It’s true that surveys indicate that gay marriage is wildly popular among DC whites and moderately unpopular among DC blacks, but I think it’s a bit misleading to really see this as a “racial divide.” Nobody would be surprised to learn about a community where college educated people had substantially more left-wing views on gay rights than did working class people. And it just happens to be the case that there are hardly any working class white people living in DC. Meanwhile, with a 34-48 pro-con split it’s hardly as if black Washington stands uniformly in opposition—there’s a division of views reflecting the diverse nature of the city’s black population.
At the end of the day “the city as a whole supported same-sex marriage by 54 percent to 34 percent” so the issue is going to come down to a clash between the desires of the city’s population and the desire of congressional conservatives to screw around with the District. And my guess is that having a ton of right-wing southern white guys talk about how DC shouldn’t be allowed to make its own rules in this regard isn’t actually going to endear the conservative movement to working class African-Americans in DC.
In recent weeks, lawmakers opposed to passing a public option have been insisting that it is “dead” and Democratic leaders need to move forward without it. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) has said that the “public doesn’t support it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has suggested that we “throw it in the garbage can,” and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has said that Obama “should take it off the table.” But today in an interview with Univision’s Al Punto — the first time a U.S. president has appeared on the show — Obama said that such declarations are premature:
“I absolutely do not believe that it’s dead,” Obama told Univision. “I think that it’s something that we can still include as part of a comprehensive reform effort.”
That defense may mark one of the most significant reactions Obama has had to date to the health bill unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) this week, which eschews the public option in favor of nonprofit healthcare cooperatives.
When asked whether Republican votes are essential to passing a bill, Obama replied, “You know, I’d love to get Republican votes, but I don’t count on them. … I think, that the opposition has made a decision. They are just not going to support anything, for political reasons.” (HT: Political Carnival)
Lydia DePillis has a depressing item about the role access to contraceptives is playing (or, rather, not playing) in efforts to forestall catastrophic climate change:
Earlier this week, Thomas Wire of the London School of Economics published a study concluding that improved family planning is one of the most effective methods of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions we’ve got. This is something that sustainable-growth advocates have realized for a long time, but the actual numbers are startling: Reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies out there—calculated on the basis of “unmet need,” or women who want contraception but currently don’t have access —is roughly five times as cost-effective as deploying low-carbon technologies like wind, solar, and carbon sequestration. (Treehugger has a good summary.)
So, today, David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post asked around Washington to see what nonprofit and government types thought about this bit of research. As it turns out, the environmental establishment wanted nothing to do with it.
Of course this should be pretty obvious. Efficiency—just not using energy—is the cleanest source of energy at all. And nobody uses less energy than a person who doesn’t even exist. That’s not to say we should be engaging in coercive limits on people’s ability to have children, that would be a cure that’s far worse than the disease. But the evidence is pretty clear that in societies where women are empowered and have access to contraception, that on average they want modest-sized families. And what this study is talking about is specifically what could be accomplished by closing the gap between the level of contraception that people want to have and the level of contraception they’re actually able to maintain. There are dozens of good reasons to think closing that gap would be beneficial, the impact on the environment is one of them, and there’s no reason people should refuse to say that.
One other interesting point from the Daily Kos data: despite all the noise about Obama’s falling approval ratings, outside of the South of 82% of those in the Northeast have a favorable view of Obama (vs. 10% having an unfavorable view), 62% have a favorable view (vs. 31%) in the Midwest, and 59% (vs. 34%) have a favorable view in the West. It is only in the South, where 67% (!) have an unfavorable view of the president (vs. 27% holding a favorable view) that Obama appears to have a serious problem. Again, the regional distribution is quite dramatic.
Taken together, I wonder if we’ve hit the point where the mainstream media ought to be reporting support for the president, congress, political parties, etc. not in terms of the country as a whole, but rather by providing two numbers: support in the South and support in the rest of the country excluding the South?
I certainly think it would be interesting to see these regional splits more. I wouldn’t want to overstate the point, on some level saying “Barack Obama’s super-popular if you ignore the southerners” seems about on a par with saying “Obama’s super-unpopular if you ignore the non-white people.” Obviously dislike of a Democratic president is going to be concentrated in the most-conservative part of the country. But it is an interesting angle. And it would be particularly interesting to compare southern whites to non-southern whites.
Dave Weigel points out that Mitt Romney is now slamming the TARP bill that he once favored. Shocking to see that guy change his position on something.
But Romney aside, it’s striking to see the number of conservatives who’ve decided that an initiative proposed by George W. Bush and Hank Paulson and endorsed by the GOP congressional leadership was and is secretly some socialist plot. Similarly with the idea that Ben Bernanke, former Bush administration official, is running some sort of rogue left-wing operation at the Fed. Obviously the economy’s still in a bad position today, but the evidence really does indicate that the whole suite of recovery measures (stimulus, TARP, Fed programs) are having the desired effect and things are turning around. I think this strategy of opportunistically pretending to have opposed this stuff could really come around to bite the right in the butt if things are looking better in 12 months and I think it’s very likely that things will be looking better in 12 months.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele recently sent out a fundraising letter saying that President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress are attempting a “socialist power grab.” Today on NBC’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory pressed House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) on whether such language was appropriate. Boehner tried to dodge the question, insisting that “you can call it whatever you want,” but the fact is that Obama’s the one scaring the American public. Gregory continued to ask whether Boehner believes Obama is a socialist, to which he finally admitted he doesn’t:
GREGORY: Do you really think the President is a socialist?
BOEHNER: Listen, when you begin to look at how much they want to grow government, you can call it whatever you want, but the fact is —
GREGORY: What do you call it though?
BOEHNER: This is unsustainable. We’re broke.
GREGORY: That’s fine. Do you think the President is a socialist?
GREGORY: Okay. Because the head of the Republican Party is calling him that.
BOEHNER: Listen, I didn’t call him that, and I’m not going to call him that.
Boehner is lying. He has said that what Obama and Democratic leaders are doing is socialism. From his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference a few months ago:
Well, the stimulus, the omnibus, the budget — it’s all one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment. … All of these bills seek to replace our economic freedom with the whims and mandates of politicians and bureaucrats.
Basically, Boehner admitted today that all he was doing there was fear-mongering and attempting to scare the public for political gain.
Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Obama responded to these charges from conservative leaders, stating, “You know, I’m amused. I can’t tell you how many foreign leaders who are heads of center-right governments say to me, I don’t understand why people would call you socialist, in my country, you’d be considered a conservative.”
As Politifact wrote Friday, the numbers that conservatives like Beck are using are “false” — “Nowhere in the documents does the Treasury Department cite the $1,761 figure,” explains the fact-checking website.
Last night, Glenn Beck accused President Obama of “outright lies,” engaging in a “coverup” of the cost of his green economic agenda. Beck claimed that “buried” Treasury documents from March show that the cost of a cap-and-trade carbon market to regulate global warming pollution is $1,761 per household per year, despite the president’s assurance to the American public in June that “the price to the average American will be about the same as a postage stamp per day“:
I have a question. Did the President of the United States tell the people in Congress about this? Facts are stubborn. Don’t they suck? It is always the coverup that gets you. March 9. June 25. Mr. President, did you tell Congress about prior estimates? That, you know, that you knew about? Or did you just kind of keep it secret and hide it away from them and those pesky American people? I want to show you something that I said a few weeks ago. I was talking directly to the Democrats. I was telling them wake up. “Democrats in Congress, wake up! You are being played and you’re being bypassed.”
Germany is in the midst of an election campaign, but it’s a bit of an odd campaign since there’s no real doubt that the incumbent Christian Democratic Union is going to win. Nor is there any doubt that the Christian Democrats won’t secure a majority. Nor is there any doubt that the Social Democrats will come in second. Instead, the drama is around the question of whether the libertarianish Free Democrats will secure enough seats to form a right-of-center coalition with the CDU or whether the CDU will be forced into another “grand coalition” with the SPD as its partner. Chancellor Angela Merkel has made it very clear that she prefers to work with the Free Democrats, but the polling indicates that the people somewhat obstinately want to return her to office, but want to return her to office without her preferred coalition partner.
Meanwhile, it seems to me that the longer the SDP serves as junior partner in a coalition led by a center-right party, the more voters looking for progressive change are going to drift to the party co-founded by ex-Communists and left-wing SDP members called Die Linke (“the left”). But that’s common sense, not real election analysis.
I can say that the campaign posters I’ve seen on the roads of Saxony are extraordinarily dull and mostly lacking in content. The far-right Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands is the exception offering posters that drive home clear anti-immigration themes
This morning, during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, President Obama vehemently defended a provision of health reform that would require all Americans to purchase health insurance coverage.
During the interview, host George Stephanopoulos insisted that compelling Americans to purchase coverage and fining them if they don’t, is a tax increase. Obama argued that the continued cost-shift of caring for the uninsured increases premiums for all Americans:
Well, hold on a second, George. Here — here’s what’s happening. You and I are both paying $900 bucks on average — our families — in higher premiums because of uncompensated care. Now, what I’ve said is that, if you can’t afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn’t be punished for that. That’s just piling on. If, on the other hand, we’re giving tax credits — we’ve set up an exchange, you are now part of a big pool, we’ve driven down the costs, we’ve done everything we can, and you actually can afford health insurance, but you’ve just decided, You know what? I want to take my chances, and then you get hit by a bus, and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that’s…
What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you any more than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that, if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.
In fact, even some Republicans dispute the notion that an individual mandate is a tax increase. Just last month, when asked “how does this bipartisan group that you`re a member of get to more health insurance coverage if you don`t mandate that employers provide coverage,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, replied “through an individual mandate and that`s individual responsibility and even Republicans believe in individual responsibility.”
During a June appearance on Fox News Sunday, Grassley said, “there isn’t anything wrong with it [an individual mandate], except some people look at it as an infringement upon individual freedom”:
But when it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principle then ought to lie the same way for health insurance. Because everybody has some health insurance costs, and if you aren’t insured, there’s no free lunch. Somebody else is paying for it….I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates.
Under the bills proposed in Congress, Americans who don’t qualify for a hardship waiver would have to pay a penalty if they chose not to purchase coverage. Under the Kennedy health bill, individuals without health insurance coverage would pay a maximum penalty of $750 per individual; the House health bills impose a 2.5% fine on an individual’s modified gross income. The Senate Finance Committee bill charges families 400% above the federal poverty line up to $3,800 for failing to purchase coverage.