Labour moves ahead in YouGov poll and disapproval of Coalition’s performance reaches 47%

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


What We Learned: Looking Ahead To 2012

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

What we at The Hotline learned this week:

– The Alaska Senate race could be over soon. While attorney Joe Miller (R) has filed a lawsuit over the issue of “voter intent” on the write-ins, there’s a scenario in which those challenged ballots don’t even matter. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) needs 88 percent of the write-ins to maintain her lead over Miller. She is currently holding strong, as 89 percent of the write-ins so far have gone for her and have been unchallenged. Of course, if this changes, the outcome will have to go to court.

– Congressional Republicans and Democrats responses to the debt commission’s blueprint illustrate the difference in messaging strategies in each camp. Democrats come out swinging — led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Democratic members rushed to get on record, contradicting and complicating Pres. Obama‘s message of wait-and-see. On the other hand, Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to comment, and clearly told other Republicans to keep quiet as well. It was a rare Republican who went on record this week against the plan, even though there’s dissent, illustrating Boehner’s control over his caucus and the tight strategy that boosted the party to victory last week.

– Yes, it’s early in the cycle, but here’s one sign that Democrats will have a tough time netting Senate seats in 2012: Early Democratic hopes seem restricted to just two states — Massachusetts and Nevada. Republicans, meanwhile, have already started started talking about six or seven prime Senate targets for the coming cycle.

– Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) revealed this week that she will wait six months before deciding whether she will challenge longtime Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) in 2012.

Lingle would start the race as an underdog, but would be the most formidable Republican to run for the seat in recent memory. As we saw during this cycle, national Republicans were not shy about pouring resources into the gubernatorial race, and should Lingle prove to be a competitive candidate, she would likely also be able to count on help from national Republicans.

– It’s a good thing to be an “ex,” apparently. Several Democrats who were defeated last week hinted this week that they may be up for a rematch in 2012, including outgoing Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Democratic contender Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.), who was defeated by another rerun, former Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.). Even Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), who is retiring, suggested he may run in a potentially open race or Washington’s 1st District in 2012. And why not? On Nov. 2, 13 Republican reruns were elected to seats they previously failed to win.

Hotline On Call

Planning Ahead is Good But Unlikely

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

There’s a lot going on in Derek Thompson’s post on liberal reaction to the Simpson-Bowles report some of which I agree with and some of which I disagree with. But I wanted to clarify on the specific part where he talks about me. Namely, when I say that pre-emptive fiscal adjustment is unlikely I meant precisely that: It’s unlikely, not undesirable.

As Tim Fernholz wrote yesterday:

It’s worth noting that the dynamics here continue to favor conservatives; simply put, the longer we delay making sustainable budgeting decisions, the harder it becomes to make them, increasing the likelihood that we will one day face calamity, and austerity. “The concern from the progressive perspective is that if we wait until we have a gun to our head … at that point we’re unlikely to get progressive solutions,” CAP’s Michael Ettlinger told me last year when I wrote about progressive efforts to get ahead of the deficit debate. It makes getting these issues right today even more of a priority.

No surprise, I agree with Ettlinger.

But as I say, I don’t think it’s realistic. The current level of hubub around the idea of doing preemptive fiscal adjustment largely reflects the fact that Pete Peterson has spent a lot of money pushing the idea of preemptive fiscal adjustment to the top of the public agenda (see Dave Weigel on this topic). Pete Peterson is both a wealthy man and a generous one, and wealthy generous people have an enormous ability to shape the agenda in Washington DC. But agenda-shaping and legislation-passing are two separate things. Peterson can’t repeal the rules of politics. Given the number of veto points in the American political system, large change is always unlikely. Given a problem on which it’s viable to delay action, politicians will prefer to delay. It is possible to delay action on fiscal adjustment. And a complete fiscal adjustment would involve multiple large changes. Ergo, it’s unlikely to happen.

This is two bad for two reasons. First, it’s bad for the reasons Ettlinger points two. Second, I think it’s genuinely a waste of the money of a public-spirited person. In addition to the deficit work, Peterson money supports Joseph Gagnon’s work on monetary policy. Had Peterson devoted the scale of resources to putting monetary issues on the agenda that he’s devoted to putting pre-emptive fiscal adjustment on the agenda, I think we would have seen much more progress toward good monetary policy and essentially the same fiscal policy outcome. That would be a higher-growth world, with less unemployment and—among other things—a smaller budget deficit.


Guest blog: More pain ahead for Obama at G-20 – By Clyde Prestowitz

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

As the G-20 talks get underway, we’re thrilled to have Clyde Prestowitz guest-blogging for us over the next few days. Clyde is the president of the Economic Strategy Institute here in D.C. He served as counselor to the secretary of Commerce during the Reagan administration and as vice chairman of the
President’s Committee on Trade and Investment in the Pacific.

Be sure to check out his most recent book, The Betrayal of American Prosperity: Free Market Delusions, America’s Decline, and How We Must Compete in the Post-Dollar Era as well as his piece, Lie of the Tiger, from the November print issue of FP. –JK

First, Barack Obama was
in last week’s congressional elections. Then, the U.S. president was garlanded in
India and Indonesia. Now he’s in Korea, where he’s about to be waterboarded by
the G-20.

Oh sure, the G-20 will
come up with some paper-over language that will allow everyone to sign on to
some vague agreement that it might be a good idea to achieve global rebalancing
at some undetermined time in the next century. But this is just what the
Japanese would call tatemae — the
packaging or superficial appearance of things. The honne — the truth or actuality — is that whether he knows it or
not, the U.S. president has arrived in Seoul to preside over the end of the
Flat World.

In fact, the Obama administration
is demonstrating a lot of schizophrenia about this. In India, Obama couldn’t
stop spouting
the conventional wisdom about how international trade is always a win-win
proposition and how those who express concern about the offshoring of U.S.
services jobs to India are just bad old protectionists.

At the same time,
however, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is calling
some kind of deal for the G-20 governments to take concrete actions to
reduce their trade surpluses or deficits. To be sure, Geithner has quickly backpedaled from his original proposal that
governments would set hard numerical targets for the allowable limits of
surpluses and deficits at 4 percent of GDP. His first fallback position was that
the numbers would be only voluntary targets or reference points. When that
elicited a new round of incoming fire he retreated
to the current proposal for agreement that each country will take
the measures it thinks necessary to reduce excessive surpluses and deficits.
Hardly much of a deal at all.

Yet even this is a
revolution. No matter how watered down, Geithner’s proposal is a call for
managed trade. It is an implicit admission that contrary to 50 years of the
preaching of economists, trade deficits matter. Even bilateral trade deficits
can matter if they are big enough because they distort capital flows and
exacerbate unemployment in the deficit countries. Further, it is an admission
that unfettered, laissez-faire free
trade is not self-adjusting and therefore not really win-win.

This implicit admission
by Geithner has been manifested even more strongly (but still implicitly) by some
of our leading free-trade economists and pundits. Thus, Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize
winner and long a champion of conventional free trade has
called for
tariffs on imports from China. So has Washington Post columnist and eternal free trader Robert
, and even the Financial
‘ economics columnist Martin
has suggested that some
offsetting response to China’s currency manipulation might be necessary.

But Obama isn’t going
to get agreement to any of that in Seoul. None of the other countries want to
face the fact that the United States cannot be Uncle Sugar and the buyer of last resort
forever. In fact, Obama has asked both the
Germans and the Chinese
to help out a bit by consuming more and exporting
less. The Germans told him bluntly to get lost and the Chinese told him somewhat
more politely to get lost. So the honne is that the Germans, because they’re
Germans, and the rest of Europe, because it is in terrible financial shape and
can’t borrow any more, are bent on creating jobs by dint of export-led growth.
Essentially, they are saying they are going to create jobs by taking U.S. jobs.
The Asians are saying and doing the same thing. Neither Asia nor Europe is
likely to take steps that will achieve significant rebalancing in any
reasonable period of time. That, of
course, means no new jobs for Americans.

The big question is
whether or not Obama will respond to that refusal by taxing foreign capital
inflows, imposing countervailing duties on
subsidized imports, matching the tax holidays and other investment incentives
used by China and others to induce off-shoring of U.S. production, and
challenging the mercantilist practices of many Asian countries in the World
Trade Organization (WTO). These are all measures that he could take
himself in an effort unilaterally to reduce the U.S. trade and current account
balances and thereby create jobs for Americans.

If he does, he is sure
to be harshly criticized by the apostles of the conventional wisdom. But if he
doesn’t he is sure to be toast in two years.

FP Passport

Divided Democrats look ahead through 2012

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) – One week removed from the great “shellacking” of 2010, Democrats at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are still picking through the ashes of their lost House majority and debating the best way forward.

Rumors of their demise are, of course, exaggerated. Republicans survived midterm massacres in 1974 and 2006; Democrats lived to tell the tale of 1994.

CNN Political Ticker

Pentagon Will Not Speed Up Release Of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Report Ahead Of December 1 Deadline

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates publicly called on the Senate to pass legislation repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the lame duck session. But, the Pentagon has no plans to release the crucial Working Group report of the policy ahead of the December 1st deadline, Stars and Stripes is reporting, making it difficult for Congress to act on the motion before it adjourns later that month. From Stars and Stripes’ Kevin Baron:

The Pentagon says there are no plans for the crucial working group on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law to rush its findings to Defense Secretary Robert Gates before Dec. 1, a deadline set months ago, despite pleas by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates for Congress to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in its lame-duck session.

“I’m not aware that there’s been any effort to speed it up,” Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said Monday.

The Pentagon’s study is particularly significant since moderate Republicans and Democrats have pledged to listen to the troops before voting to repeal the policy and repeal advocates undoubtedly believe that moving up the release of the study would give Congress more time to consider it and increase the chances of success.

As it stands, “Reid has already left the NDAA out of his line up of three bills to be considered during the week of Nov. 15, meaning consideration of the legislation wouldn’t come up, if at all, until Senators return from the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov 29.” The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld reports that, “Reid has also set a target date of Dec. 10 to adjourn for the year, which would leave just two weeks to complete the Defense bill – a near impossibility since debate usually takes two weeks and reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill often takes another two weeks.”

Wonk Room

Dem Remains Ahead In Virginia Race Where Bush-Era Lawyer Counting Ballots

November 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

As we told you Wednesday, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) is just ahead of his Republican opponent Keith Fimian in a close race, and now the Fairfax County Board of Elections is canvassing the voting machines and examining provisional ballots.

With 100 percent of the precincts in, Connolly has 111,630 votes to Fimian’s 110,700, according to state election data last updated at 1:56 p.m. on Thursday.

In Fairfax County, Connolly has 76,086 votes to Fimian’s 71,571. With a split of 4,515 votes in Fairfax County, provisional ballots — of which a county spokeswoman said there “a little over 100″ — aren’t going to swing the result in the county. Still, some are concerned due to the involvement of Hans von Spakovsky, a Bush-era Justice Department official who was accused of politicizing the Civil Rights Division and putting an undue emphasis on combating voter fraud.

“He has a history of suppressing votes, so I always have a concern when he’s involved in any part of the voting process,” election lawyer Gerry Hebert told TPMMuckraker. “And voters in Fairfax County should also.”

A spokeswoman for the Fairfax County government said yesterday that canvassing is still happening, so some votes may change, but all the votes have been counted except for provisional ballots.

“Canvassing typically finds some votes changing sides because of transcribed numbers, things like that,” Merni Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the Fairfax County government, told TPMMuckraker. “There’s no more counting going on, just canvassing. All of the votes have been counted, except for the provisional ballots, which the election board is reviewing vote by vote.”

The meeting in which provisional ballots are being counted was not open to the public, Fitzgerald said. Fitzgerald added that there is a representative of each political party in the closed meeting along with the board and the registrar.

“If the electoral board looks at them… the situation would be somebody comes in and they’re not listed as having been a registered voter, so they vote as a provisional ballot, and the electoral board has to make a decision as to whether that vote will be counted. So they look at them vote by vote by vote.” (That appears to be allowable under Va. law).

She said the electoral board may certify the count today, “but no guarantees.”


GOP Gains In Statehouse Ahead Of Redistricting Battles

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Just as important as Tuesday’s gains by the GOP in the House of Representatives and Senate are the gains that the party made at the state level just as the nation heads into the decennial Congressional reapportionment:

In numerous large battleground states, Republicans made substantial gains of governor offices and legislative chambers. That, in turn, will strengthen their hand in next year’s redistricting efforts, which will be launched officially next month when the Census Bureau’s 2010 state-by-state population count will produce the reapportionment of the House that will be elected in November 2012.

In Tuesday’s elections, Republicans gained at least 19 legislative chambers for a total of at least 55 in the 50 states. They will have bicameral control in a disproportionate share of the largest states, according to tentative post-election reviews by both parties.

The consequences for redistricting will be significant, not least because Republicans gained numerous House seats in those states that they will be better-positioned to safeguard two years from now. In most of the 10 states that are tentatively expected to lose House seats, the seat losses are more likely to come from Democrats.

“Between 15 and 25 [House] seats will be protected … or are more likely to be Republican after redistricting, after we have won these legislative chambers,” said Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which spent an estimated $ 30 million to influence those results.


A DLCC preliminary analysis showed that Republicans will control redistricting in states that have 194 House seats, compared with 124 for Democrats. At the start of the most recent redistricting process in 2001 — which also benefited the GOP — a similar review showed Republicans in control of states with 130 seats and Democrats with 101 seats.

Pennsylvania is typical of the states where redistricting inflicted additional wounds on Democrats. Republicans took over the state House, where Democrats had held a four-seat majority; the GOP retained its Senate control. And Republican Tom Corbett was elected governor of Pennsylvania, which likely will lose one House seat following reapportionment.

With the GOP’s five-seat gain flipping control of the state’s congressional delegation from 12-7 for Democrats to 12-7 for the GOP, the redistricting likely will target one of the remaining Democrats — perhaps Tim Holden or Mark Critz, who hold districts that are mostly outside metropolitan areas.

Republicans also control the Legislative and Executive Branches in both Florida and Texas, which are likely to gain as many as six House seats combined after the final redistricting numbers come out later this year. In others words, Republicans will have significant control over creating the Congressional districts that will exist for the next ten years, and that alone makes it more likely that the GOP could hold on to the House of Representatives for some time to come notwithstanding what seem to be the constantly shifting whims of the electorate.

Outside the Beltway

Associated Press Withdraws Call Of Dannel Malloy As Winning Governor’s Race; Foley Says He’s Ahead

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In a stunning development, The Associated Press has withdrawn its call of Democrat Dannel Malloy as the winner of the governor’s race.

The development Wednesday night was another bizarre twist to a long day in a seesaw battle between Malloy and Republican Tom Foley. Both Foley and Malloy announced their transition teams Wednesday – with each saying he was preparing to enter the governor’s mansion on January 5.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz had declared Malloy as the winner, saying that Malloy was ahead by 3,100 votes in unofficial results.

Insiders said Wednesday night that the vote counts for Malloy in the Democratic-dominated cities of Bridgeport and New Haven may have been wrong – meaning that Foley scored better in those cities than previously believed. Overall, Foley says that his count shows that he is ahead. By contrast, Malloy maintained steadfastly Wednesday that he was actually ahead.

Capitol Watch

Associated Press Withdraws Call Of Dannel Malloy As Winning Governor’s Race; Foley Says He’s Ahead

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In a stunning development, the Associated Press has withdrawn its call of Democrat Dannel Malloy as the winner of the governor’s race.
Capitol Watch

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