The Winning Team

May 6, 2009

“When I heard Specter switched parties, I thought he became a Republican.” – attributed to Jason Roe, GOP strategist.

I have long been an admirer of Arlen Specter, the senior senator from Pennsylvania. He and Patrick Leahy, both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, are among my favorite senators. They both seem reasonably moderate, very intelligent, and I could listen to them both speak for hours. 90% of the time, they seem to “get it”, which is more than I can say for the rest of Congress.

Recently, Specter announced that he was joining the Democratic party, because, as he put it, he “felt the Republican Party had moved too far to the right”. Some say he didn’t think he could be re-elected as a Republican; I think he made the right decision. The Republican brand has been so weakened and damaged over the past eight years that anybody who’s left in the Republican party (no pun intended!) leans far more politically to the right than they used to. Would they elect someone like Arlen Specter?

In many ways I disagree with our highly dichotomous system of party affiliation. It seems that – in Washington D.C. – you’re either a Republican or you’re a Democrat. There’s no label for “moderate” or “centrist”. I know that, as the political winds shift, my personal label might change despite my views staying roughly the same, so I can certainly identify with his perspective.

There are concerns that he’s providing the Democrats with a 60-vote unblockable majority. I’m less worried about that. I don’t think he’s a party-line voter, and, when push comes to shove, I don’t think he’d vote with the bloc on important issues if he disagreed with them. (Still, I dislike any party having that many votes.)

In summary, I’m not sure this is really going to change anything; but I do think it’s interesting to watch.

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Feeling stimulated

February 13, 2009

It would appear that H.R. 1 has passed both the House and Senate and is being ironed out before being presented to the President. (Note to New Hampshire residents: I’m not sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of Judd Gregg. He didn’t vote. Also a note to Minnesota residents: You might want to elect a senator at some point soon. It seems important.)

What is H.R. 1? Why, it’s the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”, an attempt to deficit spend $850-ish billion dollars in a way that will “stimulate” the economy.

I’m not sure this is a good idea. A little bit of debt is good for the soul. But with a GDP of $13.84 trillion, is having a national debt of over $10 trillion such a good idea? (And it’ll be over $11 trillion by the time H.R. 1 gets signed into law.) I mean, having a mortgage is one thing, but this is almost like having credit card debt that equals your entire yearly pay. (More, in fact!)

So while I’m sure there are provisions in the stimulus that effect me, I’m not sure that saying “figure this out” to the people causing the problems wouldn’t be a better idea.