I don't know if we really disagree about anything. My point was simply, if a candidate gets asked whether he agrees with John Kerry on X, it's fine to answer with a yes or no, and then to focus on articulating his position. I would hope, for example, a pro-life Democrat would talk about positive issues like the sanctity of life, rather than sounding Republican by saying something like "the national Democratic Party is out of touch with the country on abortion." You can distance yourself without directly insulting the party or the more mainstream Democratic candidates, is the real point here.
I think there is a middle ground between the two sides of this debate. I don't think it is necessary for Tim Kaine to plant a kiss on John Kerry's cheek to demonstrate his bona fides as a candidate; nor do I think it is necessary for him to burn Kerry in effigy to have any chance of winning in Virginia. I simply think it's possible for him to distance himself from the national party without slamming the national party, let alone slamming it based upon right-wing caricatures. I mean, I've seen a lot of positive stuff from the Kaine campaign, I've seen a lot about what kind of person he is and what kind of stuff he believes. He doesn't need to make a comment about windsurfing to convince voters that he is not a "windsurfing Democrat," whatever that is.
In any event, lost in all this is the context in which Kaine made his comments. This was not a national TV appearance or a campaign speech. This was an interview by the American Prospect, a lefty journal asking questions about the political process. In the wake of the election, everyone has started to ask this same banal question, "What can the national Democratic Party do to reach out to the red states?" And it's gotten so trite by now that I can't believe anyone out there wants to hear it asked again. But the fact remains, they asked the question of Tim Kaine, and they got his answer. It's hard to answer that question except in the context of, "What should the national party do that they're not doing now, or what should they avoid doing that they are doing now?"
When the Kilgorites try to paint Kaine as the candidate of John Kerry, Howard Dean, and the like, I hope he is able to address those smears without having to slam Kerry and Dean in so doing. But that day is yet to come.
Republicans WANT the Internet to be unregulated. Of course blogs are simple free speech and should not be regulated, but we have to be careful what we wish for.
Let's review the chronology.
(1) The FEC enacts some regulations ("I'm John Kerry and I approved this message," etc.). They specifically carve out the Internet from the list of media they're regulating.
(2) A judge issues a decision saying sorry, FEC, the Internet is just another form of media. You can't regulate TV and print media and just leave out the Internet, absent some indication that Congress intended to grant a special exemption.
(3) Suddenly, a Republican commissioner from the FEC is going around trying to convince everyone how dangerous the judge's ruling is. "Sorry, folks," he says, "but this just might force us to regulate blogs!"
Before we take a Republican's word for it, let's think about it for a minute.
A completely unregulated Internet would mean that corporations are free to run as many political ads as they like on the Internet, something that isn't true in any other medium. Republicans would be free to play their dirty tricks, like the fake blog that was supported by the Thune campaign. They could run as many online smears as they wanted and there would be no requirement that they identify the source of the message or who paid for it.
Senator Reid is doing God's work by responding to our needs, but we need to be careful we don't take it too far and give the Republicans what they want. The Internet should be regulated in a similar fashion to how other media are regulated; individuals should always be free to engage in free speech regarding the candidates, but corporations shouldn't be able to pour unlimited resources into a campaign just because they use the Internet, and campaigns shouldn't be allowed to operate through "front" organizations on the Internet without disclosing who's behind it. Telling the FEC that the Internet shouldn't be regulated in any way, shape or form is exactly what the Republicans would like us to do.
The only way US Treasury Bonds will not be repaid is if our government becomes insolvent.
What is "real money"? A dollar bill? If the government becomes insolvent, a dollar bill won't be worth much, either.
The idea that the Trust Fund is not real money is, to be frank, a Republican talking point. A Treasury Bond is just as "real" as the money you paid into Social Security in the first place.
It is absolutely true that the government will have to borrow more money to pay off those bonds someday - but the fact is, they have no choice in the matter. The Republicans want you to believe that those bonds might get paid off, or they might not, so we need to destroy this system and switch to something more "guaranteed." Truth is, if the Trust Fund is not guaranteed, then nothing is.
If you had a private account, it would not be a pile of dollar bills sitting in a box that only you have the key to, either. The government would have the legal obligation to pay you the money in your private account, of course, but that obligation would be no more solid than the government's obligation to pay off the Treasury Bonds in the Trust Fund.
"Yes, the Social Security Trust Fund is owed that money but that doesn't change the fact that the money is not there. The President hopes to never pay that money back but I don't think anyone would argue that the money is sitting in an account somewhere. It's not."
The money IS sitting in an account somewhere. The Social Security Trust Fund consists of US Treasury Bonds, which are about the safest investment you can buy. Anyone who questions whether Treasury Bonds are real money is basically saying to every investor who holds Treasury Bonds that they've got a worthless piece of paper.
Not only does the US Government have the legal obligation to pay off those bonds, but it would be unconstitutional for it to try anything else. It's right there in the 14th Amendment: "The validity of the public debt of the United States SHALL NOT BE QUESTIONED." So it's not even an option for Congress to consider, for example, not paying off those bonds as some kind of budgetary measure.
Treasury Bonds are as good as cash. The Trust Fund is real and the money is there.
The Nelson amendment was a political masterstroke - forcing 50 Republicans to go on record as open to either deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt.
But the gain from this is strictly short-term. For people following the SS debate today, they should be shocked that these Republicans are really open to such crazy ideas, and it's our job to let them know about this vote.
In the long term, I think people who believe this vote can be used in 2006 elections are misguided. Right now, Social Security is up in the air, but there will be a resolution of the issue by 2006. If the "fix" to Social Security ends up involving deep benefit cuts, then we'll be able to campaign against the people who voted for the actual benefit cuts. If the fix doesn't include deep benefit cuts, then no one will care who once said they were "open" to cuts - it's something that never happened, so who cares that you were willing to entertain it as an option at some point.
Whatever political capital comes from this vote needs to be spent now.
Excellent point - although more and more of those people change party ID every year, so it's becoming less of an issue.
West Virginia is probably the best example of why this comment is correct. The state overwhelmingly ID's as Democrat, but it has been red the last 2 elections and will likely stay that way because ideologically, it is indistinguishable from a Southern state. They would vote for a Democrat, sure, if the Democrat was Zell Miller.
Switching from "wage-indexing" to "price-indexing" is wonky talk that sounds acceptable because it's Greek to 99% of the people. But think about what it really means...
This year, you will pay 6.2% of your wages into Social Security. Next year, you'll get a raise God willing, and you'll pay 6.2% of your wages again. Every year, the amount you pay into Social Security goes up at the same rate your wages go up, until you hit the cap.
What makes up for this is the fact that your expected benefits are also going up at the same rate. Because benefits are currently wage-indexed, they go up at the same rate your contributions go up (not YOURS personally, mind you, but the national wage).
Nationally, prices go up slower than wages. So if we tie benefits to prices, the amount you pay in keeps going up at the same rate, but the amount you get back goes up at a much lower rate. So yes, it will help to make the system solvent, but only because you, the SS recipient of tomorrow, are agreeing to a NEGATIVE RETURN on the money you contribute today. It's a benefit cut dressed up with a fancy name to make it sound more attractive.
I guess you only read the first paragraph of my comment.
In the media, all I read about Roemer was the fact that people didn't like his pro-life position. I don't remember the think tank issue being high-profile at all. I am open-minded on this issue if others are willing to agree with the previous comment, but for now I'm not convinced.
It's also worth noting that the group of people who choose a party chair is a much different group than the ones who choose a minority leader. Not to mention, the competition for minority leadership was considerably less wide-open.
There is not a party-wide litmus test demanding that Democrats be pro-choice, at all levels and for all positions, but it still seems like the reason why Roemer didn't make the cut.
When I read this post, my first instinctive response was "Tim Roemer." But I guess I don't really understand which "faction" of the party was rabidly, unconditionally against Roemer. Maybe someone could clear that up, because it does sort of seem he failed a pro-choice litmus test.
Now, even if I'm right about that, you could still make a valid point about Harry Reid, but the thesis seems to be that Lieberman takes the heat because he bashes his own party. Be that as it may, did Roemer bash his own party, or how do you otherwise explain all the negative reaction to the thought of him as party chair?