Archive of Articles for November, 2017

Interpreting GOP Moves On Tax Bill

[ Posted Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 – 17:58 UTC ]

The most popular game in Washington right now is trying to figure out where the Republicans are on their tax-cutting plan, and what they're about to do next. This game exists because nobody is really sure what's going to happen, leaving lots of room for rampant speculation. But the moves the Senate is apparently making right now (or, reportedly, at least seriously considering) either show that Republicans are pretty confident of their ability to get the legislation passed or that they're essentially creating excuses for why it isn't going to pass at all this year. Since these positions are so contradictory, it's worth examining the developing GOP politics over the tax bills.

Read Complete Article »

Freelance Democratic Autopsy Document Released

[ Posted Monday, November 13th, 2017 – 18:12 UTC ]

For a long time now, I've been calling on the Democratic Party to go through the same soul-searching exercise that Republicans did in 2013 after losing a presidential election. The GOP, back then, put out an "autopsy" or "post-mortem" document which examined why they lost and offered suggestions for improving the party's chances in the future. Democrats, I thought, would have been well-served by the same sort of self-examination after 2016, but it never actually appeared from the national party. Because it still hasn't appeared from the national party, a group of Democrats have been inspired to create such a document on their own. This new document can be viewed on the site, and it is well worth a read by anyone who cares about the future of the Democratic Party.

Read Complete Article »

Friday Talking Points [461] -- "Berenstain Bear Democrats" Win The Day

[ Posted Friday, November 10th, 2017 – 18:29 UTC ]

Democrats just had the first very good week they've had in an entire year. Tuesday night, they absolutely swept the board in the few elections that were held. Now, granted, this was an off-off-year election, so it's too soon to say whether this presages a Democratic wave (or even a Democratic tsunami) in next year's midterm elections, but that doesn't detract from the gains Democratic candidates made all over the map this week. Michael Murphy, a Republican political strategist, summed up the impact of Tuesday night thusly: "Donald Trump is an anchor for the GOP. We got that message in loud volume in Virginia. The canary in the coal mine didn't just pass out; its head exploded."

Read Complete Article »

Moore Trouble For Republicans

[ Posted Thursday, November 9th, 2017 – 17:56 UTC ]

Before Tuesday's election returns started coming in, I was cautious and wary of getting my expectations up too high. Yesterday, after the scope of the Democratic sweep had sunk in, I was in a much more optimistic mood. Today, with the Washington Post bombshell story on Roy Moore's disgraceful past, it seems like the time for some good old-fashioned wild-eyed speculation. Such has been the rollercoaster of the week for Democrats and progressives everywhere.

Read Complete Article »

It's A New Day For Democrats

[ Posted Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 – 18:13 UTC ]

For the first time in an entire year, millions of Democrats woke up hopeful today. Rather than the continuing despair over the inescapable fact of "President Donald Trump," Democrats now have solid reason for political optimism. All of this cheerfulness stems from the election results of last night, where Democrats didn't just win and they didn't just win big, they absolutely swept the board. Which has many now predicting the swell of last night is the leading edge of a Democratic wave election, in next year's congressional midterms.

Read Complete Article »

Fighting For Governors' Offices

[ Posted Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 – 17:19 UTC ]

If Democrats are ever going to have an even chance to control the House of Representatives for the next decade, they need to be fighting as hard as possible for control of more governors' offices. Normally these two things are not directly connected, but after the upcoming 2020 Census, they will be. Redistricting is, in most states, a political function of the state government, meaning control of the governor's office often means being able to gerrymander the lines to your party's advantage -- something Republicans proved very adept at doing after the 2010 Census. Democrats are at a decided disadvantage as things stand, so they need to score a number of victories in gubernatorial races in the next few years in order to level the House districting playing field.

Read Complete Article »

Tomorrow's Battle Over The 2018 Midterm Narrative

[ Posted Monday, November 6th, 2017 – 17:37 UTC ]

Tomorrow is Election Day in certain parts of the country. As usual in odd-numbered years, the handful of major contests to be decided tomorrow night will be seen as a harbinger of what is to come in the 2018 midterm congressional elections. These off-off-year elections always seem to have an outsized effect on the narrative used by the political chattering class, as one party or another once again claims "the wind is at our backs" heading into the midterms. Sometimes these narratives prove to be correct, but other times they are later seen as nothing short of wishful thinking on a national scale. Figuring out the accuracy of the narratives which tomorrow's elections will breed won't be possible for another year, of course, but it won't stop the narratives from spreading in the meantime. Such narratives will certainly have an effect on the midterms, whether correct or not. So even if they prove to be false narratives in the end, they're worth paying attention to for the time being.

Read Complete Article »

Friday Talking Points [460] -- #BillionairesFirst? #NotOnePenny!

[ Posted Friday, November 3rd, 2017 – 17:56 UTC ]

To date, the two best hashtags we've seen to counter the just-released Republican tax plan are #BillionairesFirst and #NotOnePenny, so we decided to use them in our title. Because over the next few weeks, there will be a monstrous messaging battle between Republicans and Democrats over how their new tax cut plan should be framed. Democrats seem poised to win this battle, but then again there is no guarantee that's how it will play out. So today we thought we'd devote a large portion of the column to mustering up the arguments Democrats should immediately start making to any who will listen.

Read Complete Article »

Postcardizing Schedule A

[ Posted Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 – 17:42 UTC ]

With much fanfare, the Republican tax plan was unveiled today. This is an incredibly complex piece of legislation, so it's going to take more than one column to adequately examine what all their proposed changes will mean to American taxpayers. On many of these details, the GOP kept their cards pretty close to their vest until today, meaning this is the first chance everyone's got to figure out how each of these proposed changes will impact them personally. One idea which emerged a few days before the proposal was formally unveiled is to shrink Schedule A to "the size of a postcard." Schedule A is where taxpayers figure their itemized deductions, so it encompasses a lot of the other GOP proposals as well. But today, I'm going to focus on two in particular, because they provide some of the strongest arguments for Democrats and progressives to use in opposing this plan.

Read Complete Article »

A Wonky Look At GOP's Proposed Standard Deduction Change

[ Posted Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 – 18:06 UTC ]

Today we were all supposed to see the unveiling of the Republicans' tax plan, complete with facts and figures, drafted as a bill Congress could pass. This has not happened yet, because they can't agree among themselves over the details and are even now radically changing their own plan to assuage their own membership. We might see their tax plan tomorrow, but then again maybe we won't. There are many aspects of the GOP's tax plan that are broadly known so far, and others which are vague and ill-defined. The latter is what everyone's waiting to see, because drafting an actual bill means putting figures on paper rather than just creating political talking points -- which is so far all Republicans have done on many aspects of their plan. But they did put numbers to one radical change to the income tax law already, so their proposal to almost double the standard deduction while eliminating personal exemptions can already be subject to a deep and wonky dive into the numbers.

Read Complete Article »