A new chance for triangulation

Byron York of the Washington Examiner outlines a potential political opportunity for President-elect Donald Trump.

In the mid-1990s there was a lot of talk in Washington about “triangulation.” The brainchild of Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris, triangulation referred to Clinton’s strategy, after losing the House and Senate in 1994, of steering a course between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats in Congress.

Clinton didn’t have a lot of choice. Elected with only 43 percent of the vote (but a big electoral majority of 370 votes) in a 1992 election that included populist challenger Ross Perot, Clinton threw away much of his support early on by pursuing a massive health care reform plan voters didn’t want. In the 1994 midterms, Democrats lost both House and Senate (the House for the first time in more than 40 years) in the Gingrich revolution. Clinton got the message and moved toward the center.

Now Trump is taking office after winning 46 percent and a solid electoral majority of 304 votes. (Trump of course originally won 306 but lost two to faithless electors.) Republicans control the House and Senate. The question is whether Trump will pursue policies voters want him to pursue.

How to do that? By keeping his campaign promises. A new poll by the Wall Street Journal shows the public is eager for Trump to enact many of the things he promised from the stump. …

… The top, number-one, most important right-now issue cited by those surveyed: “Keeping U.S. jobs from going overseas.” Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed said it was an absolute priority right now, with only 16 percent saying it can be delayed until next year, and five percent saying it should not be pursued.

Number two on the most important list: “Reducing the influence of lobbyists and big money in politics,” with 66 percent saying it’s a right-now issue, 26 percent saying it can be delayed a year, and seven percent saying it should not be pursued. …

… Does anything look familiar about that list? It’s basically an outline of a Trump campaign speech. It’s a road map for a president who didn’t win the popular vote to become a broadly popular leader.

It’s also not what the leaders of either party in Congress, especially the Republicans who control Capitol Hill, want to do right now, or at least not in the order they want to do it. If Trump follows the Hill GOP, he’ll spend his critical early months in office cutting taxes and repealing Obamacare — things he needs to do, but probably not in those early days when the world will be watching his every move.

A case of federal spending that could drive you to drink

Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon highlights a questionable alcohol-related expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

The National Institutes of Health is spending more than a half-million dollars to determine why some couples drink a lot of alcohol and others do not.

The federal agency is looking into “problematic alcohol use in relationships” to try to “improve the health and well being of romantic couples.”

The State University of New York at Buffalo is conducting the study, which has received $592,693 in taxpayer funding.

“Understanding the relationship-specific motivations for alcohol use, as well as the risk and protective factors associated with relationship drinking processes as they occur in real-time in couples’ natural environments, is crucial to addressing problematic alcohol use in relationships,” according to the grant for the project. “This understanding can ultimately inform prevention and intervention efforts to improve the health and well being of romantic couples.”

The study aims to inform future research so that theories can be developed about why couples drink.

The research will try to better understand “relationship drinking processes as they occur in real-time in couples’ natural environments.”

Ultimately, the researchers want to understand why couples differ in how they drink.

“This is a public health concern because some couples continue to drink excessively despite experiencing alcohol-related and relationship problems, whereas others do not,” the grant said.

National Review didn’t like Trump’s candidacy but accepts his legitimacy

Editors at National Review Online explain why Democrats who suggest that Donald Trump‘s presidential election is “illegitimate” are wrong.

The notion that Trump is not “legitimate” has picked up steam as the extent of Russia’s attempt to sway the recent presidential election has become clearer, although exactly how Trump is not legitimate is never explained. Donald Trump was nominated in accord with the rules of the Republican party. He was then elected by more than 270 members of the Electoral College, in accord with rules that have been in place since the 18th century. There is no evidence that electoral fraud or disenfranchisement account for his narrow victories in key states, and no one forced Hillary Clinton to forgo late-October visits to key swing states.

Nonetheless, a recent poll found that a majority of Democrats believe that Russia not only waged a campaign of misinformation but actually manipulated ballot totals — an allegation for which there is not a shred of proof. This is what happens when Democratic leaders and media partisans recklessly declare that Russia “hacked the election,” preferring to peddle that tale rather than admit that Donald Trump had a more appealing message to American voters.

Donald Trump is no less “legitimate” a president than was Barack Obama in January 2009. That does not mean that he comes into office popular, and no one expects Democrats to withhold criticism. However, there is an obvious distinction between suggesting that Donald Trump is ill-suited to the presidency and that he is illegally in office.

Friday’s inaugural ceremony is an opportunity for Democrats to acknowledge that difference. Set aside the spectacle that now accompanies it; at the core of the inauguration is a quadrennial reminder that the president is not a monarch, but a public servant subordinate to the Constitution. The duty to “preserve, protect, and defend” America’s founding charter applies equally to Republicans and Democrats, or to presidents who won the popular vote and presidents who didn’t.

The 44th president was not the political Left’s version of Reagan

Ramesh Ponnuru explains why for National Review Online.

He wanted to be the liberal Reagan, or rather the liberal anti-Reagan: the person who pulled American politics back to the left a generation after Reagan pulled it to the right. Bill Clinton had not done that. Instead he had governed in Reagan’s shadow. Obama thought that the time was ripe to emerge from that shadow. Many of his supporters wanted the same thing. For them, “Yes we can” — one of his 2008 campaign slogans — meant “Yes, we can overcome Reaganite conservatism and Clintonite triangulation.”

As late as last April, the commentator Fareed Zakaria was able to write that Obama had pulled it off. “Obama aspired to be a transformational president, like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded.” This judgment was not crazy, but it turns out to have been premature. Less than a year later, it appears that the Obama project has failed. …

… Reagan left office only slightly more popular than Obama is now. But Reagan also left his party holding more seats than it held when he was elected. The reverse is true of Obama, at every level of government. The public was also much happier with the state of the country when Reagan left office than it is now — although that measure of public opinion may say as much about growing polarization over the last few decades as about Obama’s performance.

The most important difference in their political records is that Reagan was followed in office by an ally while Obama will not be. George H. W. Bush ran for Reagan’s third term in 1988 and won a decisive victory. In this way he showed that Reaganism’s electoral success was not dependent on the surpassing political talent of Reagan himself. If she had won, perhaps Hillary Clinton would have shown that the political trend lines Obama had identified could carry even someone who lacked a trace of his charisma to victory.

This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

The General Assembly is sticking with Republicans Phil Berger and Tim Moore as the top leaders in the N.C. Senate and House. Rick Henderson assesses Berger’s and Moore’s priorities, along with those of their Democratic counterparts, in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

Katherine Restrepo highlights the latest fight over certificate-of-need restrictions in North Carolina. Garth Dunklin of the N.C. Rules Review Commission explains why he wants to see more state regulations face a thorough review.

You’ll hear highlights from incoming N.C. Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon’s recent briefing on the state’s long-term transportation needs. Plus state Sen. Ronald Rabin explains why a legislative oversight committee is taking a closer look at North Carolina’s preparations for natural and manmade disasters.

New Carolina Journal Online features

The latest Carolina Journal Online parody explains why a new study is prompting N.C. colleges and universities to drop their football programs.

Becki Gray’s Daily Journal ponders whether North Carolina’s Democratic governor and Republican legislators can find common ground.

What Congress Needs To Do To Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Health care is huge this year. Huge. And it will continue to be a contentious topic of discussion for years to come, as Americans are not only waiting to see what the final Republican health care alternative looks like, but also when and how it will impact their lives.

The current political forecast shows Congress working towards a budget resolution for the year ahead. As part of that budget resolution, Republicans will be using ‘budget reconciliation’ to their advantage in efforts to speed up a repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

If you’re wondering what this budget reconciliation business is all about, it’s part of the budget resolution process that allows Congress to direct one or many committees to craft legislation to change an existing law’s taxing, spending, or debt limit provisions. If Republicans stay the course, the plan is that repeal and replace will come out of two budget reconciliation bills in 2017 – the first bill consisting of a partial repeal of the ACA by phasing out the law’s taxing and spending provisions (think Medicaid expansion funding and health insurance subsidies), while the second would outline tax reform and insert other fiscal components that are a part of a finalized Republican health reform plan. Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs, provides a great explanation here.

In summary, if a conservative health plan is going to get to President Trump’s desk, Republicans are relying on budget reconciliation. A repeal of the law in one sweep requires 60 Senate votes, and that’s just not in the cards. Through budget reconciliation, the Senate can first secure a simple majority (51 Republican votes) – enough to bypass a filibuster – to phase out the ACA’s subsidies by 2019. In the meantime, Congress will give itself a two-year window to come up with their idea of a more market-driven health reform.

What does reform entail? That depends on the various conservative proposals that have been discussed for over a decade, but they all want to give patients more say over their health care. You can read more about them here, here, and here.

W-S mayor lowest paid among top 60….

I was listening to my right-wing nut-job talk radio yesterday when a familiar name popped up at the top-of-the-hour national news broadcast—none other than Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, who—with a salary of $13,000— is the lowest-paid mayor among mayors in the top 60 U.S. cities in population.

For what it’s worth, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan ranks 55th with a salary of $29,000.