05 5 / 2013
"Mitt Romney appeared like a kid who showed up for his science project and the teacher said, ‘Explain it,’ and Mitt couldn’t do it. His ‘dad,’ Paul Ryan, explained it to him, but Mitt didn’t get it… That’s why we lost the last election."
29 4 / 2013
"A week after a blast at a Texas fertilizer plant killed at least 15 people and hurt more than 200, authorities still don’t know exactly why the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company plant exploded.
Here’s what we do know: The fertilizer plant hadn’t been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. Its owners do not seem to have told the Department of Homeland Security that they were storing large quantities of potentially explosive fertilizer, as regulations require. And the most recent partial safety inspection of the facility in 2011 led to $5,250 in fines.”"
19 4 / 2013
19 4 / 2013
The opening to Ezra Klein’s wonkblog this morning is really, really, good:
“Guns, gays and immigration — it’s too much,” an unnamed Senate Democrat reportedlytold the White House. “I can be with you on one or two of them, but not all three.” Judging from President Obama’s comments over the last two days, he didn’t find this particular excuse persuasive.
But it does seem to be the rationalization du jour on the Hill. I heard it from pro-gun bill staffers who said, hopefully, that the breakaways were simply husbanding political capital for immigration reform. Paul Kane got it on the record from Sen. Joe Manchin, who says he heard it while looking to whip support for his legislation.
It’s rare that the psychodrama of the Senate comes on such full display. But to state the obvious, this isn’t just an explanation for a vote. It’s a salve for a guilty conscience. This is not the sort of rationalization that would be leaking from the chamber if senators were confident they’d done the right thing. It’s a rationalization for people who feel they did the wrong thing, and want to tell themselves it’s the cost for doing the right thing later, on an even larger scale.
American politicians talk often about the concept of “political courage.” This means, in general, voting for something your constituents, your allies, or powerful political interests won’t like. It’s a deeply self-serving idea. Every time it’s uttered, it underscores the idea that the work of the legislator is, in some way, tough and dangerous, and that those who do an honest job of it are winning an epic struggle. It’s how politicians prime the rest of us to nod our heads when we hear them say that voting with their conscience and their best judgment in three tough votes in a row is simply too much.
At a Wall Street Journal breakfast yesterday, Manchin put the idea of political courage in a more appropriate context. He recalled a trip to Afghanistan with a handful of other governors. ”In Kabul, they let us meet with some of the provincial governors. One was a Taliban that had converted over to Karzai’s side. Some of them could speak pretty good English. And I’ll never forget this. We were talking to them one night at the embassy, and the one asked, out of the clear blue sky, ’what’s the greatest danger or the greatest price you pay being a governor?’”
“I thought about that, and I said, I guess either I could do something embarrassing and really embarrass my family, I could make a big mistake and hurt people unintentionally by a financial decision I made, or I could get defeated.”
“No expression [on his face]. No expression at all. He said, Can I tell you what I face every day? They try to kill my children. They try to kill my family. They try to kill me and any of my associates. That’s what I face every day to be a governor.”
Think about that the next time you hear an anonymous senator complain that three votes on broadly popular issues are “too much.”
16 4 / 2013
"[T]he ostensible tax rate on corporate income is no higher than 35 percent — and the corporate-tax share of federal revenue has fallen to about 9 percent…[T]here’s no downside to replacing payroll taxes with increased taxes on corporate profits, wherever they’re made or held. By doing so, we make the tax code more progressive, and mobilize capital that is otherwise inert."
27 3 / 2013