motherjones.com — Charles Spies has seen the future of American elections, and it is drenched with super-PAC cash—much of it aimed at getting single politicians elected. Super-PACs may have spent $635 million during the 2012 elections, but that's chump change compared to what they'll likely unload in the next presidential election. (Only 45 months away!) Ditto for the 2014 midterm elections compared to the 2010 midterms. Spies predicts at least 250 new super-PACs will spend serious money on races up and down the ballot in 2014. And he says voters should expect a lot of them to be devoted to promoting the fortune of a single House or Senate candidate, big-money bazookas firing away to nudge their preferred politician that much closer to Washington.
robertreich.org — Soon after President Obama’s second inaugural address, John Boehner said the White House would try “to annihilate the Republican Party” and “shove us into the dustbin of history.” Actually, the GOP is doing a pretty good job annihilating itself. As Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal put it, Republicans need to “stop being the stupid party.” The GOP crackup was probably inevitable. Inconsistencies and tensions within the GOP have been growing for years – ever since Ronald Reagan put together the coalition that became the modern Republican Party. All President Obama has done is finally find ways to exploit these inconsistencies.
nationaljournal.com — Equality was the North Star in President Obama’s confident and ambitious Inaugural Address this week. But the speech defined the idea around two distinct poles, and his path to progress is much clearer on one than the other. In his first words, Obama reached back to the Declaration of Independence to anoint as America’s founding and most foundational conviction the belief “that all men are created equal.” The heart of what followed was his argument that this timeless principle contains both an economic and a social dimension—and that collective action through government is essential to realizing both. In essence, Obama argued that fidelity to America’s founding beliefs requires a widening circle of economic opportunity and social tolerance. When Obama defined equality as widening social tolerance, he had the wind of history at his back. The president’s prospects are much murkier on the other dimension of the challenge that he identified, expanding economic opportunity and reversing inequality.
huffingtonpost.com — President Obama is off to a good start in his second term. "We, the people," he pledged in his second inaugural, "still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity." Amen to that. But as the economy continues its agonizingly slow recovery, his greatest challenge will be to reverse the economy's widening inequality. Ordinary working families are falling further and further behind the cost of living. The picture is especially brutal for young adults, who are likely to find themselves saddled with college debt, facing jobs that offer neither benefits nor career security. So the challenge, as President Obama famously told "Joe the Plumber" is to spread the wealth around. How do we do that? Here are four ways.
prospect.org — That 400,000 votes separated Romney from the presidency is a quirk of our electoral system, and Republicans will mislead themselves if they focus on that number. Mitt Romney didn’t just lose to Obama in the 2012 presidential election: He underperformed. Exit polls provide a few clues about why voters rejected the Republican Party at all levels. If you weren’t well-off—if you were struggling—you didn’t vote for Romney; the GOP had nothing to offer you. Romney might disparage politicians who give “gifts” to the public, but the fact of the matter is that voters support leaders who provide—or can promise—tangible benefits. At most, Republicans promised greater “growth” from cutting taxes, slashing spending, and reducing regulations. Americans didn’t bite, because those policies don’t work (they remember the previous administration) and because they don’t trust Republicans to govern (they remember the previous administration).
nytimes.com — President Obama’s second Inaugural Address offered a lot for progressives to like. There was the spirited defense of gay rights; there was the equally spirited defense of the role of government, and, in particular, of the safety net provided by Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But arguably the most encouraging thing of all was what he didn’t say: He barely mentioned the budget deficit. Mr. Obama’s clearly deliberate neglect of Washington’s favorite obsession was just the latest sign that the self-styled deficit hawks — better described as deficit scolds — are losing their hold over political discourse. And that’s a very good thing. Why have the deficit scolds lost their grip? I’d suggest four interrelated reasons.
huffingtonpost.com — In the past 20 years, the world has witnessed the death of social contracts. We have seen a massive breakdown in trust between citizens, their economies and their governments. In our own country, we can point to years of data painting a bleak picture of the confidence Americans have in any of our traditional institutions. Former assumptions and shared notions about fairness, agreements, reciprocity, mutual benefits, social values and expected futures have all but disappeared. The collapse of financial systems and the resulting economic crisis not only have caused instability, insecurity and human pain; they have also generated a growing disbelief and fundamental distrust in the way things operate and how decisions are made.
prospect.org — Republicans are wondering why they didn't manage to make Hillary Clinton fall whimpering into a fetal position of the floor of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room, then get up and admit that the Obama administration had engaged in a massive cover-up of their terrible crimes in Benghazi. Senator Ron Johnson, one of the most intellectually challenged members of that august body, with whom Clinton had an exchange that ran on all the news programs, triumphally told a reporter he had got "under her skin." John McCain, on the other hand, blamed an "adoring media" for not helping the Republicans stick it to Clinton. Could be. Or it could be that when you trump up some inane faux outrage over something, and then the person at whom you're directing said outrage actually has a chance to respond directly and decides to call bullshit on you, you don't end up looking too good.
baselinescenario.com — Unsurprisingly, most Americans are split between various misconceptions of what Social Security and Medicare are. Many, particularly right-wing politicians and their media mouthpieces, see them as pure tax-and-transfer programs: they gather money from one set of people and give it to another set of people. From this point of view, they are bad bad bad bad bad and should be cut. Many others, particularly beneficiaries and people who hope to see beneficiaries, see them as earned benefits. The common conception is that you pay in while you’re working, so you earned the benefits you get in retirement. You didn’t “earn” them in the moral sense that people who work hard should get benefits; you “earned” them in the accounting sense that you’re just getting back “your” money that you set aside during your career. Both of these perspectives are wrong, the latter more obviously so.
dailykos.com — Republican Sen. Ron Johnson had a bit of a tough day yesterday. His attacks on Sec. Clinton did not go well (if there is one person you ought to think twice about trying to bully in a hearing, it would possibly be the ex-senator and former first lady most intimately familiar with the last 20 years of asinine Republican scandal-trawling), which resulted in a wounded Johnson sniffling that Clinton dodged his questions by being "emotional." Today isn't shaping up much better for Johnson, who this morning was gets quietly chastised by secretary of state nominee John Kerry for missing the damn Senate briefing on Benghazi where Johnson could have gotten some clarification on the things Johnson has decided are, probably, outrages.