Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Kennedy’s 12-Page Proposal: Why The Devil’s In the Details

In Health Care Reform, Politics of Policy on May 30, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Note: This is a cross-post from my group blog The Realignment Project and DailyKos.

So, if you’ve been following the day-to-day drama over the health care bill – Baucus says he’ll fight for public option! Ben Nelson backs off opposition! Schumer tries for some weird single-payer/trigger double play! – then you’ve probably heard about Senator Kennedy’s attempt to push the emerging bill to the lift by getting his HELP Committee’s version of the bill out first and pushing Baucus to the left.

Well people have been asking about the details of what this 12 page proposal that’s been circulating are.

Well, look no further!

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Technical Difficulties Post: Taxes and Revenue

In Economics, History and Politics, Taxes on May 29, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Note: this is a response to this comment on Matt Yglesias’ blog. Since Yglesias’ site isn’t letting this response go through, I’ll post it here and link to it in the thread.

Mike I:

I don’t care what party you are in – it’s your economic theory that I object to. Krugman cites facts just like his opponents do, everyone’s got their own partisanship. Deficits absolutely matter and are the correct metric. You are arguing that raising taxes decreases revenue and that cutting taxes increases revenue. That should mean, all other things being equal, that tax cuts cause balanced budgets and surpluses, and that tax hikes cause deficits. That isn’t the case.

As for the presidents, of course they matter enormously. Reagan ran on a platform of cutting taxes, and pushed through a mammoth tax cut in 1981 through a Democratic Congress whose margins had been shrunk by his landslide victory and where liberals were outweighed by an alliance of Republicans and conservative Democrats. The result was a more than doubling of the deficit. Clinton raised taxes under a Democratic Congress in 1993, instead of for example creating public works and increased public investment, and the result was a massive increase in revenue, to the tune of $871 billion dollars. As for the Democratic Congress, I think you’re forgetting that the major spending increases happened 2000-2006 (especially the prescription drug benefit and the war), and that Bush threatened to (and did in some cases) veto any spending bills, even the routine reauthorizations of cabinet departments. Claiming that the Democrats had the power to dictate policy is ahistorical.

And I’m sorry, but your history is just wrong. Taxes were increased every year from 1940 to 1944, and revenues increased from $6.5 billion to $45 billion. Taxes were increased in 1950, 1951, and 1954 – revenues increased from $39.4 billion to $79.2 billion. Taxes were increased in 1990 and revenues increased by $23 billion the next year and $36 billion the year after that. Taxes were increased in 1993, and revenues increased by $104 billion the next year, $93 billion the year after that, and so on until 2000, by which point Federal revenues had basically doubled since 1990. As for growth, you absolutely can have economic growth and tax increases and revenue increases. GDP rose from 1940-1945 by an average of 16.3% per year; GDP rose from 1950-1959 by an average of 6.7% per year; GDP rose from 1990-2000 by an average of 5.4% per year. Here’s my data sources, you can check them out yourself:

– Steven Attewell

Week 1 Roundup!

In Health Care Reform, History and Law, History and Politics, Politics of Policy on May 28, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Well folks, after the first seven days of existence, The Realignment Project scoreboard looks like this:

  • 4 posts and 2 comments
  • 68 visitors, averaging about 10 per day

Not too bad. And of course, we can only go up from here.

Posts for the week, if you’d like to catch up:

Why the Law Matters – Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad

In History and Law, History and Politics on May 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm













In light of Obama’s recent Supreme Court nomination and the likely fight over the liberal vs. conservative direction of the Supreme Court, I’d like to reflect on how recent and unusual it is that the major political conflicts around the Court have revolved around questions of abortion and the rights of the accused, as well as other so-called “personal freedoms.” Don’t get me wrong, however – I’m not arguing that there has been a recent politicization of an otherwise neutral Court. I find that to be a ridiculous assertion. In a democracy, law and its interpretation is inherently political, an expression of our most deeply-held beliefs about the extent and expression of our rights, the meaning and reality of justice, the nature and scope of the state and the market, our very definition of what freedom, equality, democracy, privacy, independence, speech, mean.

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Like Water Dripping on a Stone: Rethinking the Politics of Single-Payer

In Health Care Reform, History and Politics, Politics of Policy on May 24, 2009 at 1:39 am



In the run-up to the universal health-care bill being debated in Congress, one of the more contentious issues on the political left has been the question of single-payer and its’ inclusion or exclusion from the debate. Recently, we’ve seen single-payer advocates getting themselves arrested to draw media attention, a huge amount of back-and-forth within the progressive blogosphere (of which the links here are just a small sampling), and a good deal of fear about the public option getting watered down or eliminated.

I feel somewhat ambivalent in this debate, in part because I agree with the policy of single-payer advocates, but I find myself turned off by their political style. And I think a lot of it has to do with a particular theory of activism and an ahistorical understanding of how social policy happens that I really disagree with.

Especially as we draw closer to the crucial mark-up and voting phases, and ever closer to passage of the Baucus/Kennedy/Dingell/Obama health care legislation, it’s imperative that the progressive movement think very carefully about what we want to accomplish.

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Strange Fruits of Victory: A Vision of The Democratic Party in 2040

In History and Politics on May 22, 2009 at 6:16 am

One of the side-effects (collateral damage if you want to be ironic) of the 2008 election, and the broader public reaction against the Bush Administration, has been a massive shift in partisan identification away from the Republican Party and toward the Democratic Party.

One example of this trend is the most recent Pew Poll on partisan identification that shows a shift from a tie of 43% to 43% in 2002 to a 53% Democratic and 36% Republican split. This follows several other polls that suggest a massive decline in Republican identification and a smaller, but still significant increase in Democratic identification.

All of which has caused a bit of speculation over whether the Republican Party will survive as an institution, and what this will mean for the future of American politics. Will the Republican Party collapse, and what will fill its place? Will there be a new second party, and what will it look like? Will the Democratic Party become the lone major party, and how long would their sole dominance last?

For the purposes of a thought experiment, I’d like follow one particular line of speculation in order to tease out some major questions about the current nature and future direction of the Democratic Party.

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Blog-Launch, Activate!

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Welcome to the Realignment Project, a group blog dedicated to the dicussion of big ideas, long-term strategy, and the broader re-alignment of American politics in a progressive direction.