Thursday, September 6, 2012

Voice Vote and Bill Clinton

Some thoughts on DNC, Day 2:

1) Lately I have been thinking a little bit about what effect leaders have on altering the outcomes of the democratic process. In particular, how elected leaders may hamper the ability of voters to express control through voting (e.g. ballot box stuffing, corruption).

Yesterday at the DNC, the Obama administration instructed the platform committee to bring up an amendment to insert language mentioning God and stating Jerusalem is the capital of Israel back into the official platform after Democrats were getting flak for having removed those lines from 4 years ago. They needed 2/3 "ayes" to pass the amendment. Here is the video. I think the Chairman counted his vote as at least 1/6 of the total votes cast. The woman next to him clearly didn't think it passed (note she says the Chairman has to let the delegates do what they are going to do after the second attempt). 

2) Democrats are overwhelmingly focused on social and wedge issues -- not the economy. These speeches seem mostly to be talking points strung together designed to turn out the base in the fall. The exception was Bill Clinton's speech.

3) Speaking of Bill Clinton...
     a) Why so little mention of foreign policy? No Osama bin Laden is dead? I bet that will be a big theme tonight.
     b) Some of the lines that got applause from the speech designed to attack Republicans or Mitt Romney could have been used word for word by Republicans or Mitt Romney to attack Obama or the Democrats: 
What works in the real world is cooperation.
This could have come out of Mitt Romney's mouth (talking about being Governor of Massachusetts, his private sector experience, or running the Olympics) or Paul Ryan's (talking about how he drastically revised his budget proposal, in particular, Medicare, in order to bring more Democrats on board).
But are we better off than we were when he took office?. . . Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform?
Not by some measures, and we're certainly not where we should be relative to trend. 

For more commentary on this graph and the state of the economy, see Cochrane here and here.

This is really important -- and to add eight years to the life of the
Medicare trust fund so it is solvent until 2024.
This is really important -- Clinton is engaging Republicans on Medicare in the very way they are hoping for -- by admitting Medicare as written and as promised is unsustainable even in the medium term. What's Obama's plan? Have Medicare go into the red in 12 years while magically promising current level benefits forever. As Bill Clinton says later:
What new ideas did we bring to Washington?  I always give a one-word answer:  arithmetic.

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