Who Will Win The Senate? According to our statistical election-forecasting machine, the Democrats have a slight edge, with about a 59% chance of retaining a majority.Last update was Tuesday. Still pretty close, but no slam dunk for R's.
EJ Dionne on reform conservatives:
Today’s reform conservatives are operating in a much more constrained environment. They are reacting against the Tea Party’s extreme opposition to government. But they are also limited by an increasingly conservative Republican primary electorate, the shift in the GOP’s geographical center of gravity toward the South, and a rightward drift within the business community. As long as these boundaries on their thinking hold, it is unlikely that they will leave behind as many policy monuments as the earlier Constructive Republicans did.Jennifer Rubin wastes a lot of time and space asking
There is another constraint as well: While it is an article of faith among conservatives that Barack Obama has pursued a left-wing agenda—to keep themselves safely inside the right-wing tent, the reform kind typically pander to anti-Obama feeling as much as anyone—Obama has taken up many ideas that might otherwise be ripe for Reformicon picking.
Example number one is paradoxical: the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the chief object of Republican scorn. Its much-maligned complexity is built around ideas that had their origins on the right and are designed to keep the private market in health insurance intact. Had Obama supported a single-payer system or an otherwise more government-oriented plan, one could imagine reform conservatives endorsing something that looked like Obamacare—which is exactly what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts. It’s something progressives need to think about: In trying to be practical, moderate, and reasonable, liberals themselves may have helped to shrink the philosophical space in which policies are formulated and arguments are carried out.
Why selective coverage [of scandals] from the mainstream media?What makes her Jennifer Rubin is her inability to grasp the obvious. Understanding that IRS isn't a scandal but the VA is, is a key test. Spoiler: she fails.
More politics and policy below the fold.
Michael Hirsh on the Tim Geithner-Larry Summers rivalry:
What is new and startling is the sheer number of the fights that occurred between the administration’s two top economic policy-makers, as well as the acerbity of their rivalry. Geithner gives accounts of the chronic policy disagreements between them over the “Buffett Rule,” a proposal to tax very rich individuals, which Geithner supported and Summers thought was “gimmicky”; over the “Volcker Rule,” the curb on risky bank trading that Geithner came to warily endorse but Summers thought a “stupid and craven concession to populism”; and over nationalizing the banks (Summers thought it wasn’t a bad idea, while Geithner hated it). What emerges is a portrait of two men struggling for power and influence but also in a state of constant strife over ideas. In general, Summers is more of a progressive about changing Wall Street and tackling health care and other aspects of the ailing economy—one reason he left the administration in 2010 was that he saw Obama bowing to GOP demands for austerity at a time when more stimulus was needed, friends say—while Geithner is more the pure crisis manager, monomaniacally convinced that the economy can come back only if Wall Street does.Two from Greg Sargent:
Republicans getting away with utter gibberish on Obamacarewhich pretty much says it all. And:
Word has it that Democrats are set to take a shellacking in the 2014 elections, in part because midterm electorates tend to be older and whiter. So what if Dems campaigned on expanding Social Security, rather than allowing themselves to get drawn into another debate over how much to cut the program?Paul Waldman:
There’s a hook for this looming: The coming battle over disability insurance, which is a part of Social Security.
The difference in lifetime use between the different age groups are small, all around or above 50 percent (though recent use drops off quickly after the mid-20s). All, that is, except for people over 65, only 15 percent of whom have ever tried cannabis.Infectious disease expert Ian Lipkin on MERS:
Which makes perfect sense when you consider that it wasn't until the 1960s that it became a common part of youth culture. Your average 80-year-old Republican voter never smoked pot because they never encountered it as a young person. In a few years though, as more Baby Boomers enter retirement and more pre-Boomers die, that bar will probably rise to the same level as the others. And that's when even Republican candidates will answer the pot query by saying, "Yeah, I did it when I was young. Next question?"
The rise in the reported number of MERS cases in the United States, Asia and Europe has fueled concern that this may be the big one: the 21st century equivalent of the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 3% to 5% of the world population.Diane E. Meier and Health Affairs on the difficulty doctors face when communicating with terminally ill patients:
Concern is appropriate, because the coronavirus responsible for MERS can evolve to become more potent public health threats. However, I don't yet see evidence that will happen.
I called him, and after an exchange of pleasantries, I got down to the matter at hand: “What are you hoping we can accomplish with this treatment?”
After a brief pause, he confessed what I suspected: that it wouldn’t help her.
I struggled for a response. “Would you want me to encourage her to go ahead with it anyway?” I asked.
After another pause, this one longer and more awkward than the last, he told me that he didn’t want her to think he was abandoning her.
His comment struck me. For years I had tried to understand why so many of my colleagues persisted in ordering tests, procedures and treatments that seemed to provide no benefit to patients and even risked harming them. I didn’t buy the popular and cynical explanation: Physicians do this for the money. It fails to acknowledge the care and commitment that these same physicians demonstrate toward their patients.