We like this new President Barack Obama.David Brooks at The New York Times laughably believes the Republican party has gone through a 30 day detox:
Assured and direct, Obama is refusing to yield to Republicans on a core idea he ran — and won — on: increasing the tax rate for America’s top earners. [...] Reinvigorated after the vote, Obama is taking a new tack with the Republicans, who get credit for coming around to the notion that any deal will require new tax revenue. Instead of endless negotiations, Obama has drawn his line in the sand and is standing firm on tax rates for top earners. He’s doing the same with Republican attempts to gain leverage by potentially refusing to raise the government’s debt limit next year. Last time that happened, in 2011, Congress brought the U.S. to the brink of default.
After Obama was re-elected, we said our nation desperately needs a grand bargain, one that combines increased tax revenues with bold spending cuts. That is what Obama ran on, and he now has every right and obligation to fight to the end to get it.
Over the past month, the Republican Party has changed far more than I expected. First, the people at the ideological extremes of the party have begun to self-ghettoize. The Tea Party movement attracted many people who are drawn to black and white certainties and lock-step unity. People like that have a tendency to migrate from mainstream politics, which is inevitably messy and impure, to ever more marginal oases of purity. [...] Second, politics is being reborn. For a time, Republican candidates like Richard Mourdock of Indiana proudly declared that they didn’t believe in compromise. Political activists spent more time purging deviationists than in trying to attract new converts.Michael Tomasky at Newsweek injects reality back into the discussion:
But that mania has passed. There are increasing signs that House Republicans are willing to unite behind Speaker John Boehner so he can cut a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” There has been an epidemic of open-mindedness as Republicans try to win minority votes and create a version of their party that can be competitive in states like Connecticut and California.
So we saw Tuesday night the unveiling of the “new” Republican Party at the Jack Kemp Foundation dinner. The two young stars spoke, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio. Politico gave it a big write up, noting how many times Ryan mentioned the word “poverty” and how many times Rubio said “middle class.” One can see already that the media is going to hype these two and their supposed new thinking relentlessly. Is there anything to the hype? Of course not, and the reason is simple. Neither they nor the people they’re talking to are ready to accept that they’ve been wrong about anything except messaging, and until they are, this is just gaseous rhetoric. [...]It's hard to make the case for a new GOP when in the halls of Congress, the GOP is sticking to its radical theories and obstructionist tactics. The USA Today editorial board looks at the "disabled" Senate:
Republicans aren’t anywhere near to exposing themselves to the kind of self-examination and intra-party debate the Democrats undertook after Reagan’s second win. Despite upholstering their speeches with ample liberal rhetoric, and in Rubio’s case those aforementioned quasi-proposals, Rubio and Ryan both stuck hard to current-day GOP gospel. Raising tax rates isn’t an option. Relying on government isn’t the answer, and all the rest. When I read the Ryan remarks I quoted above, as I first started reading those words, I thought to myself, “Ah, might I encounter here an actual nugget of self-criticism?” It came. But it was only about messaging. The substance of their positions, to them, is fine and dandy.
This week, when the Senate rejected a United Nations treaty banning discrimination against the disabled, the vote received relatively little attention. And why would it? The United States already has laws that prevent such bias. They've made curb cuts and wheelchair ramps common sights across America.Michael McGough at The Los Angeles Times also takes on the Republican rejection of the treaty:
But the Senate's failure to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was nevertheless remarkable - for what it said about the state of domestic politics. Despite GOP efforts to recalibrate after last month's election losses, the treaty vote reflected the continuing influence of a fringe that gets frantic about anything involving the United Nations.
[...] Not long ago, the treaty would have passed easily amid lots of self- congratulations. But too many in today's GOP have turned their backs on the party's past and embraced concocted scenarios of U.N. bureaucrats telling Americans how to lead their lives and structure their laws. The opponents persuaded 38 Republican senators to vote no, enough to deprive the pact of the two-thirds needed for ratification.
Paranoia strikes deep. That’s the bottom-line explanation for the failure of the U.S. Senate to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But it was more than a generic fear of black helicopters (or black wheelchairs) that impelled 38 Republican senators to disrespect Bob Dole and oppose the treaty, depriving it of the required two-thirds majority.Andrew Reding at The Los Angeles Times on filibuster reform:
To hear the opponents, the devil in this demonic instrument of world government was in the details. [...] Even to analyze these specific objections may give the treaty’s opponents too much credit. If you think the United Nations is a sinister threat to U.S. sovereignty, the details, however devilish, don’t matter much. The opposition to the treaty is probably best interpreted as a primal scream -- but the number of screamers was depressing.
The Senate filibuster as presently constituted is arguably unconstitutional. It effectively negates the only constitutional authority of the vice president, other than succeeding the president: breaking tie votes as president of the Senate. With a de facto requirement of a 60% supermajority to pass a bill, there are no "equally divided" votes to break.
State constitutions also limited supermajorities to constitutional amendments or overriding gubernatorial vetoes. But they have been circumvented by powers not in the federal Constitution: initiatives and referendums.