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Posted at 8:38 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Congressional GOP formally takes power today: With House Republicans set to assume the majority at noon, Paul Kane lays out the long-term game plan: The real action will come after all the symbolic efforts to repeal Obama's agenda, when House Republicans try to "force Obama into what they consider principled compromises."

Also key: The GOP's expanded Senate minority means that Dems will suddenly need at least seven Republicans to vote with them in order to overcome filibusters, considerably expanding Mitch McConnell's power and capacity to extract concessions from Dems. One key question now: Will this town's media elite start seriously placing some of the onus for cooperation and governing on the GOP? Or will the default position continue to be that Obama and Dems are almost entirely responsible for overcoming disagreement and gridlock and for "changing the tone" in Washington?

* GOP already scaling back goals for budget cuts? Jackie Calmes has a good piece reporting that GOP leaders are quietly acknowledging that they may need to downsize their budget cut plans by as much as half.

Also important: Calmes notes that while GOP leaders are currently claiming that their original goal of $100 billion in cuts was hypothetical, in fact it was the figure in the House GOP's "Pledge to America" of last September.

* Incoming House GOP faces major Tea Party challenge: Relatedly, GOP lobbyist Vin Weber offers an apt description of the challenge House GOPers face in managing the restive Tea Partyers, who will get very angry if Obama's agenda -- not to mention the entire federal government -- isn't immediately dismantled from top to bottom:

"They have no sense of the limits on a party that controls only one of the three seats of power. Managing that relationship is going to be difficult."

* Wily John Boehner determined to avoid Gingrich fate: Also worth watching: The new House Speaker is proving more politically wily than one might have expected, carefully emphasizing his working class roots and familial ties and generally avoiding the bomb-throwing image that ultimately sank Newt.

* Dems: Get out and read Constitution on House floor! More and more left-leaning writers are making the case, as I have, that Dems should be embracing, rather than scoffing, at plans for a public reading of the Constution. The Constitutional Accountability Center's Elizabeth Wydra explains why and how progressives can use the public reading as an opportunity.

* Also: Dalia Lithwick has a very nice piece noting that "this is an opportunity to engage in a reasoned discussion of what the Constitution does and does not do," and patiently explaining to the Tea Partyers that "the Constitution wasn't written to reflect the views of any one American."

* ICYMI: Republicans have invited Dems to join in the reading of the constitution, and they should do this.

* Filibuster reform update: With Senate Dems set to introduce a package of changes today, reform picks up the qualified endorsement of the Post editorial board, which will help drive opinion in Congress.

* White House gears up anti-repeal push: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius makes the full case against repeal, suggesting the White House is gearing up to use repeal as an opportunity to sell the American public once again on what the law actually does.

* About Obama and that Guantanamo statement: In case you need to get caught up on that developing story about the President perhaps signing a statement nixing Congressional limits on his ability to close Guantanamo, Dan Froomkin has a lucid and useful overview of the situation.

* Random question of the day: How will press coverage of the House GOP majority compare to the media's less-than-illustrious performance during the 1990s?

* Takedown of the day: Jonathan Cohn skewers the right's latest "government health care takeover" lie, this one designed to baselessly frighten cancer patients.

* Hallucinatory attack line of the day: GOP Rep. Jack Kingston appears to believe that the food safety bill, which is under attack by Republicans over its cost, will result in thousands of "food police" inspecting your "girl scout cookies."

* And the fantasy of the day: Breaking: Sources close to Michele Bachmann say she is set to travel to Iowa in the course of seriously exploring a 2012 presidential run. Maybe it's a tacit bid to become Sarah Palin's Veep candidate? Palin-Bachmann 2012!

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | January 5, 2011; 8:38 AM ET
Categories:  Health reform, House GOPers, Morning Plum, Political media, Tea Party  
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Next: Breaking: Trotsky also possibly a member of the New Black Panthers

Comments

WOO HOO!!! Today's the BIG DAY! Can't wait for 12 noon : )

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 5, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Poor Republican money managers, every week that goes by their prospects for 2012 grow dimmer. Whose idea was that TP thing anyway? Sure it might have helped them snag a lower House majority, but its candidates sure didn't translate to the Senate...and it is absolutely toxic when it comes to Republicans trying to get back into the White House. The TP won't get behind Romney and that is who they have to nominate if they want to have any chance against Obama.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The GOP has NO agenda other than the George W. Bush era status quo, they're scaring cancer patients, exhibiting paranoia, exhibiting narcissistic delusions of grandeur.

Yeah, this should be good for America.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The GOP has NO agenda other than the George W. Bush era status quo, they're scaring cancer patients, exhibiting paranoia, exhibiting narcissistic delusions of grandeur.

Yeah, this should be good for America.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

shrink2, be sure to vote for Palin in your primary / caucus:

http://www.primariesforpalin.com

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 5, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Someone tell Michelle Bachmann don't bother to make that trip.
This is a huge number and the Republicans have bet against it.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. private employers added 297,000 jobs in December compared with a revised gain of 92,000 in November, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Palin-Bachmann:

Dumb/Crazy 2012!

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Tom Porcelli, U.S. Economist, RBC Capital:

"You cannot ignore the strength of this report. As a consequence of this report we are taking our payrolls estimate higher for sure. Small business continues to add jobs. With small business now beginning to start to ramp up hiring, it's safe to feel better about the labor backdrop."

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Ethan2010, were you aware of the fact that the 111th Congress under Pelosi was to first in history to not allow amendments to any bills from the floor?

What's good for the goose . . .

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 5, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Romney fails the Crazy Test, shrink, the GOP won't nominate anyone who believes in arithmetic. Try though he may, Romney won't ever convince the base that he hates passionately enough.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Bachmann running for president would be GREAT.

Pass me the popcorn!!!!

Posted by: maritza1 | January 5, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Those added jobs are probably causing some midnight Republican oil to be burned, they have to figure out a way to deprecate the news, how about credit it to "government hiring" of "regulators and vbureaucrats out to hamstring American competiveness? Yeah, that should work, got a nice beat, you can dance to it.

Then they have to figure out a way to reverse it and get a lot more people out of work. What's good for American workers is BAD for Republicans.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Adam Kinzinger on C-SPAN right now.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 5, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Now that the recovery is picking up the lagging indicators (housing will be last, since its securitzation (oh, what a word said the witch) was at the center of the economic collapse), Democrats will have to stay on message and on the offensive. But there is no chance of that happening, ask Tim Kaine.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

NYT Editorial Page on GOP posturing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/05/opinion/05wed1.html?ref=opinion

"There is a similar air of vacuous fundamentalism in requiring that every bill cite the Constitutional power given to Congress to enact it. The new House leadership says this is necessary because the health care law and other measures that Republicans do not like have veered from the Constitution. But it is the judiciary that ultimately decides when a law is unconstitutional, not the transitory occupant of the speaker’s chair.

All of this, though, is simply eyewash — the equivalent of a flag-draped background to a speech — compared with the actual legislation the Republicans plan to pass. And though much of that has no possibility of being enacted, it does suggest the depth of the struggle to come. The bill tauntingly titled the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” has nothing to do with increasing employment and will never reach the Senate floor, but shows that the leadership is willing to threaten the hard-fought access to health care for millions of the uninsured, just to make a political point."

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

From the NYT article

“You know, it’s easy to talk about these things in the abstract. It’s another thing when you start taking away people’s college loans and Pell Grants or cutting early education programs.”

But that's exactly why people voted GOP. If they're not going to go after these programs, why bother voting GOP in the future?


Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

~300,000 *private sector* jobs added in December. Well that was a heck of an Xmas shopping season wasn't it. What a present for the Democrats, today is Xmas eve for the old school Christians.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Next one is the presidential. And as shrink indefatigably reminds us, the GOP ain't got nuttin'.

They do have Palin, and that's nuttin'.

And, yeah, Romney is their best hope with the general electorate, but he won't win because the Fitlh won't vote for him.

Talk about painting onesself into a corner ...

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse


To All the Liberals:

To all who claimed that homosexuals in the military "would not affect readiness."


WRONG AGAIN


The Navy officer is already embroiled in a controversy over political correctness.


Don't ask, Dont Tell should be put back in.


ALREADY THERE IS AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER SET TO GO TO THE MIDDLE EAST AND A GAY CONTROVERSY IS AFFECTING THE DEPARTURE OF THAT AIRCRAFT CARRIER.


It is over


The liberals have been proven wrong and this too has to be repealed.


The liberals LIED again and again.

.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 5, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Really gotta wonder about RainForest / 37th .. *everyone* has him blocked, *nobody* reads a word he posts, not *one word* and still he keeps it up, day in day out, thread after thread and probably lots of other blogs on here too.

Hey RFR, which kind of disability check enables your frantic idleness? Not that anyone will read your answer.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

...indefatigably reminds us...

Tim Kaine won't do his damn job, so someone has to step up and fill the void.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong shrink I ain't complainin'

Yeah, Paul Ru\yan. Mike Pence.

Wait till next year when all the local GOP apparatchiks are walking around with those forced grins like they each have the same 16oz Coke bottle rammed up their rear ends

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

It's a big day for Big Boner, the first day of his two-year Speaker stint.

Is he crying yet?

BWAHHHHHHH HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Posted by: paul65 | January 5, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"why bother voting GOP in the future?"

Great question. People WANT those programs, so why bother voting GOP at all?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"Great question. People WANT those programs, so why bother voting GOP at all?"

I think this is similar to the public option debate. there really wasn't much of one. They're surrendering without even trying. Expected, but still disappointing.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"...why bother voting GOP at all..."

Well no Democratic candidate for President has gotten more than half of the white vote since LBJ, but that probably doesn't mean anything, just a coincidence or something that makes no difference, no causal relationship, no matter, no, not at all.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Dear Harry Reid and Senate Democrats:

I'm a Democrat. I vote for you. I donate to you. I volunteer for you.

And I expect you to effect a dramatic change in Senate procedure that goes beyond even anything that Senator Udall has proposed.

As part of that process, I expect a mechanism to be established that ensures that ALL of Obama's exisiting political and judicial appointees receive immediate consideration and approval, and that all FUTURE nominees also receive up-or-down votes on the floor without delay.

You count on me. Now I'm counting on you.

And I plan to hold you accountable.

Posted by: paul65 | January 5, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Nothing WHATSOEVER with LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"You count on me. Now I'm counting on you.
And I plan to hold you accountable."

How? Are you willing to stay home? Vote GOP or third party? Or will you hold your nose and vote anyway?

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Host wrote:

"Wily John Boehner determined to avoid Gingrich fate"

Those of us who recall Boehner's banishment by DeLay for not being true to the cause do have hope that the orangeman will survive the inevitable repeat attack from his right wing.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 5, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Nice of the GOP to give the Dems a second chance to sell ACA. Wonder if the goobs can really be dumb enough not to read the polls in detail?

That's what comes of living in an echo chamber

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

While I agree in theory with the idea of debate over the meaning/interpretations of the Constitution occuring in Congress/the Press/American civic life, I'm less sanguine about the possibility that this is anything more than a stunt.

Prove me wrong but SCOTUS is the final arbiter. Just ask Scalia.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 5, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Nuts, the Constitution has the same relationship to legislation that gun ownership has to home safety or dildoes to a sexual lifestyle.

Fetishes.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"Whose idea was that TP thing anyway?"

It was cooked up by the brothers koch, like a gram of coke cooked up on a bent spoon. The partier inhales & gets a quick, brain-cell killing jolt of a high before crashing, hard, disillusioned and seeking another fix of koch.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Yes Chuck, those who don't see a difference between the parties are looking at macroeconomic policy, foreign policy and other areas which in many respects, have merged, rhetoric notwithstanding. But when it comes to the SCOTUS, well, that is why the White House is worth the fight.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

When it comes to egregious self promotion it seems that Mr Sargent has some catching up to do. Today's attempt is actually very funny:
====================
One key question now: Will this town's media elite start seriously placing some of the onus for cooperation and governing on the GOP? Or will the default position continue to be that Obama and Dems are almost entirely responsible for overcoming disagreement and gridlock and for "changing the tone" in Washington?
==================

Yes, the entire future of the free world rests on the decisions of folks like Eugene Robinson or Byron York, right?

Apparently it is no longer enough for the media to report facts sans editorializing. Now Mr Sargent insists that the reportage be altered to display his favored partisans in the best possible light.

I wonder what the boys and girls at the journ-o-list have decided to do relative to Mr Sargent's concern. No doubt the answer is somewhere between "call them racists" and "do violence to them if they have the nerve to disagree with us."

This should be a very entertaining two years.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 5, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

shrink-

Yes. And yesterday I read that he claims the 14th doesn't protect women. After SCOTUS already said it did. So much for precedent.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 5, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This should be a very entertaining two years.

==

You can put that in the bank. The GOP is already in self-destruct mode and it's only the first day. Yeah you bedwetters are gonna repeal ACA. With a slim minority in one chamber.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Culture war update...

(AP) — Colorado-based Focus on the Family is considering ending its sponsorship of a national conservative political action rally because of the involvement of a gay conservative group. Sarah Palin and Mike Hucakbee are among those scheduled to speak at the conference.

Let's ask Jim DeMint, since he said at last year's "values voters" meeting, there is no such thing as a fiscal conservative who is not also a social conservative, can there really be a gay conservative group? No such thing, right Jim?

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@NoVA: "I think this is similar to the public option debate. there really wasn't much of one."

There is one massive difference that you're neglecting, NoVA. The public option debate was about SOMETHING. The GOP's rhetoric, on the other hand, is meaningless ideological drivel, hot air in the abstract.

There is NO WAY that Americans would ever let the GOP destroy the social programs that have made America a Super Power. There would be blood in the streets and everyone knows it (except for the Tea Partiers who are, at this point, clearly incapable of critical thinking).

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"This should be a very entertaining two years."

Write it down, folks. Skipper & cao agree.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"...the 14th doesn't protect women..."

And in the world according to Clarence, the 4th doesn't protect school girls' privacy from school officials disturbed by the prospect they might be hiding something down there. Zero tolerance is more important than a "reasonable expectation of privacy", it says that in the Constitution somewhere, right Clarence?

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"except for the Tea Partiers who are, at this point, clearly incapable of critical thinking"

I'm tellin' ya, they're just seeking another fix. Party on, dude!

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

In skip's mind, anyone who doesn't conform to whatever The National Review's or Glenn Beck's definition of journalism is guilty of racism or violence.

Scary.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 5, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The Lithwick piece, like all these other recent ones by Greg and Dionne et al is nothing but another series of straw men and evasions, centering around this fuzzy notion that in interpreting the Constitution we should recognize it as a flawed set of compromises by flawed politicians.

So there is a simple question, Greg. What aspects of the Constitution do you consider to be flaws that can be corrected by the courts or ignored by Congress?

I'd really like you to answer that question, Greg. And please don't try to dodge it or say that isn't your position.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Glenn Beck dropped by New York's WOR radio station over poor ratings, replaced by Mike Gallagher

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/01/04/2011-01-04_glenn_beck_dropped_by_new_yorks_wor_radio_station_over_poor_ratings_replaced_by_.html

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

yes shrink there are gay conservatives. They're an intensely conflicted bunch, being gay offers no immunity to the Conservatism Disease.

I've known a few online, fewer in person. You'll never meet anyone more obsessed with justifying himself, it takes 4-6 hours of every day of their lives. Not joking.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Here are a couple of other questions.

The liberals like to cite Breyer's claim that we can't be bound by the "dead hand" of the past. That's a nice slogan for liberals. But it evades the question: is the Constitution binding on our government and its officials? Not the "dead hand" but the Constitution. If they are not bound by the Constitution, from where does their authority derive?

And if we aren't bound by the "dead hand of the past," then why are we bound by precedents from the New Deal era, or the Warren Court, or Roe?

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Host wrote:

"* Filibuster reform update: With Senate Dems set to introduce a package of changes today, reform picks up the qualified endorsement of the Post editorial board, which will help drive opinion in Congress."

While I am sure the WaPo retains influence in the Senate, I would hope that the filibuster reform were written, but set six years out, by a strong bipartisan vote. The delay would allow each party to think in more objective and statesmanlike terms and would make it less likely that each new Senate would exercise its nuclear option.

I suppose it is possible to get 60 votes for something immediate, but to also have a weeping bipartisan reform that takes place six years in the future. Eat one's cake and have it, too.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 5, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Adam Serwer's latest on the Black Panther nonsense is up:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/01/breaking_trotsky_also_possibly.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 5, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"There is one massive difference that you're neglecting, NoVA. The public option debate was about SOMETHING. The GOP's rhetoric, on the other hand, is meaningless ideological drivel, hot air in the abstract."

That's a fair point, about it being about a specific idea or program, which the GOP outside of Ryan hasn't addressed. But i would describe it as gutless, and not meaningless.

"There is NO WAY that Americans would ever let the GOP destroy the social programs that have made America a Super Power."

Are you talking about student loans and early-childhood education? I won't comment on the pre-k stuff, because I don't know much about it. But as much as we want everyone to do to college, i think we have to consider whether these low-interest loans are contributing to increased personal debt. We're encouraging people to take on debt for jobs that aren't there. The Post's own personal finance columnist has written about this problem. These loans also contribute to skyrocketing tuition costs.


Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm encouraging all the left wing nazi socialists I know to vote for Palin in the primary.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 5, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"And if we aren't bound by the "dead hand of the past," then why are we bound by precedents from the New Deal era, or the Warren Court, or Roe?"

Why even have a judiciary?

Why even have a country?

Why even have a society?

It's every man, woman, child, and corporation for his- her- its' self!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Ethan, Glen Beck is falling as fast as he rose. I wonder if he knows how badly he over-exposed himself. Too late! Ratings melting away. Oh what a world, he never, ever should have let people know he made himself appear to cry over America's fate under Obama...with VapoRub.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

ah yes, the hits just keep on coming:
===========
You can put that in the bank. The GOP is already in self-destruct mode and it's only the first day. Yeah you bedwetters are gonna repeal ACA. With a slim minority in one chamber.

==========

Having a read a few of your comments it is clear that name calling is all you've got on offer. How sad for you.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 5, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I are moving to every state and registering to vote there to vote for Palin

-- Cao Thiên channelling JakeD

Posted by: caothien9 | January 5, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

quarterback1 writes
"What aspects of the Constitution do you consider to be flaws that can be corrected by the courts or ignored by Congress?"

You're putting words in Greg's mouth. But I'll start. The founders - the literal authors of the Constitution - themselves found it flawed & immediately amended it, ten times (ten times!), to give us the bill of rights.

More to the point, where I think you're going wrong is in the word 'flaws' and the subsequent interpretation of what that means. I'd replace 'flaws' with 'imperfect.' The Constitution is not a perfect document - it is imperfect. That imperfection is conceded in the preamble of the Constitution itself, which says "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Further, I don't think there can be a 'perfect' constitution. I think the one we have is pretty good, particularly because it notes its own imperfections by defining the means by which it can be changed - the amendment process.

So, QB, what's your take? Is the Constitution perfect, or imperfect?

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

@NoVA: "i would describe it as gutless, and not meaningless."

It's both, really.

"i think we have to consider whether these low-interest loans are contributing to increased personal debt"

You really should read about student loan reform that was attached to the HCR bill. It strips out billions of taxpayer dollars from going to middle men, a useless divestiture of money with no substantive benefit whatsoever, and re-focuses federal college loans back on the middle class families they were designed to help.

If someone can't get behind reforms that save taxpayer money from being literally wasted and instead direct it to middle class families who need the support, then who are you serving? You are ONLY serving the banks. Not America. Not students. Certainly not the middle class of this country.

Honestly, if anyone is interested in substantively supporting the middle class, they should simply NEVER vote for a single Republican ever again.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

NoVaHockey writes
"We're encouraging people to take on debt for jobs that aren't there. The Post's own personal finance columnist has written about this problem. These loans also contribute to skyrocketing tuition costs."

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Which is to say, who or what is the prime mover for job creation?

To some degree, I suspect we're creating too many of the wrong kinds of college graduates. Its not the number of graduates that are the problem, so much as the knowledge & skills they have to offer. The larger problem was reported by NPR yesterday, which did a story on how the military is having a harder time finding qualified recruits - huge numbers of people fail the knowledge test, despite having high school diplomas, and additional numbers fail the physical. It is not a stretch to argue that our deteriorating education system is becoming a security problem. As noted in that story, the private sector demands comparable skills & knowledge as the military; if the military is having a hard itme finding qualified high school graduates to fill its ranks, it should come as no surprise that we aren't preparing kids very well for the private sector either.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Nothing creates by humans is perfect. I've never heard anyone on the right claim otherwise.

The question is what consequences follow from acceptance of imperfection. Are courts and Congress free to ignore provisional they find flawed or as Greg has suggested less than truly democratic? If not, what is the point of arguing that constitutional interpretation must proceed from a view that the document is a flawed set of political compromises.

The conservative position is very simple. There's is an amendment process to address changing needs or flaws. But the text is binding until amended.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"You really should read about student loan reform that was attached to the HCR bill. It strips out billions of taxpayer dollars from going to middle men, a useless divestiture of money with no substantive benefit whatsoever, and re-focuses federal college loans back on the middle class families they were designed to help."

My problem is that we're offering the loans. If changing who is servicing them is saves money, that's good, but my point is that the goal of providing access to college is actually causing more problems than it solving. We're helping- encouraging even - kids take on debt in return for low-wage jobs.

See the Chronicle of Higher education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/the-great-college-degree-scam/28067


Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

@qb-

"The text is binding until amended".
Are you serious? If its so self-evident, why have Federal Judiciary?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 5, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"The question is what consequences follow from acceptance of imperfection."

It's called "life."

Get used to it.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I welcome the food police and encourage their inspection of girl scout cookies, the ones that were, you know, recalled last year.

Posted by: temptxan | January 5, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the GOP really thinks it has a chance in 2012. Look at the field--it's even more ludicrous than the "Gary Hart and the 7 Dwarves" field the Dems had in 1988. Huckabee and Romney have both been governors, albeit of small and regionally identified states. Most of the rest are House members who are unknown and lacking in either charisma or brains or both or eccentrics. Jeb Bush the dark horse is the only plausible candidate.

More evidence: The Mitch McConnell Senate isn't going to give a GOP candidate any accomplishments or platform to run on. The GOPers in Congress are solely concentrating on themselves and their own power. They talk about defeating Obama because their base loves it, not because they think they can really do it. They are happy in the Congressional critics role.

The real fight for the soul of this country will come in 2016, when things will be much, much worse, at least in terms of climate, inequality and financial instability, and we will see just how far propaganda can go in distracting and swaying the electorate from addressing its problems.

Posted by: Mimikatz | January 5, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Quaterback, I admire your attempt to have an insightful discussion with some of the regulars here. The folks didn't disappoint me. They responded with the usual vacuous nonsense.

You are asking an important question. It boils down to this: what did Ezra Klein mean? What specific parts of the constitution have Mr Klein and his liberal sycophants so bewildered? If the constitution is really too dense for us to arrive at a common understanding of its meaning, what limits to government power currently exist?

Rather than engage in that discussion folks like Chuck and Ethan prefer childishness. While that's not surprising considering the source it really speaks very poorly for liberalism in general.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 5, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

qb1 writes
"But the text is binding until amended."

absolutely. The problem is that the text is not always clear in what it means.

For that, we have the courts. And, as noted already, even the Supreme Court - which gets to be the final arbiter of what the text means - sometimes disagrees on what the text means.

That is something that gives comfort to conservatives, who still hope that SCOTUS will overturn itself & undo Roe v Wade, among other things.

'Binding text,' indeed.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

This is just too funny:
==============
There is NO WAY that Americans would ever let the GOP destroy the social programs that have made America a Super Power. There would be blood in the streets and everyone knows it (except for the Tea Partiers who are, at this point, clearly incapable of critical thinking).

=================

I've read a fair amount of military history and I honestly don't recall anyone claiming that we would have lost WW2 if not for AFDC, TANF, Section 8 and Medicaid.

I could have missed it, but I kinda doubt it.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 5, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Mimi, I was right with you (obviously) on the GOP's prospects for 2012: no va. But you said by 2016, "...things will be much, much worse"

This is the outstanding question. It ain't necessarily so. If you knew that to be true, you would live your life differently than if you hope that it isn't true. Six years from now things could be quite similar to the way they are now. I didn't want to go all David Carradine with some "Kung Fu" Buddhisms, "like the river, everything changes...yet everything remains the same," but I just did.

I think the Republicans may make a comeback in 2016, I've always thought that. They were in too big a hurry last year and now they have to retrench, but I think they'll have a shot at the White House when Obama leaves. They might get serious by then.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

bsimon-

eggsactly.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 5, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"@qb-

"The text is binding until amended".
Are you serious? If its so self-evident, why have Federal Judiciary?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 5, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse "

I am serious, but you aren't. Have you actually read the pieces by Lithwick, Dionne, Ellis, Klein and the PL proprietors, all of which are accusing the right of making a "fetish" out of the Constitution? As yourself what that accusation means.

It is not a point about ambiguities. It is a claim that the document should be treated as a "flawed" set of political compromises that is not binding on us today, rather than as a "sacred" text.

The "sacred" text taunt is of course a straw man. Conservatives don't view the document as "sacred," merely as binding.

This is why liberals cannot win this debate, despite the bravado of Greg and his crew of anti-fetishists. There is an inherent contradiction in their position. They are trying to lay claim to the Constitution at the same time they denigrate it as a nonbinding historical artifact of its times and flawed writers. Liberals are stuck with that contradiction, because they are always stuck with trying to twist and evade the document's terms to justify their latest notion of "progress."

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Babarossa lost WWII. Besides, repealing the 20th Century is not negotiable. When Eisenhower invaded Little Rock, you crackers lost for that battle for the 2nd time.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, SPEAKER Boehner!

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 5, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

bsimon writes:

"absolutely. The problem is that the text is not always clear in what it means."

You need to read what your side is arguing more carefully. That is not their point.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

bsimon is the most consistently reasonable person trolling (in a good way!) the WaPo comments. When he disagrees with me, I take it seriously and step back for study.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Re: Republican chances in 2012.

Incumbents usually win. You don't want it to be true when it's not your guy in office, but it is. It usually takes a primary challenge, a 3rd party challenge, or both for an incumbent to lose, and, even then, there usually has to be someone running against the incumbent who is broadly appealing, especially to swing-voters and moderates. A polarizing candidate (like Sarah Palin) may really excite the base, but the fact is, that candidate is not likely to beat an incumbent president.

There are exceptions, but they are few. I still say Obama wins in 2012, but Senate Democrats better not expect much in the way of coat tails.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 5, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"... the military is having a hard time finding qualified high school graduates to fill its ranks, it should come as no surprise that we aren't preparing kids very well for the private sector either."

This is not just a rhetorical flourish and I am not talking about Xe.
Military and private sector job skills, qualifications and performance metrics have never been more aligned and that is a very good thing.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

qb-

You didn't answer my question. "The text is binding until amended" in your words. No doubt Congress has the duty to regulate immigration. Tell it to AZ.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 5, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"You need to read what your side is arguing more carefully. That is not their point."

Agreed. It's more along the lines the framework established is no longer applicable in modern times -- progress and the need for quick action trumps the framework.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

All, my take on how the Tea Party does not own the Constitution:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/01/the_tea_partys_flawed_view_of.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 5, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"Senate Democrats better not expect much in the way of coat tails."

Agreed. Out in the Oregon Territory, we still can't believe the theretofore wholly unknown public employee union flak Jeff Merkley beat the entrenched corporate shill Gordon Smith.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

chuck,

Sorry, but you're the one who hasn't answered the questions. It doesn't appear you are able to see the point, if you've even read any of the arguments being made.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2: "I think the Republicans may make a comeback in 2016, I've always thought that."

If not 2016, then maybe big wins in the 2018 midterms, or they succeed in unseating an incumbent by 2020 (unseating an incumbent is statistically more likely when they (the icumbent) are a member of the party that has been in power for increasingly longer period of time). If Democrats held the Whitehouse up through 2024, it would take a miracle to keep them in for another 4 years.

The idea that there will be some sort of permanent shift in our system to permanently favor one party or the other is always wishful thinking of partisans in either party. Some can minimize the wins in November, but the reality is, it's a sign that both parties are weak and strong, have assets and deficits, and can and will both win and lose.

"They were in too big a hurry last year and now they have to retrench"

And anger all the people who thought the Republicans were going to lower the oceans and magically bring the hope and change--oops, I'm confused. But, safe to say, many Republican voters are already being disappointed by the folks they voted for. Expect it to be worse two years from now.

"but I think they'll have a shot at the White House when Obama leaves. They might get serious by then."

Even if not, they're much more likely to win when neither candidate running is currently in the Whitehouse.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 5, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"the framework established is no longer applicable in modern times -- progress and the need for quick action trumps the framework"

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I have never heard that argument made by anyone. Ever.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 5, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@wbgonne: "I have never heard that argument made by anyone. Ever."

It's very similar to Thomas Jefferson's thoughts on the subject, who (as I recall) thought the constitution should be torn up and redone every generation. specifically because life was for the living, and a framework established 50 or 100 years ago could not possibly accommodate all the needs of a future generation. I think this is a horrible idea (look no further than the Eurozone Constitution) but Thomas Jefferson was on board for not just amending the constitution, but totally start from scratch. But then, he never thought much of the constitution in the first place.

When James Madison first showed him the text of the constitution, Jefferson basically said: "Well, that's a good first effort, I suppose. Now, why don't you go back and try to draft a real one?" I'm paraphrasing, but . . .

Always good to keep things in context.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 5, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

"I have never heard that argument made by anyone. Ever."

Sure you have -- what I wrote is a more blunt interpretation of the the pragmatist view of the "living constitution" -- that the document sets out a concepts and is more of guiding principles.

How about Justice Brennan: "It is arrogant to pretend that from our vantage we can gauge accurately the intent of the Framers on application of principle to specific, contemporary questions"

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

QB writes
"You need to read what your side is arguing more carefully. That is not their point."

I'm not sure what you mean by 'my side'. In any case, my arguments are my own & should not be mistaken as those of others. Likewise others' positions should not be presumed of me.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"I have never heard that argument made by anyone. Ever."

Isn't the Plum Line awesome? Like, every day I see people making statements about reality that I have never heard before, ever and in my line of work, I get a lot of diverse ideas.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"bsimon is the most consistently reasonable person trolling (in a good way!) the WaPo comments."

I prefer to think of it as spearfishing.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

NoVaHockey writes
"How about Justice Brennan: "It is arrogant to pretend that from our vantage we can gauge accurately the intent of the Framers on application of principle to specific, contemporary questions" "


I don't see where Justice Brennan is arguing that the need for quick action trumps the framework in that excerpt.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Better than bottom dragging, too much by-catch,

Posted by: shrink2 | January 5, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis writes
"The idea that there will be some sort of permanent shift in our system to permanently favor one party or the other is always wishful thinking of partisans in either party."

Right. I don't want either party to retain any kind of permanent control of gov't. For one thing, neither party has all the answers. But what I do want - and I think I speak for a lot of moderates/independents when I say this - I want the parties to sever their ties to the more extreme ideologies. And we do see those kinds of permanent shifts in the parties, for instance when the Dems chose to be the party of civil rights, despite the significant hit to their popularity in certain parts of the country. I'd rather see the Repubs make a similar shift, but back towards Rooseveltian (TR) Republicanism.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 5, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"It is arrogant to pretend that from our vantage we can gauge accurately the intent of the Framers on application of principle to specific, contemporary questions"

Um. What?!

It's not arrogant.

It's precisely the job that the Framers themselves put to the Judiciary. That's why we have a Judiciary. The Framers knew that the document was -- and still is -- a compromise among the signatories, and thus, it was -- and still is -- an inherently "imperfect" document that REQUIRES analysis and interpretation.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 5, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

bsimon,

With respect, it is you then who was not addressing the point I was making, which critiques the argument Greg has adopted.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"I don't see where Justice Brennan is arguing that the need for quick action trumps the framework in that excerpt."

Really, I see that as a green light for Congress to do pretty much what it pleases -- Brennen's statement captures the idea that we shouldn't let the constitution impede progress. This is standard progressive stuff -- the constitutional is outdated and should evolve with the time, scientific advances, etc.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

Your confusion is deeply entertaining. Even more so that you wont understand what I mean.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

Your confusion is deeply entertaining. Even more so that you wont understand what I mean.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 5, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

QB -- Oh good, I was worried that I misquoted Brennan and couldn't find my error. Not every day you see a liberal attack a champion of progressive legal thought.

More Brennan: "Each generation has the choice to overrule or add to the fundamental principles enunciated by the Framers; the Constitution can be amended or it can be ignored"

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 5, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

What is Mitch McConnell doing in the House?!

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 5, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

10:57 A (PST) and no, Boehner hasn't grid yet. Stay tuned.

Posted by: hoser3 | January 5, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Nancy for being so charming in your remarks

.......... and for making the mistakes that made this day possible.

I have to say that if she had listened to the simple common sense written on this and Chris Cillizza's blogs, she would still be Speaker.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 5, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

If Mr. Boehner is the speaker for longer than 4 hrs. he should contact a physician immediately.

Posted by: hoser3 | January 5, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

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