The health care dog that’s not barking

With all the attention to the coming midterm elections, I think it is quite notable what a small role the Democrats’ passing of health care legislation seems to be playing in the election.  The Republicans kept insisting that it would bring about electoral disaster for Democrats (in which case they would’ve voted for it if they truly believed that), yet it really doesn’t seem to be playing a major role in any of the campaigns I’ve been reading about.  Jon Chait’s got some nice comments on the matter:

It’s obviously true that the Democrats lost a lot of support “during the health care debate.” The health care debate took about a year. My argument is that, during a period in which unemployment was rising and the Democrats controlled the entire government, Democrats would have bled support regardless of what they were debating. If they declined to carry out their campaign promises, they would have lost support. If they cooperated with Republicans to continue or deepen Bush-era tax cuts for the rich — the only policy upon which bipartisan cooperation was possible — they may have bled somewhat less support because people like bipartisanship, but it would have been terrible policy.

You can make some counter-factual argument that never attempting to pass health care would have been a good political alternative, although you have to account for the massive liberal firestorm this would have provoked. You can make a better argument that passing health care quickly instead of spend month after month sitting on Olympia Snowe’s doorstep would have been a shrewder plan. I think the conservative argument that, after investing months and months into health care, taking high profile votes in both chambers, it would have been shrewd to then abandon the whole thing to failure is transparently unconvincing. That’s a recipe for absorbing almost all the costs of passing health care reform, getting none of the benefits, and driving your base wild with rage at you.

As I argued back in March, these midterms are ultimately about the economy, not health care.

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Chart of the day

From CBPP (who really know how to bring the graphs) via Ezra:

8-13-10socsec-f1.jpg

“The revenue loss over the next 75 years just from extending the tax cuts for people making over $250,000 — the top 2 percent of Americans — would be about as large as the entire Social Security shortfall over this period,” write Kathy Ruffing and Paul N. Van de Water at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Members of Congress cannot simultaneously claim that the tax cuts for people at the top are affordable while the Social Security shortfall constitutes a dire fiscal threat.”

Headline of the day

From Alternet:

“Hey Ladies, Want a Raise? Wash Your Vagina — Women’s Day Magazine’s Ultra-Sexist Ad”

This really is pretty amazing (in a disturbing and oh-so-wrong way)…

So, ladies, you say you want a raise? How should you go about getting it?…

What to do?

Fortunately, the good folks at Women’s Day and Summer’s Eve have a few words of advice for you…

What is the very first thing you should consider if you want a raise? What is the most important thing of all?

Yup, wash that vagina, and wash it good. Remember the sandalwood-scented balls. You don’t want any, ahem, untoward odors to interfere with your chances, do you? What’s that you say? You don’t have an odor problem? You’re clean, you bathe regularly, and you don’t really need advice to use a product that “cleanses away odor-causing bacteria from the external vaginal area?” What are you, a barbarian? This is a raise you’re talking about.

That was #1 on the “how to get a raise” list. What was last, least important? Well, after the “wash your vagina” advice, it must be something truly inconsequential, perhaps related to toenail hygeine with closed-toe shoes, right? Let’s look:

Accomplishments? Who cares? You’re a woman. Nobody wants to know about your accomplishments. No, what really matters is a great fresh cut flower smell from you-know-where.

Russia in color (from 100 years ago)

Amazingly cool color photographs of Russia from 100(!!) years ago.  Check ’em all out.

Obama the Muslim

So, that previous post reminded me from something I meant to blog about last week and forgot.  Political Scientist, John Sides, filling in for Ezra last week had a really nice post about why more people think Obama is a Muslim and who they are.

Here are the trends from the March 2009 to August 2010 polls in the perception that Obama is a Muslim. I divide the sample into Democrats and Republicans. Independents who lean toward a party are counted as partisans (see here for why), so this analysis includes about 90 percent of the sample. I then divide the sample into the education categories that Pew provided: those with a high school degree or less, those with some college education, and those with a college degree or more.

The growth in this perception among Democrats is small and is consistent across education levels: a 2-4 increase within each level.  By contrast, the growth in this perception among Republicans is more notable among those with some college education (a 19-point increase) or a college degree (15 points) than among those with a high school degree or less (9 points).  In other words, better educated Republicans have changed more than the less educated Republicans. This flies in the face of the “dumb Americans” idea and provides some support for Nyhan’s hypothesis. The people most likely to hear the “Obama is a Muslim” meme are the ones whose beliefs changed most dramatically in the past 17 months.

I was a bit surprised that Sides did not mention the work of John Zaller, as this ties in quite well with his work on opinion change.  Most people assume that it is the “dumbest” or least educated Americans who will be most influenced by the media and let Glenn Beck, et al., drive their opinions.  The truth is, though, that those Americans consume very little news and political media.  You have to be exposed to information to have your opinions change.  In this case, the more educated the Republican, the greater the media consumption and thus the more the exposure to all this Obama the Muslim absurdity.  Democrats, on the other hand, aren’t going to be as exposed to the right-wing sources spreading this junk, and even if they are, obviously not inclined to believe it.

I’m sure you could find something that makes Democrats look bad and credulous in comparison to Republicans, but I truly doubt you’d find anything near this egregious.  As much as David Broder and his type (including many of my students) always want to suggest, American politics is not symmetric.

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