Massachusetts Mitt, Jobs Creator?

Just so there is no mistake here:  I didn’t like Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts.  First,  he got the Republican nomination by elbowing out a perfectly good candidate, Acting Governor Jane Swift.  Second, he spent most of his time here not being Governor, but running for President.  Third, getting universal health care was a great achievement showing the country that it can be done, but Mitt wants to forget it ever happened.  Kinda like throwing out your only child with the bath water.  But now Mitt is running again as a jobs creator because only Republicans can create jobs.

Last night Rachel Maddow reminded us of a little fact about Mitt Romney’s job creation:  He didn’t create very many. 

What Romney leaves out of his stump speech, however, is just how bad his state’s job creation statistics were during his four years as governor. Different job creation studies rank Massachusetts in the bottom four states during Romney’s administration. A study by the independent think tank MassINC ranked the state 49th in job creation from 2001-2007, ahead of only Michigan. And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Massachusetts ranked 47th, ahead of only Michigan, Ohio, and Louisiana. Michigan and Ohio, both located in the Rust Belt, faced heavy job losses due to the flight of manufacturing jobs from the Midwest. Louisiana, meanwhile, lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

During Romney’s period as governor, Massachusetts’ job growth was just 0.9 percent, well behind other high-wage, high-skill economies in New York (2.7), California (4.7), and North Carolina (7.6). The national average, meanwhile, was better than 5 percent.

So who does Mitt blame for this poor performance?  The Democrats in the legislature.

Romney blames the poor job numbers on Democrats in the Massachusetts state legislature. But since its economy faltered in 2008 and 2009, Massachusetts has rebounded in the job creation ranks, emerging from the recession with some of the nation’s strongest job numbers. Under current Gov. Deval Patrick (D) — and a legislature still controlled by Democrats — the state experienced 4.2 percent job growth in the first quarter of 2011, better than twice the national average and good enough to rank in the top 10 nationally. That followed a year of solid growth in 2010, when Massachusetts was among the nation’s leaders in job growth.

Mitt, you might have to find something else to run on.

Massachusetts Politics and Health Care or Mitt, Scott and Rachel

This Luckovich cartoon is a good picture of Massachusetts politics after health care reform.  You could swap Romney for Scott Brown is it would almost be the same.

Joan Vennochi’s column in the Boston Globe last week provides a good summary of the dilemma faced by Romney and Brown.

WHEN YOU dance to the right with the one who brung you, you can end up with two left feet.

Two Massachusetts Republicans — US Senator Scott Brown and former Governor Mitt Romney — are in that awkward state.

Brown won election as an independent who happened to belong to the Republican Party. He’s quickly learning that in Washington, the “R’’ next to your name means your soul belongs to the GOP.

Brown paused for an instant before promising to vote against the Democrats’ historic health care package. That slight hesitation was enough to enrage conservatives who are already suspicious about his core beliefs.

No wonder he has to raise money by raising the specter of Rachel Maddow! (more on that later)

Brown’s campaign rallying cry — that he would be the 41st vote against health care reform — never made much sense. As a Massachusetts lawmaker, Brown voted for the health care reform package that was spearheaded by Romney and became the model for the federal law that President Obama just signed.

Brown never really explained how he could rail against a measure he once supported. Then, again, neither did Romney. He now sounds slightly unhinged as he attacks Obamacare, which is, after all, based on Romneycare. Right after the House vote, Romney condemned Obama as having “betrayed his oath to the nation.’’ Yesterday, his political action committee announced a new program, dubbed “Prescription for Repeal’’ to support conservative candidates who will repeal “the worst aspects of Obamacare.’’

The Republican problem is they wanted President Obama to fail so badly (and were conviced he would never pass any type of health care reform) they dug themselves into a corner. 

Brown and especially Romney should have known better. But they seized the path to the right as the best route to political victory. In the end, it could be the road to political defeat.

Brown will have to decide whether he belongs to the people of Massachusetts or to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and assorted Tea Party activists. He was attacked from the right when he joined the Democratic majority and backed a Senate jobs bill, and the attacks will continue.

To win reelection, he must be the independent he promised to be. Yet, conservatives will become incensed each time he strays from the party line, and even when he doesn’t. Some blame Brown for the passage of health care reform on the grounds that his election forced Democrats to go for it even without 60 Senate votes. That’s unfair, but that’s raw, partisan politics.

As for Romney, when he ran for president in 2008, he twisted and turned into a flip-flopper to a degree that severely undercut his credibility on the national stage. Still, based on past history, he was well-positioned to become his party’s nominee in 2012. The Republican nomination generally goes to a loser from the previous election cycle. Despite myriad weaknesses, that’s what happened with John McCain.

Now, to play in the Republican primary world, Romney has to do the mother of all flip-flops on health care reform. It’s hard to imagine how he does it, but if he succeeds, where does that leave him in a general election? Forget about two left feet. With his clumsy dance, he will have waltzed himself off the cliff.

If memory serves me, we just finished electing Scott Brown to 3 years in the Senate, but he is already trying to raise funds from his friends on the right by raising the specter of that scary Rachel Maddow running against him.  And Rachel is trying to use this to raise her profile and ratings.  It was good theater for a while.  And even though a number of commentors in the Boston Globe seem disposed to a Maddow run (according to a Tweet I glimpsed on Boston.com), I think is was just theater for her.  Brown, however is in a different position.  Even Newsweek is weighing in.  Liz White posted last week.

The fake 2012 Massachusetts senatorial race between newly elected Sen. Scott Brown and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is really heating up—er, sort of.

Earlier this week Brown sent a fundraising letter to supporters all over the country claiming the “political machine” in Massachusetts was vetting “liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow” to oppose him in the state’s election in 2012. Maddow quickly fired back, announcing that she had no plan to run for office while denouncing Brown for making up the story just to raise money. On Friday, Maddow approved a full-page ad in The Boston Globe to make her plans known to Brown’s constituents.

It really says something that two years in advance and a few months after what GOP supporters called his “Massachusetts Miracle” election, Brown is already worried about competition, even if it is just to bring in more money. As the first Republican to be elected for Senate in Massachusetts in 40 years and a with no vote on the health-care-reform bill—not to mention his more moderate tendencies could turn off the far right—he could face a tough reelection campaign. The rumor of Maddow’s run might be false, but it’s clear Brown’s fear of the next election isn’t.

Hey Scott, why don’t you take Rachel up on her offer to come on her show?  I don’t think she will ask you any thing too hard – just why you were for health care reform before you were against it.  And what exactly is the difference between the Massachusetts bill and the National one?  Easy stuff like that.

Waterloo?

Two links to Republican reaction (pre and post) to the Health Care Reform Bill.

First, Kent Jones’ video from the Rachel Maddow Show in which he collects the comments from various Republican’s about the bill.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/35994753#35994753

Second, here is from Republican David Frum

Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.

It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:

(1) It’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November – by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.

(2) So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.

So far, I think a lot of conservatives will agree with me. Now comes the hard lesson:

A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

So who should really be singing  the old Stonewall Jackson Song (written by Marijohn Wilkin and John D. Loudermill?

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

Now old Adam was the first in history
With an apple he was tempted and deceived
Just for spite the devil made him take a bite
And that’s where old Adam met his Waterloo

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

Little General Napoleon of France
Tried to conquer the world but lost his pants
Met defeat known as Bonaparte’s retreat
And that’s when Napoleon met his Waterloo

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

Now a feller whose darling proved untrue
Took her life but he lost his too
Now he swings where the little birdie sings
And that’s where Tom Dooley met his Waterloo

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

//

Only time will tell, but right now I think it is the Republican Tea Party.

Puppies, Cats and Filibusters

Last night Rachel Maddow did this weird segment launching her contest to come up with a word that is less boring that filibuster.  Her theory being that the process won’t change until people understand what it is and they won’t understand it until we come up with a word that doesn’t put everyone to sleep.

Rachel explained this while running unrelated video of a puppy who kept falling asleep in a large pan of water.

So I tried an experiment.  Peter, one of the cats, was asleep on the end of the sofa.  I called his name.  He woke up and looked at me.  I told him I wanted to have a conversation about filibusters.  He promptly closed his eyes and went back to sleep.  Coincidence?  Probably.  I didn’t say the magic word, “food”, for one thing.  But it was kinda cute.

I’ve written about the filibuster several times in the past and despite what Harry Reid seems to want to do (which is nothing) something has to happen.  Did everyone hear President Obama mention many things which have passed the House and not the Senate during his State of the Union Address?  And it is sad that the Senate has to be threatened with recess appointments before they begin to confirm nominees.

Of all the suggestions, I think the best is not changing the 60 vote rule itself, but instituting the old talk until you drop rule.  No more going on to other business.  No more going home.  If you call for a filibuster, be prepared to talk.

Come on, Senate Democrats.  Stop looking like sleepy cats and puppies.

Dr. Bones Explains Health Care

This past Sunday, the back page of the Boston Globe “Ideas” section was a great cartoon by Dan Wasserman.

And I’m still disappointed about the public option, but I’m not quite ready join Howard Dean and dismiss the entire bill.  [An update:  soon after I first published this Howard was on the Rachel Maddow show saying he is now not going to oppose the bill due to some additional changes that had been made.]

For more from Wasserman use the blogroll link for Out of Line.

The Joe Problem

I started thinking about the Democrats Joe Lieberman problem back when the President (who was really new then and trying to play nice) gave his blessing to allowing Joe, a McCain and other Republicans supporter, back into the Democratic Senate caucus.  They also let him be the Chair of the Homeland Security committee.  So now why is Joe going to vote with the Republicans to let them filibuster the health care bill.  He claims he is opposed to the public option and worried about the deficit.

The other night Rachael Maddow had an interesting piece about Joe and Birch Bayh.  Yesterday, Bayh flipped flopped around, but in the end said he will vote with the Democrats to let Health Care Reform come to the floor of the Senate.  I hope he was scared of the ads that reform supporters would be running showing his wife on the board of directors of Wellpoint and graphs of how much money they made from the insurance companies. 

But Joe is a different problem.  As Nate Silver writes

The reason this is a little scary for Democrats is because the usual things that serve to motivate a Congressman don’t seem to motivate Joe Lieberman.

Would voting to filibuster the Democrats’ health care bill (if it contains a decent public option) endear Lieberman to his constituents? No; Connecticutians favor the public option 64-31.

Would it make his path to re-election easier? No, because it would virtually assure that Lieberman faces a vigorous and well-funded challenge from a credible, capital-D Democrat, and polls show him losing such a match-up badly.

Would it buy him more power in the Senate? No, because Democrats would have every reason to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

Is Lieberman’s stance intended to placate the special interests in his state? Perhaps this is part of it — there are a lot of insurance companies in Connecticut — but Lieberman is generally not one of the more sold-out Senators, ranking 75th out of the 100-member chamber in the percentage of his fundraising that comes from corporate PACs.

So what does Harry Reid need to do?  Stroke Joe’s ego more?  Buy him a puppy as Nate Silver suggests?  And how many times does Reid do this?  Back to Nate

The other way that this is damaging to Democrats, of course, is that it may embolden an Evan Bayh or a Blanche Lincoln or a Ben Nelson to adopt Lieberman’s stance. None of these guys want to be the lone Democratic member to filibuster — but it’s much easier to defray individual responsibility on a procedural vote against your party when you have someone else joining you.

But while a Nelson or a Lincoln is liable to have a fairly rational set of concerns — basically, they want to ensure they get re-elected — it’s tough to bargain with people like Lieberman who are a little crazy. In certain ways, he resembles nothing so much as one of those rogue, third-bit Middle Eastern dictators that he’s so often carping about, capable of creating great anxiety with relatively little expenditure of resources, and taking equal pleasure in watching his friends and enemies sweat.

In other word:  Joe Lieberman is not rational and is more than a little nuts.  And he must be feeling great because his, little Joe Lieberman, is standing single handedly in the way of what is looking like an acceptable health care bill.

The Republican Problem with Blondes

I generally don’t like to stereotype people, but today I just can’t resist.  Remember Dan Qualye?  He who used to look adoringly at Bush I?  He was a blonde back then. Then there was blonde bombshell pundit Ann Coulter.  Now the Republicans have Liz Cheney and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. 

Liz Cheney is on a crusade to save her father’s image.  Maybe she is trying to save a Spanish court or a truth commission or U.S. attorney from prosecuting him, but I don’t think it helps much at she can’t get facts which are clearly on tape correct.   Last night Rachel Maddow deconstructed Liz Cheney’s interview with Andrea Mitchell in which Cheney claimed that the linking of Saddam Hussein with 9-11 was an attempt to smear the Bush administration and that her father never said any such thing.  And here I’ve been thinking for at least 7 years that this was the reason for the War in Iraq.  Silly me.  Oh, the link wasn’t really with 9-11 just with Al-Qaeda.  Didn’t they take responsibility for the attack which would mean, if Saddam and Al-Qaeda were linked that Saddam would be linked to 9-11?  But no one has ever found such a link including the Congressional 9-11 Commission.  Liz is a blonde.

And then there is the other Republican blonde, Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  She criticized President Obama’s Cairo speech by saying he never mentioned “democracy.”  Elizabeth, he had a whole section which he called “Democracy.”  Keith Olbermann deconstructed this one.

The Republicans may have a problem with blondes.