Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Jeeps Made w/American Steel by Union Workers in Toledo

CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton entered the final phase of her campaign on Friday, working to ensure a victory that is decisive enough to earn a mandate for her presidency and a surge of voters to help Democrats win congressional races.

Emerging from a nine­-day absence from the trail, Mrs. Clinton seized on the momentum of her performance in the final presidential debate, choosing Ohio — a battleground state where she has struggled the most against Donald J. Trump — as her first stop on a four­-day swing. With new polls showing Mrs. Clinton closing in on Mr. Trump in the state, her campaign is glimpsing the opportunity for a clean sweep of traditional swing states.

Reminding voters of Mr. Trump’s refusal in Wednesday’s debate to say definitively he would accept the outcome on Election Day, Mrs. Clinton said that as secretary of state she had visited countries whose leaders jailed political opponents and invalidated elections they did not win. “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship,” she said.

She also portrayed herself as a the candidate who could attract independent, undecided and even Republican voters unhappy with Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I want to say something to people who may be reconsidering their support of my opponent,” she said. “I know you still may have questions for me, I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”

Her stop here marked the start of a rare multiday tour of swing states as the Clinton campaign revved up its efforts to decisively defeat Mr. Trump on Nov. 8, including releasing a powerful minute­-long ad featuring Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. The ad featuring Mr. Khan, who was attacked by Mr. Trump after he spoke at the Democratic convention, will run in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, as well as other crucial states.

Hillary Clinton Makes Pitch for Mandate and a Swing-­State Sweep, Trip Gabriel and Ashley Parker, New York Times, today

She knows some voters still may have questions for me, and she respects that and wants to answer them, and earn her listeners’ vote?  Does she think those questions are whether or not she would accept the outcome on Election Day if she lost?  And about whether as president she’d trash families of fallen U.S. Armed Services members who are Muslim, and attempt to categorically keep Muslims from immigrating here?

Who does she think that reminding voters of Trump’s actions and words of those sorts, including ones that has dominated the news and internet since last Wednesday night, is concerned about whether Clinton would do these things?

Clinton obviously thinks that these things are the only things that moderates and mainstream Republicans would support her about.  That’s what’s been at the heart of her campaign from its inception to, apparently, this very minute.  And it’s why she’ll win only because of who her opponent is, and why Dem Senate candidates are struggling so hard.

Paul Krugman keeps pushing the line that Clinton actually  is a terrific candidate, and by golly she’d be way ahead against Rubio or another mainstream Republican, partly because those candidates’ policy agendas and base-baiting lines are mostly pretty similar to Trump’s.  He’s right about mainstream Republican candidates’ policy agendas and, certainly, about the meaning of the Rubio bot.  But he probably still would be very much in the running to beat Clinton—who herself is trapped in a bot.

Meanwhile, yesterday, there was this little news story:

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and a staffer were in a car crash in the senator’s home state on Thursday, but have been released after receiving treatment for minor injuries at a Cleveland area hospital.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Brown and the staffer were driving from Columbus to Brown’s home in Cleveland when they were hit by another car around 4 p.m.

Brown, a Democrat, thanked hospital staff and the makers of his Jeep Cherokee in a statement to the newspaper. “[M]y Jeep Cherokee, made with American steel by union workers in Toledo, made all the difference in allowing us to walk away from this crash, a little stiff, but unharmed,” he said.

Brown reaffirmed his thanks in a Twitter post on Friday: “Thx for care & concern. Doing fine. Grateful to Parma police, medical staff & my Jeep made w/American steel by union workers in Toledo,” he wrote.

The Dispatch also reports that “Brown’s rescue dog Franklin, strapped in with a harness, was uninjured.”

Sherrod Brown treated for minor injuries after car crash, Madeline Conway, Politico

I don’t doubt that the ad featuring Mr. Khan is powerful.  But I do doubt that it will sway many wavering Rust Belters, because they already know Mr. Khan’s message.

Had the Clinton stranglehold on the Democratic Party apparatus (certainly including donors) not elbowed out the very thought of any progressive other than Bernie Sanders—who ran only because no other progressive would—Sherrod Brown I think would have.  And would be about to witness a largely-progressive Democratic wave not seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s death.

Instead, Democrats may not even retake the Senate.

Even Franklin probably knows that things such as NLRB appointments would be good to mention in Ohio.  Maybe he can tell Clinton.  Since her campaign gurus apparently haven’t.

 

____

ADDENDUM:  Gail Collins’s NYT column today, titled “Don’t Take Donald Trump to Dinner,” is mostly about Trump’s jarring use of the annual Catholic Charities dinner in NYC a few days ago as just another forum for his usual ugly comments about Clinton.  But Collins also said this:

In a perfect world, Hillary Clinton would then have gotten up and given the most good-­natured speech in political history, scrapping all the barbed lines in her prepared script, like the one about how a Trump White House would be awkward for gatherings of the ex­-presidents (“How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?”). But she didn’t change a word, because Clinton is not a spontaneous politician.

If this were a normal election, we could have a very interesting discussion about how programmed she can be, and whether that would be a problem if she’s elected. But as things stand, unless we discover she’s actually an android, there’s just no point.

I wouldn’t have expected Clinton to spontaneously scrap her prepared speech and give an entirely off-the-cuff one, and at least that joke that Collins quoted was funny and pointed at Trump’s and the alt-right’s actual words and positions.

But this is a person who genuinely seems unable to take a breath on her own, and who apparently delegated to campaign consultants and advisors her campaign’s very raison d’être.  G.W. Bush did the same.  But that was unusual.  And it was a very different political era, although Clinton and her circle hadn’t noticed this until Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump forced them to belatedly, and even then not really.  Or at least not fully.  Even yet.

We have no choice now but to look forward, not backward.  But anyone who thinks that had either one run, Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown would not be about to usher in a genuinely progressive era, is willfully blind.  That is precisely because a Warren or a Brown campaign’s raison d’être would be Warren’s or Brown’s own raison d’être as politicians to begin with, argued eloquently and passionately, and contrasted to their Republican opponent’s and the Republican Party’s—in their own words, their own sentences, their own paragraphs.

Added 10/22 at 4:40 p.m.

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Other People Paying for What is Described as Unaffordable

In a comment to this post of mine from yesterday in which I used the phrase “affordable daycare,” reader Eric377 posted this comment:

Eric377/October 18, 2015 7:50 am

Leaves I understand as policy. Affordable daycare a whole lot less. Affordable daycare is not what is meant here. States could change regulations to allow lower cost daycare. Is that what is meant? That would be “no”. It gets affordable by roping in other people to pay what is described as unaffordable. There is a price point where providers and customers and regulators are seemingly in full agreement that the service shouldn’t be offered; won’t be profitable; and won’t be purchased. This is a non-problem.

To which I responded:

Okay, Eric, I’m gonna risk a copyright lawsuit by the New York Times and reprint here without permission Gail Collins’s entire column in yesterday’s Times, titled “What Happened to Working Women?”.

….

That’s the full column.  I’m going to add this: The purported justification for federal subsidies to industries such as the oil and gas industry and agriculture is that it has a significant positive effect on the economy.  Agree or not with those policies, that is the stated justification for it.

Just as that is the stated justification for a slew of other policies that the American taxpayer is forced to pay for.  Such as highway and bridge construction and maintenance, before the Tea Party gained control of Congress.

I understand that it requires abstract reasoning to understand this.  And that people who incessantly rage about the American taxpayer having to pay for this or that don’t DO abstract reasoning.  But really, some things are interconnected. The health of the economy and government subsidies for daycare are two of those things.

Seems there’s an actual difference between what is unaffordable for individuals and families and what is unaffordable for, say, the national government.  In other countries as well as ours.  The public in other countries has figured this out.

Just wanted y’all to know.

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Gail Collins’ don’t-miss column on Social Security—and on Joni Ernst—today

Highlights:

There was this at the Senate debate in Iowa on Sunday:

“I will fight hard to protect Social Security and Medicare for seniors like my mom and dad because our Greatest Generation has worked so hard for the American dream for our families,” said Republican Joni Ernst.

Like many conservatives, Ernst supports some sort of privatization in the Social Security program. She’s a little hazy on the details. But we do know that the Greatest Generation is the name Tom Brokaw gave to the Americans who came through the Depression and spent their young adulthood fighting World War II. They would actually be Joni Ernst’s grandparents.

There are two possible interpretations to her statement:

A) She wants to portray Social Security and Medicare recipients in the noblest light possible.

B) She is promising to protect benefits for everybody over the age of 85.

The Senate race in Iowa is one of the tightest in the country, and the debate drew so much attention that it got a segment on “The Daily Show.” Jon Stewart highlighted the part where Ernst got personal with her Democratic opponent, Representative Bruce Braley. (“You threatened to sue a neighbor over chickens that came onto your property.”)

We are not going to have time to delve deep into the controversy that is known to political junkies as Chickengate. We are focusing on Social Security! We haven’t talked about this issue for a long time, and it ought to be part of our election-year repertoire.

Conservative Republicans still tend to hew to the theory that the system is “going bankrupt” and needs to be turned into some kind of private retirement investment account. They also generally promise to protect people 55 or over from any change.

“I’m not going to take away your Social Security. Don’t worry about it. Anybody over 55 doesn’t have to worry about any reform measure,” said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas in a recent debate. He added: “You don’t have to worry about doing anything with Social Security in the next part of this session. Harry Reid will block that real quick.”

Mentioning the mendacity of Majority Leader Harry Reid in every other sentence is a verbal tic Roberts has acquired. However, if you break that statement down, what he seems to be saying is that if you’re, say, 52 and want to make sure Social Security stays the way it is, you will have no problem as long as Democrats control the U.S. Senate.

By the way, Social Security is not going bankrupt. In 2033, incoming payroll taxes will no longer be enough to pay for all the benefits. But they’ll still cover about 75 percent of the payments and we could take care of the rest of the problem with a few tweaks — like getting rid of the cap on Social Security taxes. (Currently, all income over $117,000 is exempt from the payroll tax.)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also helpfully points out that “by coincidence,” the amount Social Security would need to stay completely in balance over the next 75 years is almost exactly the same as the amount the government lost when Congress extended the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year.

If you happen upon a congressional debate in the next few weeks, feel free to ask the candidates what they’re going to do to protect Social Security. Bring along a 54-year-old friend who might helpfully burst into tears when anyone starts promising to protect the 55-year-olds.

Indeed, but just be sure that the 54-year-old doesn’t confuse a Homeowners Association president with a court clerk.  At least not a Homeowners Association president who’s also a Republican operative.

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Chris Cillizza Misses the Point. (The most important point, anyway.)

Anecdotal evidence, the basis of so much journalism prior to the rise of the data movement and still, to my mind, over-relied upon — is just that: anecdotal. Roughly 65,000 people voted in the Cantor-Brat primary; Brat won by more than 7,200 votes. Assuming that what a non-scientific sample  of 1, 10 or even 100 people in the district thought about Cantor (or Brat) in the run-up to the race — the shoe-leather reporting prized by Carr — was indicative of how 65,000 people were planning to vote seems to me to be somewhat misguided. (Now, if all 100 people a reporter talked to in the district loudly derided Cantor as an out of step liberal, then I take back my previous point. But, my guess is that wouldn’t have happened.)

Should I have seen Eric Cantor’s loss coming?, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, today

I assume that Cillizza is, as he says, responding to New York Times writer David Carr’s column on Monday, “Eric Cantor’s Defeat Exposed a Beltway Journalism Blind Spot,” rather than also to, say, my AB post from Wednesday, in which I discuss Carr’s column and note that what the national news media missed, but what the local political reporters Carr mentions recognized, was not simply local antagonism toward Cantor but, to an apparently substantial extent, local antagonism toward Cantor because he is the very embodiment of the politician who shares John Roberts’ particular view, stated expressly in his opinion two months ago in McCutcheon v. FEC, of who or what a politician’s “constituent” is.

In my post on Wednesday (picked up in full elsewhere, I’m glad to see), I noted that the in-depth analysis of it by political several political journalists now that the post-Canter-defeat dust has settled is that critical to Brat’s victory was an anti-plutocracy theme and that Cantor provided the perfect foil for it. Most of the articles discussing this say that the Chamber of Commerce–an explicit target of Brat’s during the campaign, and other major players among the Republican business constituency, who Roberts described in McCutcheon as constituents entitled to secretly help draft legislation by dint of their ability to purchase that right, concur and are springing into action.  As Gail Collins summarized it in her New York Times column yesterday:

The defeat of the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, terrified many of the party establishment’s supporters, particularly since Cantor’s opponent ran against Wall Street, big business and bank bailouts.

It’s a problem, if you’re a big-money donor, to be worried that your party is being taken over by crazy people who will alienate the voters in a national election by opposing immigration reform and contraception. It’s a catastrophe to be worried that it’s being taken over by economic populists.

Cillizza and, I suspect, a number of other professional political analysts remain wedded to what is quickly becoming an outdated model.  They’re missing some important handwriting on the wall, which is that huge swaths of the public are dismayed at the meaning of “constituency” and “democracy” as defined in the New Dictionary of Supreme Court English, edited by Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.  As I said in my Wednesday post:

Call McCutcheon v. FEC the new poll tax. I do.  After all, John Roberts, in a surprising bit of honesty, described it in his opinion for the majority as pretty much that in his opinion in that case earlier this year. “Ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption,” he wrote, quoting Anthony Kennedy’s the Court’s decision in Citizens United, and then explained:

“They embody a central feature of democracy—that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests, and candidates who are elected can be expected to be responsive to those concerns.”

But Cantor’s constituents–the ones that Roberts says should dictate Cantor’s policy positions and write legislation he proposes–couldn’t vote in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District last week. The district is too far away for them to commute to Wall Street, or to Wichita, KS, or downtown Houston, or Raleigh, NC.  And surprisingly, it turns out that Brat actually ran what was in large part a progressive economic-populist–an anti-plutocracy–campaign highlighting who exactly Cantor’s  constituents (to borrow Roberts’ term) are.  So, now that that is being widely reported and is sinking in, hedge-fund types and the Chamber of Commerce crowd apparently indeed are starting to pray.

Apart from the obvious reason for the definitional chasm between Roberts & Co. and most people embedded in that statement by Roberts–specifically, the definition of “democracy”–add to the rapidly growing list of Roberts’ casual redefinitions of common words this new definition of “constituent,” one disembodied from residency in the candidate or officeholder’s actual election jurisdiction.

Cantor was beaten, in substantial part, it certainly appears, by Citizens United and McCutcheon–by a backlash toward the political system that is now, bizarrely but expressly, institutionalized as a matter of constitutional jurisprudence.  Turnout was very heavy, far heavier than it was in the primary in that district two years ago, when apparently all the candidates were fine, thank you very much, with poll-tax democracy.

I titled that post “David Brat, et al. v. John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, the Koch Brothers, the Chamber of Commerce, et al.”  And in the last two paragraphs, I elaborated upon the title, writing:

Brat, for his part, appears to be about to run a general-election campaign consisting mainly of slogans and non sequiturs.  No surprise, of course; slogans, cliches, non sequiturs are the very essence of the current Republican Party–both factions of the Tea Party/Republican Party. The Paul Ryan/Koch brothers/Chamber of Commerce faction and also, because of the mutual exclusivity of its premises, the (newly named) David Brat faction. That’s simply the nature of this beast.

But the divorce case originally known as Movement Conservatives v. Movement Conservatives, filed June 10, 2014 in the Richmond, Virginia Court of Public Opinion, is a class action.  I just checked the docket for the case, and it’s now called Movement Conservatives, et al. v. Movement Conservatives.  And already, there have been several amicus briefs filed on behalf of the petitioners.  And the Supreme Court may not decide the outcome of it after all.

That last sentence is true; the Supreme Court has lost control of the narrative on this.  It has tried, but unsuccessfully, to decree new non-legal definitions of “corruption,” “democracy,” “constituent,” “person,” and “speech.”  It is losing its case in the courts of public opinion in most jurisdictions around the country; that much already is clear.  But the Court will decide, very possibly–in other litigation; actual imminent litigation, in Wisconsin state court and very possibly in federal court–whether or not two key provisions of Wisconsin state, and of still-standing federal, campaign-finance statutes violate five Supreme Court justices’ view of the First Amendment within the peculiar prism of their definitions of those words.

Best as I can tell from news reports in the last 24 hours, the apparently forthcoming state prosecution of a few people involved on behalf of Gov. Scott Walker and Republican state legislators in the Wisconsin recall elections in 2011 and 2012, and perhaps of Walker himself, will necessarily involve challenges by the defendants to the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s (and possibly eventually to the federal government’s) statutory prohibitions against consort between election campaigns and PACs purporting to be “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” and unaffiliated with a political party or candidate.

The PACs are not subject to donor-amount limits, and they also can qualify for non-profit tax status if they meet a low bar for what constitutes “exclusively for the promotion of social welfare”.

But whether operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, as “social welfare” is defined by most people, or instead as it will be defined in New Dictionary of Supreme Court English, these groups embody a central feature of democracy as defined in the April 2, 2014 edition of that Dictionary—that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests, and candidates who are elected can be expected to be responsive to those concerns. And Scott Walker and the Republican legislators who were subject to possible recall adopted the very definition of “constituent” included in the current edition of the New Dictionary. Most of the people and groups with which they appear to have been coordinating were Walker’s and the legislators’ constituents only in the newly defined sense.  They were not residents of Wisconsin and therefore could not show a valid photo ID at a polling place in Wisconsin. (They would have to vote by absentee ballot.)

But Walker & Friends still remain a bit too precocious in one respect.  The Court’s majority has not yet redefined “democracy” to include as a central feature a First Amendment right of constituents (under either definition, traditional or new) to hide their identity when contributing directly to a political campaign.  And it well may not do so.  Kennedy indicated in his opinion in Citizens United that he does not believe that secret donations to campaigns embody a central feature of democracy.  Uh-oh.

Ultimately, though, what matters most is the outcome that civil litigation, Movement Conservatives, et al. v. Movement Conservatives, because not all five of the current editors of the New Dictionary are young and healthy–and because of the political facts illustrated by the surprisingly high turnout in the open primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District and the predominant campaign theme of the winner.  But I don’t expect Chris Cillizza to get that.

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Scott Brown Comes Out for a New Hampshire State Healthcare-Insurance Public Option. In the Name of Freedom. Cool!**

[Annotation added below.]

I’ve written here on AB, extensively now, about the invidious co-opting of the word “freedom” by the political far-right.  I’ve addressed this mainly in the context of the conservative Supreme Court justices’ neat trick of disconnecting the word from any relation to actual physical freedom as long as it is a state court (in criminal cases and in a variety of civil cases, e,g. adult-guardianship and conservatorship cases, as well) or a state or county prosecutor’s office rather than the federal government that violates federal constitutional rights in order to remove physical freedom.  This is done in the name of federalism as allegedly envisioned by James Madison.

And on Saturday, I addressed it in the context of the Cliven Bundy matter, which includes the support he’s received from the likes of Nevada Senator Dean Heller.  The immediate occasion for that post was to note that this bizarre appropriation of the word “freedom” to justify doing whatever the invoker of “freedom” wants to do–which, for the Supreme Court’s invokers, includes obsessively requiring that state courts, but not state legislatures, be entitled as “sovereigns” to violate individuals’ federal constitutional rights; I really can’t stress this enough–is finally, thanks to Bundy, being recognized by actual professional pundits. Specifically, by New York Times columnist Gail Collins in her Saturday column.  Paul Krugman used his bi-weekly Times column this morning to highlight it.

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Gail Collins (and me): Free Us From ‘Freedom’

To be fair, I don’t think Hannity had any idea about Bundy’s racial theories. However, it’s generally a good idea to be wary of lionizing people who go around saying: “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”

Anyhow, Cliven was toast, although he did make an appearance on CNN, in which he explained that his racist remarks were all about — yes! — freedom. In this case, the “freedom to say what we want. If I call — if I say ‘negro’ or ‘black boy’ or ‘slave,’ I’m — if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be offensive, then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet.”

— Gail Collins, Of the Fox and the Cattle, NYT, today

I was happy, when I read that column this morning, to see that people are catching on to this rightwing “stick-the-label-’freedom’-onto-whatever-we-want-to-do” thing–this is very big at the Supreme Court these days–but now I’m having second thoughts.

I’ve always wanted a ranch out West.  And I don’t really recognize Cliven Bundy as even existing, nor the Recorder of Deeds in his county as even existing.  And if I can get a group of folks together who don’t either, I see no reason why I can’t fulfill my dream and have a ranch out West even though I can’t actually afford to buy one.

My dream involves horses, though; not cattle.  But there probably are some horse ranches in that county whose “owners” I don’t even recognize as existing, so while I don’t really want the land they claim is theirs–the Bundy ranch is big enough for my needs, and it looks nice–I’m sure my group and I can manage the horse-herding thing from one ranch to another.  At least as long as we have enough ammunition for our AK-47s.

The best part is that one of my senators–not Harry Reid; the other one–will be very supportive of me in this.  I can’t wait to vote for him in 2018.  If I haven’t shot myself with my semi-automatic by then.

I now want to see the Republicans regain control of the Senate.  So maybe I can convince the Democrats to feature ads quoting Heller on this whole freedom/Bundy issue.  I’m sure the Dems think that would scare some moderate folks into voting Democratic, so they won’t see my real purpose.  But I know better.  A lot of moderates want ranches in the West, too.

Wanna join me on the ranch?

 

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New Romney Campaign Ad: Ask Not What Your Medicare Taxes Can Do For THEM, …

A new Romney ad tells older voters to think of it this way: “The money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.

— Gail Collins, Middle-Age Blues, New York Times, this evening

What?  If current Medicare recipients, and those who will begin receiving it within the next 10 years, have already paid for Medicare for themselves, then—um—why does Medicare have to be saved by these two Republican saviors who will convert the system into a partial-premium-voucher system?

Oh. Wait. That very same budget plan that includes that Medicare proposal also includes a proposal to end income taxes on capital gains and on stock dividends and to reduce corporate income taxes—leaving a budget deficit of trillions of dollars.  And, well, the money for that defense-budget increase that these folks also propose has to come from somewhere, doesn’t it?  Other than just from the elimination of Medicaid expenditures for nursing home care for the elderly who’ve run out of savings during their nursing home stay, that is, since that alone won’t cover that huge revenue reduction, and anyway it’s good policy to force those nursing home residents to become self-reliant again.  I understand that we’re making progress in finding drugs to cure Alzheimer’s disease, but, still.  And anyway, unless a cure is found before the fiscal 2013 budget kicks in, there will be no federal money to fund continued research on it. 

So that leaves as the only option saving Medicare by destroying it.  No matter that the money that those under-55 youngsters paid for theirguaranteed healthcare will be going to a massive new program that’s not for them.  Well, okay, a program that’s for a few of them.  The ones who are living mainly off of capital gains and stock dividends.  A very few, I suspect.

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The entire Gail Collins column is absolutely priceless—a definite must-read. 

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The Cliff’s Notes for my post from yesterday subtitled “Does Romney’s Economic Plan Violate State Sovereignty?”*

The post garnered only one comment, from kharris, who complained that the post was incomprehensible and asked whether it was intended as facetious, and whether I could give a Cliff’s Notes version of it.  I can and did.  I wrote:

[The] post was not intended as facetious, although I’m sure it will be taken that way by the few people who read it.

Basically, the 26 state attorneys general are claiming in that lawsuit that the part of the ACA that relies on a significant increase in Medicaid, funded mostly by the federal government but partly by the states, violates the Tenth Amendment, which the political right claims gives states autonomy amounting to sovereignty not much different than the sovereignty of foreign countries vis-à-vis the U.S. government.

Their claim is that while the state governments are legally entitled to withdraw from the Medicaid program, politically that’s not a feasible option, because Medicaid is a popular program.  This means that the ACA’s requirement that the states spend more in order to remain in the Medicaid program and receive the federal funds they currently receive, the states will have to spend more of their own money on Medicaid in order to meet the requirements of the ACA.

The states claim that this additional requirement is large enough to require states to have to substantially reduce the appropriations for other priorities, such as education, and that therefore the ACA’s Medicaid expansion basically controls the budget process of state legislatures, and in this way unconstitutionally infringes on state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment.

Enter Romney, and the economic/budget plan he announced last Friday, in which he would cut taxes across the board by 20%, cut corporate taxes by even more (I think), eliminate the estate tax, increase defense spending, leave Medicare and Social Security untouched, and “return Medicaid to the states,” and “send” the other safety-net programs for the poor “to the states” as well.  In other words, he plans to end federal funding for Medicaid and all the other programs.

Which according to the states’ argument in the ACA litigation, would violate the states’ sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment.

So, no, the original post was not intended as facetious.  The post was hard to understand, in part at least because the legal argument of the 26 states is ridiculous.  Yet the Supreme Court agreed to consider the states’ argument.

But a more important point is this: The economic/budget plan that Romney announced last Friday in an attempt to gain Tea Party support in Michigan would cut taxes by 20% across the board, eliminate the estate taxes, cut corporate taxes still further, and balance the budget, if it does, by entirely removing federal funding of all safety-net programs for the poor and telling the states that they should pick up the slack. More than half the states are claiming to the Supreme Court that this would violate the Tenth Amendment, because at least one of these programs, Medicaid, is too popular for it to be politically feasible to end it. 

The Supreme Court almost certainly won’t buy the argument, but what matters is that the states have made the argument.  And have made the point.

Also what matters, of course, is that someone who’s running for president on a claim to be exceptionally astute on business/economic/budget matters should have resisted the urge to put forward a budget proposal that bizarre and easily deconstructed by, well, almost anyone.
—–
*Ooops. Romney did discuss cutting Social Security benefits in that speech last Friday, by raising the retirement cap.  Seems I was almost as distracted by the empty stadium as most of the news media was, and missed that.  But Gail Collins noticed, and noticed that rest of the news media didn’t notice.

Collins also discusses the payroll tax cap.  And Seamus, of course. 

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