Friday, November 07, 2014

Bipartisan Corporate Establishment Turns Back Challengers, Strengthens Hold on Congress


​by Gaius Publius

There will be much analysis of the 2014 election (including here), but I want to add a few preliminary notes of my own.

1. DC insiders and corporatists have increased their hold over the House and the Senate. It took a joint, bipartisan effort, but the effort paid off on election day. Bad for corporate Democrats, who sacrificed their numbers for the cause, but good for the Corporate Congressional Coalition (hereby the "CCC") as a whole.

2. In the Senate, conservative Democrats Hagan, Pryor and Begich have lost or will likely lose to conservative Republicans. (Begich is good on Social Security, but not on much else.) Conservative Republicans Perdue and McConnell (he who kissed the Koch Bros ring) fended off challenges from DSCC-sponsored conservative Democrats Nunn and Grimes. Economic conservative incumbent Mark Udall lost to extreme conservative Cory Gardner and right-wing Democrat Mark Pryor lost to extremist ideologue Tom Cotton

While modestly-progressive Jean Shaheen held seat, unloved-by-DC-insiders Shenna Bellows and Rich Weiland (both true progressives) were successfully defeated by conservative Republicans Mike Rounds (to flip the seat) and Susan Collins (to hold the seat). Collins was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, a pro-environmental group that wants to curry favor with both sides. (Wonder who's going to speak at their annual big-donor dinner? It won't be the first time a conservative politician said thanks in this way to a "progressive" group backing conservative policies.) The seat held by mainly-progressive Tom Harkins was captured by ultra-conservative Kochist Joni Ernst.

If you're scoring the Senate D. vs R., the R's went up by +8 (if Begich loses). If you're scoring it Rich vs. the Rest or Corporatists vs. Progressives, the Corporatists went up +2 (or +1½, depending on your opinion of Mark Udall) — flipping the Harkins and Udall seats — and in true bipartisan fashion, supporters of both parties jointly turned back two potentially strong but mainly un-DC-supported progressive challengers, Weiland and Bellows. Way to win, Friend of Corps. Team effort.

3. The House analysis is going to take more time, but if all current leads hold, Steve Israel turned a 35-seat deficit into a 61-seat deficit. You can talk "wave election" and "gerrymandering" all day, but when Dems don't even compete in 21 winnable seats, your problem starts closer to home — the boss is throwing the race (my emphasis below):
All of these [Republican] incumbents represent districts where Obama won in 2008 and/or 2012 but where Israel has refused to back the grassroots local candidate or has frightened off anyone from running against his Republican pals:

    • NJ-02- Frank LoBiondo- D+1
    • MI-06- Fred Upton- R+1
    • WA-08- Dave Reichert- R+1
    • FL-27- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- R+2
    • PA-06- Jim Gerlach- R+2
    • MN-03- Erik Paulsen- R+2
    • PA-07- Pat Meehan- R+2
    • MN-02- John Kline- R+2
    • PA-15- Charlie Dent- R+2
    • MI-08- Mike Rogers- R+2
    • WA-03- Jaime Hererra Buetler- R+2
    • VA-10- Frank Wolf- R+2
    • CA-25- Buck McKeon- R+3
    • WI-01- Paul Ryan- R+3
    • MI-11- Kerry Bentivolio- R+4
    • IL-06- Peter Roskam- R+4
    • PA-16- Joe Pitts- R+4
    • CA-49- Darrell Issa- R+4
    • IL-16- Adam Kinzinger- R+4
    • MI-03- Justin Amash- R+4
    • MI-04- Dave Camp- R+5
To put this in numerical perspective, it takes 218 seats to control the House. Democrats started this election with 199 — meaning they were 19 seats away from the majority. The list above is itself 21 seats.

Think about that — 21 low-PVI Republican-held seats where Israel has either blocked progressives or protected Republican incumbents. Again, the boss is throwing the race.

I don't have a Corporate vs. Progressive count for House races, but a number of progressives lost or are losing as of this writing, including the under-supported New Hampshire progressive, Carol Shea-Porter. (Well-supported corporatist Ann Kuster won handily, 55% to 45%. I wrote about both races here.)

As you can imagine, none of the new Republicans is likely a populist, and since most of the losses on the Democratic side were by corporatists, the CCC held serve. Did they increase their numbers in the House? Likely, but a later analysis will have to determine that. 

4. Does the newly-minted corporate Senate majority favor real filibuster reform? I kind of hope so — especially since our "collegially-minded" Democrats wouldn't take full advantage of a robust filibuster anyway. The old-minted corporate majority favored only weak filibuster reform, and then only because, with Democrats in the nominal "majority" they had to make a show of doing something. They did the least something that looked like a thing.

(I know that the short-lived reform insurgency led by progressive Jeff Merkley was sincere in wanting reform, but the bipartisan majority had its way. Then, when it came time to either hide or expose the names of Democrats who wanted to help Republicans keep the filibuster alive — Merkley's group chose not to expose the "old lions" to censure. How collegial — progressives and corporatists, together again, united to defend the corporatist plan. I will definitely come back to this.)

5. I earlier identified Obama's four high-priority legacy items as:
▪ Health care “reform” — a privatized alternative to Medicare expansion
▪ A “Grand Bargain” in which social insurance benefits are rolled back
▪ Plentiful oil & gas, and passage of the Keystone pipeline
▪ Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement
He accomplished the first as his first major legislative effort. The second was stymied when back-bench Republicans joined with House progressives and refused many times to approve it. On the third, Obama is indeed giving us "plentiful oil & gas" despite a great show of caring about trying to begin to start the ball rolling on climate fixes. On the fourth, TPP is stalled.

Look for Obama's unfulfilled dreams — Grand Bargain, Keystone pipeline approval, TPP corporate empowerment masked as a "trade agreement" — to come back alive, thanks to the strengthened corporate Congress. Will Obama find himself "forced" (by collegiality?) to sign them?

If he does, he'll get a four-point legacy "sweep," as I count them. Mission accomplished. On to his next task...

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At 9:06 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

And while that was going on Election Night check out what Wolf-Pac did.

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was rampant voter suppression all across the nation. This election was merely window dressing, a "look! the people support corporatism" lie to legitimize the coup which is already underway.

The Democratic Republic of the United States is dead. The Corporatist States of North America, Inc. has taken power. There will be no rescue, not from Hillary or anyone else. It's over.

Figure out how you will bury your relatives, for that time is at hand.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Zappatero said...

Thank goodness for you guys. The Professional Left likes to pretend blogs don't make a difference, and that we're all a bunch of brick-and-mortar (and steel and smoked glass) deprived losers.

I think, no, know, that blogs do make a difference and that if the Genius DC Dems who ushered in this mess had listened more to people like Kos, Atrios, DWT, Digs, et al...we wouldn't be in quite the shape we're in today.

At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrote this a.m. much the same on Truth Out in response to Riversong's post. I included that Obama would also like to see his Republican majority ditch the torture report in addition to S/S cuts, TTP & TIPP fast tracked,corporate tax reform (read: cuts)and K/S pipeline.

At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Edward J. Dodson said...

How to change the way public policy is made. That is the great challenge. The only option left is the use of referendum. The process of drafting constructive legislation and getting it adopted is now beyond the reach of citizen input.

A citizens' movement to change the way our legislators are chosen is needed. Our system of electing individuals after they campaign for public office has proven to be inherently corrupt. That lesson should have been learned shortly after the first election under the state and federal constitutions.

A better system would be to select legislators by lottery. Individuals willing to serve would take an examination to demonstrate they have the basic skills required and understand the functions of the office, the constitution and the rule of law. If selected, they would serve a term of four years at the end of which another person would be selected to replace them. A recall provision would permit citizens to withdraw support for someone who is not serving the public interest. This could be as simple as 51 percent of eligible "voters" withdrawing support.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'twas ever thus... at least since 1980.
If you ignore "party" and look only at policy, we've had 9 Reagan admins, each incrememtally worse than the last. Yet imbecile American voters (those that actually show up) DEMAND to lather, rinse, repeat.

the "party", heretofore known as simply "the money", has conducted a skillful charade since 1979 whereby one sock puppet, the R, pretends to be outraged and hate the other sock puppet, the D. Bill Clinton, while more liberal on SOME social issues (welfare oh-so notably excepted), was uberconservative on everything else except war, where he was merely circumspect while conducting them (the Balkans).

American imbeciles by the 10s of Ms were and are taken in by the charade as they hold their 6 hands over their 5 orifi. The R is worse so I must vote for the D... The D is a socialist/communist/dick-tater/non-citizen/non-Christian who is coming for my guns... so I must vote for the wrinklier white dude...

Meanwhile, we've lost 8 of the 10 in the bill of rights, 80% of the rest of the constitution... and we continue to demand we lose the rest... leaving only the lunatic's interpretation of the 2nd.

Now, in 2014, after continuing the charade with skill until this time, the Ds now hardly care to wear the façade any more. You can expect some half-assed policy posturing now that policy the money cannot abide also cannot possibly pass...

In fact, this era should be known as the era of horseshit. harry reid mostly will be busy writing and advocating lege that cannot possibly pass... when he could have proposed it in 2009/10 when the Ds had a 60 seat minority... no misprint. The reason harry reid (and nancy Pelosi) did no such thing??? It would actually embarrass Ds with a 60 and the house WHEN, not if, they didn't pass it... you see, the money won't abide a lot of that kind of shit, so harry/nancy wouldn't propose it until they were assured of blockage by Rs. The money gets what it wants and thwarts all it does not want.

Jamie dimon is not now, nor will ever be, indicted for being the biggest criminal in the history of the world. See Taibbi's fine piece in RS... as well as all his fine stuff before. Jamie dimon is this era's robber baron supreme. He's probably the evilest mofo of this century... no matter who else emerges in the next 85 years.

But he owns a big swath of both "parties" and is golden for life.

Because American voters are truly imbeciles.


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