When the first round of Bush tax cuts was passed in 2001, Republicans used the reconciliation process, which, among other things, meant that the cuts would expire in 10 years. At the time, this was generally viewed as not that much of a big deal for them, since nobody wants to raise taxes; the prevailing assumption was that they would end up being extended no matter who was president or who was in charge of Congress come 2011. And it looks like that was a correct assumption.
Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick and Jeff Shesol give us the lowdown on the latest in conservative creativity, a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would allow states to band together to repeal any federal laws they didn't like. So for instance, if legislatures in two-thirds of the states decided that $7.25 is just way too much for people to be paid, they could nullify the federal minimum wage. Sounds like a great idea! What I really love is that the website for the plan wants you to "join the movement to restore the Constitution," by dismantling the rather carefully crafted balance the Constitution strikes between state and federal power.
November 29, 2010, may be remembered as the moment when progressives stopped giving Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. Some had long before, of course, whether because of compromises during the health-care reform debate, his continuation of Bush-era policies on civil liberties, or what some see as his obeisance toward Wall Street.
Both of our two great political parties are coalitions of groups with different priorities. Some of those priorities can be addressed in specific ways, while others are more amenable to gestures and symbols. Jonathan Bernstein argues that conservative demands tend not only to be more symbolic but also more all-or-nothing:
...most Democratic constituency groups have real policy demands, and that they’re very eager to have those demands fulfilled. My sense is that a lot of Republican constituency groups have more symbolic demands.