Archives for February 28, 2013

Elected Offices Are Political Offices

I don’t always agree with Steve Barron on every issue, but I think this line of criticism of him from Bill White is way off base:

My offense? Criticizing Barron’s grandstanding approach and the effect it has on the credibility of his office. You can read my terrorist manifesto here.

Of course, Barron never was more visible than in the fight to keep the Stoffa administration and County Council from privatizing Gracedale, ultimately achieved through a referendum. This earned him — and McClure –the lasting adulation of the county union people and others who were successful in keeping Gracedale in the county’s control.

If you don’t want the Controller to behave like a politician, then don’t make the Controller an elected position. If you force people to do politics to get the Controller seat – raise money, build a coalition of political actors and interest groups – then you can’t expect them not to deliver what that coalition wants. And insofar as Democratic politics in Northampton is dominated by labor, the Controller is going to behave like a partisan of labor. That’s what he has to do to keep the seat. That’s why I don’t favor elections for row offices. But if you’re going to have them, you certainly can’t blame people for doing what’s required get and keep the job.

Bernanke: Sequester Cuts Will Lower GDP, Make Deficit Reduction Harder

Ben Bernanke:

The CBO estimates that deficit-reduction policies in current law will slow the pace of real GDP growth by about 1-1/2 percentage points this year, relative to what it would have been otherwise.

A significant portion of this effect is related to the automatic spending sequestration that is scheduled to begin on March 1, which, according to the CBO’s estimates, will contribute about 0.6 percentage point to the fiscal drag on economic growth this year. Given the still-moderate underlying pace of economic growth, this additional near-term burden on the recovery is significant.

Moreover, besides having adverse effects on jobs and incomes, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short run for any given set of fiscal actions.

“…as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim”

When will conservative voters realize that conservative media hates them and wants them to believe stupid things?

From: Gene Sperling … To: Bob Woodward … Feb. 22, 11:52 p.m.: “Bob: I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying … that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand bar[g]ain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA [Budget Control Act of 2011]: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is different. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.


–From: Bob Woodward … To: Gene Sperling … Feb. 23, 7:23 a.m.: Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today.



Sent from my iPhone

Lehigh County Authority Leasing Allentown Water Clearly Better for Suburbs Than a Private Corporation

What Lisa Scheller, and probably the other teas, do not seem to realize is that if a private water corporation wins the bid to lease Allentown’s water, suburban water rates are more likely to go up than if Lehigh County Authority leases the water.

The rates are probably going up no matter what Allentown does, but with the LCA option suburban voters have at least some indirect political control over the situation, since their elected officials have the power of appointment over LCA.

If a private corporation leases the water, they can raise rates on LCA customers all they want and folks can’t do shit about it.

Rather than thinking through the actual policy issues though, you see Lisa Scheller and the tea people hazily trying to apply Washington tea thought to this question. LCA buying the water assets, which in turn pays off Allentown’s pension debt, is kinda sorta like a BAILOUT if you think about it for under two seconds. And also, too, cities vs. suburbs amirite? That’s one of the biggest problems with the Lehigh County slate. Everything they do has to be well-grounded in national Republican ideology. There’s no serious effort to actually understand the municipal issue set.