Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Post Election, Part II

As one side gets down to the business of governing, the other side is still ruminating in that kind of old man in a moth eaten sweater & smelly chair with an odd fixation for keeping time with a clicker: on, off, on, off, on off…. – yeah, it’s a little sad – about what happened.

Despite some new post-election angst about the GOP early voting and absentee program -- which really should read “Gurr, if we had only figured out how to co-opt more volunteer time early on to collect old people's votes before the Mark Foley scandal broke, we would still be in control of something!?” -- Republicans are just starting to sort the mess. I’ll take the Broder analysis on this one:

Never was a political wipeout better advertised in advance than the one that hit the Republican Party on Tuesday and cost Don Rumsfeld his job. From the first of my political soundings in the Midwest in early spring, it was clear that the public's frustration with the war in Iraq, the inept performance of the Bush administration after Hurricane Katrina, and the stunning partisanship and tawdriness of the Republican Congress was reaching explosive levels.

When Congress quit work without addressing immigration, energy prices or health-care inflation in any serious way, the majority Republicans were clearly asking for trouble. And the scandals that kept erupting just added to the public disgust. …

…The Republican Party paid a heavy price for Bush and Rove's obduracy -- and for the miserable performance of the GOP congressional leadership. The vaunted Republican "base," on which the White House has relied to support the president's agenda, splintered on Election Day. In exit polls, one-fifth of self-described Republicans and three out of 10 white evangelicals or "born-again" Christians said they voted Democratic for Congress.

Meanwhile, independents and moderates went Democratic by margins of 18 and 23 points, respectively. Democrats broadened their coalition, winning the cities and splitting even in suburbs and rural areas, while capturing majorities in all age groups and every income level up to $100,000 a year. That same range is reflected in the expanded Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate, with notable victories from New Hampshire to Arizona.

At some point, Iowa political types will sit down and seriously look at what happened last Tuesday. Both Democrats and Republicans need to evaluate how much of the Washington meme affected the political outcomes in this state, and what happens when we take away the Washington problem in the next election. For Republicans the challenge is a little easier, self-reflection is often a natural outcome of defeat, of course always more pleasant when tempered with humor (see this Weekly Standard list for inspiration). The Democrats are in a more precarious situation; they must ramp up and govern leaving little time to reflect on why they have arrived, and that’s troublesome for a Party known for its love of government programs and taxes. To wit: a story in today’s Iowa Press Citizen confirms the Democrats balancing act.

In a meeting with area legislators, the Iowa City Council discussed changing the property tax system as a way to generate more money for city services.

Condominiums, taxed at a lower rate than commercial properties, would provide a significant amount of tax dollars to the city's general fund if they were classified as residential (i.e. apartments), city councilors said. …

… Bolkcom, meanwhile, said Iowa's budget deficit could require some belt-tightening. He said the upcoming year will be "fairly austere" and will result in legislators taking a more "pragmatic" and cautious approach to funding.

However, Bolkcom, Jacoby and Dvorsky also expressed optimism that solutions could be found because of the new Democratic majority in the Legislature.

Other legislative priorities listed by City Council include:

• Advocating for increased funding for the Iowa State Housing Trust Fund to make affordable housing more available.

• Maintaining control over local cable franchise to better endorse public television.

• Giving city government the power to increase its hotel/motel tax.

• Allowing home rule so local governments can determine their own public smoking regulation.

• Eliminating the tax break for licenses on pickup trucks that originally was intended to benefit farmers.

I am sure the Iowa City Council’s legislative agenda looks like a number of other Democratic constituencies’ wish lists – most all revolving around more money and more taxes. That cannot add up to a winning campaign theme in two years.

Rest assured, we are giving some very long hard thought.
Good, I certainly seem like the type of person that would rest easy with that news. Not much else to do, really.
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