting right wing political groups. The problem is that the clues are not adding up the way the GOP would like. It turns out that Mr. Shulman of the IRS was cleared to attend meetings at the White House 157 times, but he only appeared at the White House 11 times over the past four years. Apparently people have to sign in when they actually enter the White House and its precincts. As to the tears of Tea Partiers we can all relate. Not one of us would enjoy being audited by the IRS, especially with the intensity of perusal these folks were subjected to. But most of us would not file a 501 (C)(4) either. Because of the nature of this tax form and tax classification and because of the huge number of these organizations that have filed since Obama took office, it makes perfect sense that the IRS would do an in-depth investigation of these groups. So, although this may look like something a person trying to win an election might do, no connection to the President has been found so far. As for Bill O’Reilly’s opinion and the footage he aired of Senator Issa convicting Obama because of what his gut tells him, neither of these things represents any empirical data nor even a concrete lead.

However, all of a sudden my ears perked up because I heard something new, something I hadn’t thought of. I heard a Senator say that given the chaos within the IRS it would be impossible for the IRS to perform the new duties connected to the Affordable Care Act. This brought me to a real ah-ha moment because I know how hard the Republicans have worked to get rid of Obama’s Health Care plan. I am astounded that I didn’t see this coming. If the GOP cannot connect the dots between the IRS and the oval office, they can still win by driving a huge IRS wedge in front of the ACA, hopefully postponing the ability of the IRS to add the people it needs to add in order to deal with the additional load that Health Care documentation will require. And so, for logistical reasons, the administration might have to postpone implementation of the Affordable Care Act and, if the GOP can stop this plan which they call Obama Care, then the Party will not need to vote for repeal for the 38thtime, and they will have succeeded in derailing Obama’s biggest accomplishment. They just keep pulling these rotten apples out of their pockets and displaying them as if they were fresh fruit. I’m still a bit astounded by this tactic which I did not see coming. If only all this Machiavellian strategy was at work to create jobs and invent clean energy solutions and better schools, then America would be winning instead of watching a bunch of old men turn Washington into a mud wrestling pit. Elect Democrats in 2014. It is our only hope.

Following fast on the heels of Tuesday night’s exercise in creative governance we see a movement to do away with the IRS completely! Yikes! First of all think about the soaring unemployment. A lot of people work for the IRS or in IRS related businesses. Second of all, we would still pay taxes, even in a same-flat-tax-for-all scenario. Who would we pay our taxes to? Who would make sure we paid our taxes correctly? Who would go after people who did not pay their taxes? If there were no IRS, taxes might seem optional. Despite these rather hefty disadvantages, this plan would have one great advantage, at least if you are a Republican, it would finally, once and for all, end Obama Care, aka the Affordable Care Act. Getting the drop on Obama obviously trumps continued employment for Americans. If we are going to have smaller government all these people need to find jobs elsewhere anyway, so let’s just dump them all into the job market at once and see if they sink or swim. It will be a real test if we also take away all the “taker” programs and see if these ex-IRS people can become “makers”. If you dread this extreme social experiment, then elect Democrats in 2014. It is our only hope.