Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Check

That's a betting strategy in a game of Texas Hold-'em. It happens when you are the decision making bettor, and you pass the decision on to the next betting opponent.

The opponent can then initiate a bet of their own or pass the decision to their next opponent by "checking" as well.

A lot of people like to compare politics with war metaphors. I prefer cards metaphors as more appropriate. Especially when it comes to complex negotiations like this.

The last Democratic Congress "checked" the issue of fiscal reform to the President. Obama "checked" the decision on fiscal reform to the GOP. The GOP "checked" to Paul Ryan, one of the only Republicans with sand, who has now opened the betting.

I disagree with Sullivan that this is a powerful rebranding of the GOP. They've deomonstrated there isn't a single issue they can't "death panel" into the news cycle. I expect the Democrats will try to do the same to this plan, so that takes care of all the usual suspects who will be yelling at each other without the ability to change minds and policy.

The interaction to watch will be between Ryan - who the GOP has either anointed or set up to take the blame (depending on which way this goes) - and the President.

Which means there is a chance for some sane policy to come out of all this. Not a good chance, but a chance.

.

14 comments:

alli said...

Paul Ryan isn't serious, he is a dangerous hack. And a liar!

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

First of all, I didn't say anything about seriousness.

But since you bring it up...

This is currently the only major fiscal plan under discussion. It includes major changes to several big government budgetary items. Many parts of this plan have a chance to become policy. That makes it very serious.

If Speaker Pelosi wanted some serious fiscal policy in place, she could have gone after it while she was in charge. But elections have consequences. Serious consequences.

That Ryan and his plan make promises it might not be able to keep should not be a surprise to Democrats, progressives, or anyone on the left. The President of the United States is currently Barack Obama, after all. I'm still waiting for the KSM civilian federal trial unicorn, myself. And we're at war with Libya.

So I'm not sure why you're bringing up "seriousness" except that a bunch of other people on television, radio and the internet are talking past each other about it.

This looks like a serious proposal to me. Ryan appears to be a serious pol, since he's been talking about this for years, and ran on this plan in the last election.

Hacks keep changing their tune based on what they think people want to hear. That doesn't appear to be Ryan's gambit in this instance.

alli said...

She did go after it! Are you insane? It was called the Affordable Care Act! That bill did more to reduce the long-term deficit than any other bill of the last twenty years!

Paul Ryan doesn't care about the goddamn deficit and neither do I, because it's entirely caused by a REVENUE problem because of the bursting of an $8 trillion housing bubble. Paul Ryan just wants to cut taxes on rich people. He doesn't give a flying fuck about the deficit. The deficit is a boogey man meant to scare people into accepting "shared sacrifice" which of course will not be shared by rich people, ever.

I keep saying this but no one listens to me.

The only purpose of this budget, which will not actually become law, is to make Bowles-Simpson look "centrist" by comparison. It's moving the center even further right. And the White House will take the bait, because it was their goddamn commission in the first place, despite their being NO long-term problem for Social Security that couldn't be resolved by raising or eliminating the cap on the payroll tax.

alli said...

also this. and this.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Now is the time to very rationally discuss our national priorities as it relates to fiscal policies. The GOP has produced a serious document stating their serious intentions to enact serious policy changes. Their political advantage in recent years has been thier inability to get pinned down in one place (and the other side's inability to pin them down) on policy issues.

Even if you believe they used their advanced marketing techniques to manufacture an issue (for decades), and this is the snake-oil they're selling to solve that issue, it remains an item with specific plans and goals to be debated.

Hell, its already being debated, with or without the left's participation.

There is an opportunity here for the progressives and the left to enunciate their positions on both these "solutions" and the "problem" as they see it, and to do so in a cohesive manner. But they have to do so with the understanding that many Americans already believe there is a problem here that needs solving.

I expect them instead to react with a great deal of fractured response, cursing, calling the American people stupid (always a winner when it comes to hearts and minds) and speaking only to people who already agree with them - the type of conversation that defines the modern left - and to remain non-factors in the coming debate.

alli said...

That's a pile of nonsense. Any plan that says unemployment will drop to 2.1% is by definition unserious. In fact, there isn't even a long-term problem, so yes, I think the Democrats should stop giving in and saying that deficit reduction is a priority. It's not a priority for Republicans and it's not an economic necessity. Just because the American public doesn't understand economics doesn't mean that American politicians have to be willfully stupid and implement devastating austerity programs under the guise of a fiscal crisis.

jeffrey said...

Pat, you keep using this word "serious". Ryan's serious proposal is this. Let's completely dismantle every humane achievement in US governance during the past 100 years including and especially the two most successful and popular programs in our history in order that we may... once again... lower tax rates for the highest earners.
I don't mean to repeat too much of what Alli just said but "deficit reduction" is clearly not the goal here. Conceding that any claims to such are "serious" is in effect conceding the entire argument.

The fact is the very progressives you like to accuse of screaming past everyone appear to have the "problem" pretty well defined.

The problem is the money power is in is unrelentingly pushing the rest of us off a cliff. The "solution" then, when presented with proposals like Ryan's, is to call them the bullshit non-starters that they are. Unfortunately, the President and the great majority of his party do not respond this way but instead engage and validate this bullshit as good faith "seriousness" and in so doing grant it a legitimacy it does not deserve.

It may be that Ryan is quite "serious" about destroying what's left of a middle class support system in this country but in what sense does the seriousness of that agenda translate into merit?

alli said...

Oh hey look it's another reason why this "plan" is the steamiest pile of shit ever.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

@ Jeffrey:

Guess I'll go back to my first comment:

First of all, I didn't say anything about seriousness.

But since you bring it up...


One has to wonder why on Earth these guys and girls still have jobs if they are working a plan to, in your words, "dismantle every humane achievement in US governance during the past 100 years including and especially the two most successful and popular programs in our history in order that we may... once again... lower tax rates for the highest earners.

Instead, not only are they working on these plans in the halls of policy-making government, they are winning elections by doing so, especially those elections that have the longest term effects.

That presents a rather serious ...er... problem that the progressives don't seem to have well defined.

jeffrey said...

No no it's quite well defined. Unfortunately those of us who have it well defined aren't taken "seriously" by the establishment of the party that pretends to represent us from time to time.

The political problem is the Democrats don't accept the progressive definition of the problem but rather the GOP's.

patsbrother said...

I'll admit it. I stopped reading this after I read this:

"I'm still waiting for the KSM civilian federal trial unicorn, myself."

That was awesome, Pat. And I knew nothing subsequent would top it.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

@ Bro: Glad you liked that one. Please remember it the next time you try and use the "Obamessiah" narrative I often get stuck with.

@ Jeffrey: Exactly. But the problem the left and the progressives don't have well defined is why that happens. Why do more people see things Ryan's way? Why do Democrats see things Ryan's way?

The left and the progressives have a very difficult time accepting that, in a nation governed by representative government, you actually have to spend a great deal of time engaging in the business of convincing people who don't agree with you to end up agreeing with you. It requires listening to the frustrations of people who disagree with you and figuring out what has them discontented.

Preaching to the choir might be fun and cathartic, but the congregation just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

And, again, that's a serious problem to have, when the fiscal plan currently under discussion - with the implied support of the majority party with the most political capital - is the plan that dismantles many of social plans that help keep this place a First-World nation.

jeffrey said...

The left and the progressives have a very difficult time accepting that, in a nation governed by representative government, you actually have to spend a great deal of time engaging in the business of convincing people who don't agree with you to end up agreeing with you. It requires listening to the frustrations of people who disagree with you and figuring out what has them discontented.

I think this paragraph perfectly captures the disagreement we're having. I agree that in order to win elections you have to communicate to the electorate that your agenda better addresses the frustrations of the voters. But the only people on the non-Republican side who actually make such an argument are those of us on the left. The failure of disengagement is happening at the center. It's the corporate funded Democratic establishment and our pathetic President who continually concede every opportunity to gain traction with poor or working class voters. Instead they absorb and validate the right's argument and the right's policies.

Until that changes. Until Democrats stop treating nonsensical right-wing proposals (such as Ryan's budget) as something other than the crap they are, they're never going to draw any meaningful distinctions between themselves and Republicans that matter to the "frustrated" or "discontented" voters they need.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

See, I think the center is the group of people who are willing to side with whoever presents the most compelling argument. I just don't think the left or the progressives are making very compelling arguments right now, and haven't been for quite some time. Political parties just regurgitate what their most influential interest groups have marketed well.

The left spends a bunch of time wondering why the center doesn't listen to them, and why those officials who do - who don't live in concentrated districts - end up losing elections. The district-drawing that has concentrated Democratic voters has also diminished credibility-building grassroots efforts elsewhere, which means a lot of Democrats are beholden only to their monied local interest groups, not the left or progressive movements nationwide. That's why you have the "circular firing squad" encompassing the center-left, as messages compete within your likely voter blocs.

Meanwhile, the right focuses on marketing and mass communicating the GOP to move as far to the right as possible (which, judging by the current "base" of the GOP, isn't terribly difficult). In this way, they double their effective messaging capacity when the GOP starts broadcasting their messages.

The result? Paul Ryan's plan to dismantle Medicare is being seriously considered by the majority party elected last November in a landslide. Meanwhile, a bunch of folks on the left are talking about what "a joke" the plan is.

Sounds more like denial to me.