Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fiscal Cliff's Notes

I'm a thousand miles away from the action with no inside information at all. The stalemate lingers - while we're at it, here are some other politically useful chess terms.

Here's how I see the next few days in DC playing out. First, this happens:

John Boehner won't cut a deal beforehand that relies on near-unanimous Democrats and a handful of Republicans who'll put country before Norquist.

The clock rolls over into the New Year and the new Congress is sworn it. Boehner gets himself safely re-elected as Speaker. With that accomplished, there's a quick move to pass the tax cuts on the 98%. That gives the Republicans a fig leaf: see, we voted for a tax CUT! Some people get hurt along the way, sure, but war is peace and freedom is slavery.

We have close to a decade of this left, with the horribly gerrymandered House. One more sign of that from Massachusetts, where 36-year Rep. Ed Markey has rapidly emerges as the near-consensus candidate for the upcoming special Senate election.

A Massachusetts Senate seat tends to come open once in a lifetime. But it also indicates that the 66 year old Markey, a sure bet for a major committee chair if the Democrats would take back the House, isn't counting on that happening.

I haven't thoroughly researched it, but based on this list it appears that, if successful, Markey would be the most senior Representative EVER, as in, back to George Washington ever, to move to the Senate. Markey would drop from number 8 of 435 to number 100 of 100. The closest we have to it in the current Senate is Maryland's Ben Cardin, who served 20 years in the House before going to the Senate.

The current Senator #100, Brian Schatz, will quickly jump 13 places next week, and gets a one week edge over his elected Hawaii colleague Mazie Hirono. (But how will this affect me, Al Franken?) Politico has an excellent look at the internal Hawaii politics that let Gov. Neil Abercrombie to reject Dan Inouye's dying wish that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa get the nod. I can't remember the source but most astute observation: the dying wish letter was an indication that Inouye wasn't confident that Abercrombie would go that route.

Closer to home, with the presidential election safely over Terry Branstad has eased up, a little, on Iowa's toughest in the nation process for ex-felons seeking their voting rights. Better late than never, I guess, but it's worth remembering that the restrictions were literally the first thing Branstad did on day one of term 5.0.

Finally, just for fun, a long look at the making of the Blues Brothers. Scarface-sized piles of cocaine... and getting the band back together was pretty much the same in real life as in the movie. One scene in the movie is of particular relevance today.


Chris said...

So Branstad took away those voting rights immediately after taking office, then waited until just *after* the Presidential election to create a (still more burdensome than before) way to get them back, and the news media is acting like he's some kind of voting rights hero? Give me a break.

Sick of Spin said...

The fiscal cliff nonsense is based in 'Emotive Joy' rather than actual problem solving. Both parties are to blame. Raising taxes on the wealthy solves nothing. Refusing to cut spending solves nothing.

We have some serious fiscal problems, and both parties are more worried about self-preservation than they are about actually addressing a very real problem.

Both parties are guilty of 'Emotive Joy' with their decision making.

Sick of Spin said...

Felons should permanently lose their right to vote.