Friday, September 23, 2011

Ohio's Abominable New Congressional Map

Republicans did not invent gerrymandering and Democrats certainly engage in it as well (see Illinois 2011); however, Ohio's new congressional map is an abomination. For a state that is roughly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and which went to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, the overly gerrymandered districts are an embarrassment. Because Ohio has not grown as quickly as other states, Republican lawmakers who control the Ohio Statehouse did face the difficult task of eliminating two U.S. congressional districts. But not one of the 16 redrawn districts could be called a true toss-up, swing district; they all lean--and most lean hard--toward the GOP. 12 of the 16 districts are red Republican districts leaving only 4 as blue Democratic districts (see comparison of the current and future maps below).

Apportionment and redistricting are processes which occur every 10 years and essentially determine party fortunes for that decade before an election ever takes place. The result is a Congress packed with ideologues more worried about a future primary challenge than attempting to bargain and compromise in the middle for the good of the country. Gerrymandering is one of the primary reasons the American political system suffers from excessive gridlock and a poisonous political environment. It is time for Ohio and all states to move away from party-driven redistricting and embrace independent electoral commissions to draw the lines.

Ohio's new map sailed through the Ohio legislature and is awaiting Governor Kasich's signature. Because an appropriation's measure was attached to the legislation, the map is not subject to a potential statewide referendum. Expect the Ohio Democratic Party to challenge it in the courts, though overturning it is a long shot.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Obama's Smart Buffett Move

Politico Arena Topic: Will Obama's "Buffett Tax" Fly with Voters?

The deficit plan is a smart move politically, especially heading into a general election year. President Obama needs to shore up a base that has been eroding since the midterm elections and that is still reeling from the GOP-favoring debt ceiling deal agreed to last month. The plan forces Republicans into a box of either supporting deficit reduction with shared sacrifice or siding with the very wealthiest interests in the country.

Raising taxes on the wealthy—especially millionaires—is popular among a significant majority of Americans and most citizens would embrace the Buffett rule. It has little chance of getting through the Congress but the plan is more of a campaign document anyway.

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