What Now? Post-Election Opportunities & Challenges


Uploaded by Dartmouth on 16.11.2012

Transcript:
[ Silence ]
>> Good afternoon everybody.
My name is Charlie Wheelan.
I am a senior lecturer here at the Rockefeller Center.
We have just had a presidential election as you all know.
It would appear to me that we have about 50 million people who are pleased with the outcome,
about 50 million people who are not terribly pleased,
and far more than a hundred million people who are happy that the campaign is over
and that we don't have to pay any attention to Florida to know who won.
So obviously we've reelected President Obama and at first glance,
the rest of the electoral landscape does not look like it's changed a whole lot.
The senates are going to control that Senate or the Democrats are going
to control the Senate once again.
Republicans will continue to control the House and the legislative leadership as far
as I know is going to be unchanged.
But if you look pass the headlines, and that's what we're here to do,
there are a lot more interesting things happening in and around this election.
So the composition of folks we're sending to the Senate is noteworthy I would say.
There are four states that had referendums on the ballot regarding gay marriage.
All of those outcomes were-- appeared to be dramatically different
than the 30 some referendums on that issue that had come before.
There are two states that legalized personal use of marijuana, which not only tells us something
about evolving attitudes towards that drug, but it also sets up
and this hasn't gotten much attention an interesting confrontation between the states
and the federal government because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
And that's going to be an interesting situation to watch,
both on the drug policy level and the federalism level.
And while I have asserted that we're all happy the campaign is over, the important stuff,
all the hard decisions related to governance are just beginning.
I would argue, and let's see what the panel has to say,
that this was a particularly backward looking campaign in the sense
that neither candidate presented much of a plan for dealing
with many of the issues looking forward.
It's much more a referendum on Barack Obama's first term and going the other direction,
referendum on Mitt Romney's competence to be president.
Very little in terms of planning for issues like budget problems,
unsustainable entitlement issues, immigrations, or a whole host of other issues that are coming
at us and where the status quo is not necessarily tenable if we choose to do nothing.
I would add further that the reason the candidates did not discuss a lot of specifics is
that the reasonable options we face, regardless of your political opinions, are all unpleasant.
If they were not unpleasant, then we would have solved the problems already.
[laughs] What the means metaphorically is that on issues like the budget, voters have been told
for the better part of a year that they can lose weight by eating ice cream.
To my mind, this has not been a campaign
that has squarely addressed the unpleasant realities that await us.
And yet, on an increasing number of issues,
it's going to get more dangerous and more damaging to do nothing.
All the while, the two parties, and particularly the Republicans,
are going to be dissecting Tuesday's results to figure out what it means, if anything,
for the long run direction of the party.
To discuss all of this and much more,
we are lucky to have three esteemed members of the Government Department.
Each will give brief remarks on their area of expertise and then we'll open it
up to a panel discussion where they'll answer questions
and we can have a discussion about what this all means.
I'm going to introduce the panelists in the order in which they will speak beginning
with Brendan Nyhan on the far side.
Brendan Nyhan is currently an Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.
His research focuses on political scandal, misperceptions about politics and healthcare,
which I would think is very broad field, and applications of social network analysis
and applied statistical methods to contemporary politics.
Before coming to Dartmouth, Nyhan served as RWJ Scholar
in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan.
In 2004, he co-authored the New York Times bestseller All the President's Spin.
He is an avid blogger and currently serves as New Hampshire campaign correspondent
for the Columbia Journalism Review.
He received his B.A. from Swarthmore and a PhD
from the Department of Political Science at Duke.
Second nearest to me is Joe Bafumi
who is an Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth here.
He was a 2010-2011 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow serving
on the Senate Budget Committee staff.
Bafumi teaches courses in American government, public policy and quantitative methods.
He's published in several scholarly journals including the American Political Science Review,
the Journal of Politics, Political Analysis and PS: Political Science & Politics.
He received his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University.
And then we will finish up with Linda Fowler in the middle.
Linda is Professor of Government and Frank J. Reagan Chair
in Policy Studies here in the Government Department.
She teaches courses on American politics and has published widely on topics ranging
from congressional elections and candidate recruitment, voter learning in primary elections
and congressional oversight of US foreign policy.
Beginning in 1995, Linda Fowler was the director of the Rockefeller Center
for nine years here at Dartmouth.
She's close to my heart in that respect 'cause I was on the Advisory Board at the time
that created the Policy Minor in which I now teach.
So I was involved in creating my own job, if that's not illegal somehow.
Before-- it probably is.
Before coming to Dartmouth, she was a professor of political science
in the Maxwell School at Syracuse.
She served as a staff member in the US House of Representatives and an aide
to the Administrator for Water Quality at the EPA.
She graduated from Smith College and received her M.A.
and PhD from the University of Rochester.
So with that, I will turn it over to Brendan and we'll proceed on with the comments.
>> All right.
Well thanks everybody for coming out.
We're just going to say a few words, each of some initial thoughts on the elections
to hopefully leave time to hear your comments and questions too.
I just want to lead things off here with a big picture of political science take
on what happened on the presidential election.
I see a couple of my students from the presidency class
so this will not be news to them.
But the perspective we have on presidential elections is very different from the one
that you typically hear in the media.
The stories that tend to be told about why presidents succeed or fail
and particularly why they have high approval rates or low, why they win reelection
and they don't tends to be about the stories they tell or the narrative, right?
He is connecting with voters or he's not.
His messaging is working or it isn't.
And what I think that that perspective misses is the role
of what we tend to call the fundamentals.
So in this case, it's state of the economy.
President Obama has presided over a fairly weak period economically.
But the economy right now is in a range in which incumbents tend
to be narrowly reelected and that's what we saw.
So if you took an average of the forecast published
in political science before the election using primarily economic factors,
you would have predicted a narrow Obama victory.
That model average forecast is about 50.3 percent of the 2-party vote and Obama got 51.1.
So, they came very, very close.
And so what that suggests is that the state
of the economy is structuring a lot of what we've seen.
So you'll hear a lot about-- right now, you'll hear a lot of stories about why Obama won
and Romney lost that say things like well, Obama's odds defined Romney over the summer.
Or, Romney made this or that mistake, there was a gaffe, you know,
47 percent whatever these things are.
But a lot of that stuff ultimately didn't move the numbers.
If you actually look at the polls, they're quite stable over the whole course of this election.
We see that-- we see Obama getting one big bump around his convention speech and that starts
to decline off and that first debate comes in as that bounces, it's fading off, right,
and Romney makes his games at that point.
But after that, things kind of re-equilibrated back to more or less what we expected
which was a narrow Obama victory.
Now, the problem with this of course is it's not that exciting on a day-to-day basis, right?
So imagine you're the media.
We the political science just tell you well, the odds of you know, Obama winning are pretty good
and they haven't changed that much from yesterday
but they want to sell newspapers, right?
So they have to say, you know, this gaffe is a game changer.
What this candidate said yesterday is going to change everything and it almost never does.
It almost never does.
That's not to say that there isn't something a candidate could do
that would destroy their chance of winning or losing as we'll talk
about with the congressional raises, that is possible.
But that tends to happen less frequently at the presidential level.
That's the-- you know, the folks who get to that point are-- tend to be better politician.
And you know, just one last point before I pass to my colleagues.
You know, the stories that are told-- I mentioned about messaging.
Particularly, there are often stories told about political skill.
So the politicians being good or bad politicians and I think it's worth noting
that people thought Mitt Romney was a really bad candidate.
He didn't have good favorable, unfavorable numbers, he was seen as stiff
and unable to connect, so on and so forth.
He's going to do about as well as we would have expected a generic challenger
to do in this economy.
Which, considering where he started out, is pretty well.
And let me draw an analogy to you to maybe close this parallel to this race which is 2004.
I've been calling this bizarre 2004, this whole election,
because you have a challenger who's perceived as a rich, out of touch elitist
from Massachusetts running as an incumbent with a middling economic record.
So in 2004, people thought of John Kerry the same way, right,
he's not a very strong candidate and he actually slightly outperformed what the fundamentalist
models predicted.
So I think that underscores the, you know, the fact that at least in presidential elections,
these underlining structural factors seem to matter most.
>> So thank you all for being here and thank you
to the Rocky Center for putting this event together.
I mostly want to focus on the most predictable crisis that we're facing after this election
and have been facing for some time, and that's the fiscal crisis or the budgetary crisis.
And the Rocky Center by the way has been great in terms of putting on events that help us focus
on this impending crisis with people like Alice Rivlin and Senator Gregg and others here.
This is an important, enormously important issue that we need to focus on a lot in coming months.
We now have a debt level that rivals or comes close to rivaling the World War II debt levels.
It sort of depends on how you calculate debt that the federal government owes itself.
But we're looking at enormous debt levels and we're looking
at trillion dollar deficits far into the future.
And we will not be able to grow out of it economically
like we did in that post World War II era.
We were very lucky after World War II.
You know, we have this enormous debt but we also had an intact manufacturing base
that would allow us to produce goods that we could export around the world to places
that didn't have that kind of manufacturing base.
They were destroyed in developing nations all throughout the world in the war.
We also had a growing demographic that was creating more demand
and so we could outgrow that debt level.
And today, that's not going to happen.
We're not going to have those kinds of growth levels, economic growth levels on the future.
And we also have a structural budget problem with the entitlements that are owed to people
in the future, things like Social Security and Medicare as well
as other entitlements like Medicaid.
The entitlement obligations are enormous.
The shifting demographics are such that we have many fewer people that will be paying
into the system, many more people collecting as the boomers retire.
That's already-- boomers have already retired and they will continue to in very large numbers.
So this creates enormous deficits, enormous debt and the question is well,
first question, is this really problem.
And the answer is, yes, and I think most people would understand that.
For one, we have to pay a lot every year to service the debt.
We have to pay interest on the debt.
It's estimated that by-- in about 10 years, which isn't really that long,
the cost of servicing the debt will be the fourth most expensive obligation
that we make every year after Social Security, Medicare and national defense.
That is money that will not be spent on homeland security or education or any of a variety
of things that the American people value.
Further, as our debt level grows and our deficits grow, our credit rating will suffer.
It has already suffered and will likely continue to suffer.
If we have growing deficits and debt, that will mean that the cost
of future borrowing will be higher.
It's also been shown that high deficits and debt, particularly high debt can lead
to lower economic growth which means a lower quality of life for Americans.
And because Americans creates such demand for products all throughout the world,
if we are suffering quite a bit, if we are say Japan in the future, enormous debt level,
sluggish economy, and we will probably be importing fewer products throughout the world
and relegating many people all throughout the world to poverty
where otherwise we might be creating [inaudible] middle classes all throughout the world.
So this is not only bad for us, it's bad for the world economy.
The recent history of how we got here is pretty interesting and worth reviewing quickly.
It wasn't long ago that we could be pretty optimistic in the '90s,
we had the peace dividend, right, and lower defense spending
because of the end of the cold war.
We had tax increases that brought in more revenue and we had compromised budgets
between Democrats and Republicans after '94 along
with the strong economy that led to surpluses.
There was a tech boom and bust that softened the economy at the end of the Clinton Administration
that would reduce revenues somewhat.
Bush had some campaign promises that he honored to his credit but they were costly,
things like tax breaks and Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind.
Couple that with 9/11 and the wars that followed and increased spending in homeland security
and surpluses turned to modest debt or mass deficits and growing debt.
Bush tried to tighten spending but it wasn't long into or it was a little bit toward the end
of his administration that the housing sector began to crack and not long before 2008
that we had a financial meltdown that led to the great recession that we are experiencing today.
This great recession, decrease in employment dramatically.
If people aren't working they're not paying revenues, right,
and so we don't have money coming in.
Meanwhile, a fewer people working, more people in poverty means more people eligible
for governmental benefits like Medicaid and food stamps.
So more money going out, less money coming in, huge deficits, right?
We're averaging trillion dollar deficits these days and for the foreseeable future.
Accumulated debt levels have skyrocketed to levels unseen since that World War II era
but again, we're not going to be as lucky with economic growth
in the future as we were post World War II.
Also, the structural budget issues that I mentioned with entitlements
and the changing demographics will hurt us even further.
So, it's a dire situation, you really can't be pessimistic enough,
so what has been done to try and solve it?
Well, Obama issued an executive order creating the fiscal commission,
what we know as Simpson-Bowles.
It was suspect before its creation because the Senate first tried to create such a commission
to give the opportunity to present to the Senate floor a grand budget bargain
that could be passed in an up or down vote and the Senate failed to do
that so the executive order created a weaker commission than the Senate would have created.
Nonetheless, they went to work and others did too
like the Bipartisan Policy Center assembled a commission to try
and deal with the budget situation.
Partisan plans tried to advance their own take on how to deal with the situation.
Together, if we look at all these plans, there are a lot of impressive ideas for how
to solve the fiscal crisis or at least try and get the physical situation under control.
Their ideas relating to Social Security, Medicare and national security, revenue policy,
we can talk about that more in Q&A.
A lot of interesting ideas.
Essentially, we know how to bring the situation under control
if we really wanted to but we haven't been able to.
No plan has gained support.
Polarization, divided governments made that very difficult.
Republicans don't want to raise taxes.
Democrats don't want to deal with entitlement issues.
There have been a variety of other efforts that have sputtered like the gang
of six for Obama-Boehner negotiations.
Nothing really has come forth to solve the fiscal crisis.
We did in August of 2011, have to raise the debt limit and so we got the Budget Control Act,
which among other things deemed the budget resolutions that the Senate has not,
Senate or House have not been able to pass through both chambers.
The Senate hasn't even brought it to, hasn't even passed it
through its own chamber, its own resolution.
Has even had it marked up in a while.
The debt limit also decreased spending by about 900 billion dollars for over 10 years
and so that's a-- when you have trillion dollar deficits every year
and you're cutting 900 billion or a little more than that, over 10 years,
you're not really dealing with the situation very well at all, right?
But they cut it over 10 years and increased the debt limit about that much in 2011.
And they said that anything-- they created a commission that was supposed
to find an additional 1.2 trillion dollars in reductions
to then increase the debt limit again in 2013.
They called this commission the Super Committee.
The Super Committee has failed to come up with any grand budget bargain.
And the budget control access, if they cannot come up with the bargain, what would happen is
across the board cuts or sequestration, equal cuts in security and national--
security and non-security spending in 2013.
As written in law right now we are to expect that we will have those
across the board cuts with some exceptions.
Across the board cuts are very, very severe.
Expiring tax cuts as well as expiring unemployment benefits and a debt limit increase.
All these things together comprise the physical cliff that is so often discussed.
If all those things were to happen, we would have the most dramatic decrees in the deficit
in a single year in the history of this country.
We would also have another recession, right?
That kind of dramatic policy all helping in one year, taxes, spending policy,
all happening in one year would very, very likely drive us into another recession.
So this election was all about what to do, right?
Is there a mandate?
Well, it doesn't seem it.
For one, we have the status quo prevailing in the House and the Senate and in the White House.
We have the parties that were in power before the election,
they continue to be in power after the election.
So what will happen?
It's likely that they will try and delay the provisions in the Budget Control Act.
If they are to come up with a grand budget bargain, it will not be early in 2013
so they're going to kick the can down the road a little longer.
The question is, will they, before it's too later,
will they come up with some kind of bargain?
I'm heartened by the fact that some people like Alice Rivlin and Senator Gregg who've come
to visit us are optimistic that something can happen.
It make take some kind of a mini crisis like a stock market crash to force the politicians
in D.C. to compromise and come up with a bargain.
Hopefully, if we're lucky, we'll do it without such a crisis
that will hit our 401ks pretty hard.
So these are the kind of issues that I'm happy to answer your questions about,
as well as other issues relating to the election during the Q&A and I've taken much too much time
so now I'm going to hand it over to my colleague Linda Fowler.
>> Well, now that you're completely depressed, we can talk about the Congress
which certainly won't cheer you up.
As we know, this Congress has had the lowest approval ratings since anybody started counting,
and one would think when the institution of the Congress is at 9 percent
that you might have an election in which the voters threw the bombs out
but in fact that isn't what happened.
The pundits' take on this election is status quo.
This was a status quo election.
The same parties that controlled the House and Senate are still in control.
There was a slight amount of movement.
It looks as if the Senate will have 53 Democrats instead of 51 with 2 independents caucusing
with them instead of one independent caucus and that the House will have somewhere between 234
or 235 Republicans compared to 200 or 201 Democrats.
And all of this contrast really sharply with the big swing elections we had in 2006, 2008,
and 2010 where we had a large number of newly elected freshen coming into the Congress,
which always reminded me of a famous saying in one of the federalist papers by James Madison
which effectively said, when you have high turnover in the legislature,
the lawmakers will be more likely to be led astray by demagogues.
So it's necessarily a good thing to have turnover but what was quite troubling
about this election, particularly given the low approval of Congress, was that only about 50
of the seats were viewed as competitive, that 50 seats were not contested,
where you had I think 25 seats were Democrats didn't have a candidate and another 25
where Republicans didn't and what's more, you had of course as a round--
as the result of a round of gerrymandering we had fewer open seats
because there were some retirements but not a massive amount of retirement because of changes
in the census that predicted some states losing seats
and some other states losing-- gaining seats.
And sometimes in those elections, you get a big turnout,
a bunch of retirement and that didn't happen either.
But beneath the appearance of relative calm or status quo, I think you can observe a number
of important shifts that will have bearing on some of the issues that Joe was referencing.
The thing that's important of course is there has been much talk now
about how the electorate has changed and the whole story post election was demographics,
demographics, demographics and how the Republicans have to deal with that.
The fact of the matter is it isn't just in the presidential election
that we see that in the swing states.
But this is quite a striking thing in the Democratic caucus now.
It's the first time ever that the white men have not been a majority in the Democratic caucus.
And we also see notable increase of women in both the House and the Senate.
There are four newly elected Democratic women and one woman
to replace the two retiring Democrats-- Republican women.
And so we're up to a total of 20 which is not as many as most women would like to see.
But it's reversing a kind of a stable pattern where it's--
where actually in 2010 women actually lost representation at the House.
And it appears that women were winning in open seats.
The old days, when women got the nominations to be sacrificial lambs, those to appear to be over
and so, some of the most competitive Senate races in the country as well
as House races were being fought over open seats by women.
And so the place looks different and it's continuing to look different.
Women also have somewhere between 5 and 6 more seats in the newly elected House.
There is some dampening of the Tea Party influence.
I think everybody is quite aware that Michele Bachmann barely squeaked by her race
with about 3 thousand 32 hundred votes.
It looks as if Allen West will lose his seat.
He hasn't conceded yet and the race is very close in Florida.
And that Walsh in Illinois, another very vocal Tea Party representative has lost his seat.
So, I don't think the two Tea Party movement is a phenomenon that it's expired.
But it certainly doesn't have the same bite that it did.
And the most reason for that of course is that we're now up to five Senate seats
that the Republicans should have controlled as a result of the 2010 and 2012 elections
that they don't control because of Tea Party influence in primary races and so,
the most obvious ones are Mourdock in Indiana and Mandel in Ohio and Todd Akin in Missouri.
Those are all seats that should have gone to Republican senators.
And it's hard to imagine, again, sort of putting this in context, political scientists wanted
to say one of the best predictors of how many seats a party is going to lose,
look at how many seats are in play.
This was a very advantageous year for Republicans
because there were 23 Democratic seats in play and only 10 Republican seats.
So the Democrats started off at a huge disadvantage and it's just fairly astonishing
that not only do they still control the Senate but they've picked up seats.
I think the other thing that-- certainly, the conventional wisdom thought that a lot
of these races would be influenced by money in the aftermath of the Citizen United Case.
In the 2010 elections, what we saw were groups coming in late and dumping money
into elections and making a difference.
Not very many corporations were involved with that because they were very unsure
about what the law actually meant, so it was mostly driven by individuals but this time,
the amount of independent expenditure money which is well over a billion dollars,
as near as we can track it, was thought to be, to make a big difference.
And I think a lot of people thought, okay, the old Will Rogers' joke,
we have the best Congress money can buy was really going
to be a reality after this election.
And so, this is one of those cases where what we thought was going to happen again
as with changing hands in the Senate didn't happen.
It appears from what, as near as I can tell, that 2 of the 10 races that--
where you had major independent expenditure groups operating, two of those were--
the candidates who were supported by these groups were victorious and in both cases,
I think an argument could be made that the money didn't make a difference at all.
One was Nebraska where the independent money was actually, there wasn't very much of it
and I think Fischer, the woman who took over the seat, is somebody who would have won anyway.
The same would be true of Cruz in Texas.
They really didn't need that money to win.
And maybe there are four House races where this money made a difference.
And so one way, like I said, well for this hundred billion dollars, the rate of return was
about 1 percent in terms of what the people--
what people were funding these races actually had to show for it.
But in the end, what seems to have been going on that the efforts of groups like this were trying
to nationalize the race to capitalize on disaffection
with Barack Obama in a number of swing states.
And yet, all of these candidates, Missouri being most notable,
went for the Senate can-- the Democratic Senate candidate.
And I think a lot of what was going on is that most--
not most but a great deal of that money was wasted.
It was spent on very high salaries for consultants, multiple advertisements when one
or two might have done the trick, you know.
A lot of the ads were-- there were such saturation that the economists
in the room would say probably the margin of return on the tenth ad
in the last 30 minutes was probably not very great.
So the effort to nationalize these races turned out to not work as well as many people feared
because the money was spent so inefficiently.
I think though despite the fact that a lot of the things that we thought should have happened
and didn't, and the fact that this really didn't change the playing field very much,
I think it really did matter in terms of the big picture for two reasons,
and I'd be interested in your reaction to this.
The situation in Congress has changed for two reasons.
One, the President had a tough reelection fight.
He had to abandon his "I'm above partisan politic stance" and fight for his reelection.
I don't think there is going to be much more of the post-partisan stance.
I think he had a very hard lesson.
And what it takes if you're going to be president of this raucous, diverse,
colorized country and that he's going to have to behave differently in his second term.
And he may have even developed a little bit of taste for it in the last couple of weeks.
But the second thing is the train has shifted in the debate over, particularly over deficits.
The status quo is now an option that is very unappealing to both parties.
And there is a-- and I think they both know they can't kick the can or just wait for the voters
to decide this issue in the next election.
Voters, this is an issue where voters are going to take their cues
from political elites, not the other way around.
And so the mandatory spending cuts, the expiration of tax cuts,
all of these things make the status quo something
that I think is inherently advantageous to the President.
So for all the difficulties that he had in his four years in office,
I think what's been demonstrated is that the gridlock strategy
that the Republicans pursued very effectively.
It really didn't achieve the goals that the GOP had
in unseating Obama and taking over the Senate.
And so there is a brief time for reflection I think where insiders
like Judd Gregg are telling us that there is a lot of movement out there.
And although the election doesn't really create any sort of resolution
about which direction the country should take, it hasn't really--
it doesn't interfere, I don't think, with the Congress being part of some kind of a solution.
>> Great. Thank you very much.
I will-- we have microphones somewhere, I believe.
We'll send those around.
So if you have a question, please raise your hand and then wait for the microphone.
So right down here in the right.
>> Oh, it is on.
Hi, Professor Bafumi, is this on?
>> I can hear you.
>> Okay, a couple of questions related to deficit and the economy.
First of all, what kind of an impact is the winding down and ending of the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan going to have on that because I mean, we hear all these figures
about trillion-dollar-cause and things like that.
And the second thing is, yeah, you were pretty gloomy in your whole assessment
but there are some really good strands in the American economy and can you talk
about what those are that will help us out of the situation
that may not be entirely dependent on what the Congress does?
>> Sure.
>> As for me, I didn't think you were nearly gloomy enough.
[Laughter]
>> Maybe I'm somewhere in the middle, so.
>> If you mentioned healthcare.
>> Well, in terms of wars winding down, they'll save us some money and that's a good thing.
Obama's talked about, you know, taking half of those savings and spending them
to renew our own infrastructure and education systems and that sounds great,
but all of that spending has been deficit spending.
So it's not really, you know, it isn't any-- no portion of the spending on the wars is money
that is being taken in with revenue.
So if they're all used for savings, that's going to be good from the perspective
of getting us into a better fiscal situation.
If, on the other hand, only a portion of those are used toward relieving our deficit situation
and others are spent in other ways, you know, that obviously isn't going to be quite as good,
although those who want to spend in infrastructure,
education do say that they're better for a long term economic growth
and long term economic growth will help us deal with a substantial debt burden.
Anything we can do to grow the economy is going to be good
for dealing with the fiscal situation.
It will bring in more revenue and it can help us.
Eventually, if we get things under control enough we can maybe pace the growth
of the debt with higher economic growth.
There are, you know, the economy is still an enormous economy, very wealthy country.
This goes in our favor.
We are however going to, you know, the road of Japan and then Greece and we have
to do everything we can to prevent that because it will mean lower quality of lives
for ourselves and our children and it will reverberate all throughout the world.
So it is scary.
I think that being pessimistic and trying to get people in D.C. to do something about this
as quickly as possible, not waiting
until there's a stock market crash, would be very good for us all.
>> Right there in the front.
[ Pause ]
>> Thanks for your comments, all of you.
I appreciate the input.
The fiscal cliff, would each of you define exactly as you think through it how it's going
to be introduced, passed, and soon signed in time for January 1st
and is it just a question of null and voiding that act?
Or does it involve re-emphasizing what we do fiscally?
And how we go about balancing the budget or never mind balancing budget,
how we go about getting rid of the fiscal cliff?
>> Right, just, you know, how-- right.
This is a tough question and it opened one that's what we're all grappling with, how--
including people in D.C., the leaders of the chambers, the President.
You know, for one, they are-- the President was very clear about this in the debates.
They are not going to let all the provisions of the Budget Control Act come to place, right?
They're not going to allow those enormous spending cuts.
They're not going to have all those tax cuts expire.
What they will do no doubt is to buy themselves more time.
So I think the first piece of legislation we'll see is one
that kicks the can down the road a bit.
Something like the Budget Control Act did.
The Budget Control Act was a measure that kicked the can down the road a bit.
They're going to pass another bill like that, no doubt, into law.
That will then give them additional time to come up with a grand budget bargain.
And when that happens and how it happens, given divided government
and polarization is the open question, if nothing else, well I guess there are two options
if they don't do it in the old fashion way of deliberation,
compromise, come up with a solution.
They don't do it at all and then we, again, we go the way of Japan and Greece.
Or we experience, as I mentioned, a stock market crash that mobilizes the American people
to get these legislators to do something because when we're here hit in our pocket books
and we will be with the crash like that, the 401ks and otherwise,
we're going to get those politicians to do something about it.
And we saw this with TARP and other instances.
Hopefully, I'm, you know, I'm hopeful that it'll happen in the old fashion way of deliberation
and compromise long before there is any kind of crash
or anything that's destabilizing to our economy.
>> This is one of those crises that Congress created
and Congress can change it any time it wants.
And personally, I think kicking the can down the road
in the short run is probably the smartest thing to do.
That's not what I personally prefer by the way but basically, you can't rewrite the tax code
in a couple of weeks with a Lame Duck Congress, that's just stupid.
You can't trim a trillion dollars out of a complicated budget
like the defense budget and the discretionary budget.
And what's more, the BCA that Joe is referencing exempts entitlement spending.
And we all know that it's Medicare and Medic Aid that is really driving the train
over the cliff eventually and neither
or none of this really forces any effort to address those things.
So my-- so if I were the President, this is what I would do.
I would embrace Simpson-Bowles or something very like it.
I would put it on the table and then I would say, this is the option
and I'm not signing anything that isn't this.
And I think we know from the past that it will be the Republicans in Congress
who will be blamed for it and the pressure will be on them, and we know from the polls
that Republicans in Congress are viewed much more negatively than Democrats
in Congress even though they both are to blame for what's been going on.
And so, if I were doing the politics of it, I would do a game of chicken.
>> I'd be glad to have you do it.
>> Personally, I don't think the fiscal cliff is as scary as many people do.
It-- no, it takes a long time to-- for these-- I mean the defense budget doesn't just drop by,
you know, 100 million dollars or 100 billion dollars on January 1.
It takes awhile for those cuts to kick in.
The tax cut-- the tax rates that will be expiring around next year is in, you know,
they're not on 2012 income, really.
And the one that would go into effect automatically would be the [inaudible]
of those Social Security, tax reduction rates and those need to go back up where they were.
So I'm not as alarmed about this and if the markets need to impose a little discipline
on the lawmakers, I say let them do it.
>> Yeah, I think Linda's point is important there.
We often speak about these things in metaphorical terms
and fiscal cliff is a very dramatic image.
It doesn't actually correspond to the way the policy works, right?
So nothing-- unless there is some sort of a crazy market crash like Joe is describing,
you know, the policy piece is going take a while to kick in.
Most economies think this is not a time that you want radical--
the kind of austerity that would be imposed by the provisions in the so-called fiscal cliff
but it's not a cliff in a sense, you know, we're not driving over a--
and when you drive over a cliff, right, you're done, right?
But if we-- by January 2nd if they cut a deal instead of December 31st,
nothing really happens, right, it's messier and so forth but it's not a catastrophe.
>> Yes, next, right there.
I mean I will say the thing that scares economists is healthcare cost.
And interesting, most of the interesting work on bringing healthcare cost is done here
at Dartmouth as you've probably seen in other respects.
>> Hi, I just like to get each panel members' response to a question
about the Citizen United decision, how it affected the election this year
and do you anticipate President Obama having an opportunity to select a Supreme Court nominee
with the retirement or resignation of one of more Republican type people on the court.
And I'll just throw one last thing in.
Regarding the election in Ohio, was it not the Citizen United decision with heavily pouring
in of money that made it such a tight race in Ohio
and in particular the Senate race involving Sherrod Brown where but for the fact
that a count of money was thrown in by the Democrats and foot soldiers
on the streets doing enormous kind of work to get out their vote
that might have made the difference on it.
A lot to that question but I'd like to hear what each one of you-- how you would respond.
>> Thanks.
I think the point that you made at the end there as far
as the influence of money is the important one.
In Ohio, there was a lot of money on the air from both sides.
And the best research suggests the TV ad effects are short lived and that in a lot
of cases campaigns are essentially fighting to a tie.
And so while the super pack seemed to play this dramatic role in the selection in terms
of what people saw on TV that for instance in the presidential race the net balance
of spending was quite even between the two sides when you add the campaigns
and the independent groups together and that's why we saw an outcome that was consistent
with what, for instance, the economic evidence would suggest.
So I think it's important to remember, right, that a lot of these ads, you know,
they're fighting to a tie essentially.
You know, it's and it's hard to know how much of an effect the spending has had.
You know the fact that, for instance, the candidates that cross roads,
GPS back mostly lost, doesn't mean the ads weren't effective
because of course any group could only spend money
on candidates they knew would win, right, for Congress, right?
That would be very easy.
You can have 100 percent success rate, just spend money in all the safe seats, right?
So we don't know that the money didn't make a difference
but all the best research suggest actually that the effect
of money is often overseen in campaigns.
So that's one point and I'll defer to my colleagues on the others.
Supreme Court justices.
>> Well, certainly there are a lot of judges who are
over the age of 70 which is a very young age.
[laughter] And I'm sure they're all in their prime but certainly, with 4 years to go,
certainly the prospect is quite possible.
It's quite likely that one or the other of the judges most likely
to retire would be so-called liberal or democratic judges.
So I'm not sure that if Obama gets to nominate another judge
or two that it would necessarily change the balance of the court.
That said, I think that there are a lot of ways to get a more transparent finance system.
When the court issued Citizens United it basically made a--
it invited Congress to change the rules about transparency.
And there is something called the Disclose Act in the Senate which was filibustered.
But there are also some things, it's never been clear to me why the protections
for social welfare organizations which crossroads says it is,
why the IRS rules would necessarily allow that to continue to be a way of injecting a lot
of money, anonymous money into the campaign process.
I guess I find myself agreeing with Newt Gingrich in some ways.
The problem is if there's not-- not that there is too much money in the campaigns
but that there is too little in places where it really, for me--
it's there isn't enough of it in some races.
So with a high profile race like the presidency where you have candidates basically able
to be pretty even, where it matters is in lower races
and what is most troubling to me are in state elections.
Montana, for example, which had its very astringent campaign law overturn
because of Citizens United was just inundated with ads for the state legislature,
the governor's races and so forth, and I think it's very problematic in judicial races,
many of which are subject to election.
So I think the problem isn't the amount of money but sort of where it can make a difference
and it tends to make a difference in lower profile races where it's much harder
to see, to track what's going on.
So I have kind of mixed sentiments about Citizens United.
I think there are some ways within the way that the court has defined free speech
that we could get more transparency.
We could change some of the regs.
The FEC, for example, is actually more responsible for some
of the more egregious loopholes in the campaign finance rules than the court in my view.
And it's been a joke as a regulator really since it was created.
Think they don't even have a working majority right now, do they,
because there had been vacancies that have been left on the field.
>> Well, why don't we take more questions instead, you know, unless it's--
>> Why don't we go in the blue, second in from the aisle next to Vincent there?
>> Professor Fowler, I think in your initial statement you mentioned the change
in demographics, do you think that had a significant effect
in the presidential and congressional races?
And do you expect perhaps if it did that the Republican Party would change its message
in the next election to better address the new demographics?
>> Oh yeah, I think demographics mattered a lot in the fact that we're seeing a number
of western states that had been very Republican beginning to shift.
And if you begin to look at sort of some of the states that we think of now as red states,
in Georgia for example, the difference between Romney
and Obama was only about 7 percentage points.
So some of these red states are not so red and some of the blue states are not so blue.
And, but I think the coalition that Obama has assembled is a volatile one.
Low income, low education, minority voters and young people and independent women are hard
to mobilize and we saw the effects of that in 2010.
They stayed home and you had basically the field left to the Tea Party and Republicans
and I think that's very likely that that will happen again because the effort
that the Obama campaign and the state parties made was just extraordinary
and there aren't the resources available in an off year election.
But over time I think that-- it was easy I think for Republicans to dismiss the Obama victory
in 2008 as kind of this romantic flight that we all took.
This was a historic election, it was a-- for many people it was a feel good election
and finally, kind of getting over this terrible scar
of race that's marred our history since the beginning.
And so it was easy to dismiss Obama as a celebrity candidate and so forth but I think,
you know, the second time around, I think that's really driven home the extent to which it's--
it really is a different world out there.
That said, in 2008, I've sat on a similar panel like this one
with a newly elected senator named Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio
who was Romney's debate coach and obviously, did a very good job.
And he said, well this 2008 election sends us a message, we're looking at 60 seats in the Senate
and with Democratic control of the House and whatever and boy, we'd really got to go back
and search our souls and figure out how to reach out to minor voters.
And I think he was speaking sincerely but obviously, that message didn't take
in 2008 and I'm not sure it will now.
I think Romney was actually the best candidate the Republicans had
and I think he will be blamed unfairly for being a bad candidate.
But that's how it would be used to say we don't have to pay attention to this.
>> Let's go over to this side right here.
Right, the one right there.
>> You talked about the groups that would be hard to mobilize again in 2014 but it seemed
that they were mobilized this time maybe, in my mind, because of the threat
of the voter ID and voter suppression.
I mean I heard report say, blacks were coming out not so much for--
they were really angry at having voter suppression.
And how much do you think this really played in those swing states,
the threat of voter suppression even here in New Hampshire.
>> There's been some political science research that have shown that these voter--
these laws do suppress turnout among groups that are or prevent from voting groups
that tends to be more democratic.
And so, that's why you see the Democratic Party trying to fight some of these laws
and the Republican Party is for them.
It sound all very sensible but sometimes they do disenfranchise voters
and it tends to be Democratic voters.
What, you know, what that will mean for coming elections as these laws are instituted
and increased in number throughout the states, it probably will mean more
of a struggle for Democratic constituencies.
One more, let me just quickly because it relates I think to both questions.
One of the most interesting groups out there right now are Latinos, in this last election.
Latinos were more likely to vote for Obama in 2012 than in 2008.
They were also more likely to turn out.
Now, put this in perspective.
African-Americans turned out 30 percent in 2008 according to exit polls, 30 percent in 2012,
they were about 2 percent less likely to vote for Obama in 2012
and 2008 as almost every group was.
Less likely, it was a culture race, makes a lot of sense.
Latinos who were more likely to turn out, they went from 9 percent
to 10 percent turnout from '08 to '12.
And they voted about 4 percent more likely.
Last I saw 4 percent more likely for Obama.
Latinos are becoming king makers in a sense, right?
44 percent voted for Bush in 2004.
That was enough to put him over the top, 37 percent or so, somewhere in the 30s,
voted for McCain, not quite enough.
Now Romney got only 20 something percent
of the Latino vote and, you know, it didn't pull it off.
Had he gotten anything close to what McCain had gotten I think he may have been the winner
and he was, you know, it's a much closer race than many supposed.
In fact, the fundamentals are right about predicting the match up when we just look
at the national popular vote but if you look at the electoral map, small adjustments,
even with that same popular votes,
small adjustments could have given Romney many more electoral votes, maybe even 270,
things like had he picked Portman he may have been more easily carried Ohio.
Had he forgotten about Wisconsin, left Wisconsin's side, left Pennsylvania's side
and used those resources in Florida and Virginia and New Hampshire too,
that would have given him 270 electoral votes.
So it was actually much closer than some supposed and so a group doing that,
Latinos doing what they did made the difference.
And that's something that Obama is going to be thinking a lot about when he's thinking
about immigration reform and other policies important to Latinos.
And it's also something that the Republicans are going to think long and hard about.
They're going to think about what their position on the DREAM Act and immigration reform
and other policy areas that are important to Latinos.
>> Right here on the aisle, please.
>> Thank you.
Forty eight years ago I had the opportunity to attend a similar kind of event
after the Johnson-Goldwater discussion and Oliver Quayle
who was Goldwater's pollster was the speaker at the great issues course that night
and he pointed out that 30 percent of the eligible voters don't vote,
30 percent vote for the Democrats because they always have, 30 percent vote for the Republicans
because they always have, 5 percent vote on emotional issues,
they like the look of the Kennedy family.
Mr Nixon had a 5 o'clock shadow, and 5 percent actually looked
at the issues and study the issues.
I guess my question is, in the past 48 years and perhaps only
in the past 4 years has that ratio changed?
How many people actually look at the issues as opposed to those that look at the individuals
and the feel good and like demand?
And of that, how many people fully understand the issues?
I think the questions here are interesting.
We're all worried about the fiscal cliff but I'm not sure if we took a test many
of us could actually define what it is we're worried about.
>> Well, you know, so the American public scores fairly low on tests
of what we call political knowledge in various forms.
And that hasn't changed.
I think the people who follow politics closely are probably better informed at least
about the details than ever before.
There's more information that you can get your hands on if you really want to know, right?
There's a certain form of informational inequality.
There's a very interesting bid of research by Markus Prior of Princeton
about how cable television induced more informational inequality
because before cable television you had to watch the news because it was the only thing
on at the times when they ran the news, right?
So you couldn't avoid it and when everyone got a newspaper you had chanced encounters
with information you might not have been exposed to, right?
But when you take away those things that put information in front
of people, you get wider disparities.
Now, as far as why people vote, you know, do a lot of people vote on the basis of party, yes.
But for many of those people, that's a standing decision based on their issue positions,
not all, not all, but many and it's a way--
it's a very efficient way to organize our political system around a bundle of issues.
It's not perfect, right?
But, you know, and-- so party plays--
has this dynamic relationship with people's views on issues, right?
So in some cases you believe in an issue
so strongly you'll change your party label because of it, right?
So we've seen a couple of issues like that in the last few decades but in other cases,
people will go along with their party on some issue, right.
They'll reconcile that difference by coming into alignment with their party on an issue.
So, you know, I guess I would just-- I would question the premise that voting on the basis
of party is an uninformed kind of voting.
Some political scientists actually think it's the smartest kind of voting,
that we overemphasize the importance of the person, and that, you know,
the way we view the political system often is very party-centric, particularly in Congress.
And so, there's actually a very sophisticated argument for voting on the party label
and paying no attention to who the person is at all, right?
I don't know if any of you have seen these ads for candidates who promised to be independent
and say, "I won't vote the party line.
I'm going to stand up for insert state here", right?
But that's not what they do in practice, right?
Even the most moderate members of Congress are quite reliable,
party line votes most of the time.
>> There's a different between a Republican in Massachusetts and a Republican in Wyoming.
>> Much less than they used to be.
>> Less than they used to be.
>> Much less than they used to be.
>> I'm going to inject before we take another question.
Everything we've talked about is getting people to Washington,
D.C. The problem with these campaigns and this is coming from a policy standpoint is
that the Democratic candidates did not prepare their supporters for the notion
that you were going to have to cut entitlements.
That's just math.
Simpson-Bowles is quite clear on that.
The retirement age is going to go up.
Healthcare spending is going to go down in terms of its growth.
That may mean you spend more out of pocket and maybe you have fewer choices.
Meanwhile, the Republicans have not informed their supporters
that revenues are going to go up.
And so, when you have a campaign that reinforces those preexisting beliefs that are incompatible
with the facts on the ground, then you arrive back in D.C. less prepared
than we were before to confront the budget problems.
So, that to me is the bigger problem at the campaign,
less about who would actually propel to Washington.
Wade John [phonetic], way back there.
>> I was very encouraged to hear Linda Fowler embrace Simpson-Bowles 'cause I think
if Barack Obama had embraced Simpson-Bowles when it first was proposed, first of all,
the country would be in better position right now
and he probably would've cruised to a reelection.
I don't think, you know.
>> No.
>> Okay. [laughter] Well, I don't think Romney could've embraced it
because he couldn't have gotten the nomination if he embraced it.
>> That's true.
>> But I think if-- I hope Barack Obama will embrace it.
Number one, do you think he will?
Number two, do you think the congressional Republicans would have the--
would be stubborn enough to fight him on that?
Because I think if they do, I think especially with the demographics that they're facing,
the demographic challenges they're facing, I think they condemn themselves
to be a minority party for a very long period of time.
>> How many times have we seen the Republicans written off after Goldwater, after Watergate?
How many times have we seen the Democrats written off
after the Reagan landslide, after whatever?
>> '94.
>> What's remarkable about our two parties is how resilient they are.
They may do all the wrong things and eventually get it right.
I can't get into the heads of the people who are advising the president.
I think it's fair to say that the president after his grand bargain
with John Boehner fell apart in August of 2011.
He got burned and wasn't about to go with Simpson-Bowles at that point,
and I think he felt there was enough time that he could wait,
they all felt they had enough time after the election.
I think what everybody in Washington is looking for right now is political cover.
There are a lot of senators who are aware that they are up for reelection in 2014,
they don't want to be the next Richard Lugar.
And so that really ties some of their hands including the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell.
There are also a lot of Republicans in the House who've signed pledges.
Many, a hundred I think with Grover Norquist who basically is taking it upon himself
to decide what constitutes a tax increase.
So, I think the only way they can get enough political cover is if the president provides it,
and if they can all make the case that had they not done this it would've been so much worse
for their respective constituencies.
But I share Charlie's view, none of these things look like they really--
you can avoid the fiscal cliff without doing anything in the short run
about the biggest problem which is healthcare.
I think Social Security is relatively easy to fix and we have an expert sitting here
who can tell us how to do it, but they think the healthcare one is much more problematic.
And I think the revenue fix is-- People always credit Ronald Reagan with, you know,
having stimulated the economy and laid the foundation
for the boom in the 1990s by cutting taxes.
In my view, that's wrong.
That what really made the difference were two things, both by Republican presidents,
one was the Reagan Tax Reform Act of '86 that got rid of a lot of the distorting deductions,
and George H.W. Bush who negotiated the PAYGO rules, and which kept a lid on tax reductions
and spending increases for a decade until the Republicans [inaudible] during the Bush year.
So, I think we actually know how to do this.
I actually think we've done it.
There are presidents there.
And, so maybe if you can wrap some of this in Ronald Reagan,
maybe that will make it more palatable.
Let's not forget it.
It was Reagan who was party to amnesty for illegal immigrants.
>> [Inaudible] Mark?
[ Pause ]
>> In California, this year there were some reforms in place for the elections
like they had a nonpartisan draw line of like congressional districts
and a reformed primary system where the top two candidates regardless
of party went on to the general election.
So like if you could comment on how effective these reforms were
and if they'd be worth implementing in other states.
>> Well, that will be interesting to see.
I mean I haven't looked at this yet.
It'll be interesting to see if those candidates that emerge from those kinds of contexts tend
to be less partisan candidates and maybe it attenuates this sort
of polarization that we have today.
I don't know that it does 'cause I think past--
I don't know about this election but in past elections because Louisiana has a similar system
for example, I think that it's been shown
that very ideologically extreme candidates still can emerge from those kinds of systems.
As to whether or not they did this time around I'm not sure.
But if it's in fact that shown that such institutions will allow
for less polarized candidates then it sounds like it might be a really good idea.
>> But the-- I mean, you know, again the evidence.
So, the tendency is to blame polarization on gerrymandering.
So, as the political scientists at the table on the front,
we just have to say no, no, no, no, no, right.
So, if that were true, the senate would be much less polarized in the House,
and they've polarized almost at parallel, right.
You can't redraw state lines, right.
And yet the Senate doesn't look any better than the House.
It's somewhat different institutional rules
but the polarization trends we've seen are very, very similar.
And the best available political science evidence says,
gerrymandering is at best a small part of polarization.
>> Gerrymandering or primary systems don't seem
to be a good predictor of polarization either, right?
>> Right, right.
>> Which gets to the other part of the question.
>> That's right.
>> So, you know, what does cause polarization and a lot of theories out there.
Well, it might be something as simple as the end
of the Cold War giving us an international context
which was less international external threat, and so we could divide much more on issues
than we had before, even domestic issues possibly.
>> The end of race dividing the Democratic Party in the south is the story I would tell.
And so, there used to be essentially a three party system in Congress and that went away.
And that held-- we-- a lot of our politics are structured around the mythical Golden Age
or the mid-20th century when we had three parties, but that's an aberration
in American political history, not he norm.
We're returning to a norm which is sharp polarization.
>> A regional realignment with not only the south but in this part
of the country too becoming more democratic.
And so, these things contribute to polarization as well.
>> But there are other commission models out there.
The one in Iowa seems to have red--
had the effect of reducing the incumbency advantage for House elections.
And, so House races in Iowa are more competitive now than they were prior.
So a lot of it depends on kind of what the reformed change really,
how it works on the ground.
>> Andrew?
>> I appreciate your remarks on the fiscal cliff.
I think we should take it because it's the only policy option we have available
that resets the amount of revenue we collect to something
that could approach covering the amount of money we spend.
On this last issue of gerrymandering, there's a great article in slight today about just how--
I mean I leave the gerry-- the link between gerrymandering and possible polarization aside.
We have two national elections.
We elect the speaker of the House and we elect the president.
We choose to do the congressional districts to elect the speaker of the House.
We choose to use the senate districts to elect the president through the Electoral College.
The surprising thing is that the Electoral College way of adding things
up should favor the Republicans, and 60 percent of the votes there went to the Democrat.
The arrangement in the House shouldn't necessarily favor them
but the Republicans retained control.
And if you look at the map in places like Virginia or Pennsylvania,
you see that they have a very small minority
of their congressional delegation is Democratic even though they went
in the same national election for the Democratic president,
and it's because of extreme gerrymandering that is the result
of the Republicans controlling the state house in those two states
as a result of the 2010 elections.
Without that gerrymandering, you don't have the House in Republican hands
and you actually have the opportunity for the will of the people,
which happen to go democratic this time, to actually get to federal government
to move in a coherent policy direction.
You would only have the holdouts on the Republican side
in the Senate standing in your way.
And you could actually move legislation like we did between 2008 and 2010.
There were reasonably serious legislative accomplishments in that particular Congress.
And I'm just wondering what political scientists think is the best way to get
around the problem of gerrymandering.
>> Well, we can't agree on how to measure it because it's very difficult to disentangle
from incumbency effects in the House.
And incumbency is the most powerful predictor of vote.
It's also difficult to separate it from the quality of challengers.
And this year, it was diff-- you know,
there were all these seats were there were now challengers.
And some people would say that was because of gerrymandering in those districts,
and other people would say, well, it's just that the communities are very homogenous.
So, you have some people like Robert Putnam saying that people are tending to live
in like-minded communities and so it's getting very difficult in some parts of the country
to draw heterogenous districts, even if the politicians wanted to.
I think gerrymandering did make a difference.
We now have the father of one of my students newly elected to Congress yesterday by 1 percent
and he said that this had been a district that was held briefly by a Republican.
And thanks to the Illinois legislature, the Democrats picked up four seats.
We know that Republicans picked up seats in Texas thanks to creative gerrymandering
and we know there are other examples of this around.
It's probably no more than 15 to 20 seats.
So it isn't quite enough to prevent the kind of policy--
majority you'd like to see but it's not zero.
>> Can I add one point?
So, I think the thing that's tricky about gerrymandering is it's easy--
so, you know, gerrymandering was used to lock in incumbent protection in these places
where the Republicans picked up a lot of seats in 2010, right.
So it does look extreme when you look at the map.
But if you think about the Democrat who would replace them in those seats,
so if you imagine-- we can even have chalk.
Okay, now, it's a real academic lecture, right.
If these are the Ds and these are the Rs, right, maybe you can protect an R here
but if you're getting a D here, if that person isn't gerrymandered in,
there's still this huge gap between them, right.
It's not, you're typically not getting replacements in the middle
that would reduce the polarization between the two parties.
>> Gerrymandering is not homogenous districts, it's selectively heterogenous districts
that put one party at a-- in a mixed district that they have no hope of winning.
That's what gerrymandering is.
It's allocating the minority party in such a way that they can't get full representation.
That's what happened.
>> Right. I don't want zero Republicans in the district.
I want 49 percent so I can waste them all there.
[Laughter]
>> But sometimes they screw up and they lose those races, right.
That's part-- that's one of the other reasons that it's not as effective as it seems.
>> As a new [inaudible] from Illinois,
Joe Walsh was deliberately targeted in the gerrymandering, right.
They said we can draw this district to get rid of him.
And he was drawn and all the campaign literature said, you know,
Democrats can win here 'cause we've [inaudible] Joe Walsh and Joe Walsh is now gone.
Now, he did a lot of that himself.
Right here, please, on the aisle.
[ Pause ]
>> Do you have any comments as to the prospect of the filibuster rules
in the Senate being changed so that something might be accomplished in the next four years?
>> Amen! [Laughter] I think people forget.
>> It was a question.
[Laughter]
>> I think people forget that the constitution says, "Each chamber is a judge
of its own rules and makes its own rules."
And we become so accustomed to saying that legislation
and congress needs a 60, you know, a 60-vote majority.
In the senate, we forget how recently that's become the norm.
I think there is serious talk afoot about more-- about doing some rules changes and,
but the Democrats will have to be willing to take their chances.
You know, they have been unwilling to rein in Republicans' use of this or they were the ones
who objected to Trent Lott trying to--
what was it, the nuclear option years ago in preventing filibusters of judicial nominations,
which I actually thought was a good idea.
I think there should be a presumption that presidents ought to be able to nominate people
that they think are good, potentially good judges.
And it was the Democrats who didn't want to, you know, who were reluctant to do that.
Right now, the only legislation we have in the Senate
that is filibuster proof are the budget resolutions.
That's why we have the fiscal cliff on taxes by the way
because the Republicans couldn't get the Bush Tax cuts through the senate
in 2001 or '03 because of filibusters.
So they passed them under resolution-- budget resolutions which meant that they would expire
in 10 years, and that's why they were renewed for two and now they're done.
So, there are mechanisms to do that.
But in many ways, there are a lot of efforts in--
around the country to institutionalize super majorities,
particularly where taxes are concerned.
So, I don't know-- right now, I don't have a sense of what the climate is for there
but I know there is a talk about it.
>> Right down here in font.
[ Pause ]
>> Someone here touched on questions about the Supreme Court.
I was curious, do you anticipate major changes in cabinet positions and such?
>> Well, yeah, go on.
>> I mean, last I heard Hillary Clinton was looking to step down.
If that hasn't changed, I would expect that that would turn over.
And typically, when presidents are reelected there are quite a few turnovers,
quite a few seats that turn.
And so I do think there will be a different cabinet.
It will be interesting to see who replaces Hillary Clinton in particular.
Maybe it'll be Senator Kerry from Massachusetts.
>> Geithner.
>> Geithner, right.
He's been talking a lot and I think he's been wanting out for a while.
And so it'll be interesting to see who replaces him.
I think there will be turnover.
Yup. [Inaudible Remark] Let me say-- oh, go ahead.
>> Please wait for the microphone.
>> Thanks.
I just like to come back to just the 2010 elections.
And don't you think President Obama and his political aide's bare responsibility
for the failure of those elections in light of the fact this was redistricting year,
every 10 years after the census is taken.
And the Republicans really figured it out that this would be a significant way to come back
into power in terms of taking over state legislatures, governorships,
and then setting up the redistrict thing to favor themselves so strongly.
And also, to try to suppress the vote of democratic,
you know, traditional democratic voters.
So that it was a combined strategy they thought, you know.
You know, and the other overriding question is, do you think the attempts to restrict voting
or voting suppression are immoral?
Thanks.
>> Well, let met take-- I'm always telling my students in Gov III,
we invest way too much a power in our minds to the presidency.
The president is not the government.
And I think we greatly think that the president is capable
of doing more things than is appropriate.
In this case, we know the presidents almost [inaudible] seats in an off year elections.
In this year, we-- and we know that Republican voters are more likely to turn
out in off year elections because they tend to be low salience elections and young people
and minorities and independent, undecided women, tend to stay home.
That wasn't unique to 2010, it's happened a number of times.
So, to blame that on Obama and his staff was it unlucky for the Democrats?
You bet. But I think there are just a lot of factors at work there that you can't just say,
the president could have done something differently.
That said, this president has been criticized for not extending his ability to raise money
and his ability to organize two House races.
And there's a lot of resentment of that in the House.
And you can contrast that with George Bush in 2002 who campaigned very vigorously
in House seats and actually increased his margin in the House by some percentage.
A small number of seats but it was positive.
So presidents can change these things at the margins but I don't think there was going
to be a large democratic majority left in the House
because the Democrats had two wave elections in 2006, 2008.
They were holding a lot of seats that they really didn't--
that didn't really belong to them in the sense of party alignment.
So, and this is where Brendan talks about, it's the fundamentals.
You really have to take that into account.
>> And if I can just say-- can I just add?
Can I just add one more thing to that?
If you want to blame the present's staff, you know,
the fundamentals like for instance Joe is one of the people who've worked
on midterm election modelling and those tended to predict
about a 4-year 45 seat loss in the House.
The Democrats actually lost around 65.
And, you know, I've done some research to suggest
that the difference may be attributable to healthcare reform, right.
So, the president paid a policy cost for healthcare reform in the sense
that the Democrats who voted for it did systematically worse and were perceived
as [inaudible] and systematically worse than 2010 election, right.
So, it depends how you trade off politics against policy, right.
If you think that's one of the most important legacies of Obama's first term as many
of his supporters do then maybe that's a cost you're willing to pay.
That might explain why the Democrats did especially bad.
We've expected them to lose seats but they did even worse than we expected.
>> So the voter suppression piece?
>> Oh!
>> Is it immoral?
>> [Inaudible] the big issue of voter suppression
and restricting people trying to vote.
That was the other part of my question about, is it immoral in a sense in this country to bring
out that these attempts to restrict voting suppress votes of certain minority groups.
Is there a question of morality about these attempts?
>> Yeah. I see there are like three or so questions.
We only have like 7 minutes.
So, maybe we could just quickly we all agree that any kind of voter suppression is immoral.
I don't think anyone would disagree with that here.
Let's get those other questions before we're out of time here.
>> That's right.
>> Uh-oh.
>> Uh-oh, here we go.
>> Our colleague is coming for us.
[Laughter]
>> Well, you know, because the US is a big power in the world.
The people around the world pay attention to the presidency elections and the people
around the world want to know whether the results
of the presidency elections affect international relations.
But this time the candidates didn't talk about-- didn't discuss much about foreign policy
or they basically agreed with the important foreign policy.
So, my question is do you think the foreign policy, US foreign policy will change?
If you think it will change, in what way?
>> He told Putney [phonetic] he'd have more freedom after the election, right,
if you guys remember that video clip.
Will it change?
I mean, you know, the Bush foreign policy changed much less than almost anyone expected.
So, you know, the story of foreign policy to the extent that I understand it and I defer
to my colleagues on this is very similar from the-- even the Bush Administration through Obama
at least on the anti-terrorism side.
So, I don't see why we'd expect significant changes.
>> I would agree.
>> I think it's going to be event driven.
If there are changes it's because the world is a very volatile place and something will crop up.
>> Right here.
[ Pause ]
>> I don't know if you can do it, but can you comment on what New Hampshire looks
like now that this election is over?
Is it going to be different than the legislature was the last year or two
or am I asking you beyond what you [simultaneous talking].
[Laughter]
>> Well, certainly having a Democratic majority
in the Lower House will be different from the Republican majority.
And I think there's a perception that O'Brien was a polarizing figure as a Republican speaker
that there are more conciliatory ways of dealing with one's colleagues in the chamber,
not just Democrats but Republicans, I think he was--
but that's a temptation when you have a veto proof majority.
You know, you just think you can do anything and I think he was seduced in that way.
The Senate is very close.
It could be tied.
I guess it's probably going to be 13-11.
And, but I think in the end the perception in the state
that the Republican legislature was behaving in a very fringe way was really harmful
to other candidates on the ticket.
I think Lamontagne just had the baggage of this Republican legislature.
And so, when Maggie Hassan was depicting him as this dangerous, you know, radical,
it played into that sense that oh, he is one of them, so he's going to be like them.
Now, my favorite provision that the Republicans introduced to the legislature was
that every bill that a lawmaker sponsored, they had to indicate
where in the Magna Carta a provision was justified.
And I thought that was kind of quaint but it also suggests the extent
to which some lawmakers were simply not very much in touch with reality.
[laughter] I'll leave it that.
>> Well, we take one more to finish up.
All right, well terrific.
Oh.
>> There's one over there.
>> We'll do the last one right there.
You get the closing word.
Don't ask a complicated question.
[Laughter]
>> So, for Brendan, I mean is there a fundamental that says what percentage of growth,
economic growth you need in order to get back to non-deficit budgets or spending?
[Inaudible Remark]
>> Well, it would be enormous with the def-- we're running trillion dollar deficits
and so the kind of economic growth we would need would have-- would be enormous.
Not anything that we would expect.
I think economic growth was something.
It was over a little over 5 percent after World War II.
Do the economists in the room agree, is that about right?
You know, it was much greater than we would expect in the near future I think.
Presidents and federal governments do a lot less to spur economic growth than we pretend just
like they, you know, do or just like presidents can do a lot less
about midterm election outcomes than we often think.
You know, there's that pendulum that swings back and forth.
I mean, economics is a lot that goes into predicting growth.
We will not without political will deal with the fiscal situation.
It is a very serious situation.
If we don't do anything, we will very likely go back into a recession.
If we kick the can down the road and don't deal with it adequately in the next couple years,
we will go the way of Japan and Greece, and so many other countries.
We can see the road ahead.
We will have declining qualities of life and that will reverberate all throughout the world.
The healthcare issues are big issues.
There are others that we have to deal with.
If we do, I think, you know, there are solutions out there, Simpson-Bowles and others.
If we do, I think we can get back on track and we could have strong economic growth.
Optimism helps economic growth.
Predictability helps economic growth.
If we can create and pass a plan that allows for a stability and predictability
and optimism then I think we'll do very well.
And if we don't, I think we see the way we'll go.
We can look at countries that have made the mistakes
that we're looking to make in the near future.
And so that's what we want to avoid.
>> Thank you all for your time.
Thank you to the panelists for sharing with us.
[ Applause ]