Louisiana Senate candidates rush to claim credit for Keystone pipeline vote

Mary Landrieu speaking at podium

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

The scramble to make a congressional Keystone pipeline vote help one of the candidates in the Louisiana Senate runoff is racing along. But which candidate? With her chances lagging badly, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is pushing action in the Senate … but has agreed that the Senate can take up a House bill that will have her Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy, as lead sponsor. If both candidates go into the runoff with the same level of responsibility for passing a bill, how does that shake up the dynamics of a race in which Cassidy is currently favored? Especially given that it’s not clear what President Obama would do with a Keystone bill passed under these conditions:

While the White House stopped short of directly threatening a veto, spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama takes a “dim view” of legislative efforts to force action on the project. Earnest reiterated Obama’s preference for evaluating the pipeline through a long-stalled State Department review.

Even distancing herself from the president yet again is not likely to get Landrieu the votes she needs—and lacks—among white voters, and it won’t exactly goose black voter turnout.

The Louisiana runoff scramble continues in other ways, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin trying to raise money for Landrieu, after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cut her off, leaving her massively outspent and out-advertised. On Cassidy’s side, Sarah Palin and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson will appear to whip up the GOP base vote at a unity rally for supporters of Cassidy and his former Republican opponent, Rob Maness.

National Organization for Marriage brags over defeat of insufficiently intolerant Republicans

Marriage equality demonstration

Get over it, NOM. That ship has sailed.

Ah, the post-election press release cycle. When every last sodding interest group expresses pleasure at how wonderfully they did, even when they didn’t.

The National Organization for Marriage, a conservative group that campaigns against same-sex marriage, popped the cork for some post-midterms rejoicing on Monday. On its website, the organization “claimed victory” in last week’s elections, gleefully celebrating Democrats’ wins over three Republicans who supported same-sex marriage. But NOM’s joy is a bit misplaced: The Democrats who won support the same policies the group is fighting against.

The logic here is that sure, those damned Democrats who won may be supportive of LGBT causes (the National Organization for Marriage is an anti-gay group, remember), but at least they beat those damned Republicans who were supportive of LGBT causes.
You may be wondering why a theoretically (cough) nonpartisan group devoted to the supposed protection of marriage would care whether the elected officials about to further damage their precious cause were of one party or the other. The answer is that the National Organization for Marriage openly considers purity of the Republican Party to be more important than the outcome of actual races.

As I noted back in October, NOM targeted GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby in Oregon (who endorsed same-sex marriage), and two openly gay Republican House candidates, Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts. All three lost last week. “I hope that our success in defeating these three Republican candidates sends a message to the Republican leadership in Washington,” NOM president Brian Brown said in the statement, “that the GOP faithful demands candidates who are committed to defending marriage, which is a critical element of the Republican platform.”

So NOM is so engaged in their anti-LGBT battles that they’re willing to do as much damage to the Republican Party as it takes to get their way. That sounds like no definition of “victory” most people would be familiar with, but it does point to the desperation of anti-LGBT equality efforts. They’re at each other’s throats now, and they’re bragging about it.

Sen. Sessions, try actually reading the exit polls before spouting nonsense on immigration

United States Senator Jeff Sessions talks to reporters. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Sorry, Sen. Sessions. Reality still has a well-known liberal bias.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

On Election Day, Americans roared in protest against the President’s open-borders extremism. They rallied behind candidates who will defend the rule of law and put the needs of American workers and families first.
Exit polls were unequivocal. More than 3 in 4 voters cited immigration as an important factor in their vote, believed that U.S. workers should get priority for jobs, and opposed the President’s plans for executive amnesty. These voters were right and just in their demands.

First of all, the 36 percent or so of voting age Americans who turned out were a minority of America, and the slightly more than half who voted GOP were an even tinier minority. Just because Democrats didn’t bother turning out doesn’t mean “America” thinks something. But beyond that, let’s look at those “unequivocal” exit polls that the idiot senator cites in his second paragraph, because they essentially undermine his ENTIRE ARGUMENT.
First of all, how important was immigration? Not that important.

Just 14 percent of this GOP-heavy electorate thought immigration was the most important issue facing the country, virtually tied for last out of … four issues asked. But more importantly, even taking Sessions at face value that three-quarters of voters considered immigration important, what exactly does this GOP-heavy electorate want to do about it?

That’s right. By a massive 57-39, voters from the most conservative electorate since forever want “amnesty.” Over one-third of Republicans want “amnesty.” So when the apparently illiterate Sessions says “President Obama made clear that he would attempt to void the election results—and our laws—by moving forward with his executive amnesty decree,” he is sputtering sheer nonsense. Because the views of the electorate couldn’t be more clear and—ahem—unequivocal: Americans want to legalize our nation’s undocumented population despite Sen. Sessions’s attempts to rewrite reality.

Fox News says fighting Ebola is a ‘boondoggle’

Volunteers for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, receive training on how to handle personal protective equipment during courses in Brussels October 15, 2014, which is aimed to help deal with the Ebola disease in West Africa. The

Remember how, in the heat of the election and the height of Ebola panic, Republicans and Fox News were all about President Obama’s failure to lead on the Ebola “crisis”? Now that Ebola panic has no more utility for them, they’re slamming him for leading and trying to help with the epidemic that is still ravaging West Africa.

The Obama Administration’s proposed $6.18 billion emergency package to combat the Ebola epidemic is drawing skepticism from conservative analysts who suggest the crisis is being used to jam a massive dose of spending through the lame-duck Congress before a Republican majority takes over both Senate and House next January.
Their concern comes amid a rising chorus of statements from U.S. and international organizations, including United Nations agencies, urging more and faster international aid spending to ward off starvation and childbirth deaths in West Africa as a result of Ebola.

It’s only Africans starving and dying in childbirth, so what’s the big deal? Fox commentator John Stossel has a brother who also happens to be a doctor, Dr. Tom Stossel, “a visiting professor for health care studies at the American Enterprise Institute.” So of course he’s the healthcare expert they turn to to tell them that spending this money is a big waste and that “this epidemic is going to be long over before some of these measures are available.”

Meanwhile, 1 in 7 women in the Ebola-hit countries risks dying in childbirth because the health systems there are so overwhelmed trying to fight Ebola and because fear of the disease prevents people from helping them get care. Besides the risks for pregnant women, people suffering from other diseases that run rampant in these countries—malaria and tuberculosis, for example—are in danger of losing care because the clinics can’t cope with more than just Ebola. The money Obama is asking for would address these infrastructure problems, in part, as well as providing immediate aid and equipment for fighting the outbreak. But again, that’s just trying to prevent African deaths. That doesn’t matter to Fox News.

Honoring veterans while leaving them uninsured

Participants in the Veterans Day Parade march up Fifth Avenue. Sailors are participating in Veterans Week New York City to honor the service of all our nation's veterans. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Andrew B. Church/Released)

How about some health insurance to go along with the parades?

Across the nation today, parades and concerts and assemblies honor the nation’s veterans and politicians make grand speeches about the sacrifices of our brave men and women who served our country. But in 23 states the Republican politicians making those speeches are withholding health care from tens of thousands of those brave men and women.
Last year, the Pew Trusts analyzed data from the Urban Institute and determined that more than 258,000 veterans—along with tens of thousands of their spouses—weren’t eligible for VA health care and lived in states where lawmakers were refusing to expand Medicaid. Since then, Pennsylvania adopted the expansion and extended Medicaid to over 19,000 veterans, as did Michigan with over 20,000 uninsured veterans. Which still leaves over 200,000 veterans in the cold.

Many vets didn’t serve long enough to meet the service requirements to qualify for care through the VA. Plenty more live in rural states or far away from VA medical facilities, so getting care there isn’t feasible. Veteran populations are highly concentrated in Florida and Texas as well as other Republican states. One Texas veteran describes what being an uninsured vet means.

While some work full time, others are in school; caring for a grandchild or sick family member; or struggling with the physical and emotional demons that haunt many veterans and other Americans, even when they’re hard to document. Compound all this with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have many veterans suffering the experiences of wars fought in the past 10 years or longer.
Without insurance, the patchwork of remaining health care options is inadequate, expensive and oftentimes simply not available. Many Americans assume all veterans have full access to Veterans Affairs benefits, but many live far away from the closest VA clinic and the level of VA benefits depends on a veteran’s years of service, extent of injuries and other factors.

Like other Texans, uninsured veterans can count on the ER to stabilize them in an emergency. But if you need help with an enlarged appendix, you’ll probably have to wait till it bursts. If you need ongoing cancer treatment, the ER can’t help. If you want preventative care to avoid getting sick in the future or to get healthy before you become pregnant, there’s nothing the ER can do for you.

What’s true in Texas is true in every state that refused Medicaid expansion. Remember that when you hear all those pretty speeches from Republican politicians today.

U.S. Ebola-free. Will Republicans notice?

Rand Paul speaking to his father's supporters at a

Anything to say about Ebola now, Senator Paul?

Ebola panic was so pre-November 4. One week later, the doctor, Craig Spencer, who had it has been cured and released from the hospital, and the nurse, Kaci Hickox, who did not have it but still caused a politically-driven panic in two states, reached the 21-day infection window without becoming ill. There are zero cases of Ebola in the U.S. The successful treatment of the nurses who contracted the disease in this country and the healthcare workers who got it in West Africa and were brought home for treatment demonstrates that this nation—and the Obama administration—can handle the disease. So do you suppose any of these guys will acknowledge that?

Indeed, it’s amazing to pause for a moment to contrast the partisan hyperventilating we heard very recently about Ebola becoming “Obama’s Katrina” and an example of governmental “incompetence.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), true to form, started pushing conspiracy theories. Rep Peter King (R-N.Y.) suggested the public should no longer trust public-health officials.
It was just over a week ago that Sen.-elect Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) went so far as to argue that President Obama “hasn’t demonstrated” that he even cares whether or not Americans get Ebola.

Some of the ugliest fear-mongering about the virus came from right-wing Senate candidates–Ernst, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, et al–who actually won their races.

Don’t hold your breath. Now that the election is over, we probably won’t ever hear them utter the word “Ebola” again. Which is pretty big problem, actually. They’re all members of the Senate now, in the new majority, and it’s actually within their power to do something about Ebola where it’s still raging in West Africa. But don’t hold your breath on that one, either.

Andrew Cuomo breaks all promises, except to Republicans

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is photographed during a re-election campaign stop a day ahead of the Democratic primary in Times Square, New York on September 8, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif  

Nope, still not presidential material. Not that he ever was.

Once upon a time, NY’s odious Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised to be a good Democrat in order to hold off a spirited challenge from the Working Families Party. He fed them a bunch of bullshit about pursuing their policies (promises he broke literally the next day), and also promised to help Democrats regain the state Senate.
The clueless dolts at the Working Families Party bought it, as did people like NY Mayor Bill de Blasio, despite Cuomo’s entire history of being a raging asshole. Everyone came together for the good of New York Democrats.

Except that at the same time, Cuomo was making promises to another group of people.

The state’s most powerful Republican secretly worked for months to help Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo win re-election — in exchange for Cuomo’s promise not to aid Senate Democrats in their Long Island races, a top New York GOP leader has charged.

Now one may say, “Why should we believe some sour-grapes Republican running to the NY Post making these claims”? The reason is obvious: because Cuomo did absolutely zero to help NY Senate Democrats win. He withheld endorsements, raised no money, made no joint campaign appearances, and even undermined several Democratic candidates.
So given promises to Democrats and Republicans regarding this November’s elections, Cuomo decided to fulfill the promises he made to Republicans, while making a mockery of those he made to Democrats and the idiot Working Families Party.

And you know the irony of it all? Cuomo has done everything he has in the last year aiming for a dramatic bipartisan victory that would propel him into the upper tier of White House hopefuls. But when the dust cleared last Tuesday?

Cuomo had won, sure, but so much for his dominant victory, garnering less than 53 percent of the vote. The hapless Republicans got nearly 41 percent. Cuomo won 63-33 in the previous GOP wave of 2010. And even that was worse than Eliot Spitzer’s 70-29 victory in 2006. Furthermore, two other Democrats got more votes than Cuomo—the Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

So Cuomo stabbed so many Democrats in the back to get a lopsided victory that never materialized. So while there wasn’t much to celebrate last week, at least we have that: Cuomo’s national ambitions deteriorated this year, and that’s certainly something to be grateful about.

When you’re done mourning these elections, what are you organizing for?

A demonstrator holds a sign during a nationwide strike and protest at fast food restaurants to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 in New York, December 5, 2013. Fast-food workers in hundreds of U.S. cities staged a day of rallies on Thursday to demand higher wages, saying the pay was too low to feed a family and forced most to accept public assistance. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton  (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT FOOD CIVIL UNREST) - RTX165UB

So Tuesday night was a disaster, obviously. And, perhaps more so than in 2010, we know just how terrible Republicans are likely to be with their added power. We know what a Scott Walker is capable of. Still, you have to try to remain sane, and for me, that means trying to find enough bright spots that the bad spots produce a motivating rage rather than tipping over into crushing despair. This is why, if you talked to me in the days after the 2004 election, you were likely to hear about how Florida voters had raised the minimum wage even as they kept George W. Bush in the White House. Which is to say, sometimes the bad stuff outweighs the good stuff, but I still have to remember the good stuff exists, or I crawl into a cave and rock back and forth in the fetal position for the next couple years.

Each of us will have a personal worst list about this election. Hopefully you are all, as I am, trying to also compile a best list. So, below the fold are a few of Tuesday night’s results that were, for me personally, the worst, and a few of the things I’ll be holding onto as I try to stay positive and functional. I won’t say “don’t mourn, organize.” There’s a lot to mourn. But keep your mourning to a few days, then double down on organizing. And before you double down, it helps to clarify what you’re organizing for. What are the principles that make winning or losing elections so powerful? By thinking about what moves us, can we figure out how to get to where we want to be?

This week in the war on workers: The (active) fatherhood penalty

Father playing little xylophone with baby.

Just ask anyone and they’ll tell you: Raising kids is really important. One of the most important jobs in the world, if not THE most important.
Just don’t ask your boss to act on that priority. It’s well known that women’s careers and lifetime earnings suffer because of time they take off when they have kids. So do men’s, it turns out. It’s just less visible because so many fewer men take more than a few days off:

One of the studies was by Mr. Coltrane of the University of Oregon. It used data from 6,403 men in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and was the first major longitudinal study — tracking the same group of people over time — to show that taking time off for family reasons reduced men’s earnings, just as it reduced women’s earnings. When men reduced their hours for family reasons, they lost 15.5 percent in earnings over the course of their careers, on average, compared with a drop of 9.8 percent for women and 11.2 percent for men who reduced their hours for other reasons. […]
Another study found that men who used flexible work arrangements, whether taking temporary family leave or working from home or part time, received worse job evaluations and lower hourly raises. The third found that men who requested family leave were at greater risk of being demoted or laid off because they were perceived to have negative traits that are used to stigmatize women, like weakness and uncertainty, not masculine ones like competitiveness and ambition.

We’re not talking about taking off five years to raise kids until they’re old enough for kindergarten. We’re talking about men not being able to take six weeks to care for a tiny little baby without being penalized at work. Men taking family leave to care for a baby translates into them being more involved parents after they go back to work. And, of course, women having actual partners in caring for children makes it more possible for women to go back to work.
The United States continues to be terrible at family leave, and men face significant pressure not to take parental leave even when their employers offer it. If this doesn’t change, women will continue to shoulder far more than their share and too many men will continue to be absent fathers, even in cases where they live in the same house with their children.

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week’s labor and education news, with election aftermath.

Politico on 2014: ‘Now there could well be as many as 10 or 20 Bachmanns coming to Washington’

Republican candidate for president U.S. Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) (C) holds a news conference with Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) (L) and Representative Steve King (R-IA) (R) to discuss the debt ceiling and military benefits, at the U.S

I’m not always a fan of Politico, but this piece by Alex Isanstadt does highlight what could turn out to be a real problem for House Republicans: They just elected a bunch of wingnuts.
If House Speaker John Boehner can convince them to shut up, the GOP nominates a boring presidential candidate, and 2016 isn’t a high turnout presidential election, then the fact that they just elected a class that (in Isanstadt’s words) could include “as many as 10 or 20” new congressmen as crazy as Michele Bachmann might not end up being a big problem. Then again, if Boehner were capable of pulling that off, there never would have been a government shutdown in 2013.

Now he’s not only got more wingnuts to manage, but Democrats—because they no longer control either chamber of Congress—have even less incentive to bail out Boehner by delivering votes for must-pass legislation. Moreover, given complete Republican control of Congress, the GOP base will expect nonstop wingnuttery from their party.

The good news for Republicans is that they’ve so heavily gerrymandered the country that they can still hold the House even if they lose a moderate amount of popular support. In 2012, for example, more voters cast ballots for Democratic congressional candidates than Republican candidates, yet thanks to district lines drawn up by Republicans, they still won a majority of seats in the House. The flip side of that is this, however: In a Democratic wave, Republicans are more vulnerable than they would otherwise be because they are spread more thin.

The question is whether a Democratic wave will materialize. That will depend in part on Democrats offering a compelling vision, in part on President Obama delivering as much as he can, and in part on the quality of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. And it also will depend on whether Republicans can keep their crazies in check, and that’s something I definitely would not bet on them being able to do.

It’s Mary Landrieu vs. the Kochs in Louisiana runoff

Mary Landrieu speaking at podium

Election results weren’t even in yet Tuesday night when the Kochs announced big ad buys for the runoff race between Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy. Now it looks like Landrieu might be going it alone.

Democrats are scrapping a multimillion dollar ad buy, liberal groups aren’t jumping in to help her campaign and national political staffers haven’t moved down en masse to help get out the vote.
Just days after enduring a shellacking that left Senate Democrats in the minority and licking their wounds, the Louisiana Democrat is calling her own shots in her uphill battle to fend off Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy in a Dec. 6 runoff. […]

In the days after election night, she held events across the state and began accusing her opponent of not doing enough for Louisianans, while challenging him to six debates.

“The country decided about who was going to be in the majority, but a decision still has to be made here in Louisiana about who is going to represent this state in the United States Senate for the next six years,” said Landrieu, campaigning in front of a veterans hospital under construction in New Orleans. “I am prepared to run on my record on delivering for this state. I have worked with three presidents, four majority leaders and six governors of different parties and at every time in every Congress regardless of who has had the power or regardless who has been up in the polls or down.”

Localizing the remainder of this race is probably her best bet, particularly with national Republicans readying to move in en masse to push Cassidy over the finish line, with a big assist from the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity and the forced birther brigade, Susan B. Anthony’s List. Both AFP and SBA will spend and will have ongoing GOTV efforts. Landrieu can really focus on her relationships with state and local officials provide that contrast with Cassidy. That also allows her to keep those bridges strong for a potential comeback in 2016.

Republican Sen. David Vitter has already announced his run for governor next year. That leaves an open Senate seat in 2016, and a prime opportunity for Landrieu to return. So the Kochs should consider this one a part-time rental for the next two years.

GOP tries to downplay Democrats winning among women voters

Republican leaders Senator Mitch McConnell (R) and John Boehner speak after a bipartisan meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington June 10, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

What, these guys’ party didn’t dominate among women?

Nice try, GOP. Republicans are trying to claim that they improved their standing with women voters in this election, yet another version of the party’s efforts to make themselves look better when it comes to voters who aren’t white, male, and rich, without actually changing a thing. See, Republicans are claiming that they improved among women relative to 2012. Which they did—the problem is that the comparison is nuts.
Republicans lost women voters by 52 percent to 47 percent, which means they did worse among women than in 2010, the last midterm election. But they’re relying on the general public not to know about the different voter composition of midterm and presidential elections and on political reporters to report Republican claims and facts as if they had equal standing. That would let the GOP fool people into thinking that Republicans won over more women in 2014 than in 2012, when the reality is just that too many Democratic voters stay home during midterms. Here’s reality, making the apples-to-apples comparison:

Democrats usually do not fare as well in midterm election years as they do in presidential election years due to a significant decrease in voter turnout among single women and young and minority voters. But comparing 2014 to the last midterm election in 2010 — a more “apples to apples” comparison — Democrats have actually gained 6 points with women voters.
An analysis of Tuesdays’ exit polls by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the family planning provider, shows that Democrats actually lost women by 1 point in 2010. But this year, 52 percent of women voted for Democrats, compared to 47 percent voting for Republicans. Women of color, specifically, showed strong support for Democrats this year, with 91 percent of black women and 67 percent of Latinas favoring Democrats.

No one who wants Democrats to win is saying it’s not a problem that Democratic voters stay home for midterms. Ideally—from the point of small-d democracy as well as big-D Democrats—everyone eligible would turn out to vote in every election. But given the reality of who votes, we can see that Democrats improved their performance with women over 2010.

The next big Republican brag is “we won white women.” And that’s supposed to be all that matters, even though no one is going to come right out and say “because other women don’t count.” We’re just supposed to infer that black and brown votes don’t count because … well, they’re not white. That Republicans can’t possibly be expected to get those votes, so it’s unfairly stacking the deck to talk about them as meaningful, even if we have to count them equally when it comes to who wins elections. So, good for you, Republicans. You won among white women. You still lost among women.

Seattle votes strongly for added property tax to fund preschool

Diverse group of preschool students listens to a story at the library.

In another example of voters doing something local that Congress should already have done, Seattle voters voted themselves a small property tax increase to offer free or subsidized preschool to children from low- and middle-income families, while increasing pay for preschool teachers and expanding teacher training requirements. The vote will create a $58 million levy over four years, taxing the owner of a $400,000 home an additional $43 a year:

The money will go to select, high-quality preschools to provide slots to families based on income. It will ramp up over time, serving 280 children in 2015, and subsidizing up to 2,000 by 2018.
It will make preschool free for families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $70,000 a year for a family of four.

Families earning between 300 percent and 760 percent of the poverty level will get subsidies. This four years is a pilot project with a slow ramp up and a limited size even in 2018, but hopefully after 2018 it will shed its pilot status and move forward. Officials estimate that true universal preschool would need to serve about 9,000 children.

Voters were faced with a choice between competing preschool expansion measures. First, they had to vote yes or no to the general concept of funding preschool, then choose between this measure, Proposition 1B, and Proposition 1A, which would have raised the minimum wage for child care workers to $15 an hour, created an oversight board and a fund to raise quality standards at child care centers, and mandated that families not spend more than 10 percent of their income on child care. That measure did not have a funding mechanism attached. An endorsement of Prop. 1B from The Stranger argues that “they should never have been pitted against each other on your ballot in the first place.” But they were, and most importantly voters chose to do something rather than nothing (voters being very different than Congress on that front).

New GOP spin: Midterms were a repudiation of Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughs before delivering remarks on American leadership at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Hahaha, check out the headline on this Republican National Committee press release:

Hillary’s Policies Were On The Ballot

Nice try, guys, but even if we assume that Hillary Clinton’s policies are the same as, or at least largely similar to, President Obama’s policies, there’s a little problem: Neither Hillary Clinton nor President Obama were on any ballots. Moreover, to the extent that actual policy questions were literally on the ballot on Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly preferred the more progressive position. Even in states that elected Republicans, voters approved ballot measures that raised the minimum wage and guaranteed paid sick leave and rejected measures that would have restricted reproductive choice.
Nonetheless, the GOP thinks they can parlay their low-turnout 2014 victory into a 2016 win:

After A Historic Rebuke In Yesterday’s Midterms, The Obama-Clinton Policies Will Be On The Ballot Again In 2016

Perhaps, but Republicans had better hope not, because (a) when those policy questions were on the ballot on 2014, they passed and (b) when President Obama himself was on the ballot in 2008 and 2012, he won. The real story about 2016 is that in 2016, more people will vote than voted in 2014. And when more people vote, it’s not a good thing for the GOP. So yes, Hillary might be on the ballot. And so might policies that she supports. And both will win.

The electoral boom-bust cycle, and why parties have no incentive to change

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) waves to supporters with his wife, former United States Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, at his midterm election night rally in Louisville, Kentucky, November 4, 2014.  Television news networks are projecting that McConnell will win the election.  REUTERS/John Sommers II

Celebrate now, turtle man, because you’ll be crying in two years. But then you’ll celebrate two years after that. Then cry two years after …

In 2004, Republicans won big, and Democrats were left trying to figure out what went wrong.
Then in 2006, Democrats won big, and they decided everything was fine. Republicans merely shrugged it off as the 6-year-itch that bedevils parties that hold the White House in a president’s last midterm.

2008, Democrats won big again, and Republicans were left fumbling for excuses, but mainly decided it was Bush’s fault and an artifact of Barack Obama’s historic campaign.

In 2010, Republicans won big, so they were validated. All was fine! Democrats were left fumbling.

In 2012, Democrats won big, so they decided everything was fine. Demographics and data to the rescue! Republicans decided to rebrand, until they decided fuck that, no rebranding was needed.

And now in 2014, Republicans are validated again in the Democrats’ own 6-year-itch election. Democrats are scrambling for answers.  

And I’ll tell you what the future looks like:

In 2016, Democrats will win big on the strength of presidential-year turnout. Republicans will realize they really have a shit time winning presidential elections, and maybe they should do something about that!

In 2018, Republicans will win on the strength of off-year Democratic base apathy, and they’ll decide everything is okay after all. And it’s going to be brutal, because those are the governorships we need for 2020 redistricting. Republicans will then lock up the House for another decade.

Then in 2020, Democrats will win on presidential year turnout, and  … you get the point.

So in short, we have two separate Americas voting every two years. We have one that is more representative, that includes about 60 percent of voting age adults. Then we have one where we can barely get a third of voting age adults to turn out, and is much whiter and older than the country. And Democrats can win easily with the one, and Republicans can win easily with the other.

And that cycle won’t be broken until 1) the Democrats figure out how to inspire their voters to the polls on off years, or 2) Republicans figure out how to appeal to the nation’s changing electorate.

And given that each party is validated every two years after a blowout loss, the odds of either happening anytime soon? Bleak.

Will Medicaid expansion’s success in Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia save it?

WASHINGTON, DC - OCT 22, 2009: Health-care reform advocates march in the streets outside of a meeting of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry trade group.

Two of the states with the greatest success under Obamacare are Arkansas and Kentucky. They are also two of the three states—including West Virginia—that voted in Republican governors or legislative majorities on Tuesday. So here’s the $30,000 question: which of them is likeliest to follow through on promises made during the campaign to repudiate Obamacare and nix the Medicaid?
The least likely, it seems, is Kentucky. That’s where even Mitch McConnell had to acknowledge that the state’s version of it, called Kynect, is popular. While his contortions on the issue were total bullshit, they reflected one reality and that’s that Kentucky likes the program (as long as it’s not called “Obamacare”). Even in Tuesday’s exit polls, 50 percent of voters gave Kynect the thumbs up, while just 37 percent said it isn’t working. Kentucky also retained a Democratic majority in the state House. For now, the expansion seems safe there, even though the state just re-elected the senator who ran on repealing it. No one can accuse the Kentucky electorate of being rational.

West Virginia, too, seems to be putting Medicaid repeal on the back burner. Probably soon-to-be Republican state House Speaker Tim Armstead doesn’t include Medicaid in this list of priorities which include “education reform, legal reform, infrastructure and tax and budget issues.” Of course, it could sneak in on that “budget issues” line, but since for now the federal government is picking up 100 percent of the tab, it would be a hard case to make. Particularly since more than 150,000 West Virginians are now insured because of it.

But Arkansas, oh Arkansas. That’s going to be a problem. A lot is going to depend on Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson and whether he can wrangle the GOP legislature. The state’s private option Medicaid expansion passed largely thanks to a split among Republicans—hardcore tea party types versus actual moderates. The hardcore tea party types gained in numbers Tuesday. The problem is how Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe managed to get the expansion passed in the first place—by making it partially privatized and by agreeing to a reauthorization for it in 2015. Compounding that reauthorization vote is the state’s constitution, which requires a whopping 75 percent majority vote—in both chambers—for appropriations, which this falls under.

That all puts Hutchinson very much in the hot seat. Because he’s the number one ass on the line in 2018 if more than 200,000 people in the state lose their insurance, and if the states’ hospitals lose all the benefits of the expansion and don’t have to provide uncompensated care. It makes his job about as difficult as Mitch McConnell’s will be, but even more fraught in many ways, because it’s pretty much all on him. And it’s going to be a very, very uphill battle, one that’s probably not going to end well for the people of Arkansas. That makes Arkansas sort of the bleeding edge for this Obamacare repeal experiment, and well worth watching closely next year.

Bright side? There’s always another election in two years.

Right-wing chatter machine furious Obama failed to offer resignation after midterm election

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks in the Oval Office following their lunch, Nov. 29, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)..This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication b

Apparently, Pres. Obama should have offered the keys to Mitt Romney after Tuesday’s election

Based on the response to President Obama’s post-election press conference by the right-wing chatter machine, it appears conservatives think that their victories in Tuesday’s low-turnout midterm elections means that President Obama should step aside and hand the White House keys over to Mitt Romney. For example:

Fox News host Sean Hannity asserted that Obama was demonstrating “breathtaking arrogance” during his press conference.

Breathtaking arrogance? Come on, Hannity. It’s been six years. You need better code words than that. Other Fox personalities were equally irate, but used different language, such as:

President Obama just doesn’t give a damn about last night’s election, he’s making that very clear.


Dear American voters, President Obama just gave you the middle finger.

Okay, both of those folks are more creative than Sean Hannity (at least relatively speaking), but they are equally wrong. The reality is that President Obama won the past two elections with a greater percentage of the vote than the winner received in 9 of the previous 15 presidential elections. I know these guys think the fact that Mitch McConnell won reelection by double digits in a red state means Obama should step aside, but the point the president was making yesterday was that he was elected too, by the entire country, and the mere fact that the GOP prevailed in a midterm election doesn’t change that.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with president reminding Republicans, the media, and the country of that fact, because while Republicans had a good election day on Tuesday, that doesn’t make the votes that were cast in 2008 or 2012 irrelevant. President Obama is still the president and if Republicans want to put Mitt Romney in the Oval Office, they’re going to have to wait until November, 2016.

So, McConnell, you won. Obamacare repeal is now all yours.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives to speak to the media about healthcare on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Mitch McConnell swore all through this campaign season that he wanted to repeal Obamacare, “root and branch.” Pretty much everyone, except the tea party base McConnell was relying on to get out and vote for him, have known since the Supreme Court upheld the law in June, 2012 that this was not a realistic goal. Not once people actually started getting their health insurance through it. So the plan they’ll have to settle on is to nibble away at it piece by piece through the reconciliation process. Here’s what that probably means, according to the discussions Jonathon Cohn has had with experts and lobbyists: going after the things that are arcane or not terribly popular; the mandates; the medical device tax; the advisory board; and risk corridors.
As far as the individual mandate goes, that’s an absolute non-starter. See this, the president in Wednesday’s post-election press conference.

Obama: “The individual mandate is a line I can’t cross.”

It should also be a non-starter for the insurance industry, which benefits tremendously from the captive market they now claim. Bottom line though, is that it would be difficult to hold the law together without it, it will be vetoed, and there aren’t enough Republicans to override that veto.

For the rest of their options for repeal, head below the fold.

President Obama holds post-midterm press conference, #3

First thread and embedded video here.

12:41 PM PT: On Ed Henry’s stupid question about why won’t Obama admit that has to change direction, Obama starts to answer…and is interrupted by Henry, who clearly wants to create a Fox moment. Obama gives him the “Sit down and shut up” smile and hand wave, and says that he has made changes throughout his presidency, and that saying what specifically needs to change now would be premature without Republicans stating specifically what they want the president to do, and what they are willing to do. Excellent answer, I think—he’s shifting the burden over to GOP. No question it sucks to not have a Democratic Senate, but the one silver-lining for him is that he can’t be expected to control what the Senate does.

12:44 PM PT: Sam Stein asks about Obamacare and who Obama will nominate to replace Eric Holder. Shorter answer on AG question: “We will announce in due course.” On Obamacare: “There are certainly some lines I’m going to draw. Repeal of the law I won’t sign. Efforts that will take away health care from the 10 million people who now have it and from millions more who are eligible, we’re not going to sign it.” Also says he won’t support anything that undermines the “essential structure” of Obamacare. But if Republicans want to make “responsible changes to the Affordable Care Act, to make it work better, I’m going to be very receptive to those ideas.” He won’t, however, undermine it.

12:45 PM PT: “Health care inflation has gone down every single year since the law passed,” boasts the president–as he should.

12:46 PM PT: “The individual mandate is a line I can’t cross,” says Obama, reminding journalists that it comes from Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney signed it into law.

12:48 PM PT: Obama also reminds people that open enrollment for Obamacare is right around the corner—says that they are making sure that the website will work “super well.” “The law is working. That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”

12:51 PM PT: Major Garrett asks about Mitch McConnell’s comment that Republicans would perceive Obama executive action on immigration as “waving a red flag in front of a bull.” Obama notes that the Republicans saying that sort of thing are generally against immigration reform of any sort. But he also says that he’s held off for as long as possible on taking action to give Boehner a chance to get things done. But the days of him waiting are over. And when does take action, those actions “will not prevent” them from passing a law. Simply put: He’s calling the GOP’s immigration bluff.

12:56 PM PT: Garrett asked about Keystone XL: “There’s an independent process, it’s moving forward, I’m going to let it play out.” Says “on net” it can’t increase climate change for him to support it. Also reminds people that Keystone XL would import oil from Canada instead of producing it domestically. Garrett also asked about medical device tax. Obama doesn’t say it’s a redline (obviouslyit’s not) but also won’t say that he’d support it—basically says he wants McConnell and Boehner to tell him.  On overseas tax holiday, Obama says he wants to talk about tax reform more broadly to achieve infrastructure investments.

1:00 PM PT: Jim Acosta, of CNN, who said before the press conference that he wanted to assess Obama’s “physical” state, says it’s a fact that Democratic candidates “rejected” Obama, and wonders what he thinks about it. Unfortunately, Obama can’t say what I’d like to hear, which is that a lot of the candidates who rejected him were the candidates who lost. Acosta also asks Obama about being a lame duck. Obama says he’s going to spend the next two years doing everything he can to make this country a better place. “I’m going to be pretty busy for the next two years,” and “Everybody I’m going to filling up my time thinking about how I can make their lives better.”

1:12 PM PT: Final question is about Democratic messaging. Obama says the party is still trying to do a better job of expressing who Democrats are and what they stand for. He talks about the two-thirds of people who didn’t vote and how important it is to break through to them.

Obama wraps up: “I’ll close with what I began with: I’m really optimistic about America.” Ticks off a litany of strengths that America has, but says he’s concerned about stagnant income growth for middle-class Americans. Ends by saying “This is just an extraordinary country” and that America is “the greatest” country on Earth. Surely, this will outrage Republicans—for his failure to describe America as “exceptional.” I kid, I kid…mostly.

President Obama holds post-midterm press conference, #2

First thread and embedded video here.

12:14 PM PT: Next question half-begs Obama to use the word “shellacking” again, and then turns to immigration executive order. Obama says “there’s no doubt Republicans had a good night,” making reporters who wanted a “shellacking” soundbite very, very sad.

12:17 PM PT: “In terms of immigration, I have consistently said that it is my profound interest and preference to have Congress act on a comprehensive immigration bill.” Talks about Senate bill as being a good bill to demonstrate what he’d like to see Congress do. However, he says, Boehner told him he couldn’t get it through the House—even though Boehner, Obama says, wanted to pass it. As a result, Obama says he told Boehner that in the absence of Congressional action, he would take executive action to do as much as he can to deal with the immigration problem. “That’s a commitment I made to John Boehner, that I would act in the absence of action, so before the end of the year I will take whatever lawful actions” are possible.

12:18 PM PT: The president says he still hopes Congress will get a bill done, one that would supplant his executive actions. “But what I’m not going to do is just wait,” he says. “I think it’s fair to say I’ve shown a lot of patience.”

12:18 PM PT: Obama says he won’t offer details about the actions that he will take until he unveils them.

12:21 PM PT: Asked about why Republicans had a good night, Obama wisely passes on the opportunity to become a political pundit and says it’s the job of the pundit corps to do that sort of analysis. It’s his job to be a good president, he says, and he reminds people that the country is better off today than it was when he took office. Good stuff here.

12:23 PM PT: On the question of whether taking executive action will make it harder for Congress to pass immigration reform, Obama says simply and correctly: If people in Congress are worried about passing a bill, the best way to get a bill done is to go ahead and “pass a bill.” And that bill they pass can supplant any executive actions he takes, rendering them moot. He says he’s been plenty patient, and the argument that he could poison the well rings hollow. In short: If Congress wants to take action, it should take action.

12:25 PM PT: I suspect some GOP heads will assplodin’ in the wake of this press conference, not because Obama has been churlish or rude, but simply because he had the audacity to stride up to the podium without first offering his resignation.

12:29 PM PT: A question about the prospects for a nuclear deal with Iran, whether Congress would need to approve such a deal, and his approach to the AUMF against ISIL. On the AUMF he says he’s having the CENTCOM Commander make a presentation to congressional leaders on what he needs. He says  the goal is to update existing AUMFs to be focused on the current situation rather than staying focused on Iraq/Afghanistan and being stuck in 2001.

12:33 PM PT: On Iran: “They’ve come to the table and they’ve negotiated seriously” as a result of “crippling sanctions.” Obama says there has been progress, and whether a final deal can be accomplished will become clear in the next few weeks. It’s “an open question” he says. The reporter follows up on whether or not Obama needs congressional approval to implement any deal. His answer: “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.” He says if he gets a deal that will avoid a nuclear Iran, then that will be the time to go to Congress. He also says: “I’d rather have no deal than a bad deal.”

12:36 PM PT: Ed Henry of Fox asks Obama why he won’t “admit you need to take a dramatic change of course” in the last two years of his presidency, and then asks why aren’t we beating ISIL yet. Somehow, Obama avoids laughing in Henry’s face, though I do think I detected a slight chuckle before proceeding to address it with a lengthy discussion of the nature of groups in Syria. I suspect he’s trying to make Henry regret having asked the question.

12:38 PM PT (Barbara Morrill): New thread here.