Where we are today

This is Tuesday.  The money will run out Thursday and we will go into default unless our political leaders come up with a solution first.  There is a deal pending in the Senate but no guarantee the House will go for it as it as it leaves Obamacare intact.  The Republicans have clearly lost the battle for public opinion over this debt debacle. and it shows in the prospective deal.

Meanwhile, here is a good analysis piece on the constitutional issues involved in the Tea Party’s political stance and preferred strategy.

Stay tuned for more as the week progresses.


Closed for Business

As we predicted, the government shut down last night at midnight.  What does that mean?  Basically, this.

Obama’s speech yesterday afternoon.

We have already been over the events leading up to this but you can read about the last minute back and forth here.

How long will this last?  Hard to say.  Tea Party Republicans want to hold out, much to the chagrin of their more practical party colleagues, because they believe they are right.

How did the Tea Party caucus get so radical, anyway? One analyst’s answer here.

Here’s another take on the evolution of the Republicans, this one by a liberal reporter for the Huffington Post.

A Republican gives his take on the situation here.

Another argues that the problem is that the Tea Partiers took the wrong hostage

Veteran Washington Post reporter Dan Balz argues that regardless of the dissension in their ranks, the Republicans need to learn how to govern.

Has this happened before?  Yup.

Meanwhile, enrollment in the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act begins today.  Almost all Americans will need to sign up for a plan if they are not already covered through an employer or a parent.  What will it cost you?

This is a long piece, but if you want to hear one smart (though leaning liberal) guy’s take on why Tea Partiers are driven so crazy by Obamacare, read this.

And remember, we reach the debt ceiling limit in just 17 days and that has the potential to be much, much worse.  Will the Tea Party Caucus have gotten their need to stand on principle out of their system by then, or will national inconvenience tumble into international disaster?

As I seem to be saying a lot these days, stay tuned.


Quick Catch Up

Quick post on some recent articles to look at.  Fred Kaplan is a smart foreign policy analyst at Slate.com, who wrote this piece after President Obama’s speech on Syria. Though numerous critics are attacking Obama for various style points (sounded too weak, policy messaging was too confused) several commentators have pointed out that he got exactly what he wanted from the confrontation.  What was it he wanted and what was it he got?

On the domestic front, the budget wars continue to heat up and Speaker John Boehner does not seem to have a path forward to keep the government open through the end of the month.  The looming debt ceiling fight is an even more critical text of his leadership skills.  Here is a piece from Politico on the current state of play. How do you think he could resolve his current dilemma?  Can he do that and still keep his job as Speaker?

The Budget is Coming!

At long last the President’s budget is due out tomorrow and already the critics (on both sides) are claiming it is dead in the water.  Just another day in Washington.

The outlines of the budget are here.  Liberals are irate because they claim that Obama is giving up too much to the Republicans at the start of negotiations, meaning that any final deal will be even further to the right.  Conservatives are irate because they just plain don’t like Obama, and even though his budget gives them some spending cuts and other things they have been demanding, it contains revenue increases and they prefer to reduce the deficit through spending cuts alone.

Obama seems to really value the achievement of a bipartisan deficit-reducing budget deal with Congress, but the initial reviews make that sound unlikely, and the budget isn’t even out yet.

The Fiscal “Cliff”

Current state of play, according to Politico.  I don’t know how accurate it is — both sides have an incentive to leak versions that are complimentary to themselves and that serve to enhance their negotiations — but it gives you a good sense of the issues involved and a flavor for the sausage-making process that is politics.

And speaking of sausage-making, the movie Lincoln is the best I have ever seen at conveying the sheer nitty-gritty of the political process.  It’s gripping — I highly recommend it!

Post-Election Stuff

We’ve had nearly a week to digest the election.  What we know is that President Obama won handily, having only lost Indiana and North Carolina from the states he had won in 2008. The popular vote was narrower, as most predicted, but his lead is still at nearly 3 percent of the vote. Overall, he is just about where the fundamentals said he would be.  Nate Silver pretty much nailed this one.

The Democrats also gained a couple of Senate seats, for a 55-45 majority — not the Republican gains that had been anticipated at the start of the election season, but pretty much what we expected once the Todd Akin/Richard Mourdock show got underway.  Red state Indiana actually elected a Democratic senator in what would undoubtedly have been a safe seat for Dick Lugar had he not been primaried by Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock.

Still, we have learned some new things in the last week.

One is how surprised the Romney campaign was by what transpired.  Apparently they believed and in fact encouraged the “unskewing of the polls” that supposedly showed a false Democratic advantage.

A second thing we have learned was how very uneven the campaigns and their ground games were.  The Obama folks had been preparing for a long time for a tough campaign where every vote counted, and they did a good job getting those votes out.  Despite touting a get out the vote strategy of their own, the Romney campaign was stuck with an untried system called “Orca” that crashed on Election Day.

And a third thing we learned is that it will be a while before the Republican Party settles on an explanation for what happened in this election. Currently they are divided by those who think the problem was that Romney was not conservative enough, and those who think the whole party has moved too far to the right. The smart analysis points to the closed information loop many conservatives live in and the need for a reality check.  David Frum has some interesting thoughts about how his party should react.