Young People are Asking - Where's the Party for Us?

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

What if we held a political party and nobody came?

This is becoming increasingly likely if your idea of a robust political party is one that includes 20-somethings or 30-somethings.

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In Jersey, Christie's burden may be heavy for candidates in 2010

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

In June, I telephoned an old New Jersey friend - a Republican lawyer from Totowa who has been active in Passaic county politics for decades and whose views I respect - to ask his views about the governor's race between incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie.

At the time, Christie was ahead by over 10 points in the New Jersey polls.  I asked my friend of 33 years, "What do you think will happen in the governor's race in November?" He answered without hesitation, "Corzine should win because the Republican base has been shrinking in this state, and the party has not done much to broaden the base.  In many places in New Jersey, the Republican Party does not exist.  The Republican label has become toxic in this state."

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Needed on Executive Pay: Legislation, not Moral Suasion

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Ted Kennedy is gone but he is still helping Barack Obama.  The person who Kennedy tutored and entrusted with the job of chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 70's and early 80's has taken the first meaningful step to bring about a correction in the way Wall Street compensates its executives.

Kenneth Feinberg, the administration's pay czar has ordered companies who have received taxpayer bailout money to cut the pay to their highest executives.

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Limit "abstinence only" programs to the U.S. Senate

With little debate and even less reasoning the Senate Finance Committee recently included in its health care legislation 50 million dollars for teaching abstinence only sex education classes in schools.  These programs teach students to avoid having sex as the only way to avoid pregnancy and stay healthy.

By definition, these programs are not reality-based and, therefore, have proven to be ineffective.  They deny the existence of condoms, birth control pills, and other proven ways to stay healthy and avoid pregnancy.  They are ineffective because many young people will have sex even if you warn them about the dangers, and not educating them about the number of options available to have safe sex unnecessarily places their health at risk.

You might call these "ignorance only" programs because their objective is to keep young people ignorant of the facts of sex and prevention of medical conditions that could harm them.

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The foolishness of Duncan, Gingrich, and Sharpton

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Not since the Medal of Freedom ceremonies in 2004, when President George W. Bush praised General Tommy Franks for his failure in school - "You weren't the brightest bulb in the socket...ain't this a great country?" - has a high government official sent such a powerfully wrong message to America's school children as Education Secretary Arne Duncan did this week.

He chose to open a multi-city tour to sell his education program by showcasing Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton. Duncan proudly proclaimed that, although these two celebrities disagree on most issues, they did agree on Duncan's plan to turn some public schools over to for-profit companies, close the ones that perform badly, and emphasize student test scores for grading teachers.  These are serious issues, which is why when many of us heard about the Gingrich-Sharpton show we said, "He cannot be serious?"

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When abortion polls promote misperceptions

With all of the attention given to the Pew poll's recent finding that support for abortion has declined, one key point gets lost: the question of whether the country should "keep abortion legal" does little to explain the views of a majority of Americans.  According to Pew's survey, over eight in ten Americans do not want to outlaw abortion; for most of them, circumstances are what matters.

When Pew released its numbers this week asserting that support has dropped for abortion because 47% of the public now says abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while  45% says it should be illegal in all or most cases (down from 54-40 a year ago), it reinforced the misperception that abortion opinions are two dimensional.  At BRS, we learned a while ago that opinions on abortion are not bipolar - yes/no - but rather on a continuum, based on how restrictive people want to be.

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Congress - Unwilling to change 57 years of protecting insurance monopolies

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Hypocrisy is once again on display in the United States Senate. Creating competition in the health insurance industry is the one goal that Congressional Democrats and Republicans can say they agree upon, even if they disagree about how to bring about this competition.

Senators have been scrambling to create new and ever-more complicated systems - public insurance option, and cooperative exchanges - that only theoretically would infuse the health insurance markets with more competition.

But the truth is that we can lower insurance rates immediately by repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1952, which has allowed insurance companies to operate outside the federal antitrust laws for the past 57 years. So far, the Senate has been unwilling to end the insurance industry's baseless exemption from the antitrust laws.

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Lessons from 9/11, still not learned

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

The eighth anniversary of 9/11 came and went without much thought in the news media about what we have learned from this horrible event. In this age of terror, here are my four personal lessons from 9/11, which, if learned, could help to make us a safer, stronger country.

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Warning to Senate Blue Dogs: Going it Alone can be Dangerous

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

When President Harry Truman said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog," he had not met any of the Blue Dog Democrats in the Senate.

Blue Dog senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and other Democrats such as Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patty Murray of Washington, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who face reelection next year, have a choice-do they run as Obama Democrats or Obama critics?

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The generational battle over health care reform

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

The debate over comprehensive health care has made pollsters and others view health care politics in the larger context of generational change and the desire to use government to help people.  A look at generational attitudes suggests America is in a transitional phase in its approach to government.

Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center, in an analysis on the Pew website, recently argued that if Medicare was proposed for the first time this year, it would probably not pass the Congress because of public opposition to such a large government program.

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