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The Sequester and the Five Stages of Grief

11:21 am in 2010 election, 2012 election by Phoenix Woman

stormy sky

It’s interesting to see how much of the content of our Elite Media Overlords is devoted to pretending the sequester is no big deal — or is strictly Obama’s fault, as if the Republicans didn’t help plan it and didn’t trumpet it as a huge victory when they signed off on it back in 2011. Witness, for example, this piece by Glenn Kessler in last Friday’s Washington Post. Lots of denial going on, that’s for sure.

Ironically enough, Friday’s WaPo also had this piece by Lisa Rein, which does a reasonably good job of pointing out when and where the harms caused by the sequester will manifest themselves. She put some focus on the cuts being forced at the US Department of Agriculture, whose Food Safety Inspection Service is responsible for inspecting all the red meat and poultry processed and consumed in America; fully a third of her article was devoted to the furloughs planned for that single USDA agency, and the efforts of various entities, especially representatives of the meat industry and the Republicans whose political campaigns they fund, to pretend in the face of all the evidence that sequestration wouldn’t hurt and the furloughs didn’t have to hurt, either.

In other words, they’re mostly still stuck, publicly at any rate, in the first stage of Sequester Grief — denial.

But there are signs that the denial is wearing off and they’re moving into the anger phase, as more energy is being devoted by the Republicans, the far-right falangist billionaires that love them, and the media outlets run by those billionaires, to putting all the blame on Obama as the effects of the sequester start to become undeniable. From a recent James Rosen article:

House Republicans, among them the head of a key oversight panel, threatened Friday to call Cabinet secretaries and other executive agency managers before congressional hearings on how furloughs are applied in the wake of forced spending cuts.


“If they’re laying off TSA agents and air-traffic controllers, and yet (Transportation Secretary) Ray LaHood’s office is still getting cleaned each night, come on,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the regulatory subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee.

Shorter Jim Jordan: Damn, chasing my own tail hurts when I finally bite down on it.

Back in reality, Rosen deftly undercuts Jordan’s chest-thumping dominance displays thus:

Republicans have accused Obama and Democratic congressional allies of trying to gain political advantage by painting doomsday scenarios about the immediate impact of the forced spending cuts, which the Republicans say amount to only 2.2 percent of this year’s projected $3.8 trillion federal budget.

But about two-thirds of the total budget is exempt under the 2011 Budget Control Act, which requires $1.2 trillion in forced cuts over a decade if Congress can’t find other reductions. The automatic cuts, called sequestration, were to have started Jan. 1 of this year, but a short-term deal pushed them back to March 1.

The exempted spending – including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, and wages for active-duty troops – means that hundreds of discretionary military and non-defense programs will experience an effective hit of 6.6 percent or more.

What’s left that’s cuttable must, by the terms of the sequester, be cut across the board. This was intentional. The sequester was deliberately designed to be so painful that it would force all parties to the negotiation table, and its creation was celebrated by key Republicans, including John Boehner and Paul Ryan.

It’s going to take awhile for the full effects to be felt, mainly because legal and administrative requirements in many government agencies require thirty days of advance notice before furloughs are to take place. But the effect of this will be to concentrate the furloughs in those agencies into the last quarter of the government’s fiscal year, which ends September 30. That will intensify the impact on the various industries that depend on government aid and oversight to function. That, in turn, will intensify the calls by the representatives of those impacted industries for a fix of some sort — and the only fixes possible at this point are either a complete cave by the Tea Party Caucus on revenue increases, or a way to kick the can further down the road, preferably after the 2014 midterms. (Of course, either of these would have to be dressed up in pretty pink face-saving ribbons to keep the Teepers from revolting over them.)

In other words, expect to see the bargaining, depression, and hemi-semi-demi-acceptance stages show up sometime this summer. Read the rest of this entry →

Conservatives Blaming Romney’s Pre-Existing Stall (and Looming Loss) on Sandy

6:43 pm in 2012 election by Phoenix Woman

Median Electoral Vote Estimator by Princeton's Sam Wang indicates Ro-Mentum stalled out 3 weeks ago

It’s already starting: The Romney camp, as well as surrogates like Haley Barbour and Karl Rove, are pushing the excuse for Romney’s loss on Hurricane Sandy, which they claim stalled out the otherwise-unstoppable Mittmentum.

What they don’t mention is what Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium mentioned again today: Romney’s momentum stalled out three weeks ago.

Keep this bookmarked to throw in the face of anyone who dares say “And he would have won, too, if it weren’t for that meddling storm.”

That is all.

Speaking of Paul Ryan: Meet His Opponent, Rob Zerban

8:10 pm in 2012 election by Phoenix Woman

Even as the austerity jackals try to pretend that Paul Ryan’s austerity jones isn’t part of what’s sinking the Romney campaign, Ryan’s congressional opponent, Rob Zerban, has been asking why self-styled Macho Athlete Dude Ryan runs away like a frightened first-grade bully from every opportunity to debate Zerban. This is particularly odd considering that Ryan has debated every single other foe he’s faced as a congressional candidate — the less likely to win, the better.

Gee, you kinda wonder if it’s precisely because Zerban has a chance against Ryan, that Ryan won’t debate him?

By the way, Zerban’s Act Blue page is here:

Throw a few coins at it, and you might be rewarded by seeing Ryan, the poster child for austerity, go down — and perhaps take the Grand Bargain with him.

(Crossposted to Mercury Rising.)

Paul Ryan Already Making Excuses for a Loss to Rob Zerban?

5:41 am in 2012 election, 2012 election, jerks, Politics, Republican Party by Phoenix Woman

(photo: NewsHour / flickr)

Golly gosh gee, step away from the internet for a day and holy heck breaks loose.

Seems that Politico’s Roger Simon, in a rather heavy-handed article that he now claims (after the fact, as Joe Gandelman points out) was intended as satire, pushed the idea that Paul Ryan is a Nice Respectable Wonk (as opposed to a truth-challenged numbers-fudging granny-starver) who is manfully rebelling against being contaminated by #Romneyshambles campaign cooties.

Thing is, much of this is very likely true.

Ryan may not actually call Romney “Stench”, as in “Stench of Failure”, but I suspect that Ryan’s surrogates — or those Beltway Bozos who may or may not like Ryan personally but want to protect him because he’s a prominent standard bearer for austerity, pushing the Overton Windows rightward so that what was unthinkable becomes discussable, and eventually policy — are anticipating that not only will Ryan not be our next vice president, he might not even remain a sitting congressmember, and they’re looking for ways to soften the damage to Ryan’s political stock. By pushing, via alleged humor or other means, the idea that Manly Rogue Ryan is oh so different from Loser Wuss Mitt, they seek to obscure the fact neither of them would be on the 2012 GOP ticket if they didn’t march in lockstep with their base and their donors on all the issues that matter: Killing Social Security and Medicare, slashing taxes for the rich, abolishing the EPA, you know the drill.

There’s one problem with trying to promote the Manly Rogue Ryan image: He’s apparently scared stiff of debating Rob Zerban.

Ryan, who has debated every single opponent in every congressional race before this one, even opponents who had less than $5,000 in the bank, won’t get anywhere near Rob Zerban. It’s a little over a month to Election Day, and Ryan still hasn’t committed to debates at all, even though he and his campaign representatives make the occasional semi-encouraging mouth noise while continuing to drag their feet. It’s got so bad that Marge Krupp and John Heckenlively, who ran to represent Wisconsin’s First Congressional District in 2008 and 2010 respectively, wrote a letter earlier this week to Kevin Seifert, Paul Ryan’s campaign manager, urging the Congressman to return to Wisconsin for a debate with Rob Zerban

Just as Michele Bachmann’s sudden decision earlier this month to start running ads against her opponent Jim Graves can be explained by recent polling showing Graves within the margin of error against her, Ryan’s decision round about that same time to start running his own ads is an indication that he knows he cannot count on winning either the vice-presidency or his current House seat. Another indication would be the effort, satirical or not, to preemptively pin the blame for both losses on Mitt Romney.

Support for Minnesota’s Photo ID Amendment Dropping Dramatically

6:19 pm in 2012 election, Republican Party, Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

I’m sure you’ve all seen polls showing that the general public strongly supports the various ALEC-inspired “voter ID” bills and constitutional amendments being pushed by Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country. That was definitely the case in Minnesota: As recently as May of this year, a Minnesota Poll conducted by the StarTribune showed 80% support for the GOP’s proposed Photo ID ballot amendment to the state constitution.

That was then, this is now:

Slightly more than half of likely voters polled — 52 percent — want the changes built around a photo ID requirement, while 44 percent oppose them and 4 percent are undecided.

That is a far cry from the 80 percent support for photo ID in a May 2011 Minnesota Poll, when the issue was debated as a change in state law. Support among Democrats has cratered during a year marked by court battles, all-night legislative debates and charges that the GOP is attempting to suppress Democratic votes.

Since this is a referendum on changing the constitution, a mere plurality won’t suffice. It must have at least 50% “yes” votes to pass. It had 80% back in May, and it’s dropped to 52% now — and that’s without much in the way of a general campaign on the “vote no” side’s part.

What I find particularly interesting is the indie vote. Independents generally side with the Republicans in favoring this ballot amendment, according to this poll — but I wonder if that will continue to be the case once the word gets out statewide on how much it will cost state and especially local governments, the latter of which are already having a much harder time meeting their budget goals since the state Republicans voted for more austerity.

As I mentioned last week
, I suspect that the cost argument is what, if explained and disseminated widely, will most strongly resonate with many voters. It certainly is the one the state Republicans seem to fear the most.

Earth to Allen Quist: It’s 2012, Not 2009

11:05 am in 2012 election, Republican Party, Tea Party, Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Fresh off a hard-fought primary battle against the hapless hothead Mike Parry, Allen Quist (who most Minnesotans remember as that really creepy guy who keeps getting his ass handed to him in statewide and US congressional elections, most notably by Arne Carlson in the Republican gubernatorial primaries in 1994) is tanned, rested and ready to get his ass kicked once again — this time, as Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen notes, by cribbing from the Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan playbooks:

At a Rochester (MN) Tea Party Patriot meeting on September 20, 2012, MNCD1 Republican candidate Allen Quist claimed that “bureaucratic panels” created under the Affordable Care Act would foster euthanasia.


Think Progress’s Igor Volsky reports in Paul Ryan Tells Florida Seniors That Obamacare Includes Death Panels that the Wisconsin politician revived PolitiFact 2009′s Lie of the Year: that the legislation would bureaucratic “death panels.”


Ryan isn’t alone in this. In June, Sarah Palin posted on Facebook (via Washington Post):

“I stand by everything I wrote in that warning to my fellow Americans”

— Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R), in a Facebook post titled “‘Death Panel’ Three Years Later’

It’s still horse hockey. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave the new posting “Four Pinocchios” the rating for “Whoppers” in  the June 27, 2012, Sarah Palin, ‘Death Panels’ and ‘Obamacare.’

Um, Earth to Allen? It’s 2012, not 2009. It’s pretty hard for a Republican to run against Obamacare in 2012 when the guy at the top of the GOP ticket created Romneycare, Obamacare’s precursor, in Massachusetts. (By the way, somebody should mention that to Paul Ryan as well.) Palin can get away with it because she’s no longer a real politician, but a grifter cashing in before the effects of the tanning beds win out over the botox and she no longer inspires fantasies in the minds of aging Tea Partier males. Actual viable GOP candidates? Not so much.

Tim Walz, the guy Quist thinks he can beat, must be chuckling to himself right now.

(Crossposted to Daily Kos.)