Paul Hogarth: Proposition 25 was put on by labor unions and the Democratic Party, and political consultant Roger Salazar has been retained. Liberal bloggers and other progressives are skeptical, with some going so far as to claim it doesn’t make sense to get a majority for the budget – if raising taxes we need would still require a two-thirds vote.
Paul Hogarth: Democrats are not supposed to run primary candidates against incumbents because it is “divisive” – but it was time to hold Senators like Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln (who killed the public option) accountable. 2006 and 2008 were the years that voters picked “change,” and both Senators are the reason such change failed to get traction. Joe Sestak and Bill Halter faced huge odds taking on a Senator in their own Party who had the President’s support, but what they had was disenchanted Obama activists who wanted to see change happen.
Paul Hogarth: It’s natural for progressives to target conservative Democrats like Lincoln who are to blame, fielding primary challenges like they did to Joe Lieberman. But how the Party leadership berates, belittle, and insults these efforts will only make it worse – while a clear anti-incumbent mood is sweeping the nation that threatens to doom Blanche Lincoln anyway.
Paul Hogarth: But with no real competition among Democrats to replace Schwarzenegger, progressives have been nervous that Brown will not excite the base. This left much of the weekend’s drama on down-ballot races, where competitive primaries meant candidates for Lieutenant Governor and State Insurance Commissioner sought the Party’s endorsement going into June 8th. And while there’s much controversy around that process, it’s a good thing for Democrats.
Paul Hogarth: With Congress having finally passed health care reform, pundits are saying President Obama has gotten his “second wind” – and the conventional wisdom is being revisited. Could it be the 2010 midterms will be a good election for Democrats, and Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts was just their low point?
Paul Hogarth: President Obama has been justifiably slammed for not pushing hard enough for a public option, but the truth may be even worse than that. We know the White House cut a deal with hospitals and insurance companies last July on prescription drugs – but as a New York Times reporter said this week, they also killed the public option. And given the public option’s inexplicable fate, I have to believe the story.
Paul Hogarth: There’s no good reason why Democrats cannot win the California governorship this year. Barack Obama won the state with 61% of the vote, not a single Congressional district has a majority of registered Republicans left, and Arnold’s legacy as Governor will be driving the state to bankruptcy. In other words, the real fight should have been the Democratic primary – and as long as progressives turn out the base in November, the Republican will lose.
Paul Hogarth: Polling in key states where hot Senate seats are in play (Illinois, Colorado and Harry Reid’s own Nevada) shows the public option is still popular, and putting it back in the health care bill would improve things. Only 34% of Nevadans liked the Senate bill that passed in December, but 56% like the public option. The gap grows to 31 points in Illinois and 37 points in Minnesota, so why not use it?
Paul Hogarth: Evan Bayh and Harold Ford Jr. have a lot in common, and not because they’re both legacies who rode into public office on their family name. Both are anti-progressive Democrats who have built their political careers on making the Left feel small and weak – egged on by a corporate media that likes to call them “centrist.”
Paul Hogarth: The filibuster means that progressive legislation requires 72 Senate Democrats – but you only need 54 Republicans to ram through the most awful right-wing agenda. Why? Because “Democrats vote with Republicans significantly more often than Republicans vote with Democrats, making it much easier for Republicans to pass the kind of legislation they want.
Paul Hogarth: In the past year, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats have made major strides passing progressive legislation – only to see it die or lull in the Senate, with the President barely lifting a finger. Voters are getting restless, Obama’s approval ratings are down and Democrats are in trouble because they haven’t gotten much done. Now with the Senate acting like a House of Lords, it’s time for House Democrats to get a little respect – and give Obama a piece of their mind.
Paul Hogarth: many Blue Dogs are in trouble because of health care, and ironically what could save their hide is a public option. Instead, they are left selling a corporate-friendly bill hashed behind closed doors that forces Americans to buy private insurance – which will only make their constituents vote Republican. That’s why so many Blue Dogs are retiring – so they can bail and become lobbyists for the insurance industry.
Paul Hogarth: Now, the Democrats have managed to fumble Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat – losing to a right-wing Republican who once posed nude for Cosmopolitan. Evidence shows that Martha Coakley’s numbers went down after the Senate passed the health care bill. Shouldn’t the Party leaders listen to Howard Dean? At least, they owe him an apology.
Paul Hogarth: For years, civil rights groups had carefully kept the federal courts out of gay marriage fights – and the prominent lawyers in Perry filed the suit without consulting them. But with most of marriage’s legal benefits coming under federal law, it was only a matter of time before the federal courts weighed in on this issue.
Paul Hogarth: California desperately needs to abolish the two-thirds requirement to pass a state budget, and even an amendment that does not include taxes would be incremental progress. But unless labor unions start putting real money in this effort, and the Democratic Party makes it the priority it must be, it’s going to get lost in the shuffle – and we won’t have what it takes to run a winning campaign.
I don’t recall how or when single-payer was taken “off the table” – except that Senator Max Baucus said it was. Without single payer, progressives focused on the public option – which although a compromise, could have held insurance companies accountable. Everyone knew it was tough and compromise would happen, but we were supposed to be part of that decision.
But with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel bullying the Senate to cut a deal – any deal – just to save face, the pressure proved too much. Those who hoped Obama would use Rahm to strong-arm a liberal agenda were wrong. If the President really cares about “change,” he wouldn’t have his henchman dampen progressive spirits.
Republican Senator Abel Maldonado is an Olympia Snowe character. He is a so-called “moderate” who is willing to cut a deal on the budget, while the rest of his party would rather see the state fall off a cliff than raise any taxes whatsoever. But the deals that Maldonado has extorted in past years for his one vote are enough to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.
Any trace of the Jerry Brown who sounded like Dennis Kucinich when he ran for President is gone. At this weekend’s California Democratic Party E-Board meeting, Brown got into an argument with Party Chair John Burton about single-payer health care. Brown insisted single payer “will not happen” – even though the state legislature passed it twice, only to have Arnold Schwarzenegger veto it. The only thing stopping single payer in California from happening is a Republican Governor – yet the only Democratic candidate left in the race has insisted that it will not happen.