January 24, 2013

* Paul Krugman, on the GOP’s fantasy plan to wipe out the deficit in 10 years with no new revenues:

If you demand rapid deficit reduction without raising taxes or cutting military spending, you have to cut deeply into programs that the public values. Republicans have, for the most part, managed until recently to skate over this reality, simultaneously calling for lower spending in the abstract while posing as the defenders of seniors against Obama’s Medicare cuts.They’ve been aided in this by pundits and reporters unwilling to seem “unbalanced” by pointing out the realities. But they’ve now run out of room, and are facing a crisis of arithmetic.

* A good Andrea Mitchell segment on the significance of Joe Manchin’s support for universal background checks and the Nixon-to-China role he may end up playing on the centerpiece of Obama’s gun proposals. (Starts at the 4:00 mark.)

* Yes, the last assault weapons ban didn’t really work, but Brad Plumer details the ways the new version is designed to close all the loopholes that so badly undermined the first. The “gun rights” brigade will continue to insist that the last didn’t work without engaging on why it didn’t work.

* Tom Edsall on the grip reactionary forces have on the GOP, and the shortsighted hope some Republicans are clinging to that a weak economy and gerrymandering will ensure its comeback.

* Adam Serwer with a nice rejoinder to Tucker Carlson and others on the right who are outraged by the lifting of the ban against women in combat, as if women aren’t already in the line of fire.

* David Firestone, on the failure of filibuster reform:

Real reform failed because older Democrats fear that they might be in the minority one day and will want to use the filibuster themselves. Thanks to that timidity, the principle that only extraordinary circumstances call for supermajorities has once again been set aside.

This is the rub. The basic problem is that the filibuster was turned into a weapon to grind government to a halt as part of a party wide political strategy, not to register the minority’s urgent (and occasional) objections on matters of profound national import. Today’s reforms don’t address the overarching problem that launched the push for reform in the first place.

* This isn’t all that encouraging about the deal reached on filibuster reforms, is it:

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson said he will vote for the rules change. “The rules change doesn’t really do a lot,” Isakson told TPM. “But it certainly preserves the 60-vote threshold, preserves the blue clip procedure. It preserves the filibuster. And that’s important heritage for the Senate.”

Thanks for your candor, Senator.

* Interesting Stephen Stromberg post on why enviros should not let Keystone XL act as a distraction from the need for a genuine global push to combat climate change.

* Funny, but dispiriting, question from Alec MacGillis: How much smaller does organized labor have to get  before opponents will stop referring to it at “Big Labor”? Click on the link for the collection of “Big Labor” headlines in the Wall Street Journal.

* The charts of the day, courtesy of Kevin Drum, neatly document the correlation between the decline of organized labor and the rise of income inequality.

* Matt Lewis has an interesting response to my argument this morning about Obama as the anti-Reagan, and E.J. Dionne’s suggestion of a potential Obama realignment.

* And the hashtag of the day: #FilibusterFizzle

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.