Thursday, September 28, 2023
The charts above reflect the results of the new Monmouth University Poll -- done between September 19th and 24th of a nationwide sample of 814 adults, with a 4.3 point margin of error.
The charts above are from the recent CBS News / YouGov Poll.
These CBS News/YouGov surveys were conducted between September 15-24, 2023. They are based on representative samples of 1,011 registered voters in Iowa and 943 in New Hampshire. The samples were weighted according to gender, age, race, education, and geographic region based on the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. Results here are reported among likely Republican caucus/primary voters, and have a margin of error of ±6.1 points in Iowa (n=458) and ±5.4 points in New Hampshire (n=502).
Why has McCarthy started the impeachment process on President Biden? Alexandria Petri helps McCarthy explain in this delicious bit of satire in The Washington Post:
Hi! House Speaker Kevin McCarthy here! Excited to answer any questions you might have about why I just announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.
Yes, you in the front! Ah, why are we impeaching him? Great question! I can’t wait to find out, either! I assume he must have done something pretty bad, if he’s getting impeached! Something dire, I bet! And I will be back to you very soon with what that thing is. He did TBD. And, of course, the terrible crime of TK TK TK! According to this piece of paper that I have here in my hand, he did “Put Something Here Before You Read This To Anyone.” So, I think that speaks volumes. Also he just gives off a corrupt vibe. Am I using that correctly? In the meantime, just close your eyes and imagine the worst thing a president could possibly have done. No, not that. That was fine, because Donald Trump is special and different. But something else bad! Well, I bet we are going to find that Joe Biden did it, or, if not, his son Hunter did. James Comer has been trying for months to investigate what he insists on referring to as the Biden Crime Family, without much luck — maybe this will be the encouragement he needs!
You know how in medicine, sometimes you have to just go in and start taking organs out while you figure out whether there’s a problem and, if so, what it is? Well, this is like that. Please don’t ask me any follow-ups: I am clearly an expert on medicine! I am a male Republican legislator, the best kind of medical expert there is, and one trusted even more than doctors in many states!
All I know is, people keep asking me to impeach him. Impeachment is something we undertake only for serious crimes and misdemeanors, or because the president is a Democrat and that makes us mad. In that case you can get impeached for reasons such as “Marjorie Taylor Greene asked nicely.” No, I’m sorry. We would never undertake something as serious as an impeachment inquiry for frivolous reasons! That would cheapen it and make it political. We would do it only if the fate of the country were at stake, or it was a Tuesday and we were feeling bored.
Look at it another way. Donald Trump got impeached twice. Donald Trump was the best president in our lifetime, and the second-best president in Joe Biden’s lifetime. (This is a joke about Joe Biden’s age!) So, why would Biden get impeached any fewer times than the most perfect president ever to govern? We owe him at least four impeachments.
No, this claim that Joe Biden is corrupt and diabolical in as-yet-unspecified ways has nothing to do with my other line of attack on Joe Biden, that he is too advanced in years to govern and could not conspire his way out of a paper bag. There is no contradiction here.
Yes, what? Oh, no. I expect that this will be covered with a surprising amount of seriousness by the political media. Please headline any coverage of this something like “We Guess Joe Biden Did Something Worth Impeaching And We Can’t Wait To Learn What It Was.” Or “Republicans Impeaching Joe Biden — For Some Reason, We Have To Think.” Don’t put anything in the headline about how it’s “Just For Funsies” or “Because I Don’t Know What I’m Doing.”
Yes, last question! Is the government going to shut down? Great question! I will say what I always say when people ask me that, as they now seem to do every few weeks: AAAAA STOP ASKING ME THAT, YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE. I thought throwing this inquiry into the mix might help! I mean, I undertook it with all seriousness because the country is in danger. (Is it helping, though?)
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
From The Washington Post editorial board:
The U.S. government will almost certainly shut down on Oct. 1, the work of ultraconservative holdouts who want to “burn the whole place down,” as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put it. Yet, for now, Mr. McCarthy does not appear willing to take away the matches. He could sideline the objectors by calling House Democrats and agreeing to pass bipartisan legislation to fund the government. . . .
The resisters had plenty of chances to bargain, and they have refused. They won’t even approve a defense bill that has everything in it they want. And even if legislation passed the House, the Democratic-controlled Senate would reject it.
Those Democrats have good reason to object to House GOP spending-cut proposals. President Biden and Mr. McCarthy agreed in May to a 2024 and 2025 budget outline that includes some spending cuts (about$180 billion worth of savings in those two years). But the holdouts demand more — and big — cuts. They argue a government shutdown is better than approving a bipartisan budget.
If the objectors’ goal is to control government spending, as they claim, forcing a destabilizing and expensive shutdown over what amounts to only about 10 percent of the federal budget is counterproductive. They don’t want to touch Social Security or Medicare. They refuse to discuss tax policy. They want to increase spending on defense, veterans aid and border control. Their deep concern about federal spending falls entirely on a portion of the “nondefense discretionary” budget, which funds education, transportation, science research, policing, parks, support for low-income Americans and other popular programs.
Meanwhile, a shutdown would hurt the economy. Historically, consumer confidence drops during shutdowns. This could be especially harmful now, as consumers and businesses pull back on spending and banks issue fewer loans. It would also demoralize federal workers at a time when many agencies are struggling to recruit. And it would reaffirm why Fitch downgraded U.S. debt last month, a decision owing largely to political dysfunction. Moody’s — the only one of the three major credit rating agencies that has not downgraded U.S. debt — has already warned a shutdown would be a “negative” in its assessment.
In an ideal world, the House and Senate would pass the necessary 12 agency budget bills by Sept. 30. But that has rarely happened this century; instead, federal budgeting usually involves smashing funding bills into one big package and passing it at the last minute — perhaps after lawmakers have given themselves an extension. That is the only realistic course now: passing a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running until December to give lawmakers time to debate and advance a full 2024 budget. The Senate is expected to approve a bipartisan “CR” by this weekend, a deal far from what the House GOP holdouts are demanding.
There is discussion of a discharge petition in the House, through which a majority of members — Democrats and some Republicans — could force a vote on a CR without Mr. McCarthy’s approval. In return for signing such a petition, moderate Republicans could insist that a bipartisan debt commission be included in any compromise deal. They could also push for Ukraine aid and other supplemental funding requests from the White House to be offset by revenue increases or spending trims elsewhere. At some point, moderate lawmakers from both parties, who represent a much broader swath of the country than the ultra-partisans, have to retake control of the legislative process.
Yet, it is hard for even the most frustrated of moderate Republicans to break ranks with their party leadership by signing on to a discharge petition. Until that changes, Mr. McCarthy is in charge, and the speaker is worried he could lose his job if he strikes a deal with Democrats to pass a CR, because the resisters would move to oust him. He should tell them, “Good luck.” Eventually, he will have to. The only way out of this impasse — in which Republicans control just one chamber of one of the two branches of government responsible for budgeting — involves bipartisan agreement.
Mr. McCarthy can’t lead the Freedom Caucus holdouts to accept this reality. But he can win over the public by putting the nation first, standing with the majority of his own party and getting a deal done — with Democratic votes.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
The chart above reflects the results of the Washington Post / Abc News Poll -- done between September 15th and 20th of a nationwide sample of 1,006 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.
The following post is by Robert Reich:
Dear Mr. President:
Kudos for joining the UAW picket line tomorrow. You’re the first president to ever join a picket line.
But please don’t stop there.
Go on to criticize the CEOs of America’s big corporations who are now raking in more than 350 times what the average American worker is earning (in the 1950s, they took in 20 times).
Blast corporations that are monopolizing their industries.
Condemn firms that are using their profits to buy back shares of stock, polluting the planet with carbon emissions and polluting our democracy with big money.
You won’t be the first Democratic president to do this.
On the eve of the 1936 election, President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned America that business and financial monopolies and war profiteers considered the U.S. government
“as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. … Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.”
America is again in a populist age, when a vast army of Americans have been shafted by big corporations, Wall Street, and the monied interests.
The biggest change over the last three decades — the change lurking behind the insecurities and resentments of the working middle class — has nothing to do with identity politics, “woke”ism, immigration, critical race theory, transgender kids, or any other current Republican bogeymen.
It has directly to do with a huge upward shift in the distribution of income and wealth.
Although total wealth is much greater now than it was four decades ago, the distribution of that wealth is far more unequal. The bottom 50 percent hasn’t budged. Wealth at the top has exploded.
Meanwhile, a declining share of the nation’s wealth has been going to workers, and an exponentially rising share to CEOs and big investors.
This change didn’t happen because of so-called “neutral market forces.” It happened because of policy decisions made over the last four decades. For example:
To open the American economy wide to imports from China. To deregulate Wall Street and allow it to make bets with other people’s money.
To dramatically cut taxes on big corporations and the rich. To let corporations bash unions and fire workers who try to organize.
To encourage activist investors and private equity companies to take over “underperforming” companies and then promptly fire workers and sell off assets. To allow big corporations to become far larger, monopolizing entire industries.
To allow pharmaceutical companies to extend their patents and jack up the prices of critical drugs. To allow oil companies access to federal lands and to special tax write-offs.
To bail out the biggest banks but not homeowners who get caught in the downdrafts. To privatize higher education and force students to take out massive loans. To encourage corporations to buy back their shares of stock rather than reinvest profits.
These policy decisions didn’t just happen, either. They were pushed by wealthy elites on Wall Street and in C-suites who made mammoth donations to politicians on both sides of the aisle — mostly but not exclusively Republican — to ensure that their wishes would be honored.
To your credit, you and most Democratic lawmakers in Congress have pushed for policies that will make the nation more equitable, such as child care and elder care subsidies, student loan forgiveness, and negotiated drug prices. Kudos.
But you’re reluctant to blame CEOs, Wall Street moguls, and the super-rich for what’s happened.
Yet they are to blame, as are their lackeys in Washington.
They have turned their growing wealth into increasing political power to change the rules of the game in ways that further enlarge their wealth and power, while shafting the bottom half.
Condemn them, as did FDR. Name the CEOs, leaders of finance, heads of pharmaceutical companies, defense contractors, internet moguls, and “activist” investors who have profited at the expense of the rest of America.
Be unambiguously on the side of workers in their struggle for better pay and working conditions.
Attack corporate welfare — the special tax loopholes, bank bailouts, unconditional subsidies, loan guarantees, and no-bid contracts that have lined the pockets of the wealthy, paid for by the rest of us.
Let Republicans criticize corporate “wokeness.” You should campaign against corporate greed.
Let Republicans obsess about critical race theory, immigration, and sex. You should campaign against how obscenely unfair and unequal America has become.
It’s good you’re joining the UAW picket line. But if you and other Democrats don’t tell the economic truth about what’s happened and place the blame squarely where it’s deserved, the lies of Republicans will fill the void.
Monday, September 25, 2023
The following is part of an op-ed by Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times:
It has been interesting to watch the response of Republicans to the United Auto Workers strike against the Big Three American car manufacturers: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler).
The most openly anti-worker view comes from Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who condemned the striking workers as insolent and ungrateful in a stunning display of conservative anti-labor sentiment. “I think Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were going to strike,” Scott said at a campaign event in Iowa. “He said, ‘You strike, you’re fired.’ Simple concept to me, to the extent that we can use that once again.” Scott also criticized the union’s demands. “The other things that are really important in that deal is that they want more money working fewer hours. They want more benefits working fewer days.” In America, he continued, “that doesn’t make sense.”
Most other Republicans have sidestepped any discussion of the workers themselves in favor of an attack on electric vehicles and the Biden administration’s clean energy policies. “I guarantee you that one of the things that’s driving that strike is that Bidenomics, and their green energy, electric vehicle agenda is good for Beijing and bad for Detroit, and American autoworkers know it,” former Vice President Mike Pence said during a recent interview on CNBC.
Donald Trump took a similar swing at the same target. “The all Electric Car is a disaster for both the United Auto Workers and the American Consumer,” Trump wrote last week. “They will all be built in China and, they are too expensive, don’t go far enough, take too long to charge, and pose various dangers under certain atmospheric conditions. If this happens, the United Auto Workers will be wiped out, along with all other auto workers in the United States. The all Electric Car policy is about as dumb as Open Borders and No Voter I.D. IT IS A COMPLETE AND TOTAL DISASTER!”
That much was expected. But beyond the presidential contenders, there were also the ostensibly populist Republicans who have placed workers at the center of their case.
“Autoworkers deserve a raise — and they deserve to have their jobs protected from Joe Biden’s stupid climate mandates that are destroying the U.S. auto industry and making China rich,” Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said. Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio wrote that he was “rooting for the autoworkers across our country demanding higher wages and an end to political leadership’s green war on their industry.” Likewise, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida pinned the strike on “a radical climate agenda that seeks the end of gas-powered cars even if it means destroying American jobs,” adding: “Instead of supporting either union bosses or C.E.O.s we need to support American workers who want policies that protect their jobs.”
You’ll notice that for all the talk about workers, not one of these more populist Republicans has actually said their demands should be met. They haven’t affirmed the right of labor to strike. They haven’t even blamed management for the strike, despite the fact that the U.A.W. is taking aim at rising corporate profits, which it believes could support higher wages, cost-of-living protections and stronger benefits — and the two-tier system that pays new workers less than veteran workers for the same work.
And they haven’t voiced support for the largest, most ambitious organizing goal of the U.A.W. — the unionization of new electric vehicle and battery factories, either as part of a new contract or pursued through new organizing. If anything, Republican attacks on electric vehicles work to obscure the nature of the conflict, which is less about a new product category than about the balance of power between labor and management in the American auto industry. . . .
In other words, Republican support for workers remains little more than rhetoric, signifying nothing. They have no apparent problem with management granting workers a modest increase in wages, but remain hostile to workers who seek to organize themselves as a countervailing force to corporate and financial power.
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Saturday, September 23, 2023
These charts reflect the results of the Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between September 17th and 19th of a nationwide sample of 1,303 registered voters, with a 3 point margin of error.
The chart above reflects the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between September 17th and 19th of a nationwide sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,303 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 3.2 points and for registered voters is 3 points.
The following is by Paul Krugman in The New York Times:
The speaker of the House is the only congressional officer mentioned in the Constitution, other than a temporary Senate officer to preside when the vice president can’t. The speaker’s job isn’t defined, but surely it includes passing legislation that keeps the federal government running.
But Kevin McCarthy, the current speaker, isn’t doing that job. Indeed, at this point it’s hard to see how he can pass any bill maintaining federal funding, let alone one the Senate, controlled by Democrats, will agree to. So we seem to be headed for a federal shutdown at the end of this month, with many important government activities suspended until further notice.
Why? McCarthy is a weak leader, especially compared with Nancy Pelosi, his formidable predecessor. But even a superb leader would probably be unable to transcend the dynamics of a party that has been extremist for a generation but has now gone beyond extremism to nihilism.
And yes, this is a Republican problem. Any talk about dysfunction in “Congress,” or “partisanship,” simply misinforms the public. Crises like the one McCarthy now faces didn’t happen under Pelosi, even though she also had a very narrow majority. I’ll come back to that contrast. First, let me make a different comparison — between the looming shutdown of 2023 and the shutdowns of 1995-96, when Newt Gingrich was speaker.
If you had told me back then that I’d someday hold up Gingrich as a model of rationality, I wouldn’t have believed you. But hear me out.
Back in 1995, while Gingrich’s tactics — his willingness to employ blackmail as a political strategy — were new and dangerous, he had an actual policy goal: He wanted to force major cuts in federal spending.
Furthermore, Gingrich tried to go where the money was. The federal government is an insurance company with an army: The great bulk of nonmilitary spending is on the big safety-net programs, that is, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And Gingrich in fact sought deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.
He didn’t get them, and the government’s role in promoting health insurance coverage eventually expanded greatly — although Medicare has been surprisingly successful at containing costs. Still, Gingrich’s goals were at least coherent.
McCarthy, in his desperate efforts to appease his party’s hard-liners, has acted as if their refusal to approve federal funding is a Gingrich-like demand for reduced federal spending. He tried to pass a continuing resolution — a bill that would temporarily keep the money flowing — that involved deep cuts to certain parts of the federal government.
But there are three notable aspects to this attempt. First, even if he had managed to pass that resolution, it would have been dead on arrival in the Senate.
Second, unlike Gingrich back then, McCarthy tried to go where the money isn’t, slashing nonmilitary discretionary spending. That’s a fairly small part of the federal budget. It’s also a spending category that has already been subject to more than a decade of austerity, ever since President Barack Obama made concessions to Republicans during the debt ceiling confrontation of 2011. There just isn’t any significant blood to be gotten out of this stone.
Finally, even this extreme proposal wasn’t extreme enough for Republican hard-liners. I liked what one representative told Politico: “Some of these folks would vote against the Bible because there’s not enough Jesus in it.” The point is that the party’s right wing isn’t actually interested in governing; it’s all about posturing, and the budget fight is a temper tantrum rather than a policy dispute.
If the G.O.P. were anything like a normal party, McCarthy would give up on the right-wingers, gather up the saner Republican representatives — it would be misleading to call them “moderates” — and make a deal with Democrats. But that would almost surely cost him the speakership, and in general more or less the whole G.O.P. is terrified of the hard-liners, so the party’s positions end up being dictated by its most extreme faction.
As I said, all of this is very different from what happens on the other side of the aisle. You still sometimes see analyses that treat Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right as equivalent, but they’re nothing alike. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is, in fact, interested in policy; it tries to push the party’s leadership in its direction, but it’s willing to take what it can get. That’s why Pelosi, with only a narrow majority during Biden’s first two years, was nonetheless able to get enacted landmark bills on infrastructure, climate and technology, while McCarthy can’t even keep the government running.
Now, a protracted shutdown would be highly disruptive, and if past confrontations are a guide, the public would blame Republicans — which is what led Gingrich to back down in the 1990s. But it’s not clear that McCarthy, or whoever replaces him if he’s overthrown, would be willing or even able to make a deal that reopens the government. How does this end?