Jack Markell makes an ass out of himself to Politico

Filed in Delaware, National by on January 19, 2013

Jack Markell playing into Heritage Foundation frames, undermining Democratic values for the benefit of Politico. It is just sad.

Up next for Obama: A looming Democratic divide
By: Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman
January 18, 2013 04:45 AM EST
As President Barack Obama approaches his second inaugural on Monday, he presides over a party that has largely papered over its divisions for the past four years thanks to the president’s commanding popularity.

But almost as soon as the echo of Obama’s inaugural address fades and he instantly becomes a lame duck, Democrats are going to have to face a central and unresolved question about their political identity: Will they become a center-left, DLC-by-a-different-name party or return to a populist, left-leaning approach that mirrors their electoral coalition?

An immediate answer may come in the entitlement debate and whether Obama and congressional Democrats will agree to any Social Security or Medicare benefit cuts to achieve deficit reduction, said a wide-ranging group of Democratic elected officials and strategists.

“In the short term that’s the flash point,” said longtime Democratic consultant Paul Begala.

But as moderate Republicans become an ever rarer breed and more centrists find a home in the Democratic coalition, the party also must reconcile exactly who they are on a broader panoply of economic issues including Wall Street regulation and public employees. As 2016 grows nearer, and their presidential hopefuls begin openly maneuvering, Democrats must decide whether they want to be principally known as the party of Rahm Emanuel or the party of Elizabeth Warren.

“One of the challenges is how we continue to do the right thing while working with a wide coalition of people, both workers and business,” said Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

For decades, it was culture that divided Democrats internally as they scrambled to fend off GOP charges of extremism on issues ranging from race to gender to gay rights. But thanks toBill Clinton nudging the party on matters like welfare reform and to broader cultural shifts in the country, there’s now a consensus on social issues: Democrats overwhelmingly are in agreement on abortion rights, same-sex marriage and immigration reform. And while there may be tensions within the party’s ranks on Capitol Hill on gun control, there’s wide and deep consensus on the issue in statehouses and among the grass roots.

It’s not so much Obama’s policy choices that have reshaped the party as much as it is the rise of the Obama coalition — a largely tolerant amalgam of youth, minorities and women. It’s unthinkable, for example, that any serious Democratic White House contender in 2016 would not toe the party line on such issues. The Republicans are now the ones confronting internal divisions on such cultural matters as they contend with how to appeal to a rapidly changing country.

“The center has moved,” said veteran Democratic strategist Mandy Grunwald.

For Democrats, the gulf is over fiscal and class issues, between their populists and their elites on how to appeal to a broad group of voters while retaining their traditional commitment to those in need. In other words, finding a way forward that represents the interest of their supporters making six (or seven) figures in places like McLean, Va., and Bryn Mawr, Pa., while staying true to middle-class backers in La Crosse, Wis., and doing right by the poor of Albuquerque and Philadelphia.

“The real struggle within the Democratic Party is where you stand on income inequality and whether the government needs to be a part of fixing that problem,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “The demographics that the Democratic Party must attract are the people who need responsive government.”

Moderate Democrats counter that center-versus-left formulations are outdated — while making an emphatic case for pragmatism.

“I know what has been incredibly successful for the party and country: the banner of reform and change,” said Emanuel, adding that there is “no part of the budget that’s immune to reform and change” so long as Democrats don’t abandon their traditional “mission.”

How exactly that mission is defined promises to shape the coming debate over Social Security and Medicare.

The differences in the Democratic coalition are razor sharp. Take the question of whether Obama and Congress should consider raising the eligibility age for future Medicare recipients as a way to find savings.

“That stuff you debate out,” said Emanuel, adding: “I don’t think raising the age of Medicare to 67 is a centrist or a liberal idea.”

But to a progressive stalwart like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) such an idea isn’t just ill-considered — it’s “morally reprehensible.”

“That is such a Washington, Heritage Foundation construction,” Brown said of raising the eligibility age.

Reminded that some of his own colleagues are open to it, he shot back: “They’re wrong.”

And he wondered, speaking of both Democratic and Republican advocates of such reform, “Do they not ever talk to factory workers, construction workers, people that work in diners?”

Such talk exasperates centrist Democrats like Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a second-termer who has taken the helm of the National Governors Association.

“I hope we’re the party of math,” said Markell, saying of the eventual costs of Medicare and Social Security: “It doesn’t make any sense to put our head in the sand on this issue.”

The Delawarean called reflexive opposition to structural reform in New Deal and Great Society programs is short-sighted.

All due respect Jack, but “the math” favors Democrats when they act like Democrats.

About the Author ()

Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (36)

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  1. John Young says:

    Jack’s a Democrat?

    Now that’s “breaking news” level for the News Journal headline writers!

  2. jason330 says:

    The zombie lie that Democrats have to adopt Republican talking points on the economy to sound “serious” will never die.

  3. Joe Cass says:

    please. We all knew who the Nextel DINO was when he waltzed in on his green.

  4. Dana Garrett says:

    How things become clearer in hindsight. Remember all those upper class Republicans that became Democrats in 2008 so that they could vote for Markell in the primary? They didn’t do it because they thought he was a progressive.

  5. Venus says:

    God Dana, you are so right. But, you’ll never see the party put an undeserving one out, as in the grand illustration of KWS. Lock-step and hold your nose to vote. It’s going to implode.

  6. liberalgeek says:

    Well the Dems have ejected several incumbents in the past few years (Sheriff, county exec, senator) with mixed results. And KWS had a serious run made at her.

  7. What becomes more obvious with each passing day is that the Delaware electorate is to the left of its ‘centrist leadership’.

    I look forward to ‘doing the math’ through upcoming elections.

  8. Jason330 says:

    El Som, Why is Jack Markell in the DC conventional wisdom bubble? I frankly don’t get it. All this DLC “third way” bullshit has been thoroughly debunked in practice and it is a perennial loser at the polls.

  9. Dave says:

    Considering the “math” that Markell is referring relates to the cost of Medicare and Social Security, Markell is correct that we need to consider the resources that are necessary to sustain those programs. In order to do that choices need to be made and a balance needs to be achieved between program costs and revenues.

    I also think the article is correct. The Dems have become overall more centrist. I don’t see any significant divisions within the party even though there may be tension between ideologies within the party. Regardless, the Democratic Party is in much better shape than the GOP who have been hijacked by the fringe and may never ever be rescued.

  10. Andy says:

    and Please no one object to the notion that Jack Markell is Tom Carper 2.0

  11. jason330 says:

    Dave, “the math” that Markell and the Heritage Foundation rely on is blind to revenue. The notion that Social Security is in crisis is a fabrication built on a willful blindness to the facts.

    Also – being in better shape than the GOP is a very low bar indeed.

  12. RE: “‘doing the math’ through upcoming elections”

    Insofar as everyone believes that Matt Denn is poised to take his ‘place’ at Woodburn, can’t we hear some backlash out of him against some of these severe misses on the part of the Governor?

    They are elected separately.

    Denn should take the opportunity to distance himself from DLCism beyond the mostly social issues that have floated the Markell-admin-is-progressive stance through the last term.

  13. cassandra m says:

    The Delawarean called reflexive opposition to structural reform in New Deal and Great Society programs is short-sighted.

    As far as Social Security goes, the reflexive opposition is by Democrats like Markell who refuse to consider any raising of the contribution cap. But here is an exercise for the Governor — if Social Security was Bloom Energy, say, — how much flexibility would you have in making sure that taxpayer monies go to fund that? You cannot be a river of money to businesses and then tell people relying on Social Security that they have to sacrifice.

    Medicare is a different animal, and requires some creativity to manage a long term trend of increased costs. But even then, I’m surprised that solutions like letting people buy into Medicare aren’t on the table as a way to help stabilize the program.

  14. When centrist D’s insist on doing the ‘math’, they invariably fail to point out that they’re insisting that we use their flawed math problems as a starting point. And their phony numbers.

    For example, I’d like Jack Markell to provide us with some ‘math’ on the cost benefits of the subsidies that he and DEDO give away to businesses. It’s impossible to do the math when the so-called mathematicians refuse to share the numbers with us.

  15. Dave says:

    “Social Security is in crisis is a fabrication built on a willful blindness to the facts.”

    That certainly true. There is a challenge to be met in the 2037 or whevenever though. Still, the word “crisis” has been devalued to the point that no one pays attention any longer. However, as you said, removing the annual cap, raising the retirement age, and other relatively small measures are effectively mitigation strategies. Given the increases in longevity, I would consider raising the SS age, perhaps letting it track to an actuarial table of life expectancy. Coupled with removing the cap, that would ensure that we would (almost) never encounter this issue ever again.

    “Also – being in better shape than the GOP is a very low bar indeed.”

    Also true, to the detriment of the nation I might add. It causes laziness and acceptance of less than the best.

  16. Dana Garrett says:

    Substantially raise the income cap on Social Security taxation and the so–called impending Social Security crisis vanishes instantly.

  17. Jason330 says:

    We so need a “like” button –

    “But here is an exercise for the Governor — if Social Security was Bloom Energy, say, — how much flexibility would you have in making sure that taxpayer monies go to fund that? You cannot be a river of money to businesses and then tell people relying on Social Security that they have to sacrifice.”

  18. Tom Hawk says:

    RE: Dave at 11:08 AM
    “However, as you said, removing the annual cap, raising the retirement age, and other relatively small measures are effectively mitigation strategies. Given the increases in longevity, I would consider raising the SS age, perhaps letting it track to an actuarial table of life expectancy. Coupled with removing the cap, that would ensure that we would (almost) never encounter this issue ever again.”

    While I can agree with most of Dave’s opinion, I must take issue with the age of SS recipients. Most of the extended life time of premium payers has been mostly for higher paid, higher educated non-physical labor persons. The life times of those who do major physical labor in performance of their duties still die at an earlier age and they become unable to perform those duties at an early age. And most of these have not had financial means to set up individual retirement savings. It might be acceptable to learn if the SS payments to those with large assets might have lesser payouts based on those assets and other income. Such scrutiny has already had the effect of allowing SS income to be taxed above a certain gross income level.

  19. Dave says:

    @Tom. Good point. I’ll see if I can find some occupation-based mortality studies. I do know that the Society of Actuaries had UCONN do a study a number of years ago. The researchers confirmed that both collar (blue/white) type and annuity amount groupings are statistically significant indicators of differences in annuitant mortality experience but that industry is not a consistent indicator of differences. The researchers were unable to find a practical model to that could be applied to for the differences.

    Meaning, that there are significant differences in retirement amount AND blue/white collar professions, but there is no consistency for specific industries. So I guess I would have to consider changes to the retirement age in that light.

  20. Norinda says:

    A Flip Flopper- Didn’t we have a enough of Mitt Romney”. Governor, where do you really stand? Medicare and Social Security are not in financial crisis. Did we elect a Corporate Democrat or a Moderate Republican?

  21. mediawatch says:

    Nancy — good point on Denn, though it may be a bit early for him to assert his independence from Markell. (As a whole, the party might want to suppress such a spat until after the mid-term elections.)
    Denn should learn from his predecessor, however — a two-term lieutenant governor who failed to separate himself sufficiently from the failing policies of the incumbent governor was knocked off in the gubernatorial primary by an incumbent state treasurer.

  22. True, mediawatch, but Carney offered nothing but ‘more of the same’. Did I mention that his predecessor was Ruth Ann Minner?

    I think that we’ll learn that Denn has the ‘vision thing’ that Carney lacks.

    I think it’s neither fair nor appropriate to fault Denn for not publicly breaking with the Governor at this point. Especially since Denn is carving out quite a body of accomplishment on his own.

  23. Jason330 says:

    I don’t think Denn is going to have a problem positioning himself as the authentic Democrat against any legitimate primary opponent you can come up with.

  24. Andy says:

    Did Matt Denn previously work for Tom Carper in some capacity prior to his excellent work as Insurance Commissioner?

  25. puck says:

    “I would consider raising the SS age, perhaps letting it track to an actuarial table of life expectancy.”

    How about tracking it to a table of employment expectancy? And don’t tell me it’s OK to raise the Social Security age because you know some 80-year old guy who is still working.

  26. Dave says:

    “How about tracking it to a table of employment expectancy?”

    That could work. Certainly that kind of data should be readily available. There are some industries where workers have a short employment span because the work is debilitating. Law enforcement folks typically do 20 years for early retirement. I bet you can get pretty good statistics for employment by profession/blue and white collar. Of course, it would have to be studied a bit because you could encounter a phenomenon over time where those in occupations with a later exployment expectancy would switch over in the last few years to one with an earlier employment expectancy or other such switches where people had a career change. Any system would have to account for that in some manner.

    “And don’t tell me it’s OK to raise the Social Security age because you know some 80-year old guy who is still working.”

    And why would I do that? It’s a sample size of one. Who the heck makes decisions based on a single event? I am data driven, one guy is almost just an anecdote, not data.

    Actually, I don’t know anyone who is 80 and working. Although my Mom worked at 73 because she was bored and still volunteers at an Alzheimers center at 87, again because she needs to keep busy.

  27. mediawatch says:

    Andy,
    Denn worked for two-plus years at Gov. Minner’s legal counsel (worse than working for Carper). It took four years as insurance commissioner to overcome that blot on his resume.

  28. kavips says:

    Gear up gentlemen and ladies: Most of you are too young to remember how in WWII for the first two years we were saddled with defeats. Everywhere we were getting whomped. Finally we regrouped and began fighting them back. The first battles were the hardest, and most costly. They fought back extremely hard to keep us from getting a toehold. But we kept on. Soon we landed in Europe and had to contend one last ditch counter attacks, but pounded back and continued to wear them down.

    The war on the Middle Class is exactly like that. All we’ve done is turned the tide, gained the momentum. If they can stop that, we get stalemate, a peace treaty, return to the defensive, and that is not good enough.

    It was the the strength and will of the American people that changed the world over the past century. The enemy is now within us, but it is no less dangerous. it might be even scarier because they are people we know and not scary at all.

    It is a war over money. We cannot stop till things are right again, for generations to come…. We are very fortunate. We know what life can be when the middle class has the majority of the wealth, because we grew up in it. It is good for all. Most civilizations have survived on only two classes: The very upper, and everyone else. We know how bad that is in comparison, for we have lived both. Every other civilizations just accepted it as how things were ordained or were naturally.

    In short, the fight is not over, it is just beginning.

  29. kavips says:

    Bottom line: Entitlements are in trouble; profits are the highest ever. Make corporate pay our social security incrementals…

  30. anonymous says:

    So what’s Jack Markell’s solution to rid the books of undesirable old people? Polar ice floes? When summer comes around – end of costly problem of old Americans who deserve their social security checks.

    An ice-cold fact is that most people aged 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in retirement accounts and thus will rely solely on Social Security. Let’s hope Markell isn’t planning an attack on the poorest who have managed to beat the odds on death.

    Americans die sooner and are placed near the bottom in 9 key areas of health: low birth weight, injuries and homicides, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS, drug-related deaths, obesity and diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and general disability.

    In addition, Americans are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun and seven times more likely to be murdered than people in it’s peer countries. Delaware is 4th in American violent crime offenses. Now that’s something costly that needs a Markell solution.

    By the way, 70 is not the new 50. 70 means you have a probability of living a less than 5-10 years to the average American death age, which also is way down the peer country list of survivors. Those over 50 have a harder time finding and keeping a job even at a 25% cut in pay scale. Odds are slim for those 65 years of age to find employment. How many greeters does Walmart need? The reality is the chance to work up to one’s 70s primarily belongs to the healthiest, best educated and most well off.

    Social security lifts 14 million elderly out of poverty (43% of elderly,) which means without it, they would be dropped into the poverty pool and be eligible for poverty programs. No magic Markell bullet there.

    Having people die before they get a chance to collect from the social security fund they built, should not be The Markell Plan to have old folks die in poverty.

    Denial and magical thinking is a sure sign – one is a republican waiting for the ice floes to melt.

  31. Dave says:

    “We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.”–
    President Roosevelt upon signing Social Security Act

    I think we should always keep in mind the origin of Social Security in that it was intended to “give some measure of protection”

    If an “ice-cold fact is that most people aged 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in retirement accounts and thus will rely solely on Social Security” is the prevailing situation, that is not a failure of Social Security because it was never intended to be the sole benefit upon retirement.

    The problem isn’t that people soley rely on Social Security. The problem is that they reach retirement age having no other recourse. I wish we as a society were a bit more innovative and start tacking causes and not symptoms. Yeah, I know the rich get richer the poor get poorer. I get it, but stagnating (and even decreasing) wages for the middle class would seem to be more of the culprit.

    It is in society’s interest for every wage earner to put away something for a rainy day and for when they are no longer able to work. Yet, many are just making ends meet (or not able to make ends meet). That’s what I would like to change.

    Finally, I do wish the income restriction were removed. For some if they make as little as $14,700 in a year, their SS benefit is reduced. If they earned it, there should be no restriction on them being able to collect it.

  32. Dana Garrett says:

    Matt Denn is not only one of the most authentic and compassionate human beings I’ve ever met, but he is one of the best lawyers I’ve seen operate in a courtroom. If he becomes governor, Delawareans will be very fortunate.

  33. reality check says:

    Norinda,
    You elected a “Corporate” (with a big “C”) Republican who fraudulently registered under a “D” for political expediency. Many people’s eyes are opening and some of us already knew it but found nobody would listen. Four more years of corporate fattening at the trough of family sacrifice.

  34. geezer says:

    I guess he’s been a D for “expediency” since his earliest days, then. I agree with the rest, but of course you undermined your credibility for the sake of a cheap but inaccurate insult. Did Bill Clinton register as a D for political expediency?

  35. reality check says:

    My apologies. Registering as a D was an act of intellectual dishonesty and took place long ago but wearing a false cloak of progressive identity was and is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality.

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