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Good Policy Does Not Guarantee Good Political Outcomes

[ 356 ] March 18, 2017 |

FDR12

As Jason Furman observes, that’s one obvious lesson of this story:

Soon after Charla McComic’s son lost his job, his health-insurance premium dropped from $567 per month to just $88, a “blessing from God” that she believes was made possible by President Trump.

“I think it was just because of the tax credit,” said McComic, 52, a former first-grade teacher who traveled to Trump’s Wednesday night rally in Nashville from Lexington, Tenn., with her daughter, mother, aunt and cousin.

The price change was actually thanks to a subsidy made possible by former president Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which is still in place, not by the tax credits proposed by Republicans as part of the health-care bill still being considered by Congress.

[…]

Ware hopes that Trump can change this, although she says she won’t fault him if he can’t. She doesn’t believe news reports saying that 24 million people could lose their coverage under his plan.

“Nothing is in concrete yet. Give the man a chance,” she said. “Until you hear it from Donald J. Trump himself — and not the news media — then don’t even worry about it. Wait until you hear the man say it, because he will tweet it, he will Facebook it or he will go onto national television and tell everybody at the same time.”

As the story also makes clear, it would be better in policy terms if the subsidies in the ACA had been more generous, but there’s little reason to believe that this would have transformed any significant number of Republican voters into Democratic ones.

Speaking of which, a lot of people in comments have brought up Jack Meserve’s riff on an amusing rant by one of the Chapo Trap House guys about the needless complexity of the ACA exchanges. Leaving aside the flimsiness of some of the anecdotal evidence (signs touting New Deal programs good, signs touting ARRA programs bad), there’s an obvious problem with the core argument. This is from the Christman argument he quotes:

And as Rick Perlstein has talked about a lot, that’s one of the reasons that Democrats end up fucking themselves over. The reason they held Congress for 40 years after enacting Social Security is because Social Security was right in your fucking face. They could say to you, “you didn’t used to have money when you were old, now you do. Thank Democrats.” And they fucking did.

This is superficially persuasive. But there’s an obvious problem here. It’s true that Democrats mostly controlled Congress and the White House for decades after the New Deal. But this is very misleading: FDR failed in his war on the Dixiecrats in 1938, and Congress during the vast majority of this period was effectively controlled by a coalition of conservative Democrats and Republicans. The signature legislation of passed by Congress between 1940-1963 wasn’t a major liberal benefit — it was Taft-Hartley, which passed with veto-proof majorities and has more to do with Republicans controlling Congress than any tactical choices made by Democratic politicians in 2016. I mean, Democrats could still have an enduring congressional majority if southern conservatives were a major part of the coalition. Nobody wants that, but the fact that people who now vote for conservative Republicans used to vote for conservative Democrats isn’t going to make it easy to get moderate (let alone liberal or left-of-liberal) Democrats elected in those jurisdictions.

And there’s an even bigger problem here — the Great Society. Medicare is the ultimate simple in-your-face social benefit, and it was more generous than the initial iterations of Social Security and didn’t come at a horrible price in racial exclusion. And yet the result was Republican control of the White House for 28 of the next 40 years (and of the two Democratic outliers, the first accomplished very little with a Democratic Congress, and the second had better-than-Carter but disappointing results in two years of unified government and more conservative policy outcomes than liberal ones in 6 years of divided government.) Intuitively, the popularity of Medicare and Social Security shouldn’t be consistent with control of the federal government by increasingly conservative Republicans, but while it was concealed by much of the 20th century by weak partisan coalitions it’s an enduring paradox of American politics the left needs to face head-on.

To be clear, I agree entirely with Meserve and Christman that simple is better than complex in policy terms, and at the margin the clearer the benefits the easier it is to preserve the programs politically. Simplicity is often easier said than done when dealing with James Madison’s sausage-making machine, but it’s always worth keeping in mind. The story that good policy is always good politics, though, is a nice story but there’s not a lot of evidence that it’s true. The reason to do the right thing is that it’s the right thing, not because it’s guarantee of political success in a system that’s structured in many ways to favor reactionary interests.

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  1. humanoid.panda says:

    I agree with much of this post, but I do have to point out that using a Trump rally attendee as a synedcoche of how people process information about the world…problematic. Sure, some people are basically cultists, who will say and believe anything. Is talking to them all that useful?

    • Murc says:

      Depends a little bit. I had no real objection to the cultists who glommed onto Obama in ’08.

      Well, I did, in that they were the sort of people who grew quickly disillusioned that he governed the way he said he was going to govern. But I sure was happy to have their votes.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        Depends a little bit. I had no real objection to the cultists who glommed onto Obama in ’08.

        Well, cultists will glom themselves to any major endeavor. What I object to is for people taking cultists as an accurate representation of what the heartland folks think.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      The anecdotes are worth quoting only because they’re illustrative of actual electoral results — people in KY and WV like the Medicaid expansion, but this doesn’t help Democrats win elections there.

      • Derelict says:

        With a nod to the worth of anecdata, such anecdotes are useful. What these reveal is the surprisingly widespread misperceptions of the political world and how it will impact Joe Average.

        For example, one of the narratives that seems to be emerging is that many people who voted for Trump voted for him because “he’s not a politician.” These people heard Trump promising to do all sorts of horrible things, including take away their healthcare by repealing the ACA. But they told themselves that “he’s just saying that, and you know politicians lie all the time!”

        They sublimate the cognitive dissonance by figuring Trump is genuine but forced to lie.

        So, how to get those voters to turn to Democrats? One way, surely, is to pound them relentlessly with “This good thing you like is brought to you by Democrats.” You like public parks? High-quality public schools? Medicare? Social Security? The GI Bill of Rights and Veterans’ benefits? Clean air to breathe? Clean water to drink? The fact that your job is much less likely to kill you? All brought to you by Democrats.

        And Republicans want to take away ALL of those things.

        • Davis X. Machina says:

          And Republicans want to take away ALL of those things.

          But they will make other people’s lives worse and let you watch. Surely that’s sufficient.

        • sibusisodan says:

          That only works if the ‘he’s not a politician’ line is honestly a reason for voting for him, rather than just a cover for the real reason.

          Given the degree of political polarisation in the us, I would expect a large amount of these kind of justifications are post hoc. They sound more exciting and worthy than ‘I’m on team r and he’s the nominee’.

          I don’t think you can reason someone out of a partisan alignment they didn’t reason themselves into.

          • Derelict says:

            I don’t think you can reason someone out of a partisan alignment they didn’t reason themselves into.

            With your kind permission, I am so going to steal this and many variations thereof.

          • los says:

            sibusisodan says:

            partisan alignment they didn’t reason themselves into.

            But unreason never stops unreasoning the MAGAS.
            Unreason is MAGA’s manna.

            Hint: recall those repeated hoaxes that “came from nowhere”.

        • Manny Kant says:

          And Republicans want to take away ALL of those things.

          Part of the issue is that a) people won’t believe that, even when it is explained to them; and, relatedly, b) Republican elected officials do as much as they can to obscure it, and, at the federal level, at least, rely on Democrats to stop their own least popular positions from actually being enacted.

          • efgoldman says:

            Part of the issue is that a) people won’t believe that, even when it is explained to them; and, relatedly, b) Republican elected officials do as much as they can to obscure it

            CBS had a report from the GA county where Macon is, about how cutting Meals on Wheels will hurt elderly, especially shut ins. The text doesn’t say so, but a woman who voted for Shitgibbon and knows about the “budget” says she’d vote for him again.
            Some people really are way beyond reality, on some fantastic planet.

        • los says:

          Derelict says:

          “he’s just saying that, and you know politicians lie all the time!”

          MAGA: “Oh you libtards! Don’t listen to what Trump is saying! Listen to what Trump means!”

          They sublimate the cognitive dissonance by figuring Trump is genuine but forced to lie.

          MAGA: “All I hear is Chocolate Puppies and Hot Unicorns.”

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        The anecdotes are worth quoting only because they’re illustrative of actual electoral results — people in KY and WV like the Medicaid expansion, but this doesn’t help Democrats win elections there.

        Is this actually true? West Virginia has had Democratic governors since 2000 (three of them). Did Medicaid expansion play no role on their election?

    • StellaB says:

      I’m kind of a glass half-full type, so yes, I think that talking to people helps to peel off some of the less committed. It’s slow and discouraging work at times, though.

    • AMK says:

      It’s worth quoting because it’s illustrative of how tens of millions of voters think (or actually, can’t think). And how hard it is for reasonably well-informed, intelligent people to try to relate to or communicate with them based on any sort of shared understanding of the world.

      So of these people are gettable (surely enough to swing elections), but the more I see and hear, the more I buy into the non-racist version of the Murray thesis/plot of the movie idiocracy: that our country has reached the point where lots of these people are just congenitally incapable of having any sort of reasoned understanding of issues not driven by gut racism or religious voodoo.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        …lots of these people are just congenitally incapable of having any sort of reasoned understanding of issues not driven by gut racism or religious voodoo.

        The Democratic caucus of, say, 1960, was equal parts gut racism (Dixiecrats) and religious (urban Catholic and to a lesser extent Jewish) voodoo.

        It works — it’s just not any good.

    • kvs says:

      We have decades of research on how people process information about the world which would probably support us saying that McComic is demonstrating typical intuitive bias. Her news sources say Trump and Congress are replacing Obamacare with tax credits, therefore that’s why her costs are lower.

      I think we can say that without straying into making claims about how well-represented those beliefs are in the population as a whole. We have polls showing that people believe Obamcare and the Affordable Care Act are different things to make that kind of case.

      • ema says:

        Her news sources say Trump and Congress are replacing Obamacare with tax credits, therefore that’s why her costs are lower.

        She’s engaged enough to know about the proposed tax credits. How is she not aware of the basic and uncontested fact that they haven’t been enacted yet ( = all her son’s benefits are due to the ACA)?

        • kvs says:

          Because her news sources tell her Obamacare has failed and led to higher costs, therefore lower costs are because of something else. Intuitively, that must be the tax credits they’re talking about.

      • MDrew says:

        Could it be that the Chapoists’ point is that a system not based on tax credits at all wouldn’t have this misattribution problem?

        Scott’s response is that people in Kentucky like the Medicaid expansion (i.e. not tax-credit based) but that doesn’t cause them to vote for Democrats. That might be a dispositive response, though I haven’t seen the numbers on the liking of the expansion, nor the crossover analysis to show that it hasn’t caused any appreciable number of those who do like it who aren’t also solid D voters to vote D rather than R. But it also could be that it’s just too limited a policy change to dominate people’s overall feelings about Democrats and health care policy (i.e. ACA), and/or that people aren’t distinguishing between the Medicaid expansion and the rest of Obamacare, which they may not like.

        Obamacare is not simply and clearly a policy change of the type of an expansion (or creation) of a single-(government-)payer health care system; in fact that part of it was really dwarfed in terms of media coverage and certainly at least equalled in terms of messaging focus and also policy-change magnitude by the other parts of Obamacare. So claiming to expect people to react politically to Obamacare as if it were primarily a single-payer-health-system expansion is disingenuous.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

      The Venn diagram between cultists and all Republicans is rapidly converging.

  2. Murc says:

    The time has come for us to take a hard, long look at some of the foundational civic myths of our society.

    Because a lot of them might just be not so. This is to some extent terrifying, because if it turns out that the only reward for governing well is the satisfaction of a job well-done, and that it is entirely possible to assemble an enduring, wins-half-the-time political coalition around a platform of destruction and ruin, that calls into question… well, it calls into question a lot.

    • NewishLawyer says:

      There are a few core liberal beliefs that I think that we have never really been able to sell to the people and are sometimes just enforced to the above.

      From what I’ve read, the Death Penalty polls just as well in many European countries as it does in the United States but it was the elites of those countries that kept it off the books.

      Freedom of Movement is another grand liberal goal that is hard to convince people of because it generally seems to help those in very dire circumstances or those who are very well off. As an upper-middle class professional, I like being able to enter foreign countries with just my passport. But what does freedom of movement mean to people who are not prosecuted and/or poor but not well off enough to travel abroad? Or those who don’t have the money to do Junior Year Abroad programs?

      • humanoid.panda says:

        I always felt that support for absolute freedom of movement hinges on the assumption that not so many people will be able to make use of it.

        • NewishLawyer says:

          I don’t know. How are you defining “not so many”? There seem to be plenty of people who need refugee status.

          LeeEsq points out that liberals imagine a world with free movement of people but not the free movement of capital. Conservatives want a world with the free movement of capital but not the free movement of people.

          Anyway, the WWC seem perfectly well selling out themselves. Steve Bannon and Martin Shkrelli came from the white working class but got rich through finance and business while taking advantage of public education. They claim solidarity with their roots but end up just acting towards the Free Flow of Capital because it made them rich.

          There seem to be a lot of guys like that. WWC guys who made it into finance and made it rich in finance who claim to disdain and hate the elites but all their policies are very pro-elite. I find it strange.

          • aturner339 says:

            In my experience they like the idea of elites but think our current set are too soft and accommodating of foreigners, minorities, and other inferiors. The “intellecual” side of the alt-right is full of sincere believers in aristocracy.

      • kvs says:

        Freedom of Movement doesn’t have to be an international goal. States restrict movement within their borders, too. “Whites Only” isn’t a thing from the distant past.

      • sonamib says:

        But what does freedom of movement mean to people who are not prosecuted and/or poor but not well off enough to travel abroad?

        International travel is not *that* expensive. You can buy return flights to Europe for less than 500€. Going to Canada or Mexico is probably even cheaper. 10 days at a mid-range hotel will be another 500€. 1000€ (that’s less than 1100$), and you’ve got your trip to Europe or wherever.

        Are you telling me non-poor people are unable to save 1100$ over, say, a time-period of 2 years?

        For middle-class people who don’t travel internationally, the main reason they don’t do it is because they never consider it. Or because they consider it, and think it’s better to spend the money on something else.

        • Mike G says:

          Or because they’re parochial and scared of furriners and furriner food from too much parochial American media. The US has a remarkably low percentage of people with passports, and an abysmal general level of knowledge of other countries, compared to other affluent nations.

          • muddy says:

            There are a lot more disparate areas of the U to visit though, where in a smaller country you’d have to go abroad? Not that I disagree about the parochial thing.

        • A few things. First, those numbers look a little lowball to me: 50 euros a night for a midrange hotel? Last time I priced out a trip to Europe it was definitely more than that. You’re also not accounting for food, travel, etc.

          Second, that’s for one person. If we’re talking about a middle class family, you need plane tickets, food, etc. for two adults and at least one child.

          Third, and most crucially, 10 days is higher than the average PTO benefit for American workers. So even if you can save up the money, you’re wiping out either all or the majority of your time off for the entire year. Better not get sick! Your kids better not get sick, either! And all of this is assuming your bosses will allow you to take such a long period off from work.

          • swaninabox says:

            Basically. I haven’t got the vacation time to easily take more than a week, and I’m lucky because I get paid vacation.

            If you assume 3-4 days will be eaten up by family obligation holiday of choice- Christmas/Thanksgiving/Passover whatever

            And say 2 days get used to do something localish that happens to need doing – wait for a big delivery, go to the local convention

            Then you just have like no time.

            It could be much more of a priority for me, and if I dropped all my other hobbies I could do a lot more traveling abroad, but I’m not dropping every single thing I do for the pay off of a hugely uncomfortable flight and a trip to a place where I might or might not like it.

            2020 I’m gong to New Zealand come hell or high water though- SF Convention, music obsession, and scenery converge for a once in a lifetime trip. I’m saving now. Or I would be if I ever finished paying off the stuff I owe.

          • sonamib says:

            A few things. First, those numbers look a little lowball to me: 50 euros a night for a midrange hotel? Last time I priced out a trip to Europe it was definitely more than that.

            I’m not making this up. I am, of course, assuming that you’re planning ahead and not travelling at a busy period. I just looked up an Ibis hotel in Amsterdam’s city center. Paying now, a 2-person room for 10 days in mid-september costs 189€, admittedly breakfast is not included, but you can cancel the reservation for free. The flight from Chicago for those random dates is 700€. Flight+hotel is well within the budget I outlined. If you go in fall or winter it’s even cheaper! (as long as it’s not Christmas.) Food, frankly, is a rounding error compared to the rest of the budget. Make sandwiches, find cheap places to eat. You’d need to eat anyway whether you travelled or not.

            Second, that’s for one person. If we’re talking about a middle class family, you need plane tickets, food, etc. for two adults and at least one child.

            The other adult also works in this imaginary middle class family and would pay their own ticket. Kids admittedly don’t work and will cost extra to bring along. Just imagine then that the trip happens once every 4 years instead of once every 2 years.

            Third, and most crucially, 10 days is higher than the average PTO benefit for American workers. So even if you can save up the money, you’re wiping out either all or the majority of your time off for the entire year. Better not get sick! Your kids better not get sick, either! And all of this is assuming your bosses will allow you to take such a long period off from work.

            Ok, fair enough, this is a uniquely awful thing about the USA. You all deserve refugee status in other countries just for having to put up with this.

            • If you go in fall or winter it’s even cheaper!

              Families with children could only realistically make a trip like this in the summer, when the kids are out of school.

              • PohranicniStraze says:

                This. And for many destinations, the summer flight costs are much higher than the same flight at other times. My family goes to Thailand every few years, and summer flights average about 50% higher than the fall/winter flights, which adds up quickly since we need 5 tickets.

            • sonamib says:

              Paying now, a 2-person room for 10 days in mid-september costs 189€

              Oops, made a mistae, this price is too good to be true. I was looking at only 5 days. Multiply this by 2, then.

              Anyway, my main point is that travelling abroad is not unimaginably expensive. Even for a family of 4, it’s about the same as the annual cost of owning and maintaining one (1) car.

              • the annual cost of owning and maintaining one (1) car

                i.e. one of the largest single items on most families’ yearly budget? And don’t forget that passports are about $200 a pop (twice as much as a French passport, it appears).

                I think this is just an over-the-Atlantic issue — American middle class families have fewer benefits and more expenses than French middle class families.

                I suppose I do agree with you that the average American family would probably spend a spare $4000 on something other than travel, but I think it’s more likely to go toward paying down debt (the average household has $16,000 in credit card debt, for instance).

          • JMP says:

            “If we’re talking about a middle class family, you need plane tickets, food, etc. for two adults and at least one child.”

            Uh, there actually are plenty of families who do not have children. Thanks for pretending we don’t exist.

            • And people in DINK households are more likely to travel, yes.

              I’m non-reproductive. It doesn’t bother me that “family” in standard usage doesn’t refer to my household. It doesn’t impinge on my worth as a person or devalue my relationships. Apparently it’s something that makes you angry, but what doesn’t? You don’t own me. I don’t have a relationship with you. I have no reason to let you control me.

              Please never try to police my language again.

        • los says:

          sonamib says:

          Going to Canada or Mexico is probably even cheaper.

          We all saw summe fake reffyugees wolk over the Kennadiyin boarder.
          They all had cloths so they wurint real reffyugees. But eiy culd still see um with the cloths.

          The Kinadiy inns are tuo stopid to hav a big fine wawl.

           
          Owebamma tapping us all11! We must preyviteyz centsury deprivvashin tooday!
          Ernest T. Blogger

        • los says:

          sonamib says:

          You can buy return flights to Europe for less than 500€.

          If Donneld wasn’t so deadickaided to creeyating jobs for arr forst wone pielits, Donold would swim to meat Anjillla Murkill.

          He could eezily. I saw Dunnoll likk that on a cart tune sumwear. All Dunnoll browt wus ownly a bottill of katchcup.
          Annd Dunnold was keepeeng the bottull flowting,, not thee uther way a round, likk you libtars allayz thienk badly11!

           
          It’s never too soown for us all of us to be as tried as good as Dunnald. And wee shuld11!
          Ernest T. Blogger

  3. NewishLawyer says:

    Jeet Herr had a piece in TNR theorizing that Trump’s incompetence and damage to the WWC won’t hurt him because of etno-nationalism:

    https://newrepublic.com/article/141404/trumps-betrayal-voters-wont-stick

    Trump’s gamble, if indeed this is a witting strategy, is that he can hold his base together on a shared support for ethno-nationalism, with the bulk of economic benefits going to well-to-do Republicans. So far, to judge by the even keel of his poll numbers, his bet is working. This might change when Trump’s economic policies move from the realm of proposals to actual policies that affect everyday lives. But for now, the argument that Trump is betraying his base is just a rhetorical meme that has little bearing on how his voters feel about him.

    Sadly this seems to be true. The other thing is that in one of his more lucid moments Ralph Nader discussed the liberal’s dilemma where you create a whole raft of social programs that raise the working class into the middle class and then they become conservative and hate taxes.

    • Steve LaBonne says:

      On the other hand, it took more than his base to elect him. Peeling off a fairly modest number of his less committed voters would suffice to beat him in 2020.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        I like Jet Heer, but oh boy is this piece dumb.
        1. Talking about Trump’s poll numbers and how nothing hurts him while ignoring the elephant in the room: at this point, no president was ever below the sixties in approval and Trump is at 42-43% is silly.
        2. Trump’s strategy was basically to gamble that a series of bank shots would help him to win by the only path he could possibly win through. And he did- by 100,000 votes across three states, in which he got less than 50% of vote. A strategy that’s basically hinges on repeating that bank shot is a not terribly good strategy.

        If you want to make nightmare scenarios about Trump gaining in strength, they are fairly straightforward: in the last year or so, median wages started climbing. If they keep on doing that in the next four years, he will be in a good shape. If not, he has no margin of error..

        • Davis X. Machina says:

          The thing he thinks he needs to succeed, and the thing that will keep him from succeeding, is the same thing — a nice war someplace.

          • Wapiti says:

            My immediate reaction was “… but there’s no such thing as a nice war.”

            My second thought was that Trump has already spent two months shitting on whatever credibility he once had. Lying us into a war might not work.

        • Derelict says:

          . . . in the last year or so, median wages started climbing. If they keep on doing that in the next four years, he will be in a good shape.

          Happily, the Federal Reserve is always ready to step in and raise interest rates long before rising wages become noticeable to Joe Average.

    • StellaB says:

      I was just thinking about Nader. He was right after all. Neither Gush nor Bore were interested in starting a war with North Korea.

    • MDrew says:

      It’ll work if he remains bouyed by an improving economy; it’ll fail if the economy turns down (for what?).

      If it works if the economy turns down, then we know we have a real problem on our hands vis-a-vis ethno-nationalism cc: Murc.

  4. Lee Rudolph says:

    Medicare is the ultimate simple in-your-face social benefit, and it was more generous than the initial iterations of Social Security and didn’t come at a horrible price in racial exclusion. And yet the result was Republican control

    I don’t know why you did it, Scott, but for some reason you wrote “yet” instead of “therefore”.

    • efgoldman says:

      for some reason you wrote “yet” instead of “therefore”

      I’m no grammar pedant, but it seems to me that “therefore” implies cause and effect. “Democrats enacted Medicare, therefore the result was republican control?”

      • benjoya says:

        he’s saying that the lack of racism was a problem for Rs

        • Lee Rudolph says:

          Right. In the case of Social Security, a little bit (well, okay, quite a bit) of racist sugar helped the medicine go down; Medi*, not so.

          • BiloSagdiyev says:

            Just my personal crackpot theory, but I think one reason so many white people have been shaking their fists about GUMMINT and TAXES! is the desth of Jim Crow and an attempt at a somewhat color-blind state, if not society.

          • MDrew says:

            It came at the same time as the CRM and was signed by the president who signed the most important post-CW-era CR legislation in our history, so quite a bit of history is tied up in that political response to Medicare.

            But with that all as context, yes, I think there is something to this.

  5. FlipYrWhig says:

    The linked article has one example of Republicans doing something simple that gets them credit: Bush’s tax cut. That doesn’t strike me as characteristic of what Republicans do, which usually involves… cutting tax rates, which you experience invisibly in your paycheck or at tax filing time, which is exactly what the article faults Democrats for doing. Am I missing something?

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I’d also like to see the evidence that Bush’s tax cut was popular.

      • Derelict says:

        As it finally went through, Bush’s tax cuts featured everyone who filed getting a check for $300. For many workers, that was close to a week’s pay.

        Of course, those who were filing Schedule C returns above the AMT line ended up getting actual tax cuts that lasted 10 years–cuts that were fucking enormous compared to the one-shot $300 the bottom 98% received.

    • sharonT says:

      Bush marketed his tax cut before and after the legislation was passed. And Bush’s tax cut was a lump sum payment as opposed to the Obama tax cut that just showed up as a decrease on tha tax line of your paycheck. If I remember correctly, the thinking in the Obama WH was that people would use a lump sum payment to pay down debt that people had incurred after the recession hit. They wanted people to spend the extra money from the tax cut on goods and services, quietly goosing the economy. It was that whole, “nudge” concept that they were enamored with back in 2010.

      The problem with not being loud and proud about the Obama tax cut was that many people thought that taxes on the middle class went up in Obama’s first term.

      • FlipYrWhig says:

        Right, that’s what the article says too. But even with that stipulated, is that what Republicans _by and large do_ to make their policies popular? I don’t think so. They did it with the Bush economic stimulus. They do not typically do it, AFAIK. Which is what makes it hard for me to agree that the problem with Democrats is that while Republicans give people benefits whose origins they can’t help noticing, Democrats give people benefits whose origins are mysterious. Republicans don’t actually give people benefits whose origins are obvious. They did it one time. Usually they tinker with the tax code, which is what the article says is Democrats’ m.o. and a bad idea.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

        many people thought that taxes on the middle class went up in Obama’s first term.

        Many also think the stock market went down, and unemployment went up. I’m not sure how to deal with the twin forces of the media being somewhere between ignoring policy in favor of controversial trivia and biased towards Republicans, along with the information bubble that so many people live in.

        I see little proof of the idea that if Obama had only talked more about this or that policy it would have had a huge impact on voters. Especially as we’re in the “alternate facts” age now.

        • Derelict says:

          My sister and her husband voted for Trump because they despise Obamacare, but they love the Affordable Care Act. Because of ACA, they can afford health insurance for the first time in their adult lives.

          Two weeks ago, her husband’s primary care doctor sez “Joe” needs to get hernia surgery. The doctor recommends a surgeon, but the surgeon is not in their insurance network. So, they have to find another surgeon who is in-network.

          My sister, having no experience with health insurance, believes this is all due to Obamacare deciding which doctor they can and can’t use. Her halfwit friends, also ignorant of how life works, provide the echo chamber about how it’s government bureaucrats who decided they can’t use the surgeon originally recommended. And these are people in their late 50s.

          • The Lorax says:

            This is shocking. What does one even say?

          • Hogan says:

            having no experience with health insurance

            Well there you are.

            If you never directly experienced the suckage of pre-ACA health insurance, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish those elements from the new but significantly reduced suckage of post-ACA health insurance. But there sure are a lot of people around who will tell you at the top of their voices that changes in plans and changes in networks and premium increases never happened before Obamacare came along and ruined it for everyone.

          • vic rattlehead says:

            With all due respect, that is an infuriating level of stupidity.

          • MDrew says:

            If I asked them if they love the ACA would they say “Yes!” or, “The what?”

            Do they love the ACA, or do they love what the ACA does from them (or, more precisely, some of what it does but not all of how it does it)?

      • humanoid.panda says:

        And Bush’s tax cut was a lump sum payment as opposed to the Obama tax cut that just showed up as a decrease on tha tax line of your paycheck.

        You are confusing a couple of different things here. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 were income tax reductions, which obviously showed up in paycheck deductions, and sometimes on people’s tax returns, but were not “lump sum payments.” Then, in 2007, he and the Democratic Congress agreed on a stimulus which consisted of sending people a 300 dollar check. That of course didn’t do much for him politically.

  6. Hogan says:

    And the converse is true too: bad political outcomes don’t prove that the policy was bad.

  7. delazeur says:

    “Nothing is in concrete yet. Give the man a chance,” she said. “Until you hear it from Donald J. Trump himself — and not the news media — then don’t even worry about it. Wait until you hear the man say it, because he will tweet it, he will Facebook it or he will go onto national television and tell everybody at the same time.”

    Ignoring, of course, the fact that OMB’s numbers are even worse than CBO’s.

  8. Joe_JP says:

    The New Deal benefits could have been more generous too. They weren’t given things tend to happen in stages and particularly big changes requires support of the edges of the coalition, which tends to require compromising the final result. Messiness is part of the deal. Sorry. The New Deal still had a lot of good things in it, even if the Great Society added more.

    The New Deal benefits also had the luxury of time, including Eisenhower (this was noted in a past thread) sticking with them basically. ACA is not even a decade old. But, we are now seeing how hard it is for Republicans to totally screw it over. Thanks Obama and Democrats for passing it and those doing what they can to defend it while looking to a time it will be better.

    Those who fought in the 1930s were in many cases still around in the 1960s, if a little bit older.

    • NewishLawyer says:

      There was something about the Great Depression that really did cause the GOP to stay in the doghouse for a long time. My guess is that it is because it started six months into Hoover’s term and he did nothing about it for his entire term because of his true belief against government intervention.

      Does the same thing need to happen now?

      So the GOP had no control Congress from 1930-1946 and they lost the House in 48. This is going to change a party/moderate them. Even then, they had to deal with the Old Right and keep that faction down.

      • SatanicPanic says:

        Does the same thing need to happen now?

        I don’t know if the results would be the same. Bush was seen as actively doing something during the great recession, so maybe it’s not a perfect analogy, but Republicans bounced back from that pretty quickly. Man would I hate to find out that people in 2020 would support a Hoover-like president, because there’s a non-zero chance of us getting an answer to your question.

      • Origami Isopod says:

        There was something about the Great Depression that really did cause the GOP to stay in the doghouse for a long time. My guess is that it is because it started six months into Hoover’s term and he did nothing about it for his entire term because of his true belief against government intervention.

        I’d say that the utter devastation of it showed GOP policies for what they were. I mean…. 33% unemployment rate.

        • PohranicniStraze says:

          That’s nothing compared to the 40% unemployment rate under Obama! Good thing under Trump it immediately dropped to 4%.

          • los says:

            and that fake 40% is only if you include mob rule by California! If you take all of Obama’s hidden jobless, then divide by everyone after taking away California, New York, Chicago, and those other liberal states, you see Obama had more than 2000% unemployment!!!
            Worsest president since before history yet11! Good thing voturs told hillery no11!!

            and pizzaghazigate11!!

            /altbrains

      • los says:

        Does the same thing need to happen now?

        The 1930s great depression was far more painful than 2000s recession.
        The teacucks need to feel pain, bigly. The best bigly. Indelibly bigly.

  9. Joe_JP says:

    A bit of prologue …

    The Gorsuch hearings begin on Monday. His state senators will introduce him. One is a Democrat, but Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced Alito and later voted against him. So, that is not particularly striking. Neal Katyal being involved is what rankles.

    This is the guy you are so gung ho on?

  10. ForkyMcSpoon says:

    Another example was discussed before the election, where many people in Elkhart, Indiana insisted that Obama never did nothing for us… despite the ARRA injecting significant amounts of money into the city, and their unemployment rate going from 22% in 08/09 to under 4%!

    Yet Elkhart was given as an example by that Carrier union guy, Chuck Jones, in this piece of why Democrats lost the working class. Because Democrats abandoned them.

    Well, if saving the auto industry and giving other fiscal stimulus to save your city’s economy gets you no credit… I don’t buy that this was somehow “not good enough” because there was still too much neoliberalism. “Good, but not good enough” does not get you a 30 pt loss in a county that received large benefits directly from Democratic policies. It seems unlikely that simply becoming more pro-union or proposing infrastructure* or pro-fair trade would win them over (anti-trade probably works better than fair trade, since it’s a much simpler message and dovetails nicely with xenophobic appeals).

    *This is also made harder by the fact that the media allowed/is allowing Trump to run on building infrastructure despite having no plan (not even broad outlines of a plan) and it would seem now, having no intention of doing it. Clinton proposed a good $500b infrastructure plan and most likely would’ve followed through if Democrats took Congress. Trump bullshitted that he was going to do $1 trillion… and I’m sure plenty of idiots (including useful idiots on the left) believed it.

    • ForkyMcSpoon says:

      Hmmm, it seems I can’t edit. Well anyway, I forgot to make the last point. I certainly support doing all those things, but I think people are underestimating the appeal of white nationalism. (And the role of sexism in the election.)

      And I’m sure we can win over some of those white working class people with more pro-worker policies (or a penis), but we ain’t returning to FDR- or LBJ-level support.

      This is mostly important in response to people who say we need to abandon “identity politics” in favor of economic populism.

      • Dan from Delaware says:

        Maybe if Hillary talked about single-payer and universal basic income instead of what bathrooms people piss in she could have won PA, MI, and WI.

        Nah, that’s just crazy talk!

        • ForkyMcSpoon says:

          How many times did she talk about what bathrooms people like my sister should be allowed to use?

          And why do you think it’s irrelevant if my sister is put in danger when she’s out in public places? She would not be safe in the men’s room.

          • Dan from Delaware says:

            It’s a minor state-level issue that affects a miniscule amount of people, and Hillary tried to use it as a wedge issue to distract from her middle-class wrecking trade policies. And when the other guy is instead talking about bringing jobs back and getting out of NAFTA, who do you think people are going to choose?

            • Murc says:

              Transmisogyny is absolutely not a minor state-level issue, for the simple matter that many if not most states are eventually going to need to be smashed in the face repeatedly and thoroughly to force them to treat trans people like people. It requires robust and vigorous federal action.

              • Dan from Delaware says:

                “Transmisogyny”

                Most people in this country would have zero idea what that word even fucking means, you realize that, right? Feminists intersectional ivory tower buzzwords are not going to win back Wisconsin and Michigan. I’m sorry if that “triggers” you, but it’s the fucking truth.

                • Murc says:

                  So what?

                  Last time I checked, the Democratic Party was meant to be in the business of advancing the causes of the abused, the neglected, the marginalized, and the impoverished. Last time I checked trans people were all those things.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  Hillary Clinton was concerned about none of those things–she was too busy giving paid speeches to Wall Street and advocating trade policies that have blown the middle class to fucking smithereens for the past forty years. Every other issue is a distraction at best.

                • efgoldman says:

                  New troll, guys. Or old troll w/new nym. Showed up earlier this week.

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  Feminists intersectional ivory tower buzzwords

                  Yeah, be sure to tell that to all the poor trans women of color who can’t get a fucking job and live in fear of the cops. Go slither back into the Chapo Trap, asshole.

                • “This word sounds strange to me, therefore the concept it represents is stupid and irrelevant ” is not an argument.

                • Pat says:

                  Hey Forky, I went to a restaurant recently that figured out exactly how to accommodate people like your sister. You know how most restaurant bathrooms are single occupancy? They just took off the gendered signs.

                  So instead of “Men’s” and “Women’s”, it was Restroom 1 and Restroom 2. You used the available one. Pretty neat, huh?

                • vic rattlehead says:

                  Most people in this country would have zero idea what that word even fucking means, you realize that, right?

                  Whoa well that must mean it doesn’t exist!

                  Pat- there are plenty of bathrooms that aren’t single occupancy though. I can’t tell if your sarcasm is trivializing Fork’s concerns or not. I think not, but these things are hard to parse on the internet.

                • pseudalicious says:

                  So you’re happy to see black and Latina trans women get raped and murdered and the cops doing nothing about it. Cool.

            • nemdam says:

              You do realize that the Democrat in North Carolina outperformed Hillary enough to win his governor’s race basically because of this issue, right? The data seems to support that it’s popular when the opponent goes hard against it. But Trump was publicly agnostic about it.

              • Dan from Delaware says:

                Whatever you want to say about Trump he spoke to the economic concerns of working class voters above all else. Now his policies are utterly fucking unbeliveable goddamn disastrous, but when the alternative is Hillary “Wall Street Speeches” Clinton…

                • FlipYrWhig says:

                  Trump spoke to the “economic concerns” of working class people by promising to inflict more pain on black and brown people. That was how he won. Because the portion of the “white working class” that likes Trump likes his disgusting hatefulness, and they don’t give one single runny shit about anything any Democrat says or would ever say about the mechanisms of health insurance or a job making wind turbines.

                • Jeremy W says:

                  Whatever you want to say about Trump he spoke to the economic concerns of working class voters above all else.

                  Except for all the non-white working class voters. But of course they don’t count to you.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  She didn’t speak to the concerns of any section of the working class and it shows–while African-Americans overwhelmingly voted Democrat, their turnout was down drastically (and before you cite voter ID laws, this was true even in places like Minnesota which did not have any new ID laws enacted).

                • “Their turnout was down drastically

                  Nope.

                • “He spoke to the concerns of working class voters…”

                  Funny, I thought most working class voters voted for Clinton….

                  Ohhhhh….you mean whiteworking class voters. Gotcha.

                • ColBatGuano says:

                  is Hillary “Wall Street Speeches” Clinton…

                  Sometimes the tells are really easy to spot.

              • los says:

                nemdam says:

                Democrat in North Carolina outperformed Hillary enough to win his governor’s race basically because of this issue, right? The data seems to support that it’s popular when the opponent goes hard against it. But Trump was publicly agnostic about it.

                I saw recent headline. McRory thinks he’s plagued by this of his own policies as NC Gov. (I didn’t scan the article. maybe McRory is trying to get hired as lobbyist)

            • JMP says:

              There’s not that many trans people, so we should be OK with them hate crimes against them!

              Christ, what an asshole.

          • Dan from Delaware says:

            Again, take a look at this.

            No amount of social wedge issues is going to get working class voters in the Midwest to forget that.

            • Hogan says:

              Of course they’re not going to forget it. Most of them never knew it.

              • humanoid.panda says:

                This graphic is especially hillarious, because the major $$$ figure behind the Trump campaign was Robert Mercer, a hedge funder extraordinaire. But sure: now do the one about how Wall Street gave all the monies for the Hillary Senatorial campaign.

              • los says:

                Hogan says:

                Most of them never knew it

                Yeah, the right’s stereotype of “economically anxious flyover WWC” doesn’t read the “coastal elitist” WSJ (WSJ seems to be most popular source of this varied “meme”. However, the Clinton amount in this jpg is almost double WSJ’s claim, so someone other than WSJ excreted this jpg.)

              • los says:

                graphic is especially hilarious

                and a hoax, revised multiple times
                Clinton’s donation amount by hedge funds in this jpg is almost twice the true donation amount at the time that Trump’s donation amount was as shown in the jpg.
                According to The Center for Responsive Politics own webpage, the WSJ July page contains multiple slippery lies (Opensecrets is more polite)

                That opensecrets page also mentions, but can’t yet incorporate, that GOP elitists were arranging (as of August 2016) additional donations from “Wall Street” to Trump.

                Opensecrets notes that Wall Street normally donates more to Republican candidates than to Democratic candidates.

                The title of a Breitbart July 29 page multiplied the actual Clinton donation amount by 4.

                • los says:

                  Also, both party’s funders increase donations for general election campaign.

                  RNC 2016 differed from the norm. Approaching RNC, some GOPe “conspired” to dump Trump, so many Republican funders began donating to Trump only after July 18-21 2016 RNC Cleveland.

                  Those circumstances sharpen the cherry-picking inherent to mid-2016 claim that Trump received only $19,000 from “Hedge Funders”

        • wjts says:

          Being able to go to the bathroom is pretty important for some folks. Not for you, obviously – judging by your comments on the ACA, you’re so full of shit you can’t have taken more than two or three dumps in your entire life.

        • humanoid.panda says:

          Maybe if Hillary talked about single-payer and universal basic income instead of what bathrooms people piss in she could have won PA, MI, and WI.

          Ban the troll.

        • What reason do you have to believe to a Universal Basic Income was an automatic election winner? Or single payer, for that matter?

      • FlipYrWhig says:

        I am with you. As far as I can tell, when Democrats deliver for the (white) working class, the beneficiaries largely say, “About fuckin’ time,” and the preexisting underlying grudge never really goes away.

    • Derelict says:

      It’s Indiana, Sporky. Forget about it.

      I have an in-law who is from Indianapolis. Her father was a lifer in the Army. When my brother-in-law got married, I had a conversation with her father in which he railed against those worthless government employees who are just clocking time to get their pensions.

      And I’ve written here before about my father’s friend who was a municipal firefighter in New Jersey. Union job, great pension. And now he’s absolutely dead-set against unions and doesn’t think any government worker should get a pension.

      So here you have people who directly and personally benefit from a system they want to see torn down.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

        Ah, Indiana, where there were Quakers who were members of the KKK.

        • Dan from Delaware says:

          Ah, “liberals” sticking their nose down and writing off an entire state.

          LBJ won Indiana in a time in which white people were FAR more racist than they are now. Ditto FDR. Hmm…

          • Hogan says:

            Ah, “liberals” sticking their nose down and writing off an entire state.

            It’s “look down your nose” or “stick your nose in the air.”

            Tell your handler you need an ESL refresher,

            • Dan from Delaware says:

              More Russia-baiting McCarthyism? Yawn!

              • Erik Loomis says:

                Do you even know what McCarthyism is?

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  Accusing your political opponent without evidence of being in league with some sinister foreign power.

                  You realize that’s exactly what
                  Obama-Clinton supporters are doing to people like Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks, right?

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  No, that is not what McCarthyism is.

                  By your definition, the Federalists and Jeffersonians were both engaging in McCarthyism in 1791.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  You can practice something before the word for it is invented. And some of the Jeffersonians actually were in league with France…

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  While the first point may be true, you still don’t understand what McCarthyism is. McCarthyism is a politician or political figure creating false information about an enemy being in league with communists that is done for political gain. The only thing Vladimir Putin has in common with the Soviets is they are both in Russia. Noting that Wikileaks is channeling Russian intelligence information is not McCarthyism. It’s a fact. Even if this was wrong however, it would not be McCarthyism. Julian Assange is a white nationalist and Glenn Greenwald is a libertarian who has nothing in common with communists. And the people noting this are not accusing said people of being communist. They are accusing them of having elected a fascist, not a communist.

                  Words have meanings.

                • efgoldman says:

                  Federalists and Jeffersonians were both engaging in McCarthyism in 1791.

                  Obama’s time machine strikes again!

                  Can we croak the troll, please.

                  Also edit button back? Pretty please?

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  I can’t speak to what’s going on with the edit button. I am however monitoring this individual closely.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  Julian Assange is a “white nationalist” WTF? Care to back that up?

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  That Wikileaks is intervening in election after election to support white nationalist politicians leaves few other conclusions.

                  In any case, you still have no clue what McCarthyism actually is and you should stop using words that mean something as accusations for something completely unrelated.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  Straight from the dictionary: “a campaign or practice that endorses the use of unfair allegations and investigations.”

                  Nothing about communism. Checkmate.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  As with students who think that quoting from the dictionary is a lock solid argument, you get a C- for a pathetic effort.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  You said “words have meaning”. Where does one look up the meaning of words, exactly? In what kind of book?

                • CP says:

                  I am however monitoring this individual closely.

                  It’s your blog and all that, but I’d say it’s pretty clear that he’s only here to call everyone a neoliberal sellout hawk bad-person. Half of this comments thread is already made up of nothing but his crap and responses to it. I realize I have a shorter tolerance for trolls than most, but I doubt any good faith or good behavior are forthcoming at any time in the future.

                • Thom says:

                  Words also have historical contexts. DfD is attempting to use a definition divorced from history (because it suits his purposes), and is assuming that dictionaries are the only ways to understand words, while using the second meaning found in some dictionaries and ignoring the first meaning found there. This is of course connected to the attempt to confuse contemporary Russia with the 1950s Soviet Union.

              • Hogan says:

                You don’t have to be Russian to suck at English idioms.

              • sharonT says:

                There are 57 communist in the State Department!

              • JMP says:

                Now you’re sounding as stupid as Glenn Greenwald. Having an issue with the Russian interference in our election that actually happened is absolutely nothing like anything McCarthy did.

          • nemdam says:

            Obama won Indiana in ’08. And the Democrats fielded serious candidates for Senate and Governor this cycle. And they are going to fight to defend their Senate seat in ’18. But nice try.

      • vic rattlehead says:

        There is no more socialist institution than the military in this country. I know people who are fucking batshit rabid wingnuts. Yet they live in government subsidized housing (on a base though, so it’s ok), have cush gigs with benefits and secure retirement. And they have the fucking gall to criticize people for getting government handouts. They are fucking coddled, and some of the ones I know wouldn’t last five minutes in the private sector.

        Kind of like Paul Ryan. Dependent on social security after his father passed, wants to snatch it away from everyone now. A fucking halfwit who I doubt could hack it in the private sector.

  11. NewishLawyer says:

    Some additional random thoughts:

    1. I wonder if The New Deal and Great Society simply consumed all the low-hanging fruit parts of the safety net and now we have to rely on the really complicated stuff. I don’t think the exchanges are completely complicated but there are aspects that only an economist/wonk can love like shopping around for new insurance every year and/or the semi-regular income checks for people with subsidies. Most people are just going to view these as time drains that they would rather not deal with. The issue with changing insurance is also whether your medical providers are on the plans or not.

    2. “Small Government” or “Limited Government” is one of those ideas which is always going to sound good to many people until they hear something like the Proposed GOP budget with its super-cuts. Even then, they might have to feel some pain before voting for the Democratic Party again and a restored budget.

    • Denverite says:

      1. I wonder if The New Deal and Great Society simply consumed all the low-hanging fruit parts of the safety net and now we have to rely on the really complicated stuff. I don’t think the exchanges are completely complicated but there are aspects that only an economist/wonk can love like shopping around for new insurance every year and/or the semi-regular income checks for people with subsidies. Most people are just going to view these as time drains that they would rather not deal with. The issue with changing insurance is also whether your medical providers are on the plans or not.

      It’s important to point out that a lot of the reason that various of our institutions are so seemingly complicated dates back to our federalist government structure (as a thought exercise, do a search for [Medicaid w/150 Byzantine]). The seemingly odd federal-state cooperative structure dates back to the pre-1965 state of affairs where states were responsible for taking care of their elderly ill with nowhere to go, their disabled, etc. Some states did OK, and some did not. But Congress had to balance the fact that many state governments had developed comprehensive agencies and institutions with a lot of institutional capital, and they couldn’t (and didn’t want to) just wipe the board and institute a federal program to replace those structures. So they came up with this odd compromise where the states still had to administer their health care welfare programs, but with a majority of federal dollars, but also abiding by any number of federal rules and regulations.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

        IMO the “seemingly odd federal-state cooperative structure” dates back to the drafting of the Constitution, which found the maximum amount of power the 13 colonies were willing to give up to the federal government they were creating.

        This huge structural weakness, along with the related compromises related to slavery, have caused our nation enormous difficulties ever since. That said, IMO they did the best they could.

        Too bad the generations since have never fixed the problems, just like they never fixed the electoral college.

  12. Abbey Bartlet says:

    I think history will find that Murdoch/Ailes wreaked an almost unimaginable amount of havoc on the United States.

  13. Dan from Delaware says:

    More excuses for the utter failure of Neoliberalism to deliver anything but pain and suffering. Obamacare, at best, was a massive bailout of the private insurance industry. It was just disruptive enough to piss people off without providing real benefits, and it was written in a way that left open an unbelievable amount of ways for the Republicans to ratfuck it. At worse, it set back the goal of single-payer decades if not a full century.

    Until the Democratic Party is no longer in thrall to Wall Street and Silicon Valley fundraisers (as well as militarist hawks with their never-ending list of “humanitarian” interventions and drone strikes on wedding parties) massive amounts of suffering will continue–and they won’t even win elections, as evidenced by the last eight years.

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      you don’t actually know anyone who uses the ACA do you

      • Dan from Delaware says:

        You don’t realize that the health insurance industry millionaires and billionaires pushed for passage of the ACA, do you?

        It was a godsend for them. The Democratic Party used to put money in the pockets of the working class–now it mandates people send checks to the health insurance industry for what usually amounts to “junk insurance”. High deductables, high premiusms, junk insurance–that’s 99% of “ObamaCare”.

        The only good part was the Medicaid expansion but that was ratfucked by the Republicans–but blame Obama and Co. for crafting the bill in such a way that allowed it to be ratfucked. John Roberts couldn’t ratfuck Medicare for All.

        Medicare for All: Simple, understandable, and TRULY affordable.

        • jim, some guy in iowa says:

          you didn’t answer the question

        • Hogan says:

          You don’t realize that the health insurance industry millionaires and billionaires pushed for passage of the ACA, do you?

          Of course they did.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

          Medicare for All: Simple, understandable, and TRULY affordable.

          Umm, there’s a lot of insurance company involvement in Medicare, too.

          Single payer would be nice, but single-provider is the only truly revolutionary change.

        • The Great God Pan says:

          Thanks to the Dastardly Neoliberal Obama and his mandatory junk insurance, I was able to stop putting off a needed operation that turned out to be 3 goddamned operations.

          Damn you, Obama! Why couldn’t you have let me wait for rich assholes and ignorant yokels to stop electing Republicans so we can have Medicare For All?

        • JMP says:

          And something that would never pass the Senate as it was. But hey, as someone who has health insurance for the first time in many years thanks to the ACA, thanks for letting me know that you want me to die rather than the US have a much improved health insurance system that isn’t perfect!

          Seriously, since you want to kill me, go fuck yourself.

        • sibusisodan says:

          John Roberts couldn’t ratfuck Medicare for All.

          For some reason, I’m returning to this, as a dog returneth, etc.

          Roberts has so far managed to very cleverly emasculate large portions of both ACA and the VRA. The idea that single payer would be beyond his grasp is remarkably optimistic.

      • SatanicPanic says:

        Yeah I have a friend who would either die or be unable to leave the house without the ACA. Fuck this guy for saying it doesn’t provide real benefits. What an asshat.

    • sibusisodan says:

      Obamacare, at best, was a massive bailout of the private insurance industry.

      ‘Medicaid expansion’ is just a meaningless collection of syllables.

      • Dan from Delaware says:

        Read above. Like on so many fronts, Obama left the Republicans a way to ratfuck.

        Medicare for All or bust!

        • sibusisodan says:

          The Medicaid expansion straightforwardly proves that what you wrote is not accurate.

          The number of people who predicted beforehand that SCOTUS would rule as they did and that red states would turn down free money is about zero.

          • Dan from Delaware says:

            You seriously think the Republican Party of the 21st Century wasn’t going to turn down free money if they could fuck over workers by doing so? LOL!

            • sibusisodan says:

              I’m saying very few people predicted they would prior to the SCOTUS ruling. We all know better now.

              But it’s not reasonable to blame people for things that weren’t really expected to happen.

              • humanoid.panda says:

                You seriously think the Republican Party of the 21st Century wasn’t going to turn down free money if they could fuck over workers by doing so? LOL!

                And of course, there is simply no way in which republicans could find ways to screw with Medicare expansion, right? Not takings clause they legal bullshit they could leverage to at least 4 SCOTUS votes?

              • Bruce B. says:

                Particularly since literally no one opposing the ACA made the argument that “persuaded” the Supreme Court. It was the purest of ex recto creations.

        • You mean, Medicare for all or die!

          And I insist, you first.

    • jdkbrown says:

      “Obamacare, at best, was a massive bailout of the private insurance industry. It was just disruptive enough to piss people off without providing real benefits,…”

      As someone with loved ones who have insurance only because of Obamacare: Fuck you.

      • Dan from Delaware says:

        You’re going to find out it’s most likely junk insurance if you ever have to use it–that’s what those of us on the Left tried to tell you in 2009. We warned you this would be unpopular, costly, and wouldn’t fix the underlying problem, yet you persisted.

        • FlipYrWhig says:

          My small group of obnoxious fellow-travelers with no influence and no politicians representing us tried to badger you into doing what we wanted, but for some unfair reason it didn’t work! I ascribe this to “neoliberalism.”

        • Bruce B. says:

          I have been using the hell out of it, in fact. I’ve had chronic coproporphyia,an auto-immune disorder that afflicts about 2-4 people per million, since 1980. The ACA makes it possible for me to get endocrinological support I haven’t had since being on Dad’s dime in the years after college.

          I’m diabetic. The ACA makes sure my supplies are covered.

          I have very serious sleep apnea. The ACA means I can be re-checked more often and my CPAP adjusted to match.

          In December, I had a stroke, and in February, I had a bizarre episode of really extreme hypertension and blood sugar spiking (bp 225/110, short-term glucose 384 on admittance). The ACA made it possible for me to spend the five days in hospital it took to get my body back under control, including the CAT scans that mapped out the stroke damage and clarified the extent of damage in the February episode, plus the follow-ups.

          And yes, I do know the difference between pre-existing Medicaid and other coverage and what the ACA makes possible. I’ve been disabled since 1980; I’ve been on SSI for twenty years now. I pay attention.

          All of which is to say: fuck you. My life is not something you can deny, nor use that denial as a masturbation prop.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        No revolution without martyrs, comrade. You stand between us and The Glorious Day.

    • FlipYrWhig says:

      And people who get food stamps use them at grocery stores THAT MAKE A PROFIT! More neoliberalism, setting back the cause of every citizen getting a standardized CSA box from government-run farms decades if not a full century.

    • Murc says:

      You bring shame to the great state of Delaware.

    • Denverite says:

      Can someone mention the Beatles or the Stones or Dylan or whatnot to see if this is slothrop?

    • ratfuck

      You don’t know what this word means, nor do you know anything else of value.

    • DrunkProwlingWolf says:

      Without providing any real benefits?

      Hahaha.

      As a 35 year old self employed person with a pre existing condition who couldn’t buy private insurance at ANY price and now gets solid coverage with no caps and a small subsidy to lower my premium to boot, I can tell you that you are absolutely full of shit.

  14. Dan from Delaware says:

    The cognitive dissidance of Obama supporters continues to astound me. They just can’t admit he was a failure–Greenwald is right it’s a pathetic case of hero-worship.

  15. Dan from Delaware says:

    Don’t worry, “reasonable” Centrists, the Chelsea Clinton rollout has started. Hooray!

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

      Surprised you’re not yelling about Hillary running again in 2020.

      Tiresome.

      • Dan from Delaware says:

        They’ll run Gillibrand or Booker on the same tired DLC playbook, and people like you will shout that anybody who opposes them is racist and/or misogynyst.

        • humanoid.panda says:

          And by rollout Dan from Delaware means “she said mean things on Twitter about Steven King.”

          Seriously- that story is so thinly sourced that you would have to be either a New York Post devotee or a Twitter socialist to take it seriously. And the fact that at this point, Twitter socialists deteriorated to the point they think like New York Post devotees is sad.

        • Murc says:

          If by “they,” you mean “we,” as the only way Booker or Gillibrand will secure the nomination is by winning the votes of a majority of Democrats.

          Unless you aren’t a Democrat, and aren’t working with and supporting Democrats, in which case why should we care what you think?

          • FlipYrWhig says:

            Making Democratic candidates earn the majority of Democratic voters is unfairly “neoliberal,” Murc. :/ :P

            • Dan from Delaware says:

              Yeah, the “voters” decided Hillary would be the nominee, LMAO!

              • FlipYrWhig says:

                I do sort of admire your ability to find cold, factual reality laughable.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  Ever heard of the “invisible primary”? Or even a more in-your-face example of how the process is rigged: Superdelegates?

                • The “invisible primary”.

                  Never mind who won the vote! Clinton prepared beforehand for the primary, lining up support in the party, which nobody else has ever done. Invisible primary! Unfair!

                  Superdelegates

                  Somehow the superdelegates didn’t prevent Barack Obama from winning the 2008 primary.

                • FlipYrWhig says:

                  I hear of them from stupid people who pretend to be confused why the candidate with more support prevailed over the candidate with less, yes.

                • Dan from Delaware says:

                  “Political scientists” = “stupid people”.LMAO!

                • Hogan says:

                  “Apes don’t read political science.”

                  “Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.”

                • Oh, yes, superdelegates. Everyone knows that the superdelegates decide who gets the nomination, which is why Hillary Clinton was the nominee in 2008.

                • FlipYrWhig says:

                  SUPERDELEGATES ALWAYS DETERMINE THE ELECTION FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT EXCEPT THAT ONE TIME

                • Harkov311 says:

                  And that other time in 1972. And 1976. Funny how the people who screech about this always forget those three times (including 2008) when the nominee was clearly not the person most connected with what passes for the “establishment” in the Democratic party.

          • Dan from Delaware says:

            You think the voters actually decide who the nominee is in today’s Democratic Party?

            LOL!!!

          • efgoldman says:

            Unless you aren’t a Democrat

            No more a Democrat than Granny Starver is.
            Lefty McTrollerson voted, if he voted at all (doubtful) for fraudster Stein or President Bannonazi.
            But then he couldn’t have voted anyway. He’s no more “from Delaware” than I’m from Alpha Centauri.

          • MDrew says:

            Unless you aren’t a Democrat, and aren’t working with and supporting Democrats, in which case why should we care what you think?

            Um… because you need votes from non-Democrats to win general elections?

        • Harkov311 says:

          same tired DLC playbook

          Yes, higher taxes on rich people, protection for racial and sexual minorities and environmental protection instead of caving to the coal and oil barons. How mushy and centrist.

          Is everything that doesn’t include screaming “fuck capitalism!” from a megaphone centrist now?

          • Redwood Rhiadra says:

            Is everything that doesn’t include screaming “fuck capitalism!” from a megaphone centrist now?

            In case you hadn’t noticed, yes. At least in the minds of the Sanders wing.

      • nemdam says:

        No, the new in vogue thing for authoritarian leftists to rail against is Chelsea Clinton tweeting.

      • Thom says:

        He’s just a square/
        He comes from Delaware

        • smott999 says:

          Seriously fuck this troll. Does he add useful counter arguments that improve the discussion?
          No.
          Fuck him.
          Block him.

          • FMguru says:

            Again, I can’t recommend cleek’s pie filter highly enough. Install GreaseMonkey, install the filter, type in a half-dozen nyms, and greatly increase your enjoyment of LGM.

            • Redwood Rhiadra says:

              Sadly, it doesn’t work in my browser. (That is, the script runs and adds the extra parts to the comment form, and even displays the names of those I’ve added. But it doesn’t actually affect their comments at all.)

  16. Joe_JP says:

    The “Gremlins rule” applies before and after midnight.

  17. My ideal policy world would be something resembling European Social Democracy: Medicare for all, childcare for all, strong unions, a robust public sector.

    The way I read this post, the main thing standing in the way of that is conservatives (Southern conservatives/dixiecrats historically, conservatives of every region currently.)

    Scott Limieux: Is there any path whatsoever that you can think of to American Social Democracy? Or, is the best we can hope for a sort of slightly-more-merciful iteration of policies that still flow mostly from conservative premises?

  18. Warren Terra says:

    My current favorite magical-thinking health care policy story is this bit about Representative Aderholt: he says he had a conversation with Trump about the terrible effects of the AHCA on health insurance premiums for older people, and they agreed that this is a terrible idea and shouln’t happen, and Trump assured him they’re going to fix it and that horrible AHCA won’t get implemented. Thus reassured, Aderholt agreed to vote for the AHCA.

  19. jpgray says:

    Good campaigning and good stories seem to win good outcomes. Does policy even have much of an impact outside of those two factors? Even just straight up great policy is not immune to this effect. The party that constantly makes noises about destroying Medicare and the SSA, those universally beloved programs, just won themselves majorities, remember?

    We seem to be fine at the campaigning and terrible at the stories.

    The big galvanizing stories of Obama had almost nothing to do with his policy talk – if anything, they came down to his studied vagueness, his affected simplicity on the practical meaning of hope and change, which fit with his considerable charm and the historic nature of his candidacy. No “here is your enemy” and no “belong to this grand cause.” He offered the charm of his history and character. The real specifics were nowhere. You were encouraged to make your heroes and villains story work with his. With Obama, people willingly stretched themselves to make that fit.

    With HRC… people were anxious to fill those gaps with the very worst things they could imagine, and did. You can’t play the same game of “find your own story of heroes and villains in me, make your fears and hopes fit nicely into this vagueness, I’ll be over here being serious, smart and plausible” when you’ve been cast as a national villain for twenty years. You can’t play that game when you don’t have much in the way of charisma. If people aren’t anxious to cast their own morbid fantasies of good and evil as the animating morality of your campaign, you have to tell the story to them. You can’t always leave it to subtext or simple contrast through your opponents screwing up bigly.

    What’s the big narrative from the Dems for 2018? Who are the heroes and villains in our animating morality? The GOP had these things sorted, we do not.

    Trump is so manifestly unfit that going back to the vagueness well might work, but why not tell a fucking story already where the motivations, characters, and moral are all clear? We can’t just run Obamas everywhere, there aren’t enough Obamas.

    • jpgray says:

      Not only this, but as far as the presidency it wasn’t a big year for the GOP. Their establishment was crushed by a despised outsider who told their stories as if he really believed them.

      All the “hey I’m over here being plausible, so fit your fever dreams to my vague noises and let’s do this” types got crushed like old pretzels in the face of someone who utterly committed to telling the racist ghost stories and power fantasies with the sincerity of total belief.

      • CP says:

        I was pointing out all through the primaries that it was kind of a big deal that in terms of votes, one party’s “establishment” weathered the insurgency, kept the trust of the majority of its voters, and won the nomination, while the other party’s “establishment” was crushed like a grape. Of course, that’s not the story the MSM wanted to tell, they wanted to tell the “primary STOLEN by superdelegates and closed primaries and Debbie Wasserman Schultz!!!! or at least it would be irresponsible not to speculate” story.

        • FlipYrWhig says:

          Yup. As I’ve said many times, this whole concept of the “anti-establishment” political mood started as a way to talk about why Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton were both struggling to consolidate their parties. But Hillary succeeded! Maybe that means that she wasn’t in the same space called “establishment” as Bush, or that Democrats don’t have the same kind of “establishment” meaning the same things.* And yet the frame persisted.

          * Establishment Republicans is a longstanding concept in politics and punditry. It basically means WASPs. What are Establishment Democrats? What do they look like, who do they stand for, and how many are there? Even the people who HATE THEM SO MUCH have trouble answering these questions.

          • CP says:

            Hmm, don’t know.

            In the old days it would’ve been easy: “establishment” Democrats meant either Southern Democrats (and boy, were they establishment) or urban political machine Democrats (the Tammany Hall/Mayor Daley types). For most of the twentieth century that was still the case even as the party got more and more progressive.

            Now? Couldn’t really say. Ten years ago I might even have agreed with the anti-establishment types that it was the DLC/Third Wayers, but after eight years of Obama I don’t think you can say that anymore – the momentum in the party is moving away from Republican-lite (in both candidates in 2016, and the fact that the Berniebros refused to recognize Hillary for that doesn’t change it).

    • FlipYrWhig says:

      Clinton ’16 absolutely was about a Big Story. It was “what America do you want to be?” That ran through all the ads and the big unifying slogan, “Stronger Together.” It lost to another Big Story, which was “Fuck Those People.” IMHO people online get fixated on framing and branding and narrative because we’re all caught up in reading and writing and visual rhetoric already. I think it’s oversold. We don’t need a rhetorical killer app, we just need people who already agree with us on most everything to get to the polls on Election Day. It could be by giving them a grand story in which to find inspiration, or it could be by a dull sense of dutiful obligation, it really doesn’t matter.

      • jpgray says:

        I don’t agree. Even if I did, “Stronger Together” doesn’t begin to overcome her vulnerabilities, because the natural question, “and that means… what exactly?” left all her vulnerabilities unaddressed. As an example:

        “HRC will kill American enterprise – look at all her nasty anti-business policies!”

        “HRC is too in bed with Wall Street – look at all her GS speeches and cozy relationships!”

        These two simplistic narratives survived almost untouched, in parallel, throughout the entire campaign season.

        • jim, some guy in iowa says:

          I think people understood perfectly well what “Stronger Together” meant- that it wasn’t going to be a white man’s man’s man’s world for at least another four years. I was actually kind of proud to be part of that, even as I began to see that people around me were more interested in “Fuck Those People to MAGA”

          • jpgray says:

            Sounds nice, but the problem with that is that massive numbers of the same people who rejected HRC voted for Obama twice. It’s hard to say a vote for him was a vote for a white man’s world?

            They just “knew” Obama meant it in a good way, and “knew” HRC meant it in a bad way. They were wrong, but the strategy of vagueness, of “find your story in my platitude” ignored the fact that voters’ HRC story in many, many cases was “she’s bad and I don’t like her.” In those circumstances, all platitudes take on a more sinister aspect, no?

            • jim, some guy in iowa says:

              what I think people don’t get about those who voted for Obama and then turned around and voted for Trump is that they saw Obama as someone who was *above* identity politics. They see Clinton as the ultimate example of it and of course Trump is going to kick the whole thing over

              • Davis X. Machina says:

                …that they saw Obama as someone who was *above* identity politics. They see Clinton as the ultimate example of it

                In edge cases you can always spot the insider by their telltale lack of a Y chromosome.

        • FlipYrWhig says:

          “Make America Great Again” doesn’t exactly foreclose the question “and that means what exactly?”

          I don’t think anyone thought at all about Hillary and “anti-business policies.”

          IMHO the “Wall Street” thing was kept alive by contemptible bullshit from the would-be left, and Trump used it but didn’t really score points from it. But there were plenty of things that stuck to Trump, too, like his being self-evidently stupid, crazy, and unprepared.

          I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that Trump won because he gave people A Big Story and Hillary Clinton lost because she didn’t. I think she lost because of a combination of Comey making her seem corrupt, Trump’s asshole nature making him seem “honest,” and especially because Trump fed people raw meat and testosterone about how he’d beat up the scary black and brown people that make their lives difficult, which is why the wall and the Muslim ban were the top two priorities out of the gate. That’s not a big story giving people a purpose. That’s just bigotry.

          • sharonT says:

            But you write the words, Stupis, Crazy and Unprepared,” as if that’s a bad thing to be.

            Trumps voters wanted to blow shit up. Punch half the country in the face, and just straight up piss. off. liberals.

          • jpgray says:

            But Trump had no record and could fit people’s fantasies. Obama had the same advantage in ’08.

            HRC had a record and was made to fit people’s hate fantasies by twenty years of bullshit. Running the story part of the race on vague platitudes in those circumstances is just insanely stupid.

            And yes, the point of the example is that it runs on bullshit. Trump benefited from the same phenomenon of “oh that’s just for the rubes, whereas X is his true heart” that candidates who’ve escaped any sustained years-long negative framing can achieve. In some cases it’s even correct – witness gay marriage advocates voting for Obama. Not a bad idea.

            The point is this sort of feeling was impossible for Hillary to exploit, yet the campaign narratives were designed around doing so. That still seems insane to me.

            • FMguru says:

              In the modern era, it really seems that presidential candidates who can plausibly claim to come from outside Washington (Reagan, Carter, Bill Clinton, Obama, Trump, even Dubya Bush) do much much better than veteran party stalwarts who have been on the national political scene for decades (Dole, McCain, Kerry, Gore, and Hillary Clinton), and I think you’ve nailed one of the reasons why – a thin record full of gaps invites people to fill those gaps with their own hopes and dreams.

              • farin says:

                I read a story recently about a college basketball player who deferred entering the NBA for a year, had his best college season ever, and saw his position in the draft fall significantly because general managers judged him on his record rather than their fantasies about his potential.

        • CP says:

          I mean, “and that means what exactly?” is the obvious response to just about any political slogan I can think of. “Hope and change?” That’s even vaguer than “stronger together” or “make America great again.”

          • jpgray says:

            Right, but Obama was (1) very charismatic and (2) was new enough that not everyone had a pet theory of why he sucked, “informed” by twenty years of bullshit. “I just don’t like her” demanded more narrative focus in our strategy than “eh, ’08 redux I guess.”

            • djw says:

              Since, as CP correctly notes, political slogans are pretty much always vague and imprecise, can you give an example of a slogan that would meet your desiderata here? The notion that Clinton could neutralize decades of bullshit with the right slogan strikes me as deeply implausible.

        • jpgray says:

          I don’t think there was significant depression of Dem turnout in 2016? But she did bleed enthusiasm on both sides of many issues, hurt rather than helped by vagueness. As another example, “belligerent war monger” and “weak on terror Muslim lover” just walked hand in hand all the way through election season as a reason not to show or vote third party.

          This sort of lazy “she sucks” thinking was everywhere if you talked to average non-political people. Platitudes don’t help with it, since the vagueness leaves a void to fill with the old reflexive suspicions.

        • MDrew says:

          They didn’t.

          At least, the people you’re actually talking about didn’t, in the critical states.

          But that raises a question. Do these people actually exist? These “people who already agree with us on most everything” who can win you elections? Do you think those guys who lost Clinton the election in Wisconsin satisfy this “people who already agree with us on most everything”? Do we agree that those were the votes you needed to put Clinton in the White House?

          If not, because they don’t, as it turns out, “already agree with us on” enough, then who is it? Who is it that Hillary Clinton did not turn out in Wisconsin in 2016, “who already agree with us on most everything,” whom a future Hillary Clinton-mold politician will turn out, who can win Wisconsin for that politician in a political dynamic something like the one that prevailed in 2016? Which voters are those?

          Because I’m not sure they exist. But maybe you know who they are.

      • MDrew says:

        gray didn’t say that “our” stories lacked bigness. He said that winning is about stories – good stories. Where “good” is the thing that gets people to pull the lever for them over the competition.

        What our stories lack, except quite rarely, that theirs have, is the winning. Is being the stories that people want to hear and define the national aim for the next two or four years. (In this case, the right people in the right states, but the principle is the same.)

        You’re right that that story might be keyed to excite people who already agree with you (where “you” are the quite-ideologically-pure member of your ideological creed, or it might be keyed toward bringing in people who are more marginal to your ideological creed. Obama (and Reagan) did both brilliantly. But you need one. Clinton didn’t do either well enough in the right states, though she kicked ass at it in NYC and California.

    • Dennis Orphen says:

      Talkin’ to myself again
      wonderin’ if this traveling is good
      Is they’re something else a doin’
      We’d be doin’ if we could

      All the stories we could tell
      If it all blows up and goes to hell
      I wish that we could sit upon the bed in some hotel
      And listen to the stories we could tell

      Stared at that guitar in that museum in Tennessee
      Name plate on the glass brought back twenty melodies
      Scars upon the face told about all the times he fell
      Singin’ all the stories he could tell

      All the stories he could tell
      And I bet you it still rings like a bell
      I wish that we could sit upon the bed in some hotel
      And listen to all the stories it could tell

      If your on the road trackin’ down your every night
      Playin’ for a livin’ beneath the brightly colored lights
      If you ever wonder why you ride the carrousel
      You do it for the stories you can tell

      All the stories we could tell
      And if it all blows up and goes to hell
      I wish that we could sit upon the bed in some hotel
      Just listen to the stories we could
      Yes I wish that we could sit upon a bed in some hotel
      And listen to the stories it could tell

    • TopsyJane says:

      What’s the big narrative from the Dems for 2018? Who are the heroes and villains in our animating morality? The GOP had these things sorted, we do not.

      The GOP candidate won on a platform that was anti-trade, isolationist, and protective of middle class government entitlements. None of those had much to do with the GOP’s “big narrative.” As the GOP are currently demonstrating, they don’t have anything sorted. Let’s hope the Democrats, even in their horrifyingly weakened condition, can find a way to exploit that.

      Comey doesn’t release his letter, and the odds are we’re all talking instead about Clinton’s solid campaign and Democratic resurgence….

  20. Joe_JP says:

    Latest in a series on the tragedy Medicaid expansion ends thusly:

    I see this as perhaps the central challenge for our federal structure going forward, something you won’t read about in casebooks. Many believe that inequalities unrelieved by economic growth are important policy problems. But Sebelius and episodes like Hurricane Katrina exposed the problem of inequality among the several states. Put bluntly, some states cannot take care of themselves. They labor under crippling handicaps and need help, sometimes even intensive care. They cannot cope alone with overwhelming problems of poverty, poor educational systems, medical neglect, and rural isolation. They need national assistance and the Supreme Court should not be in the business of standing in the way. That’s the true tragedy of Sebelius.

    Or, at least, that is a reasonable take. We aren’t led by reasonable people though.

    • Lee Rudolph says:

      They labor under crippling handicaps and need help, sometimes even intensive care. They cannot cope alone with overwhelming problems of poverty, poor educational systems, medical neglect, and rural isolation.

      A problem would arise if, in such a state, there were an entrenched interest which wanted to keep the state in that condition—that is, if the “crippling handicap” were fostered by such an interest, which would therefore resist “help”.

      Not that such a situation now exists anywhere, of course!

  21. LosGatosCA says:

    The cliches really do tell the whole story. No deep analysis required. Just connect the dots between the cliches.
    ,
    George Carlin – think of how smart the average person is …… and they remember that half the people are stupider than that.

    Jay Gould – I can hire 1/2 the working class to kill the other half .

    There’s a sucker born every minute.

    No one ever went broke under estimating the taste/intelligence of the American public.

    It doesn’t have to work, it just has to sell.

    The Republican Party elites not only are aware of these, they rely on them.

    They lie constantly about their intentions with impunity knowing there’s no penalty. They definitely are interested in hiring the racists and misogynists in the working class to work against unions, restrict access to the ballot box, and screw over the gays, the sluts, and the blahs. They have convinced the logic deficient and the greedy that cutting taxes on the wealthy will balance the budget.

    It’s a pretty effective exploitation of human weaknesses. The problem is that Democrats have not been able to craft a counter message that resonates with the electorate at the emotional level.

    • Davis X. Machina says:

      The problem is that Democrats have not been able to craft a counter message that resonates with the electorate at the emotional level.

      When you build a political movement on systematic appeals to the worst in people, you begin each cycle half-a-lap ahead.

      When people can’t clearly identify whom you hate, and just whom you’re going to punish, you’re conceding their votes to whomever embraces the dark side.

      In the aggregate, people are shits. That’s the problem. Take the fundamental depravity of mankind and the points. The f. d. of m. doesn’t always win — we’d all be dead already — but it always covers the spread.

      tl;dr — don’t bet against St. Augustine.

  22. bobbyp says:

    it’s an enduring paradox of American politics the left needs to face head-on.

    Good work, Scott. Have glanced through the comments, would have liked to see more of taking the paradox “head on” and not so much warmed over Bernie v Clinton.

    I, for one, am still looking for an effective answer/frame/response, and certainly do not have THE SOLUTION by any means.

    keep on truckin’

  23. Julia Grey says:

    She’s engaged enough to know about the proposed tax credits. How is she not aware of the basic and uncontested fact that they haven’t been enacted yet ( = all her son’s benefits are due to the ACA)?

    She doesn’t have a clue what the term “tax credits” means or how they work. She’s just heard that they’re something Trump’s plan incorporates and that they reduce premiums. As for how she doesn’t know they haven’t been enacted yet, everyone’s talking about them, her son told her that’s why his premiums were reduced, and Trump did say he’d repeal and replace Obamacare on Day One!

  24. stonetools says:

    It’s not just that good policy makes good politics. It’s that good policy plus good messaging makes good policy. Obama was interested in good policy; he was by his own admission, uninterested in good messaging, and so he sucked at the messaging part.
    Now good messaging would not have convinced the hard core Trumpkins: those racists hated that ” N#gger in the White House” no matter what he did , and refused to give him credit even if they benefited from his policies.It might have convinced some voters, however, to give his successor a chance.
    The Republicans mounted a consistent and powerful propaganda campaign versus the ACA, and rode it to huge electoral success. It would have been a good idea in retrospect if Obama had responded with at least something close to the relentless attacks against it. He just never did. There was never a national speech explaining the ACA in simple terms; there was never a two minute elevator pitch for the ACA; there was never an attempt to use striking metaphors to sell the ACA. What defense of ACA there was were a few earnest policy wonks explaining with graphs and numbers that the ACA just might work.
    There was also a bunch of leftists telling everyone that the ACA sucked, that was needed was a unicorn called single payer, and that any politician who wasn’t for single payer NOW! was a corporate, criminal sellout who no one should vote for.
    With all that going on, it’s not surprising that the ACA didn’t win votes for the Democrats.One result of the election is that there is now (relatively )unified messaging from the Democrats, since it is now crystal clear that the Republicans intend to repeal the ACA and replace it with either nothing or worse than the ACA. The squabbling about single payer has now mostly evaporated, and it’s now all hands on the deck to save the only kind of health care reform that exists. Meanwhile , the Republicans who promised better than the ACA, have proposed something much worse. This should be an easy messaging contest for the Democrats to win, especially since Obama is not there as someone who the racists can unify against, whatever the facts. The facts are now the Republicans are passing laws that will take away health care from Trump voters. All of Paul Ryan’s Randian bullshit and all of Koch’s propaganda shouldn’t be able to hide that. But we still have to communicate effectively.

  25. Harkov311 says:

    I mean, Democrats could still have an enduring congressional majority if southern conservatives were a major part of the coalition.

    This is something that’s easy to forget for a lot of people. When Democrats were in the majority in Congress in the 70s and 80s a lot of them were pretty conservative, even by the standards of the time. To take an example from my home state (VA), there were four Democrats and six Republicans elected to Congress in 1976. One of the Republicans was a sort of moderate (Butler), but the rest were definitely conservative. Of the Democrats, the two from the DC suburbs (Harris and Fisher) were basically liberal, but the two downstate Democrats (Daniel and Satterfield) were so conservative they were basically the same as an average Republican.

    So yeah, we had Congress then. But only by basically letting people into the caucus who wouldn’t likely even run as Democrats now.

  26. MDrew says:

    The podcast makes it’s first named appearance on the FP if I am not mistaken! A day to remember.

      • MDrew says:

        Am I mistaken? At least in a Lemieux post? I could be.

        Anyway, I’ll remember this post for it either way.

      • MDrew says:

        I’m curious now.

        Everyone who doesn’t listen to (at least the free episodes of) Chapo: raise your digital hand! (If you want to.)

        • Abbey Bartlet says:

          Oh, that podcast.

          Shit, just punched a hole in the ceiling.

        • djw says:

          Never heard of it.

          Wikipedia’s description contains two ominous phrases, which taken together lead to the initial conclusion that this is probably not worth my time:

          dense with inside jokes and hyper-specific references to ongoing political discussion on Twitter

          and

          co-hosts Amber A’Lee Frost

          I’m willing to entertain the possibility that it’s worth listening to in spite of this, but these would seem to be two pretty big strikes.

          • djw says:

            …I made it about 25 minutes. They were basically right on their main point (mocking the political and moral idiocy of particularly dumb example of blue-state secessionism) except for the “and this explains why straw-liberals are the worst people in the world” conclusion they’ll draw from pretty much any conceivable information or analysis of American politics. But holy shit, are they unbelievably, excessively pleased with themselves. People can actually stomach this self-satisfaction for a full hour, every week?

            • MDrew says:

              Twice a week! One of those not free ($6 a month)! They’re funny as hell!

              Unless you broadly disagree with them, I’m guessing.

              But anyway, you’re missing the point.

        • pseudalicious says:

          “lol calling people retards and pussies!”

          so edgy

          such leftist

          wow

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