Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (November 08, 2009)

A Sickly Child

Before we get into the meat of things, I’d like to point out that the take away from the recent VA and NJ gubernatorial elections is that we can now assume that voters now have single-peaked preferences and that as a consequence the median voter model is now at play.  (The probablistic voter model seems to over-explain the phenomenon because in this situation we have candidates who have committed to their policies, voting is sincere, and the policy choice seems to have collapsed into one dimension: economic policy)  Those single-peaked preferences refer to the economic dissolution in the country and seem to me to be transitive where the individual ideal point is the proposal that strikes most voters as least fiscally irresponsible.  Unfortunately I think most voters are assuming that proposal heavy platforms from incumbents or incumbent party candidates equal fiscal irresponsibility and that if the candidate has nothing to say at all, like Candidate Chris Christie, then it may be worth taking a risk on him, just in the case, that he is less likely to support increased public expenditure. Now why do I think its a question of fiscal responsibility that is at play, over and above economic concerns?  Because it voters were worried about the economic stagnation in the country, then they would logically support public spending to get us out of the hole.  Now perhaps they do like the fact of public spending; they just are against the consequences of public expenditure, i.e they prefer fiscally conservative hawks in office.  The more conservative, the better.

What does all this boil down to?  Vote against the devil you know and hope the devil you don’t know favors the one policy issue that tops your list of policy preferences: fiscal conservatism and public expenditure restraint.

Okay, onto Meet the Press for this fine, warm Sunday morning.

DG: (To this guest, Army Chief of Staff, George Casey, on the killings in Fort Hood and Major. Hasan) Do you think Maj. Hasan was acting alone.  Do you think the news that this psychiatrists harder political and religious beliefs contributed to his attacks.

(Army Chief of Staff) General George Casey: I can’t comment on whether he was acting alone because its an ongoing investigation.  I’d think that making inferences based on anecdotally evidence serves us badly.  We’ll do a proper investigation and then we’ll look at whether his political beliefs compelled him to lash out. (Personally I think this event speaks to the need to hold onto talent in the Army and the effects of such a stop-loss move.  I do not disagree that Major Hasan should have been left go.  I just think that even if it were apparent that according the systematic metrics of retention, Major Hasan should have been discharged, I still don’t think that he would have been discharged, even farther down the road, had this event not taken place.  Also this tragedy underscores the sense that the problem of the mental health of hard working soldiers after 3 or 4 deployments runs deeper and is more pervasive than news account would allow. COnsider, as Gen. Casey mentioned that per capita, the suicide rate in the military has surpassed the civilian rate for the first time)

DG: Are you concerned about the backlash against soldiers who are Muslims in the military.

GC:  I think that this is a serious problem.  One of the strengths of our military is its heterogeneity and diversity.  It would be a real loss if our diversity were challenged because of this tragedy.  (Damn fine answer sir)

DG: Do you believe that having Muslim soldiers makes it more difficult for them to fight Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.  (I think this is a silly question.  Does being a poor man make it more difficult to kill other poor men in country countries.  I’d say, from the evidence: NO)

GC: We’ll have to look into this on an individual basis.  (It looks to me like the Army is actually investigating this question.  If so, its not apparent to me, how any analyst would formulate the question well enough to actually yield interesting results.  And then even if some result is obtained, what of that?)

The POTUS is sending 34,000 additional forces.  Do you support Gen. McChrystals’ assessment?

GG: We need to give Gen. McChrystal the ability to dampen the successes of the Taliban. (We are defining down success to essentially ring true with any hindrance, at all, that the U.S and NATO might cause the Taliban.)

Gov’s. Ed Rendell (D-PA)and Haley Barbour (R-MS).

HB: Obama will not be able to pass Health Care as it stands, because if the Dems had such a tough fight in the House, it’ll be more vicious in the Senate.

DG: On the individual mandate

ER: Look, most people in the middle class already have insurance, and small businesses are going to be exempt from it.

ER: Look even Blanche Lincoln knows that voters in Arkansas like the public option overwhelmingly, so that might help.  But at the end of the day, even with compromises such as an opt-out or a trigger, we’ll have something to sign because the country needs it.

On the election and jobs:

HB: People who are looking for jobs, who are afraid of losing their current jobs voted for the GOP in greater numbers than self-identified Independents.  So the DEM’s might have something to worry about come 2010.

ER: Its tough out there to run as an incumbent now.  That incumbency disadvantage applies to the GOP as much as it applies to the Democrats.

On NY 23:

HB: I like Sarah Palin; she’s got something to offer. (Its seems to me like he’s keeping his options open: HB does not want to alienate Sarah Palin, nor say that she definitely has a leadership position in the GOP either now or in the future.  HB is playing up his populist rhetoric)

On Wall St.

HB: Big banks are at a disconnect from the typical American because while Main St. is suffering banks

ER: George W. Bush should have required banks that got TARP money to lend out a certain portion of it to Main St.  That’s partly why we don’t have enough credit for small businesses and banks.

HB: If POTUS sources the troops then Republicans will stand with him.  (DG is right to pick up that there’s an implicit threat here, that if the POTUS does not source according to McChrystal’s assessment, then the Republican will stand against him.  That’s fairly obvioulsy true. But when questioned on this Barbour insists that he will not criticize Obama if he doesn’t put in the ‘required’ troops) The war should not be politicized.

The Roundtable: On VP Cheney’s talk of “dithering”.  But Pres. Bush took a long time to put the Iraq Surge into place.  So why so harsh brother?

Ed Gillespie: (Arrghhh.  he never answered.)  Yes, yes, sure if the POTUS puts the troops the military needs, then we’ll support him.  Haley’s (Barbour’s) right.

On Healthcare:

Rachel Maddow (on Federal prohibition to pay for abortions through any publicly funded or subsidized health insurance plan): This is the biggest restriction on abortion rights since the Hyde Amendment.  If this thing isn’t removed in conference, then Democratic women will sit on their hands.  (I’m not too sure about this.  What are Democratic women voters going to do, if the language restricting federal funding isn’t removed?  This is nevertheless a very important restriction on a woman’s freedom to choose.  This restrictions stems from her further economic incapability to function in a manner consistent with her right to choose.  This amendment affects poor women who cannot afford to pay for medical procedures, including an abortion procedure.  Now because they cannot pay for the market clearing price of medical procedures, they are the kind of people we make more capable by subsidizing coverage so that they can purchase a health insurance.  This amendment disallows a woman who purchases a private insurance plan, that may be subsidized, to obtain an abortion procedure THROUGH her healthcare plan.)

(All the round table talking heads seem to agree that the Status Quo bias will kick in as soon as Health Care Reform is passed.  People tend to like the public goods they have.  How else can one explain that the same people who are throwing verbal darts at Democrats also claim to love Medicare?)

E.J. Dionne in particularly is brilliant.  Listen, Reagan in 1961 said Medicare is socialized medicine; the doctor will be under government control, etc.  But when he came into power he did not cut Medicare.  Secondly most small businesses will be exempt from the taxes that are paying the bill for this…ummm…bill.  If anything, this is a millionaires tax.  Thirdly a lot of the provisions of the bill will kick in right away.  So you cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions and that will be covered right away, and they cannot drop you from coverage.

(E.J. Dionne is GOD): Incumbents are in trouble; particularly incumbent governors.  I wouldn’t infer that the GOP is ascendant from that.  Also NJ was a different case than VA.  In NJ, people had had enough of Corzine; in VA, Obama voters didn’t turn out to vote.

On NJ, VA, NY 23.

(The Obama voters didn’t turn-out and independents are shifting to the Republicans because voters are worried about unemployment and the Republicans are not the incumbents who the voters think got them into this hole: the Democrats.)

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~ by Faheem Haider on November 8, 2009.

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