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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

big day coming

Obama in Hilliard-3

Every four years we hear "this is the most important election of our life time," but this time it's true.  The reason it's true is Republicans have bet everything on this one.  They rejected compromise, thinking in 2013 they could have it all their way.  That bet is about to either pay off big-time, or blow up in their faces.

The three most obvious areas in which this is true are the budget, health care and the courts.  During the health care debates Republicans refused to compromise thinking they could kill the bill, and when it passed over their objections it became the first thing on their 'un-do list' for after re-taking power.  During the debt limit standoff/fiasco the Republicans rejected unprecedented concessions from Obama, instead choosing to craft a convoluted way of kicking the can down the road, figuring they'll write their own rules in 2013.  Finally, over Obama's first term Republicans have refused to confirm Obama's appointments to the courts (there are currently 84 vacancies), again banking on a win to allow them to pack in conservative ideologues.  And of course the Supreme Court could have 1-3 retirements over the next four years, with obvious implications for any number of issues.

But the other side of the coin is that if Dems win, our gains will also be dramatic.  Because of Repub intransigence HCR is a much more progressive piece of legislation that it would have been if they'd cooperated, and when it kicks in for real in 2014 the politics of that issue will change dramatically.  People are going to like it.   Likewise, because Repubs refused Obama's concessions the Bush tax cuts are still set to expire, and since Congress couldn't get their act together big cuts to the military are also on the table (btw, we currently spend more on the military than every other country in the world combined).  Dems will be negotiating out of great strength.  And there's serious talk about (finally) reforming the filibuster to end the petty logjams that have held up our judicial nominations, along with so much else.

If Obama wins tomorrow I think we will begin to see the kind of tangible progress we were hoping for in 2008... progress that was ultimately thwarted by the financial crisis.  Because the other good news is the economy if finally starting to pick up steam, and while if Romney wins he will claim and receive credit for our improved fortunes, if Obama wins the credit of course will go to him, and that will result in political capital he can 'spend' on other things.  Success breeds success.

However the election goes tomorrow (I'm optimistic, but trying not to jinx anything) the consequences will be profound, likely altering the fundamental trajectory of our country for decades to come.  While I'm glad so many Americans are taking this election seriously, I really don't think most people have any idea how much is riding on this one.

Virginia Field Offices-2

Jonathan Cohn offers some numbers worth keeping in mind:
Eight to ten million. That’s the number of people who would lose eligibility for food stamps under the Ryan budget, which Romney praised and pledged to sign. Keep in mind that, in the wake of welfare reform and the decline of cash assistance from the federal government, food stamps have become the primary source of support for low-income people. At least a quarter would be children. 
Two hundred thousand and 10 million. That’s the number of kids who’d lose Head Start and the number of college students who’d see Pell Grants decline by $1000, according to official administration estimates, under the Ryan budget that Romney effectively endorsed—unless Romney decided to spare those programs, forcing deeper cuts to other programs. 
Fifty-two million. That’s how many people could lose health insurance if Romney repeals Obamacare and enacts his plan for Medicaid. In case it’s not self-evident, that’s a lot of people—about one-sixth of the entire American population.

Eight-hundred billion. That's the ten-year cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for incomes over $250,000. It's a tax cut that benefits only the wealthy; offsetting the cost is a big reason why so many other cuts would have to take place.

E.J. Dionne's take is worth reading.

Chris Mathews had a nice commentary on the significance of tomorrow:

Here's a really nice election day guide for how to plan your day... well, except for where he says voting is "utterly not consequential to the election" (twice!).  Um, I disagree!  I actually felt kind of embarrassed for him when I read it.  Although he does say he voted for Gary Johnson (the libertarian candidate), so in his case he may be right. (ba-dum-bum)  But other than that turd-in-the-punchbowl, it's a nice post.

A very handy chart:

The NYT has something similar here.

Speaking of handy charts, your moment of Venn:

Nate Silver is currently giving Obama a 92.2% chance of winning... meanwhile Peggy Noonan is feeling the Mitt-mentum, suggesting the voters are 'quietly cooking up' a Romney win.  Somebody is very wrong!  Noonan asks,
Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us.
We shall see Peggy.  We shall see.  As they say, tomorrow is the only poll that counts.  Then again, arguing against polling isn't new:

Along those line, here's another good post on Nate Silver and his detractors.

Finally, it should go without saying that the right to vote is sacrosanct to democracy.  Many people have died to protect it.  That politicians are using their power to suppress voting for their party's benefit is despicable. 

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