Manic Monday Markup 7/2/12…
…And the World:
Early polls and election results from yesterday’s presidential election in Mexico indicate that the party that ruled the country from 1929 to 2000 is poised to retake power. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto appears to have defeated the conservative National Action Party (PAN), which under Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox ruled Mexico since 2000 as well the liberal candidate who placed second in 2006. Peña Nieto appears to have won only 38% of the vote, but nevertheless appears to be the clear winner. He faces continuing pressure from the United States to continue the drug war, which in part drove voters away from current President Calderón and the PAN. There are concerns within the US that Peña Nieto may not be as dedicated to that fight, but he has thus far promised Mexican cooperation including during a phone call with President Barack Obama. He has apparently promised, however to focus on the crime that has killed 50,000 Mexicans since 2006, rather than trafficking itself. Others worried that the PRI, which has been dogged by accusations of corruption in the past may revert to its old ways once in power.
Another Euro deal to save the single currency has been struck and met its first challenge after passing the Bundestag in Berlin. This time, responding the crisis’ current evolution into a banking crisis, European officials have agreed to let the bailout fund help banks directly, form a stronger continental banking union/regulatory regime and sponsor billions in economic development. Meanwhile, The Washington Post has an interesting look into the challenges both in policy and culture Italy faces as it tries to right itself during the Euro storm.
The coalition of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be on the rocks after the dissolution of a committee charged with rewriting the nation’s struck down Tal Law. Until the Israeli Supreme Court the law down, some ultra-Orthodox Jews or Haredi could escape the country’s otherwise mandatory military service. Resolving the law following the Supreme Court’s action was the reason Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz agreed to join Netayahu’s government earlier this year. The move by Mofaz killed plans for elections this year, but came at the expense of his party’s credibility. With the dissolution of the committee looking into changes, Mofaz is threatening to pull out of the coalition, which could upend Israeli politics once more (Haaretz story may require registration to read).
Both a blow and a blessing to Japan’s embattled Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda comes as several members of his Democratic Party bolt on the orders of Japanese political kingmaker, Ichiro Ozawa. Japan’s political system has been in flux for years now, cycling through several prime ministers in less than a decade. Ozawa quit after Noda sought a tax increase to pay for future social obligations as the nation’s population shrinks. Noda had to negotiate with opposition parties, which control Japan’s weaker upper house, to get the tax passed. Ironically, although his party’s majority shrinks (they still have the most seats in the more powerful lower house), Noda can now pursue deals more easily with the opposition without worries about defections on his flanks. Ozawa may form his own party, but he has a nasty reputation of forming and destroying Japanese political parties.
There are no shortage of opinions about what has happened with regard to health care. Although the Commerce Clause took a glancing blow, the bigger fears lay with the spending powers of Congress. We recommend thumbing through SCOTUSBlog, which was really the heroes of the Health Care Ruling day, who reported it right first after Fox and CNN blew it. Also, there appears to be a claim stemming from a member of the conservative media and boiling over into the mainstream that the Conservative justices on the court tried to push their conservative colleague Chief Justice John Roberts to strike the law. Obviously, Roberts, for the first time, joined with the liberal bloc, saving the Affordable Care Act, but also giving himself the insulation to strike down other laws liberals like such as Affirmative Action. Still, if the conservative justices blabbed early in an attempt to force Roberts hand, it represents and unprecedented break in Supreme Court process and could presage a wider fissure, as evidenced by conservative freakout after Roberts’ vote, in the conservative bloc albeit not necessarily a fatal one.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, whose plastic response to the ruling countered the president’s restrained, yet elated statement on the ruling/explanation of the law’s virtues, agrees with the president and the administration that the mandate is not a real tax. Why? Because the federal mandate is nearly the same as Massachusetts and Romney signed that. Therefore, if Romney attacks the president for raising taxes, he admits that he is raised taxes. Something other Republicans seem to persist with the tax mantra to Romney’s own peril. By the way, although it is fair to say that the mandate operate through Congress’ taxing power, you can fairly call something a tax that you can legally avoid paying.
Meanwhile, noted Daily Kos poster Meteor Blades writes about an effort to engage the Native American vote. According to the post, there are about 1 million Native Americans who are not even registered and leaders in those communities, specifically Jefferson Keel, are looking to change that with a Rock the Vote push this year.
The State of Things:
Massachusetts Transgender Bill has gone into effect extending protections in employment, housing and education to transgender individuals.
Some Massachusetts Democrats will join other national Democrats in skipping this year’s Democratic National Convention. Senators Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester had announced they would not attend, which has been read as a snub to the national party. Congressman Richard Neal will also not attend, but for more practical reasons. The Democratic Primary in Massachusetts coincides with the national convention and Neal faces two primary challengers. Congressman Stephen Lynch of South Boston will also not attend to focus on his general election race. Half of the other eight Massachusetts representatives will attend while the other half had not yet responded to Masslive’s calls for comment. Among those not confirming was John Tierney who faces quite possibly the only particularly competitive House race in Massachusetts this year.
Following last week’s less than interesting budget hearing, Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen is proposing that the trash fee be increased to $15 with the extra money being used to reopen the city’s three shuttered libraries. This was mentioned during last week’s meeting, but the mayor was non-committal. However, unclear is whether or not the mayor will submit an appropriation for the libraries before final approval of the higher trash fee. If the Council approves the trash fee without an appropriation on its agenda, the mayor has not obligation to submit the appropriation and could use the money for something else. However, the Council does not need to approve that appropriation, but if the money were going toward public safety it is unlikely that a majority on the council would vote against it. The Council may only consider the first of three steps to approval on Tuesday’s special meeting meaning that final step is likely to occur on the regularly scheduled July 16 meeting.
The Supreme Court’s approval rating jumped by 23 points among Democrats and fell by 21 points among Republicans after ruling.
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) July 2, 2012
The Supreme Court’s ruling on health care provoked a wide array of emotions and although there are massive question marks following the Roberts health care ruling, it was a victory for the President. It was also a victory for the Supreme Court itself and its ability to rise above the fray. As Salon.com writer Alex Seitz-Wald says succinctly in this week’s winning tweet, approval of the Court shot up among Democrats while crashing among Republicans. However, there was also the Arizona immigration ruling that likely angered Republicans/conservatives as well. In any event, it is clear given the conservative freak out, the possible leak to the conservative press and other flailing of limbs on the right, that the right expects the Court to do nothing more than advance their agenda. On the term’s two highest profile cases, members of the conservative bloc refused to do so (while doing so on other lower-profile matters). All of this analysis is not in Seitz-Wald’s tweet, but the implications are there in the numbers he tweeted out that won him this week’s tweet prize.