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Scheherazade On December - 28 - 2009

The outcome of the 2010 midterms will be a referendum on the current health care reform legislation. The economy is showing signs of making a solid comeback, and so both the GOP and the Democrats are looking to make health care reform the issue of the 2010 elections. However, if the Democrats don’t actually start moving towards an offensive positioning in the coming year the consequences will be serious.

The Democrats control the House, the Senate and the White House for the first time in years. On the face of it you’d think that should be enough to push a more liberal and progressive agenda through, but sadly there is a price to be paid for being a party that doesn’t walk in lockstep in the way the GOP is expected. The new year will soon be upon us, and the Party of “No” is ready to reclaim Congress. In the midterm that followed Clinton’s presidential victory there was a Republican Revolution that had effects that lasted well into Bush’s second term. Could we be facing a rerun of 1994?

Before we can accurately speculate let’s examine what things were like at that time as opposed to the present. As Anthony Salvanto puts it:

There are important differences from 1993-94, probably in the Democrats’ favor this time, including:

• The Democrats majority is spread-out around the country: it doesn’t overly depend on a sole region, so it’s harder to [sic] for it to fall prey to a regional trend.

• There is, so far, no wide-scale wave of retirements of Democrats leaving behind “open” seats, which are always tougher to defend. There were a lot in 1994.

• There’s no recent redistricting of boundaries to throw wild-cards into the mix, and the gains that Democrats have since made among key groups of the electorate (such as independents and upper-income voters) haven’t yet been reversed at the ballot box.

But there are some historical trends that could suggest Democratic loses – though not necessarily a loss of the majority – in 2010:

• Democrats have a winning streak going, coming off especially two favorable years in ’06 and ’08 – and such streaks are historically is [sic] tough to sustain, especially for a sitting president’s party. In general, a president’s party historically loses seats (though not necessarily its majority) in mid-term elections.

• Democrats hold not just a majority but a large majority of seats — and such sizeable advantages are historically is [sic] hard to hold; things tend to swing back closer to parity.

• The Democrats have plenty of freshman (typically, the most vulnerable type of member) sitting in GOP-leaning districts.

Ultimately trends won’t mean nearly as much as the general mood of the country, or to put it another way, the President’s approval rating might just give us a hint about how the public is feeling regarding the overall mood in our nation. According to Alan Abramowitz on the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics website:

Under what might be considered a worst case scenario for Democrats, if President Obama’s approval rating sinks into the low 40s next year, which would produce a net approval rating of around -10, and Republicans take a 5 point lead on the generic ballot, the GOP would still be expected to gain only 4 seats in the Senate. However, such a scenario would put Republicans in position to come very close to regaining control of the House with an expected pickup of 41 seats. On the other hand, if the President’s approval rating rebounds into the mid 60s, producing a net approval rating of around +30, and Democrats have a 10 point lead on the generic ballot, the GOP would be expected to lose one seat in the Senate and gain only 15 seats in the House. Based on the latest results (as of August 24) for the President’s net approval rating in the Gallup Poll (+16 percent) and the Democratic lead or deficit on the generic ballot (+6 percent), the predictions would be a Republican pickup of 1 seat in the Senate and 23 seats in the House.

Previously it seemed the economy would be the primary focus in 2010, things indicate that we are bouncing back, but we’re not out of the woods yet. The common consensus is that the recession is “very likely” at its end; that much is a positive. Something to bear in mind is that Keynesian economics has worked every time it’s been applied. Deficit spending isn’t a huge worry just yet. About the time the Democrats start to focus on a get-out-the-vote strategy consumer confidence and jobless claims are likely to be much improved.

The weakness that Democrats have is the current unpopularity of the health care reform bill. The message has not been controlled, nor have the Democrats framed the debate. Indeed the teabaggers have been the problem everyone expected they would be. Measures were taken in anticipation of this, but they were not enough and have remained largely ineffective in the eyes of the general public while teabaggers have captured the attention of the mainstream media.

If the legislation had been passed before the August recess things might not have become the fiasco they are now. This has become the jumping-off point for the GOP’s efforts in the coming year.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has already started to offer a new talking point for the right wing by saying there were “special deals” in order to pass this legislation, and he also said that the legislation needs to be “repealed” despite not having been passed into law as yet. Knowing Gingrich’s inclination to use language as a means of recharacterizing issues it’s easy to see how this could become a meme if repeated often enough. In fact the echo chamber is already geared up to repeat this idea ad nauseam.

There are already comparisons of the House and Senate bills as well as explanations of the legislation. In order to prevent the momentum from shifting rightwards the positive aspects of H.R. 3590 and Manger’s Amendment must be emphasized. The DNC has already gone to noticeable lengths to cast a light of revelation upon the Republican lies, but it will take more than that to actually make a difference. The Democrats must clearly state what health care reform does do for America rather than what it doesn’t do.

Note: The full Investigative Reports episode dealing with the Republican Revolution can be seen here.

51 Responses so far.

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  1. Khirad says:

    How did this fly under my radar? Lot’s of work put into this. An astute and honest analysis. Massive kudos, Shahr!

  2. javaz says:

    The hypocrisy of the religious reich henchmen continues --

    Rove granted SECOND divorce --
    Mr. Moral Majority-bible-thumpin’-traditional-marriage-lovin’-CON


  3. javaz says:

    It’s natural that the Dems would lose some seats, but I’m not overly concerned about the Republicans taking over just yet.
    The GOP is in such disarray with the teabaggers, religious reich, and centrists, and conservatives.
    They are fighting amongst themselves in a few districts with the Tea Party running candidates against Republicans.
    The extremes in the GOP are attacking other Republicans for not being conservative enough, or religious enough, or insane enough.
    And this thing with Newt -- wasn’t he forced to step down for corruption?
    I so dread the upcoming 2010 elections with the campaigning already starting.
    The entire campaigning goes on far too long and is such a waste of money, imho.

    • bitohistory says:

      Why is that fact that Newtie had to pay the largest fine ever in the house on ethics violations? Then it was questionable about who and how he borrowed the money to pay the fine. Let’s have Newt on MTP--He is always ….

  4. abby4ever says:

    One thing Gingrich does understand is the power of language. Of using just the right word at just the right time in just the right context.

    • Marion says:

      You got that in one. Also, I wouldn’t put it past Newt making a stand for the big one in 2012. Seriously.

      • Tiger99 says:

        He has already hinted to running in 2012 which only shows how fractured the GOP really is on the National Level… I suspect the Party Leadership is scouring every nook and cranny of the US to find someone they feel is the Anti-Obama… A young good looking well spoken charismatic speaker to make a bid for the White House in 2012…

  5. SueInCa says:

    Not with the most recent “stupid” statements. Orin Hatch on the Medicare D bill he signed on to for Bush………..”six years ago it was standard practice not to pay for things” WTF?


    • nellie says:

      This recent airline incident isn’t going to help them either — seeing as DeMInt has been holding up confirmation of the TSA head.

      • SueInCa says:

        And Hoesktra(sp) took the opportunity to send out a campaign letter asking for money promising no terrorist would get in to Michigan if he is gov.

  6. KQuark says:

    I agree with Paul Krugman’s take on this issue.

    Consider Massachusetts. As I

  7. KQuark says:

    Dems will lose some seats but it will not be because of the healthcare bill. Dems will lose the most seats if the unemployment rate does does not get better. Let Republicans play the healthcare reform bill card because most people know most of these reforms are necessary. The Democrats need to frame the debate as a populist issue where the GOP is on the side of corporations controlling access to the healthcare system.

    • Scheherazade says:

      You may be right. My feeling is that the economy will be in much better shape six months from now, and people will be going back to work. If that does happen then the economy isn’t a solid issue for the Republicans. Thus, they will default to HCR, and that’s what concerns me most because of the way the Republicans have been able to run wild with this issue.

      It’s my feeling that what can be done for the economy before the 2010 midterms has been. There may actually be more that should be done, but I expect it would have little, if any, effect upon the economy in 2010. So, it seems that no matter what happens the HCR issue is going to be make or break for Congress next year.

      In my view the subject of health care reform needs to be emphasized as the strength it should be rather than something that can be used against the Dems next year.

  8. Tiger99 says:

    I refer to the summer recess as the “August Massacre” and I still wonder with dismay on how unprepared the Democratic Party and the White House were for what what happened… Allowing the debate to be completely taken away and controlled and unable to respond effectively for weeks exposed a weakness that will most assuredly be taken advantage of in the coming 2010 elections…
    Are you prepared?
    1. At last count there may be as many as 10- 20 States Attorney Generals preparing to challenge the Bribe paid to Nelson to secure his vote on 10th amendment grounds, and the number will continue to grow and this movement will continue to gain momentum… How is your candidate or State Party going to defend this Bribe and or their vote “yea” on a Bill that contained this Bribe?

    2. As the polls showed a majority supported the “Public Option” they also showed an even larger majority were against any type of Mandates… Now we have Mandates with threats of penalties and jail time with no “Public Option”… Are you, your candidate and your States Party leadership prepared to publicly defend putting citizens in jail for not complying to forced mandates to do business with Private Entities that were the “Devil Incarnate” during the 2008 elections?

    3. The Immigration/Amnesty Issue… 12 million illegal immigrants granted amnesty in one fell swoop in the middle of a recession and with some areas with unemployment as high as 50%… This is another issue that the majority of Citizens are against and quite vocal about… If it passes it will this be another Democratic Party Badge of Honor like the Mandates?

    I ask these questions and point out these issues because this is what we as Democrats had better be prepared for and prepared to defend in the coming elections… The American people are about to be bombarded with these messages and at the “Town Halls” this is what will be the main topics… It’s coming and it may be impossible to defend this time around, cause I guarantee
    “Baby Steps” is going to come off as insulting and demeaning when it comes to Mandates, “Thats the way business is done” is not going to be acceptable when it comes to the “Nebraska Bribe” and Amnesty granted on the scale of 12 million people who are in this country illegaly will only be seen as contempt for the working/middle class by elitists…
    We may survive 2010 but without being prepared for what is actually going to be the main issues in the “Town Halls” and MSM we may see more massacres than expected…

    • KevenSeven says:

      I agree about the Aug break.

      Why do Dems seem never to anticipate just how dishonest the thugs are prepared to be?

      • Tiger99 says:

        Some people never learn… Aug 2009 was textbook Karl Rove tactics leaving the Dems looking for responses to accusations instead of controlling the message…

        My post is about the many different messages that may be out there in 2010 and I hope the Dem Party is prepared ahead of time instead of looking sheepish in attempting to respond…

        This time around there will be a voting record they will have to defend and other issues they may not have been vocal about not just to the opposition but to people in the Party..

    • KQuark says:

      Universal healthcare without mandates is an oxymoron. I don’t like the mandates as much without the public option but the whole moral imperative for covering the uninsured is hypocrisy if people don’t want to contribute their fair share to pool the risk.

      • Tiger99 says:

        If private insurers are the problem that we all believe that they are, what is moral or imperative about forcing Americans to do business with them by threat of fines and jail?
        I personally feel that that is more oppressive than progressive…
        Progress would be making sure the industry was “reformed” and operating properly under those reforms before forcing mandates…

        • nellie says:

          This is the platform on which we build. If you look at all social reform legislation — like Medicare, like Social Security — they never start out as the optimum plan. It takes years of work and reform to achieve that vision.

          But we must START. If we don’t start the race, we never reach the finish line.

        • KQuark says:

          It’s about the number of lives being saved. More lives will be saved if more people have healthcare insurance. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Singapore all have private based mandated systems that work well and they have better healthcare than we have.

          You are not taking into account that government is putting demands on private insurance to end their most atrocious practices and forcing them to spend a set amount of premiums on claims.

          All taking away the mandates would do is make any cost containment impossible because only people who want or need insurance will buy it at a much higher price and the rest of the people will game the system.

          I’ve said a few times that people who cannot afford insurance should not be forced to buy it. But people that can should.

          • Marion says:

            You are right. Many European countries offer universal healthcare in just the way this bill proposes. In fact, I’d go as far to say that this bill is the beginning of the ‘Europeanisation’ of the health insurance industry. In those countries, health insurers are very heavily regulated under those countries’ anti-trust regulations. The run as non-profits as well. In short, they’re treated like public utilities; but on this side of the Atlantic, it’s a recipe for big government.

            • KQuark says:

              Exactly I always said the public option was a band-aid. Congress can just regulate a good healthcare system if they have the will. This bill starts regulating the abuses out of the system.

              I think it’s very important now to focus efforts on a non-profit choice for like the Federal Employees plan has.

          • Tiger99 says:

            I believe in choice and these mandates offer none…

            Best estimates are 45,000 people die a year without health insurance…

            90,000 die with health insurance in hospital’s from a medical error or a lethal infection contracted in hospital…

            There has to be a better way than mandates to provide the people who need health care to survive…

            • KQuark says:

              I just don’t see where the two are related.

              The first reason for the deaths is the fact that not enough people have access to our healthcare system.

              The second reason for the deaths are errors within that system.

              Why not fix both?

            • Tiger99 says:

              As I said I support freedom of choice not mandates and since you have sited “Singapore” I don’t believe that there is any rational rebuttal that you would agree too…

    • PepeLepew says:

      Yup. Democrats always seem to be caught off guard. I honestly think it’s because, for all their flaws and faults, Democrats simply aren’t as devious as Republicans and so always seem to be playing defence.

  9. Emerald1943 says:

    Just an observation…why is it that the Democrats cannot seem to control the message?? We have control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, but we have NO control over the message that goes out. I’m not sure if this is simple timidity on the part of the Dems, or whether they just expect people to buy what they are selling without comment, or if there is someone completely incompetent to handle the responsibility to get the word out.

    During the heat of the summer, the Republicans raced for every open microphone, posing in front of every camera, and pontificating about how terrible the health care reform bill was. All the American people heard was the negative rhetoric, lies and distortions. Granted, the media in this country is largely controlled by the right wingers. But it seems to me that the Democrats could do a better job of getting their points out there…stronger as well as earlier! It should not be only President Obama’s job to get out in front of the stories. Harry Reid and others can certainly take up the slack!

    I’m just sayin’….

    • nellie says:

      Because corporations control the media. And the Democratic message is not good for corporate profits.

    • boomer1949 says:

      Because the Democrats try to play nice, not run with scissors, and use the “do unto others” philosophy.

      The Republicans have been in the gutter for so long, they really don’t give a flyin’ fig. They use the “we’re already dirty” philosophy and a little more mud doesn’t bother them.

    • Hopeington says:

      I think the problem is that Repubs only have one message, while Dems are a more diverse group and that leads to the “in fighting” and is perceived as lack of unity. That also leads to the message not being as focused as the right wing can do.
      With all the independent thinking going on, I don’t see how they are going to pull off getting the message across, unless they can adopt this strategy, and come together as one. I’m not that hopeful. It has been one of my biggest frustrations that they couldn’t get out in front of the propaganda.
      I also think that no one was prepared for the tactics that emerged since Obama’s election. They have been OVER the top and non stop. I’ve never seen anything like this, so how could anyone anticipate it.

  10. SueInCa says:

    Here is Boxers sign up page. I will be doing whatever I can here in Northern CA to help her.


  11. nellie says:

    When it comes to the health care bill, it’s important to distinguish between people who are dissatisfied because the reform does too much and those who are dissatisfied because it does too little. The latter group can be energized if dems in congress start immediately to introduce legislation that addresses reforms the current bill leaves out.

    Progressives have a real chance this year to build an argument for throwing even more Republicans out of office — if they will pick up that banner and run with it. The GOP has given us a remarkable record of obstruction to campaign on. And there is popular legislation coming up that will face the same obstruction — renewable energy, financial industry reform, education. We should also start talking about campaign finance reform and connect it to the health care legislation shenanigans.

    This is an opportunity. But if the progressive movement doesn’t get itself together and refocus, it will be an opportunity lost.

    We need to look at what seats are vulnerable and shore up those candidates by talking about their voting records and how it helps their constituents. We need to look for vulnerable seats on the GOP side and talk about obstruction. And the time to start that work is now.

    Looking at the progressive community, however, I have to wonder, who’s going to take up the challenge?

    • Scheherazade says:

      I think it

      • nellie says:

        It’s not a criticism. 😉

        It’s my musing on strategy. I think we have some opportunities this year, if we will take advantage of them.

        I was going to include this article in the Un(der)reported News edition this week, but I thnk I”ll post it here:

        If GOP wins big in 2010, credit California’s Rep. McCarthy

        Republicans may be in denial, but it only makes them work harder. They have convinced themselves that 2010 is going to be a turnover year. If THEY can be upbeat with the GOP situation the way it is, we certainly should feel positive about aggressively pursuing an increase in Dem majorities.

  12. Hopeington says:

    I am already planning my “get off your ass and vote” strategy.
    I intend to use my son’s big blow out parties he does for all the tweekers who aren’t really connected to how the government is effecting and controlling their lives.
    I’ve heard the complaining over at HP, from SO CALLED progressives, saying they’re not going to vote. Part of me thinks that those posters are people paid to stir up dissent because I can’t believe progressives don’t understand the danger in not voting.
    However I won’t take any chances.
    My Sen is Barbara Boxer and my Reps in Congress are Sam Farr and Eshoo. We have a tea party candidate that is going to run against Boxer and I need to be sure that she doesn’t win. While there are pockets of liberal voters in CA, it is largely a Republican state of mind here.
    I’m preparing to be
    Fired Up…Ready To Go

    • SueInCa says:

      Boxer is my senator as well. Whatever I can do to help you, let me know. Fiorina is a joke and her terrible management at HP will be an issue for her to overcome. Her claim of bringing jobs will be undercut by her outsourcing at HP.

      • Hopeington says:

        I’ll be calling on ya. I’m located in Santa Cruz County, but my son does work all over the place. His posse is the Burning Man people,.
        They are the young folks I’m going to focus on, mainly because he can get a large group together and I can take advantage of that.
        Plus I am the accepted Mom of this group, lots of them call me Mom. They all respect me and will listen to me and engage in political conversations. I can get them to vote, if only to make me happy!!!
        I figure, if this is my position in life, I’m going to shamelessly use it to my own advantage.
        If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.

      • nellie says:

        Definitely, Sue. I’m also in CA, and Boxer is one of our state treasures.

        B Box Rocks! And Fiorina is going down.

      • Scheherazade says:

        Carly Fiorina… don’t even get me started…

        • SueInCa says:

          LOL, but I did get a 17″ flat screen monitor out of her office at HP. Told her I was going to send emails out to everyone on my email list as to how they tried to schlep off a used monitor on me when my original new one went out. I had a new monitor in two days by UPS LOL

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