Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Republicans Don't Care About Policy

Rachel Maddow has a good point here.

Republicans in the House and Senate voted unanimously against supporting the stimulus package that economists now agree has had a major positive impact on jobs and the economy. Then they have travelled around the country, with tedious frequency, touting the benefits of the stimulus funds in their own districts. Why?

Isn't it obvious? If they really thought those funds would be bad for their constituents, they wouldn't insist on taking credit for them.

Democrats have a majority, and it's time we started using it, because Republicans have no interest in doing the right thing.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Deep Thought: National Security Edition

1) The FBI has successfully detained and interrogated a would-be terrorist who is supplying useful information and will be tried and jailed for his crime. This used to be considered a GOOD thing.

2) Apparently, Susan Collins believes that something should have been done differently in this case, although it is unclear exactly what.

This is the post I would have written...

If I'd had the time...
The Obama administration has also spearheaded a little-noticed but rather dramatic reform of K-12 education through its Race to the Top programme. The way this worked was to create a substantial pool of funds to be given away as part of a competitive grant process to states that cut through interest-group demands and implemented evidence-based reforms. The result of this has been a tide of reform sweeping state legislatures all across the land, with restrictions on test-based assessment of teacher quality and arbitrary caps on charter schools falling by the wayside. What’s more, by pairing these reforms with the timely provision of stopgap funds that have allowed states to weather the recession without mass teacher layoffs, the administration has been able to secure union acquiescence in this reform agenda.

He’s also had a number of small-bore spending initiatives:

The administration has also put $19 billion into upgrading America’s health IT infrastructure, $70 billion into clean-energy programmes, $1 billion into better understanding which health treatments actually work and $7 billion to expand access to broadband internet.

And that was all in one law—the stimulus bill! Then there’s this other stuff:

[T]he administration has secured legal authority for the FDA to regulate tobacco, provided health insurance to millions of children, given victims of on-the-job-gender discrimination effective legal rights, confirmed a Supreme Court justice and vastly improved America’s image in the world. Mr Obama has also systematically reformed and reinvigorated America’s regulatory apparatus.

If this agenda had simply been spaced out as one small-to-medium sized achievement per month, and Obama had never attempted systematic reform of the health care system, then his administration would look like a stunning series of policy successes. And with his job approval rating at 51 percent you’d say he was doing fine politically as well. The fact that he accomplished most of the small-to-medium sized stuff in a single giant leap doesn’t mean it didn’t happen nor does the fact that his ambitious health reform drive may not work invalidate everything else that’s happened. In America, it’s hard to pass laws. If you’re passing some, and staying more popular than the other political party, then you’re doing pretty well. The greatest presidents, of course, exceed that standard. But “he’s not getting as much done as Lincoln” is a long way from “he’s a failure and needs to ditch the core of his team.”
Word. Eveyone has insanely high expectations for this man, and this historical moment. I do too. But we all need to take a step back and realise how far we've come from where we were a year ago.