McCain Plans Federal Health Cuts
Medicare, Medicaid Spending Would Be Reduced to Offset Proposed Tax Credit By LAURA MECKLER
John McCain would pay for his health plan with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, a top aide said, in a move that independent analysts estimate could result in cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years to the government programs.
The Republican presidential nominee has said little about the proposed cuts, but they are needed to keep his health-care plan "budget neutral," as he has promised. The McCain campaign hasn't given a specific figure for the cuts, but didn't dispute the analysts' estimate.
As Josh says at TPM, "I guess they really are writing off Florida." And with Florida gone, so are McCain's last hopes of winning the election. The 10- and 12-point leads in Virginia polls released today would just be icing on the cake with Florida in Obama's column.
The McCain campaign has its spin in place for this announcement, but it's the same old "getting rid of waste, fraud, and abuse" that's been used since 1980, and just doesn't seem like it's selling anymore. So the mere fact that they've allowed this to emerge at this late date in the campaign is as devastating an indictment as the plan itself. Who needs to hand them an anvil, when they've got more of their own than they have hands?
I've been writing about realigning elections for quite some time now, looking forward to this November, starting back in 2006. Now that we're just one month out, signs are stronger than ever that this will be a realigning election, though of course, nothing is certain until election day. Still, it's such a strong probability that I can't help asking the next question: what kind of realigning election will it be? It's a question of sharply increased urgency, particularly in light of the just-passed Wall Street bailout, the only legislation that Barack Obama has acted as a party whip on.
One thing seems clear: whatever this election turns out to be like, it won't be 1932, although that is clearly what we need. But what will it be like? My short answer: Nothing we've ever seen before. But that doesn't mean we can't get some hints by looking at the past. That's why I've put together some electoral maps to look at the lead up to four other realigning elections--in one case, actually, a de-aliging one. Our first realigning election was 1800, but that was the most anomalous one, since it threw out a party that formed in government, and it represented the effective beginnings of two-party system. I want to look at all the other examples, except for 1932, to see what they tell us aobut the ebb and flow of 2-party power.
This is one view of what a coalescing landslide election looks like. It's from the Princeton Election Consortium, and it's a distribution map of all possible election outcomes in the Electoral College. On the left is the distribution bssed on polling through Septbember 30. There is just the tiniest tail of the distribution across the red line where McCain wins. The highest peak of blue lines is close to 7% for one specific distribution giving Obama a vivtyory with over 320 votes. On the right is the distribution based on polling just two days later, on October 2. There is no longer any part of the distrubtion across the red line, giving McCain a victory. What's more, the highest peak of blue lines now reaches 14% and it is for more than 350 electoral votes. Of course these are just two snapshots in time. But they do show how dramatically the race has moved in the direction of an Obama landslide, just as early voting is aobut to begin.
Barack Obama's strong rise in the polls has pretty much everyone happy, and even--dare I say it?--excited. As someone who's been writing about a realigning election this year since October 2006, and who's been writing about a 10-20% landslide, I am definitely no exception. But when folks talk about Obama as leading the way, in a pure numbers sense among voters, I just have to step in and say, "Wait a minute!"
A rising tide raises all Democratic boats. In this metaphor, Barack Obama is the fucking moon.
When it comes to mobilizing volunteers, or raising funds, I have no quarrel with this. But when it comes to attracting voters, Obama is much more like a surfer on the wave--who has very skillfully avoided some very treacherous obstacles, than he is like the moon.
It's hardly surprising, really. John McCain was the ultimate media darling, possessed of a totally bogus, superhero-style image in the press, which yielded him high levels of personal approval even among liberal Democrats. And Barack Obama, of course, is black. This is a doubly stacked deck, so it's entirely to be expected that Obama would be underperforming the Dem/Rep partisan split. So this is by no means an attack on Obama, depsite the subtantial substantive criticism I have of him. It is, rather, yet another attempt to remind folks that we're in the midst of a broad and historic period of transformation that overshadows every one of us as individuals, even our candidate for President, our country's first black President to be.
No, I'm not being premature here. If you want to win an election, it does help to have some idea what governing will mean. Republicans are accustomed to having little or no relationship between the two. But we don't want to be like them, now do we?
Last night on Bill Moyers Journal, Moyers had a long conversation with former GOP uber-guru, Kevin Phillips (here, skip down). In the course of that conversation, Phillips identified a number of significant problems facing a potential Obama presidency. A few he specifically identified in this manner, others were problems facing America as a whole. For simplicity sake, I'm going to streamline the list, and focus on four of them, grouped as follows:
(1) The Democrats have no idea what they're going to do. No one does, because this is not like 1929-1932. This is worse. It's worse because we were the emerging dominant world power then, and we're at the end of our dominance now. Our prosperity depends on world markets, and we've run up a huge debt with them.
(2) The Democrats will be taking power (hopefully) in midst of the melting down process (not so hopefully), rather than toward the end of it. And we're taking power before the political/analytical debate has come anywhere close to thrashing things out.
(3) The Democrats are tightly connected to the gang that caused the problem in the first place. The Bob Ruben wing. This is particularly inhibiting to the necessary process of standing back and trying to figure out what's needed for the country, not just them. This is the vision problem.
(4) The Democrats are deeply divided internally. As Phillips put it, "the flesh of the Democratic Party carries a lunchbox. But the new soul of the Democratic Party wears a pinstripe suit." This is the political problem.