Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Fiscal Ka-Thunk

Whether we "landed at the bottom of the fiscal cliff" or not seems to be a matter of opinion. What is generally concluded is that:

  1. The fall "broke" the Republican Congress.
  2. Man, was Obama annoying. Especially since, although his base is eternally pissed, he got almost everything he could've reasonably wanted (no spending points. As in zero. I counted ... twice). And then some.
  3. Boehner told Reid to "go 'eff' himself." Except, he didn't say 'eff' ... he apparently told Boehner to go fuck himself.
  4. The yes-no votes set up Ryan (yes) vs. Rubio (no) for the 2016 arena.
Next Up Debt Ceiling Battle
So the Republicans have entrenched for the battle that could actually damage America (well, our credit rating) with the intent of wringing some big spending cuts out of Obama. Good luck with that: I would guess that Round 1 has done little more than embolden Democrats. Here's an interesting article on "Plan O" as cooked up by Boehner when he had to do strategy (stra-tee-ger-ee) for either an Obama or Romney win ("Plan R" never made it out of the gate):
In the end, despite all the planning and forethought, Boehner would stand almost helplessly by as the nation plunged off the fiscal cliff and a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and centrist Republicans voted to give Obama the big tax hikes he demanded on the wealthy. House Republicans saw the worst of all worlds: They failed to save tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, put no new checks on government spending, and showed themselves a fractious and disorganized opposition party, the governance of which in the new Congress will prove to be a serious test.
What Do I Think?
I think that Gerrymandering is currently hurting Republicans worse than Democrats and is hurting them directly in this battle. Now, don't misunderstand me: Democrats are incredible gerrymanderers--they have drawn districts that look like random ink-blot splatters ...
I Think I See A Butterfly (IL-04-Democratic)
However, during the 2010 round the Republicans using the Tea Party wave have done a pretty sophisticated job of making their House votes count:
One Man, One Vote, One Born Every Minute
What the above shows is the dim lines at the top are the % of the popular vote. At the bottom is the share of House Seats won. So in Michigan more people voted Blue (top line) but more Red seats won (bottom line). The problem with this, this time around, is not "that the Republicans Gerrymandered" (since everyone does) but that what we are seeing now is a case where the Republican seats are so safe that they only fear primary challenges (i.e. other Republicans).

As a result the party must negotiate with itself more than the Democrats. With a block of immovable votes in the middle of the party, the GOP house cannot "bend"--it can only, well ... break if the pressure is high enough. Which is what happened.

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