Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quote of the Day

Ezra Klein:

Olympia Snowe is arguably the most independent Republican in the Senate--and she's stuck with her party on 67.3 percent of votes in this Congress. That is to say, if you knew nothing about Snowe save that she was a Republican, you could predict her vote about 70 percent of the time.

And Snowe is actually uncommonly willing to vote with the other side. Ben Nelson is in Snowe territory, voting with the Democrats 67.6 percent of the time, and so is Susan Collins...The reality is that the single most important thing to know about any politician is which party they'll caucus with. Full stop.

Campaigns are built to fool us into thinking that we're voting for individuals. We learn about the candidate's family, her job, her background--even her dog. But we're primarily voting for parties. The parties have just learned we're more likely to vote for them if they disguise themselves as individuals. And American politics would work better if we understood that.


Anonymous said...

Collins - or no other lawmaker for that matter - 'cut' anything. The starting point for ARRA was zero. To say Collins is no moderate because she doesn't go along with the other party 100% of the time is vapid. The give and take of negotiations is exactly how our representative republic is supposed to work.

Contrapositive said...

What was she negotiating toward, Anonymous? What principle or theory or thesis was she working under?

First she said she wanted a bigger bill with more infrastructure spending. Then she voted against the key infrastructure-related amendment.

Later she said she wanted to trim the bill, implying that she wanted to swap out the less stimulative initiatives for more stimulative measures. But her mark-up of the bill kept all the tax cuts (not very stimulative) and removed things like flu preparedness funding--health care infrastructure--that would have been plenty stimulative.

I'm all for good faith, principled negotiation. If Collins thought the proposal was insufficiently stimulative or unaffordable or something else, that would have been a conversation worth having. But that conversation never took place. Because principled negotation wasn't what Collins was up to.

She and Nelson seemed to want to trim the bill either to show the administration who was boss or just to put themselves at the center of the story.

And they did just offer "cuts"--it's not like they put together their own propsal from scratch. Their starting point was the administration's framework, they just proposed to snip a billion here and a few billion there.

And they never articulated anything resembling a reason for why, on the merits, those cuts were necessary--or what purpose they were meant to serve.