NM-1: DOWN TO THE WIRE. Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid is going into the last full week before elections in New Mexico's first district with a razor-thin lead over incumbent Republican Heather Wilson. Of course, the poll was run before the televised debate last week. Who won the debate largely depends on who you ask, though most observers found the incumbent to be more polished.
THE MAJORITARIAN DIFFICULTY II. Looks like it's Jonah Goldberg Monday here on Tapped. Kevin Drum finds him claiming that the last "100 years" of liberalism has been about "shoving things down people's throats." Drum identifies the most obvious problem: the core elements of the liberal accomplishments of the last century -- most importantly the New Deal/Great Society safety net and civil rights protections -- are very popular, which is why conservatives get power only when they don't oppose them.
The NYT had a mostly good piece on efforts to deal with global warming today. The one big item missing is any discussion of pay-by-the-mile auto insurance. The logic on this one is simple. Currently auto insurance is pretty much a fixed price, drivers pay an average of close to $1,000 a year whether they drive 100 miles or 100,000 miles (low mileage discounts alter this slightly). Obviously the risk of accident for any given driver is roughly proportionate to the amount they drive.
Apparently NYT reporters can't. An article in Monday's NYT on a new Medicare guidebook that seems to promote private plans reports that "senior Democrats" complain that these plans raise the cost of the program. Well, senior Democrats might complain about the higher costs of the HMOs, PPOs and other private plans that have been incorporated into the Medicare program, but the evidence comes from independent assessments from the Congressional Budget Office and elsewhere.
We all know the story, an old-line U.S. industry, burdened by high wages and outmoded business practices, starts to lose out to foreign competition. Instead of bringing their pay more in line with world standards, they go running to the government for help.
No, I'm not talking about economics reporters or the brilliant economists who somehow failed to see the housing bubble (and the stock bubble), I'm talking about the Census Bureau's release of data on vacancy rate for thethird quarter. The data show that vacancy rates have climbed to yet another record high.
BUT WHAT KIND OF POPULISM? My friend Cliff Schecter has a new article lauding the populist approach of Midwestern and border state Democrats. I'm always happy to see such pieces, mainly because it would be good if part of the post-election narrative for Democrats, assuming they win, is that a resurgent populist appeal pushed them over the finish line. I would, however, be grateful if writers began defining their terms a bit. The fact that these politicians are populist is simply asserted -- what the label means beyond thinking economic hardship is bad is never explained.