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Political Strategy Notes

Michael Tomasky makes the case at The Daily Beast that the Republican Party has morphed into something fairly new in American politics -- a political party wholly dedicated to sabotaging legislation. "They didn't come to Washington to govern. They came to sabotage. So our working assumption must be whatever the issue, sabotage is what they're going to do." (See also this TDS post on the topic by Vega, Kilgore and me) Further, adds Tomasky, the only forces that can stop them now are "the high-profile figures of Wall Street and the corporate world," since they are already among the big losers of the current fiscal crisis and have more to worry about in a few months.

Jared Bernstein believes going over the cliff is better than cutting a bad deal. As Bernstein explains, "it would be better to go over and quickly repair the damage on the other side. How do I know we'd get a better deal there? I don't, but at that point, I suspect Congress would quickly implement the president's back-up, bare minimum plan: cut the now-higher taxes on households below $250,000 (which after Dec. 31 scores as a big tax cut, so Rs can enthusiastically get behind it), extend UI, patch the AMT and doc fix, and maybe suspend the sequester. The estate tax will have reset to a much worse deal for those Rs and Ds who want to protect the top few tenths of a percent of wealthy estates ($1 million exemption, 55 percent rate), so they too would be motivated to accept the WH's deal ($3.5 million exemption, 45 percent top rate, as opposed to what we might get from the Senate deal: $5 million, 35 percent).

HuffPo's Ryan Grim adds clarity to the coverage of filibuster reform prospects, Grim reports that "Merkley's "talking filibuster" proposal is wildly popular with the public. A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in late November found that 65 percent of Americans believe senators should have to participate in debate for the duration of a filibuster, while only 9 percent said that senators should be able to filibuster without being physically present." He adds, "The Constitution allows the Senate to write its own rules, which is why Democrats say that only a majority is needed at the beginning of the term to write new rules. Opponents point to Senate Rule V, which states that the rules can only be changed with a two-thirds vote. Democrats point out that Senate Rule V is not part of the Constitution and argue that no previous Senate can tie the hands of a current one."

Ezra Klein observes that the McCain-Levin proposal "...is filibuster reform for people who don't want to reform the filibuster."

About 49K Floridians were discouraged from voting by long lines --- and about 30K of them would have voted for President Obama, according to this report.

At FiveThirtyEight, Jon Sides argues that evidence is scant that front-loading attack ads against Romney helped President Obama much.

Mother Jones' staff has put together "151 Victims of Mass Shootings in 2012: Here Are Their Stories." Share it far and wide until we get a worthy gun control bill enacted.

David Brooks dissed President Obama on MTP because "sometimes he governs like a visitor from a morally superior civilization," which recalls Frank Rich likening Mitt Romney to "an otherworldly visitor from an Aqua Velva commercial circa 1985." Not hard to pick which 'visitor' is better for America.

At Daily Kos, John Perr provides the numbers that show quite conclusively "The national debt? Republicans built that."

Krugman explains why Starbucks should just make the overpriced coffee and leave the muddle-headed national debt palaver to the MSM.