Number Crunchers And Green Eyeshades

The President unveiled his 2013 budget plan today, and the details and priorities are very interesting, to say the least.

President Barack Obama would almost double spending on the U.S. infrastructure over the next six years and would pour $350 billion into a jobs plan while shrinking the budgets of most other domestic agencies.

The blueprint for the fiscal 2013 budget released today would spend $476 billion through 2018 on highway, bridge and mass transit projects, funded in part by winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It cuts some energy programs, farm subsidies and federal workers’ retirement plans, while bulking up the Securities and Exchange Commission and creating a new panel to investigate unfair foreign trade practices.

Investing in the nation’s transportation grid is a fresh attempt to create jobs for a president facing re-election this year amid voter concern about the economy and unemployment at 8.3 percent in January. In addition to gasoline tax revenue, transportation spending would come from a $38.5 billion-a-year transfer from the fund that now goes to war spending.

“Most Americans understand that a crumbling infrastructure is not the way to build an economy that can last,” White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We need to make sure we have a manufacturing base in this country” and workers with appropriate skills, said Lew, the former White House budget director.

Obama’s proposals for discretionary spending must adhere to August’s Budget Control Act, which imposed spending caps that the administration estimates will generate about $1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade.

Less bombs, more bridges.  Makes sense to me.

With a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the document has little chance of becoming law. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said “no,” when asked yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if Obama’s budget had any change of passage in that chamber.

Please note that this was technically saying no the day before the plan came out.   We need MOAR CRAZY HOSTAGE TAKING if we’re going to have a real budget.  Issue one is the GOP most likely attaching the Blount Amendment to exempt all employers from covering any icky woman part maintenance things in insurance to the payroll tax cut extension sometime this week.

Won’t that be a fun fight.  Republicans pitting workers vs. women and expecting to win, either, or, or both.

[UPDATE] I stand humbly corrected on the GOP attaching the Blount Amendment to the payroll tax cut, as Orange Julius folded his cards and now wants a clean extension for the rest of the year.  What the Blount Amendment will now get attached to, I don’t know.  It can’t possibly pass a stand-alone vote.

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75 replies
  1. 1

    Investing in the nation’s transportation grid is a fresh attempt to create jobs for a president facing re-election this year amid voter concern about the economy and unemployment at 8.3 percent in January.

    For pity’s god damn sake, isn’t it JUST POSSIBLE that Obama thinks our transportation infrastructure really needs to be fixed and jobs are a good thing? You know, that he’s motivated by the right thing to do, and political benefit is a side effect? Criminently.

  2. 2
    beltane says:

    Issue one is the GOP most likely attaching the Blount Amendment to exempt all employers from covering any icky woman part maintenance things in insurance to the payroll tax cut extension sometime this week.

    Why of course. The new GOP position is that human females are not human for purposes of medical care. Why doesn’t Blunt just come on a tell us that if we want health care we’ll have to get it from a veterinarian just like the b*tches we are?

  3. 3
    Felinious Wench says:

    2012 can’t come fast enough.

    For those of you who like to crunch numbers, how close are we to potentially taking back the House and the Senate?

  4. 4
    SenyorDave says:

    At this point I’m all in for Santorum. Please let him be the nominee, he is everything the Republican party has become. The movie “Idiocracy” should have been shown at CPAC.

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    Won’t that be a fun fight. Republicans pitting workers vs. women and expecting to win, either, or, or both.

    Are they still allowed to vote?

  6. 6
    donnah says:

    Where I live in Dayton, Ohio there was just a report done on the condition of local streets and it’s not good. One in five streets is in need of repair work. That’s a lot of pavement and it would mean a lot of jobs, too. We benefitted from highway money to repair Rt 35 a couple of years ago and more federal money would make a huge difference.

    Oh, wait. With Kasich as our Governor, the money will probably get shifted somehow to the new casinos he’s pushing. And we’ll have new toll roads, too.

    Nevermind.

  7. 7
    Jennifer says:

    @SenyorDave: That would be life imitating art imitating life, since I’m pretty sure the characters in Idiocracy were based on the presenters and attendees of CPAC.

  8. 8
    SenyorDave says:

    @beltane: I don’t think Blunt would want to allocate the money for a vet for women. Probably imagines women could just give birth in a field.

    Sometimes people like Blunt make me embarassed to be male. Then I just remind myself that he isn’t actually a human being.

  9. 9
    priscianusjr says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    For pity’s god damn sake, isn’t it JUST POSSIBLE that Obama thinks our transportation infrastructure really needs to be fixed and jobs are a good thing? You know, that he’s motivated by the right thing to do, and political benefit is a side effect? Criminently.

    Certainly he does, but there’s the matter of timing … Obama’s got rhythm, man. I’m not being facetious.

  10. 10
    GARY CAMPBELL says:

    Republican pond scum. Isn’t there some disease that will sterilize them so they can’t breed?

  11. 11
    Rick Massimo says:

    They hate America. It really is as simple as that. They say they love America, but they love America like the abusive spouse loves his wife – they have to smack her around once in a while when she does that thing that she damn well KNOWS sets them off. It’s her fault, really – there wouldn’t be an argument if she’d just do what they say.

  12. 12
    Whiny The Elder says:

    Issue one is the GOP most likely attaching the Blount Amendment to exempt all employers from covering any icky woman part maintenance things in insurance to the payroll tax cut extension sometime this week.

    The laser-like focus of Republicans on the issue of JOBSJOBSJOBS is truly breathtaking to witness.

  13. 13
    jl says:

    @beltane: But for better or worse, this country let the wimmin folk out of the kitchen and into the jobs long ago. My gummint states says women about 45 percent of the labor force.

    If Zandar is correct, and the the GOP is trying for a workers versus women wedge issue, maybe the GOP has not thought things through.

    Must be a very clever GOP move to juice their sagging primary numbers. They think they can sweep this under the rug for the general election? Or do they think they can use this to increase the the turnout of the base enough to swamp the disgust of most of the country?

    I hope this GOP turd of an idea is as bad an idea as it seems.

    The bishops and religious nut hypocrisy is there for all to see. If sextytime is only for kids, why are all those old codgers getting their viagra for free? I eagerly await the condemnation of those immoral b * N 3 r p l l z and the horrible badness of paying for them with comprehensive health coverage. Moral right thinking people should be outraged. I am sure the old white farts in the 27 percent would agree.

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    @Felinious Wench:

    For those of you who like to crunch numbers, how close are we to potentially taking back the House and the Senate?

    Uh… we technically do control the Senate. :-p That said, there are about 18 Senate seats in contention for 2012 and 12 of them are Dem seats. What are the odds of us getting back our 60-vote filibuster proof majority? Nil. The odds of us simply holding firm aren’t great either. We are at bigger risk of losing the Senate.

  15. 15
    Glenda says:

    Well you know, because there is no chance that Republicans will let this pass, abc news opinion tells us:

    the presentation today was largely a moment of political theater aimed at projecting an image of the president as a “warrior for the middle class.”

    Nothing like having a ‘liberal media’!

  16. 16
    jl says:

    Reposing comment due to bad words that snuck through on first attempt.

    @beltane: But for better or worse, this country let the wimmin folk out of the kitchen and into the jobs long ago. My gummint stats says women about 45 percent of the labor force.

    (Edit: took a while to get the gummint stats cause I typed in ‘blah.gov’ rather than ‘bls.gov’. I guess I got ‘Rih’ on the mind.)

    If Zandar is correct, and the the GOP is trying for a workers versus women wedge issue, maybe the GOP has not thought things through.

    Must be a very clever GOP move to juice their sagging primary numbers. They think they can sweep this under the rug for the general election? Or do they think they can use this to increase the the turnout of the base enough to swamp the disgust of most of the country?

    I hope this GOP turd of an idea is as bad as it seems.

    The bishops and religious nut hypocrisy is there for all to see. If sextytime is only for (Edit: creating new) kids, why are all those old codgers getting their ‘Niagra’ for free? I eagerly await the condemnation of those immoral b * N 3 r p l l z and the horrible badness of paying for them with comprehensive health coverage. Moral right thinking people should be outraged. I am sure the old white farts in the 27 percent would agree.

  17. 17

    @priscianusjr:
    Oh, I understand that the man’s a smooth politician. I just get frustrated sometimes by the media’s Sacred Horse Race. The framing discounts that anyone would ever be motivated by helping people, or that politics has anything to do with helping people, ever.

  18. 18
    beltane says:

    The gig appears to be up. Sens Snowe and Collins are breaking ranks with McConnell over contraception coverage http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....-coverage-

    Those two heretics must apologize to the Catholic bishops at once.

  19. 19
    Culture of Truth says:

    Congressional Republicans are dropping their demand that an extension of the payroll tax cut be paid for with spending reductions, after Democrats countered their insistence with a suggestion of paying for the tax cut with a surtax income over $1 million.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    President Barack Obama would almost double spending on the U.S. infrastructure over the next six years and would pour $350 billion into a jobs plan while shrinking the budgets of most other domestic agencies.

    A rehash of past proposals. Not very creative. And while some of the highway and bridge stuff is good and essential, much of the mass transit stuff, especially high speed rail, is a money pit boondoggle.

    Still, this is better than any deal that the GOP will put on the table.

    The strange thing is that I am not sure that the administration understands the depth of tax reform that they need to do for 2012.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    Of course, Boehner p l l zzzzzzz have other medial uses than helping with superannuated * o * e r s, just like those naughty floozy p ll zzzzzzz, but that makes no difference. Insane principle about imaginary stuff should over rule everything.

    (Edit, or maybe, disgusting and disastrous cynical political maneuvering should over rule everything)

  22. 22
    harlana says:

    man, the public is going to be so sick of the contraception battle bullshit by the GE, there is going to be sooo much material to use against them that independents are just not going to like, they are going to be repelled – and they just keep handing it over on a silver platter, i love it

  23. 23
    KS in MA says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: You’re absolutely right. (And thank you for using “Criminently,” which I haven’t heard in decades!)

  24. 24
    jl says:

    @Culture of Truth: I was wondering what happened to the GOP principle that tax cuts did not have to be offset? Wasn’t that an official Congressional GOP position, or was that just some loose talk from GOP wingnuts on the Sunday GOP and hack insider consultant ‘news’ shows?

    That is a serious question. not snark. Was that nonsense ever official Congressional GOP position?

  25. 25
    The Moar You Know says:

    For those of you who like to crunch numbers, how close are we to potentially taking back the House and the Senate?

    @Felinious Wench: We’re not taking back the House and we are likely losing the Senate.

    The motivators: Supreme Court appointments, veto power over turning the whole country into a Randian paradise.

    Obama will be spending four years trying to keep the nation from toppling into the abyss – and that is the best possible outcome for 2012.

  26. 26
    jl says:

    @The Moar You Know: Fortunately, looks like the GOP is trying to change that, with their new stunts.

  27. 27
    eemom says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    We’re not taking back the House and we are likely losing the Senate.

    That’s an absolutely ridiculously pessimistic statement to make under the current circumstances.

    Exactly what NUMBERS are you basing it on? Cuz the lady asked for “number crunching,” not meaningless gloom and doomery.

  28. 28
    Brachiator says:

    @harlana:

    man, the public is going to be so sick of the contraception battle bullshit by the GE, there is going to be sooo much material to use against them that independents are just not going to like, they are going to be repelled – and they just keep handing it over on a silver platter, i love it

    True story. On the bus this morning, there was a Transit TV screen showing Mittens in a blue sweater talking something about contraception. Maybe a clip from CNN or a pundit show.

    Two women on the bus watching this laughed at him. Laughed. And one of them emphatically said, “He can’t win,” getting a laugh and agreement from the other woman.

    I cannot remember when I’ve seen a political candidate so openly and cheerily mocked by people who were not political wonks.

    This is not looking good for the GOP. And they haven’t even finished their primary.

  29. 29
    The Moar You Know says:

    That’s an absolutely ridiculously pessimistic statement to make under the current circumstances.

    Not really.

    Exactly what NUMBERS are you basing it on? Cuz the lady asked for “number crunching,” not for meaningless gloom and doomery.

    As you can see at the link, Nate Silver’s, and he has a pretty good track record – to say the least.

    I understand the cheerleading urge, but we are up against a very tough challenge in the legislative branch and glossing over that is not going to help.

  30. 30
    Culture of Truth says:

    This is not looking good for the GOP. And they haven’t even finished their primary.

    True – the could still nominate Santorum or Gingrich and then we’ll really be sorry!

  31. 31
    Splitting Image says:

    The Blunt amendment might be the dumbest political move any party has made in my lifetime. By writing the amendment so that it refers to moral objections in general rather than abortion in particular, the GOP has reframed their position from a defense against abortion to an attack on child care of all kinds.

    The amendment only makes sense if you assume that morality consists of exactly one thing: opposing abortion. Since that isn’t true, what the amendment will actually do is allow companies to object to any form of treatment whatsoever.

    In fact, if I wasn’t familiar with GOP politics, I would assume that the purpose of the amendment was to make abortion the standard option for child care and get rid of coverage for pre-natal care, giving birth, and maternity leave.

    Let’s face it, all of those things cost more money than getting the baby aborted. The only real “religious beliefs and moral convictions” that most companies have all have to do with the bottom line on accounting statements. Blunt is basically pushing for a company’s right to tell a woman to have an abortion or be fired.

    Even if the amendment dies in the Senate, one thing it has the power to do is establish the difference between being pro-life and anti-choice. If you’re genuinely pro-life, you can’t possibly oppose corporate support for people abut to give birth. Whatever crummy product your company is making can’t possibly be as important as making the birthing process as easy as possible. Blunt is making the case against the pro-life wing of the party and trying to claim the moral high ground in doing so.

    The amendment also helps establish that there is a difference between being anti-abortion and anti-choice. I’ll give Blunt and the GOP credit for being consistently opposed to a woman having the right to choose, but as I said, there is nothing in the amendment that is specifically anti-abortion. The GOP is establishing itself as a pro-choice party, but for a company’s right to choose, not a woman’s.

    Even after the last couple of weeks, I can’t believe I’m seeing this. After alienating everyone outside their own party, it looks like the GOP is now actively trying to drive a wedge between their own corporate wing and the pro-life wing. I think the last time I saw a political party do anything this stupid was when the Communists in the USSR ousted Gorbachev in 1991.

  32. 32
    spongeworthy says:

    Just so we’re clear, here’s the exact number of Republican votes Obama needs to get his budget out of the Senate: Zero.

    Here’s how many Democrat votes Obama got with his last budget: Zero.

    Here’s how many budgets the Senate has passed in the last 1000 days: Zero.

    McConnell says this budget is a non-starter but he’s game for a vote on it. Here’s how much McConnell can do to stop this budget in the Senate: Zero.

  33. 33
    eemom says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    There’s a big difference between saying we are up against a challenge, and a categorical statement that we are going to lose the House and Senate.

    Also too, and contrary to popular belief, Nate Silver ain’t fucking God — especially NINE MONTHS OUT.

  34. 34
    Face says:

    @The Moar You Know: What’s the point of SC appointments if your Senate is run by all wingtard Republicans? Seems like Obama can prevent a horrible nominee from being benched (by mere fact that he’s a Dem), but the chance that a solid liberal would be voted in is nill.

    Follow up — could a Republican Senate continue to vote down every Obama nominee ad infinitum until 2016, or is there a time limit to the nominating and confirming process?

  35. 35
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Splitting Image:

    I’m not sure Blunt is capable of comprehending anything you wrote. Nor are most forced-birthers. If they were actually “pro-life”, they’d be staunch supporters of Planned Parenthood, which provides prenatal care more than it does abortions.

  36. 36
    Culture of Truth says:

    when you have a Blunt Instrument, everything looks like a fetus.

  37. 37
    Luthe says:

    President Barack Obama would almost double spending on the U.S. infrastructure over the next six years and would pour $350 billion into a jobs plan while shrinking the budgets of most other domestic agencies.

    And by infrastructure, you mean HUD, right? ::has vested interest in the answer::

  38. 38
    kay says:

    @beltane:

    Snowe almost has to. Good God. Her statement in support of this less than 10 years ago!

    So bold. So principled. She was unequivocally and passionately pro-access to contraception, so much so that she sponsored a law.

    I know they lie all the time, but this would have been a stretch for her, given what’s she’s said and done.

  39. 39
    Mark S. says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    That doesn’t look bad at all:

    Thus, I don’t know that Republicans are particularly heavy favorites to win the Senate; their situation is analogous to having a small polling lead in advance of the New Hampshire primary. Perhaps they are something like 60-40 favorites.

    And that was a month and a half ago. The Dems have been looking better recently. It will be tough to hold the Senate because we have so many more seats up, but it could be a lot worse.

  40. 40
    Suffern ACE says:

    @spongeworthy: Yep. I’m always glad there is a budget. But you can’t get anyone to vote. The only thing its good for is for the opposition to find something to make hay about. If I were a budget director, somewhere about 2/3 through I’d put in something like “YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE. YOU KNOW THAT”, just to see if anyone bothered to read it.

  41. 41
    PIGL says:

    @The Moar You Know: The rational response in that case would be a military coup led by the President; or dissolution of the Union into three or four states that could conceivably each elect a functioning government to their several tastes. And I am not kidding.

    If your elecorate returns Obama and leaves the House and Senate in Republican hands, what would be the point of continuing as nation?

  42. 42
    Brachiator says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    As you can see at the link, Nate Silver’s, and he has a pretty good track record – to say the least.

    Not really. Silver is cautious and realistic, most of the time. Even here.

    Our objective technique for forecasting Senate races is not designed to be applied until summer of the election year. (Before then, the polling is a little too rough, and there is too much uncertainty about the identity of nominees, for polling-based forecasts to be of all that much value.)

    But many Balloon Juicers, like many other folk, ignore the cautions and qualifications because they love faux precision and the idea that they can iron out uncertainty and predict the future.

    Silver is a useful addition to other analysis, but he should not be relied on as some kind of statistical oracle.

  43. 43
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Glenda:

    The most insidious thing about the media’s presentation is that it’s impossible to refute. I mean, a bill by an ACTUAL middle-class warrior would include a lot of the things in Obama’s proposed budget. But that’s purely coincidence and we’d be rubes to think otherwise.

  44. 44
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Brachiator:

    Silver is cautious and realistic, most of the time.

    And Silver’s not in the long-dated prediction game. He’s in the business of making calls based on the most recent data, and when that data is volatile, his predictions change accordingly.

  45. 45
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Nate’s statistical predictions, like an NCAA bracketologist, will change dramatically as we get closer to the main event. I noticed the same phenomenon in 2008.

  46. 46
    Lojasmo says:

    @eemom:

    Kkkarl Rove’s numbers. AKA “THE math”

  47. 47
    jl says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe: The oligopolistic corporate national affairs media is almost 100 percent horse race on everything, except when they decide to go sentimental human interest.

    That way, 1) they don’t have to do any work or know anything, 2) safe from attack. I wonder why anyone pays any attention to it anymore.

  48. 48
    Lojasmo says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    You need to re-read that article…for COMPREHENSION this time, because it says NOTHING about the house, and does not support your statement about the senate.

  49. 49

    @spongeworthy:

    What is this crazy BS about not having passed a budget? Last I checked the government was still running. Without a budget it would have shut down after Obama’s first year.

  50. 50
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    @beltane:

    Deafening silence from Massachusetts’ own Senator Brown thus far, however. Which surprises me.

    Curious to see what he does. On the one hand, he has hordes of uber-conservative, middle-aged white Catholic males to appease back home. On the other hand, this is Massachusetts, with a high student population, and a (likely) female opponent in November.

  51. 51
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    We’re not taking back the House and we are likely losing the Senate.

    November is a long ways away, and the GOP has plenty of time to step back from the ledge… but if they continue on their current path, we might end up pleasantly surprised.

    And there’s always 2014. Two more years of GOP antics will give the low-info folks even more time to get sick of them.

  52. 52
    daveNYC says:

    @Face: I don’t think there’s a time limit or anything. Our government wasn’t designed around the idea of the opposition party being a bunch of ranpaging assholes.

    I knew that there wasn’t much chance of taking the House back, there’s a huge seat difference to make up. I didn’t know that the Senate was that bad. Knew it wasn’t a cakewalk, not like that. All I can do is hope that the ongoing Republican clown show depresses their turnout enough that Democrat GOTV can tip the odds.

    I really don’t want to think about one of the five liberalish SC Justices retiring, then having the seat vacant for God knows how long (with the crappy 4 vs. 4 makeup that would result).

  53. 53
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Felinious Wench:

    Getting back the original question, I think BJ residents in the battleground states could give you a better feel for what’s going on than any number cruncher out there.

    In my state, McCaskill will have to face the winner of the Todd Akin/Sarah Steelman/John Brunner battle, with Akin and Steelman being particularly wingnutty. McCaskill is basically seen as a surrogate for Obama. If unemployment continues trending downward, that helps Claire. We have a very good idea how St. Louis and Kansas City will vote (solid blue) and small-town Missouri will vote (solid red).

    Claire’s key contribution will be repackaging the class war meme in a manner acceptable to the big towns like Joplin and Sikeston. If she can do that, she will retain the seat. Considering how the GOP collectively folded their arms when Obama’s FEMA raced to Joplin’s aid, she has a compelling story to tell.

    Redistricting effectively eradicates the former 3rd district, which was in Democratic hands, and splits it between districts which each party controls. So we come out a loser there. However I think we have a shot at taking Todd Akin’s District 2 seat, since he’s not running for re-election.

  54. 54
    Anoniminous says:

    Based on 37 years experience of predictive Modeling and building predictive Systems: it’s way too earlier to use Categorical Logic wrt to the General. One big factor in an election will be the GOP nominee (like NS, S) which is unknown.

    Another big, unquantifiable, factor is the Internet. (Insert chorus of groans.) But it is true. When communication paths increase it invokes change in the way people interact with the messages passed in the paths as well as the memory – broadly speaking – of the messages that were passed. The GOP still thinks they can say stupid shit, e.g., outlaw contraceptives, and everybody will forget about it by the time of the election. Not this time. Which dashes a weapon the GOP has used for decades: “there is no difference between the parties.”

    Obama crushed McCain among women voters (53% of total electorate) 56% to 43%. The only demographic McCain carried was married women and he only won that by 3% – 50 to 47. Judicious use of GOP Teh Crazy re: contraceptives should amp Obama’s take of the women vote into the 60 percentile range. And that’s the ballgame when the AA, Latino, Liberal, and Democratic union vote are added.

    ETA: Women split 49-49 percent for Democratic vs Republican in 2010, best GOP got since 1982 and the reason they won.

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @Rick Massimo:

    They hate America. It really is as simple as that. They say they love America, but they love America like the abusive spouse loves his wife – they have to smack her around once in a while when she does that thing that she damn well KNOWS sets them off. It’s her fault, really – there wouldn’t be an argument if she’d just do what they say.

    Good one.

    The one I usually use is that Republicans “love” their country in the same way the woman in Solomon’s judgment who was willing to have “her” baby cut in half rather than give let “another” woman raise him, loved the baby – as you could see last time the country they “love” elected someone they didn’t like and they reacted by threatening to cut the entire economy’s throat rather than let it run off with someone else. It’s a more convoluted way to put it but does have the advantage of being a Biblical reference.

  56. 56
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Brachiator: Yeah, high speed rail is such a boondoggle that it’s bankrupted every country that’s tried it.

    Try again, bozo.

  57. 57
    spongeworthy says:

    @The Other Bob: A budget is what Obama submitted only to have his Senate reject 97-0. A budget has accoutability and would require some courage to propose. This differentiates it from a continuing resolution.

    A realistic budget, that is, rather than a campaign document.

  58. 58
    David Koch says:

    @Brachiator: Where did this occur?

  59. 59
    Watership says:

    The clean extension of the payroll tax cut, mentioned just briefly at the end of the post, is the real news. Why would Republicans now be willing to go that route?

    Debt ceiling. Projections from the debacle last year aren’t holding up, and with the right combination of factors, a fight could come before election time rather than early 2013. I suspect you’ll see a few curious moves by the Republican caucus in both houses designed to force that issue in October.

    A slight uptick in GDP, relative to current forecasts, would scuttle those plans, but it’s a very real possibility. If Dems are smart (ha!, as Tweety would say), they would continue to push sensible offsets and back the GOP into a corner on this.

  60. 60
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    @Brachiator:

    much of the mass transit stuff, especially high speed rail, is a money pit boondoggle.

    Commercial air transport for ‘normal’ people goes away once oil goes over $300/bbl or so (barring some miracle advance in battery technology or biodiesel production). Probably even sooner, as I’d expect the military to take priority (ie enforce rationing) as supplies run out.

    In real life, it can take years to decades to get all the permits and property rights in order to build a usable passenger train line.

    The implications of these two simultaneous facts is left as an exercise for the reader.

  61. 61
    Brachiator says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    And Silver’s not in the long-dated prediction game. He’s in the business of making calls based on the most recent data, and when that data is volatile, his predictions change accordingly.

    Silver’s gotta make a living just like anybody else. He will do blog posts early, and note the limitations. This will be followed up with polls and analyses closer to a primary or election.

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Yeah, high speed rail is such a boondoggle that it’s bankrupted every country that’s tried it.

    High speed rail could work in some areas. In California, by contrast, the plans are beyond stupid. The money could be better spent on inter city and inter county systems and other areas.

    Other parts of the country? Your mileage may vary.

  62. 62
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Brachiator: Well, I happen to disagree about Cali. Cali has a huge intercity air market, just like France, Spain, and the Northeast corridor did 20 years ago. HSR will not only succeed but thrive, but in Cali you do have the mountain problem, hence the need for federal capital assistance. The first “useless” segment is part of the trunk. Political reality dictates that it be built first.

    We’re talking about a state that has struggled for YEARS with trying to clean up the air. Imagine how much good reducing local air traffic by 50% would do.

    As for the expense, get back to me after perusing the figures on airport subsidies.

  63. 63
    Another Halocene Human says:

    What would truly be funny is if the CA–Vegas HSR project gets built first. Priorities USA!

  64. 64
    Brachiator says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor:

    Commercial air transport for ‘normal’ people goes away once oil goes over $300/bbl or so (barring some miracle advance in battery technology or biodiesel production). Probably even sooner, as I’d expect the military to take priority (ie enforce rationing) as supplies run out.

    In some corridors, high speed rail makes sense. Elsewhere, it’s a 19th century solution to 21st century problems, even if oil goes over $300/bbl.

  65. 65
    nellcote says:

    @Watership:

    The clean extension of the payroll tax cut, mentioned just briefly at the end of the post, is the real news. Why would Republicans now be willing to go that route?

    They’ve split UE extensions off from the payroll tax cut bill. As well as the “doc fix”, whatever that is.

  66. 66
    Brachiator says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Well, I happen to disagree about Cali. Cali has a huge intercity air market, just like France, Spain, and the Northeast corridor did 20 years ago. HSR will not only succeed but thrive, but in Cali you do have the mountain problem, hence the need for federal capital assistance. The first “useless” segment is part of the trunk. Political reality dictates that it be built first.

    The cost estimates for HSR in California have escalated and the projected ridership has plummeted. The political reality, mandating additional stops in places nobody goes to anyway, makes it at best moderate speed rail, kinda negating the whole point of the exercise.

    In Southern California, Metrolink is a good service plagued with increasing breakdowns of its physical stock, and layoffs and declining service in local bus service needed to get people to and from the trains. As a result, ridership is stagnating. The bad economy and reduced transit pass subsidies is also pushing more people back to their cars.

    The LA area Metro system is seeing increasing problems even as they try to expand. And the dirty secret which everyone keeps ignoring is that LA transit officials have yet to find a reliable source of new and replacement trains after a crappy deal with an Italian company was finally fought down.

    Less sexy, but immediately valuable infrastructure improvement is the furiously opposed efforts to build an expanded and more accessible railway near the ports of Los Angeles and San Pedro. This would add jobs. Meanwhile, plans to expand the Panama Canal and expand ports on the Atlantic, may have a net negative impact on American jobs.

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    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Brachiator, at $300 per barrel, high speed rail will be the only plausible inter-city option left. Cars will be up on blocks except for emergency vehicles and a once-a-week run to the doctor or the grocery store. Flight? Take out a loan for a trip.

    Folks aren’t going to want to stay cooped up in the cities if a train going at 200mph plus will get them there. People are going to still want overnight deliveries, and to make meetings cross-country without taking an entire week. High speed rail is the solution to that, no matter what the cost-and we will pay that cost. And we’ll have the land, as a lot of interstates will practically be deserted except for the occasional bus. And we do have the land-think of all those empty subdivisons, rust belt cities, and Detroit in the north, and those deserted towns of the South and West…

  68. 68
    Brachiator says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    Brachiator, at $300 per barrel, high speed rail will be the only plausible inter-city option left. Cars will be up on blocks except for emergency vehicles and a once-a-week run to the doctor or the grocery store. Flight? Take out a loan for a trip.

    Because batteries, natural gas, and even, if necessary, steam, will not exist.

    If cars are up on blocks, much else would collapse. High speed rail would be of even less interest. What would be the point of going city to city, if you then couldn’t travel within the city?

  69. 69
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Unless we are going to end all commerce and defense needs, we will need an interstate grid. There will still be a need for couriers, for interstate communications, what have you. And rail is efficient. Yes, we will travel within the city-the bus, our feet, light rail.

    One more thing. The irony is that we’ve thrown away so much stuff that we could mine our waste for raw materials to build with. There will still be wind, solar, and the remnants of a carbon-based lifestyle to work with.

    And the military is working right now on non-carbon based ways of transportation. We could use those in a pinch for vital defense needs.

  70. 70
    Lurker says:

    @Brachiator:

    If cars are up on blocks, much else would collapse. High speed rail would be of even less interest. What would be the point of going city to city, if you then couldn’t travel within the city?

    For what it’s worth, my friends in New York City get by with the subway and bicycling alone. They don’t need cars in NYC.

  71. 71
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    @Brachiator:

    What would be the point of going city to city, if you then couldn’t travel within the city?

    Light rail. Electric vehicles. Bicycles. And feet. Also, too.

    Your “19th century technology” was the height of fashion until well into the Eisenhower administration.

    Trains are coming back. At least in the countries that want to stay First-World past 2050.

  72. 72
    TOP123 says:

    Trains are 19th century, but they have been updated, after all. Taking the Shinkansen Nozomi service in an N700 feels very 21st century.

    I remember reading this article several years ago about an even older technology, updated for modern use.

  73. 73
    TOP123 says:

    (Where’d my link go?!?) To clarify, “this article” was this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi.....efficiency

  74. 74
    Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy) says:

    @The Moar You Know: As Nate the Great declares right up front in the piece you link:

    Our objective technique for forecasting Senate races is not designed to be applied until summer of the election year. (Before then, the polling is a little too rough, and there is too much uncertainty about the identity of nominees, for polling-based forecasts to be of all that much value.) So you will have to wait on those.

    I understand it’s an uphill battle, but it’s just February.

  75. 75
    Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy) says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner (tense changed for accuracy): I see a bunch of folks beat me to that point.

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