November 27, 2013 Morning Run Down

Pope Francis takes it to Paul Ryan (ok not really, but sort of) on the issue of helping the poor. The Washington Post put together this nice piece so not only can you read along but you can follow in chart form. The Pope just doesn't speak in chart form and he is not going to stop talking about this cause anytime soon. He won't stop until he gets a Tea Party primary challenger. Matthew Yglesias at Slate breaks down the Pope's comments on everything from beneficence of the powerful to political change. My own thoughts on this whole Pope Francis is a liberal thing is non-sense. The Pope is making these statements off of his deep rooted understanding of centuries old Catholic Church doctrine. Nothing is new about what he is claiming. This is the basis of the Catholic Church doctrine and it is what should be the works of Catholics world wide. I will saw however, and Yglesias makes this point in his Slate piece, it matters what you emphasize. I frankly for one am excited to finally hear a world leader not only talking about, but aggressively talking about the poor and railing against the destructive economic policies of austerity.

Speaking of austerity. Democrats are rateching up the pressure to extend the unemployment insurance. From Greg Sargent from The Washington Post 

 ...over one million other Americans are also set to lose another form of insurance — and in this case, it is Democrats who will be highlighting their stories in an effort to prod Republicans into doing something to stop it from happening. The insurance in question is unemployment insurance.
This is something Elizabeth Warren has spoken about in detail. She is not only in favor of just defending Social Security she is in favor of expanding Social Security. Warren is upset specifically with Chained-CPI, which she argues is an inaccurate way of measuring the cost of living for seniors.  The article really drives the point home in this single sentence about Warren 
By planting a flag on the need to expand Social Security, Warren may have just added this issue to the pantheon of preoccupations that are driving those who want to see the party embrace a more economically populist posture going forward.
Surprise the right is going to make Janet Yellen a key vote. Of course you knew this was going to happen because if President Obama is for it the GOP is against it. Doesn't matter if it is a new Federal Reserve Chair or their own healthcare plan from the 1990s if President Obama is for it... say it with me now... the GOP is against it. 

This Mother Jones article lays this insanity out pretty cleanly in a Kevin Drum article 

That's true, which means this has become sort of a litmus test for wingnuttery. There's simply no serious reason to oppose Yellen, who is outstandingly qualified to be Fed chair by virtually any measure. So opposition to Yellen is now a pretty simple proposition: you oppose her if you're some kind of hard money lunatic or if you feel like you have to pander to the hard money lunatics. That's it. Everyone else votes to support her confirmation. Should be an interesting roll call. 
Roll Call has a piece out that might make Democrats a little bit concerned. The premise of the article says we could be headed for a messy 2014 show down. I don't know if we are quite in that territory yet, but Nathan Gonzalez seems to be hitting this drum early and often.
On the House side, Republican chances of capturing another 63 House seats is virtually zero. Maybe most importantly, the GOP starts this cycle with 234 seats rather than the 179 seats they had in 2009. And redistricting has further narrowed the universe of competitive races. To have gains the size of the one reached in 2010, Republicans would likely have to win districts that the president carried with about 57 percent in the last election and a couple dozen districts where he performed worse but where Republicans aren’t even contesting right now. 
I am not ready to throw in the towel quite yet on 2014 I think we have a long way to go and a lot could happen between now and election day. Quite frankly, there is no telling what the GOP will do or say next. With wild card candidates running for Senate in Georgia that could affect House races and not to mention end up handing the Senate seat to a Democrat. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky surely looks like he is headed toward not only a tough primary fight but an even harder general election. As the popularity of Obamacare continues to take hold in Kentucky McConnell will have to find some way to rectify his constant bashing of Obamacare and his own constituents needs for health insurance in the the coming months. Here is a hint Mitch telling people poor people like free stuff probably isn't going to help your case.

While the GOP might make some gains in the Senate in places like Montana and South Dakota they could take two steps back losing places like Georgia and Kentucky. Of course though 2016 doesn't get any easier for them as they have to defend 24 Senate seats in a year where the most popular Democrat since FDR is planning on running for President.

From Bloomberg, there is an interesting article about who assumes the risk of private toll roads. The title Private Toll Road Investors Shift Revenue Risk to States
Companies that build private toll roads are pressing states to assume more financial risk of traffic not meeting expectations, a change that benefits the operators while threatening to increase taxpayer costs.
Pretty interesting assessment from the free market champions who pushed the states to privatize the roads as a way of cutting down costs. As it turns out as soon as these private companies are feeling the pinch of a lack of market demand, in this case lower than expected traffic patterns, they go crying for a hand out. I think Paul Ryan might call these people takers? 

This is so atypical of the free marketeers. They want all the benefits of the profit side of the free market but they do not want to assume any risk that the market will present. 
Under the arrangements, states receive toll revenue and have to augment it with money from their operating budgets should traffic fail to generate enough to cover costs. The terms typically call for the states to take over the roads after several decades. 
This argument could easily be explained with the privatization of retirements accounts, schools, fire departments, or any other public service for that matter.

What else we are reading... 

Washington Post - Obamacare is turning the corner
The Atlantic - Bitcoin Is the Segway of Currency 
The Atlantic Cities - Why It's So Difficult to Fight Urban Inequality 
Detroit's creditors are getting worse and worse...