On the Fiscal Cliff, Republicans Got Nothin’

Daniel Gross, writing for The Daily Beast:

The reality should be seeping in to viewers of the Sunday shows that the Republicans don’t have a game plan. They don’t have a single, specific proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff. And even if they had one, they don’t have a roadmap to get there. They keep expecting Obama to come back with something more to their liking, which they’d also reject. Many Republicans literally don’t understand what is happening. Sen. Charles Grassley tweeted over the weekend that he was frustrated that President Obama hadn’t embraced the recommendation of the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Apparently, he is one of the many people in Washington who doesn’t understand that Bowles-Simpson recommended letting the Bush tax rates on the wealthy expire, while also proposing to cap or eliminate deductions primarily enjoyed by the wealthy. Above all, the Republicans have yet to grasp that the field is tilted against them. Republicans have every reason to expect, based on their scouting of past Obama performances, that he will start moving toward them and then, essentially, bargain with himself. But now he doesn’t have to. Right now, the policy choice isn’t between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and a preferred Republican proposal. No, the choice is between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and the fiscal cliff, which Republicans would like even less and the Democrats could live with for a while. The Republicans are losing, and time is running out. But instead of putting the quarterback on the field and rolling out an aggressive two-minute drill, they seem to be preparing to punt. I really get the sense that our team is winning this fight. Perhaps the first four years of the Obama administration were him building up his list of 'been there done that' situations that he can now look back on to make the right political situations this next go-round. The next four years of the Obama administration might be like the last four of the Clinton one (in terms of the economy I hope, not the scandals).

My Problem With Polls That Say Congress Has 9% Approval

Congress is not a person. The country, as a whole, does not vote for a person by the name of "Congress". My parents vote for their congressman in southern Virginia. My wife and I vote for our congressman in Alexandria, VA. I think, mostly, that my congressman has done an okay job. Given that I will be faced between the choice of him and a Republican, I will vote for him again. My parents dislike their congressman (because he's a Republican) and will vote against him. He will probably be reelected, though, because most other people in their district vote Republican. My point is that these polls are asking the wrong question. Most people like their own Congressional Representative (that's how he/she got elected) but dislike everyone else's. Unfortunately, I don't get to vote for or against any other Congressional Rep other than my own. These shallow headlines that proclaim, "HEY LOOK HOW MUCH PEOPLE HATE CONGRESS" also don't clarify that those poll numbers are likely to have zero major impact on the next Congressional election. Instead, the issues that directly (whether real or perceived) affected each district will be what the voters use to base their votes on. When you see headlines that proclaim how low Congress's approval rating has dropped, stop to ask yourself if you think your own representative is likely to get re-elected or not. I'm willing to bet that for the most of you, they will.