Nobody Knew Legislating Could Be So Complicated

Contra WH spin, it doesn’t get any easier from here. And before Republicans get to find out tax reform is just as complicated as health care, they have to somehow avert a shutdown:

Of course the rub is that before Republicans can even begin to consider the FY2018 budget resolution that would provide a priviledged vehicle for tax cuts, they have to deal with a number of more pedestrian issues, chiefly funding the government. Not in some fantasy, just-on-paper policy document like Trump’s “skinny” budget — they actually have to find the formula (and the votes) to keep the lights on. And unlike the past six years where Democrats had at least some ownership of the federal government, and therefore an incentive to provide the lift, they’ll be far more inclined to let Trump and his party twist in the political wind.

While both health care and tax reform had obvious political upsides, there’s no back patting from outside groups for doing the basic blocking and tackling of government. Where reconciliation bills and Congressional Review Act resolutions allow for party line victories, albeit with restrictions, the appropriations process requires at least some Democratic buy-in in the upper chamber. How will Trump respond when his wall funding is a non-starter? How will the Freedom Caucus react if the President asks them to bite the bullet on a clean CR or debt limit increase?

Full post here.

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No, Big Data Did Not Break American Politics

In which I take a few whacks at a particularly misguided NBC News piece by Chuck Todd and Carrie Dann:

First, let’s note how little sense it makes to attribute polarization to the tools that reveal the poles. While campaign activity pursued at the margins might exacerbate existing divisions, it’s certainly not a driver of systemic paralysis. It’s a bit like blaming the rise of gaming for the abysmal workforce participation rate. There’s surely an interesting correlation, but it’s hard to parse cause and effect in a societal Möbius strip.

More importantly, the Todd/Dann argument suffers from a facile view of the voting public. Their case hinges on this idea of a robust if latent political center that has been spurned by data-driven campaigns playing to the fringe. Except that this linear idea of the ideological spectrum completely misunderstands the dynamic that brought us to this point. As I wrote in National Review back in February of 2016:

Ultimately the problem with ascribing ideological labels to your average American (much less asking them to self-identify), is that they are not ideologically consistent enough for it to mean anything. Most people simply don’t live or consume politics in that way. Yet we are limited both by language and by our conventional understanding of what these terms imply. As Will Jordan put it, “The reason Trump wins moderates is not because he wins people with moderate views, it’s because that’s not necessarily what a moderate is.”

Full post here.

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About that CBO Score

I try to offer a bit of perspective on the ugly CBO coverage number that Capitol Hill is buzzing about.

The Congressional Budget Office’s model loves the individual mandate.

Loves it. It’s part of the reason the ACA ended up with one in the first place, despite Candidate Obama going so far as to run attack ads excoriating Secretary Clinton for it during the 2008 primary.

It helped that Clinton’s position on the mandate was shared by most Democrats; but, as Ryan Lizza noted in a 2012 New Yorker piece on Obama’s evolution, the CBO consideration was a major and explicit part of the calculus.

So if we know that the model gave generous treatment to the individual mandate in the first place — overly so, based on actual enrollment figures — it should come as no surprise that it judges repeal of the mandate quite harshly. It can’t help that the replacement mechanism inserted by Republicans, a 3o percent lapse surcharge ostensibly meant to incentivize continued coverage, logically has the opposite effect. (If I’m a young, healthy individual, the relative savings of foregoing insurance promises to far outstrip a nominal 12 month penalty in the event of its necessity.)

Full post here.

For a more in-depth look, check out Avik Roy’s analysis over at Forbes.

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