The Wall Street Journal Is Pragmatic

Meanwhile, the editors of the Wall Street Journal are more pragmatic in their reactions:

This is largely Mr. Trump’s failure, and the nearby table from the October Wall Street Journal-NBC poll puts his problem in sharp relief. While 44% of voters approve of Mr. Trump’s policies, nearly half of them dislike him personally. That 20% is five times the percentage who disliked George W. Bush but liked his policies when he lost the House in 2006, and 10 times the share that disliked Barack Obama in 2013.

More glaringly, the share of voters who dislike Mr. Trump personally but like his policies increased in the past two years. This is extraordinary for a new President and shows the extent of his missed opportunity. Some two-thirds of voters on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the state of the economy, and these are people he’d win if he didn’t alienate them with his persona.

Unlike Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, Mr. Trump has made no effort to build a larger coalition than the minority who helped win the Presidency narrowly over Hillary Clinton. Instead he has played constantly to his base who are already loyal. If he wants to be re-elected, he will have to win over more of those suburban Republicans and independents.

Mr. Trump’s closing argument on immigration also looks to have been a bust. It didn’t help in suburban districts and may have cost Republican Carlos Curbelo his House seat in South Florida. White House aide Stephen Miller bears much of the responsibility for this misjudgment. He advised Mr. Trump to walk away from a potential deal trading legalization for the so-called Dreamers in return for money for border security and “the wall.” Then he urged the border crackdown that became the fiasco of family separation that further turned off suburban voters.

Mr. Trump could have improved his chances to hold the House by accepting a deal and declaring a border victory. Suburban Republicans want border security, but they also want a humane and generous immigration policy. Mr. Trump needs to rethink his immigration strategy for 2020.

The other liability for Republicans was their failure to repeal and replace health care. Democrats played on voter fears of repeal but the GOP could never point to the benefits of a replacement they didn’t pass. Then too many Republicans simply ran away from the subject, giving Democrats an open field. The late Senator John McCain delivered the final blow against reform, but the general GOP incoherence on the subject was also to blame.

I think I would be a little harsher on the Republicans than that. The Republicans need a health care policy beyond repealing the Affordable Care Act. Other than their opposition to ObamaCare they’re basically AWOL on the issue and Democrats took advantage of that vacuum.

I’ve got to admit that I have no idea what a viable Republican health care policy beyond repealing ObamaCare might be. They may have painted themselves into an ideological corner.

24 comments… add one
  • Guarneri Link

    On the nexus of politics and policy. Health care costs and pre-existing conditions are the glaring problem for Republicans. I suspect they bandaid it with covering pre-existing and call it a day. It may be enough politically, if not in substance. Neither party has a clue on costs. A shame.

    I have a running argument with a buddy, which is referenced in a couple of the blogposts. The converted are already converted. Whipping them up like a beer hall populist makes for good yucks, but does not expand the voting bloc. I feel vindicated in the position that a portion of the anybody but Hillary types went back to their roots, and Trumps “intemperate language” is not a winner with non-hard cores (women or suburban types especially). Look at the voting patterns.

    The Dems will overplay their hand on the investigations, because like Repubs on health care, they have nothing else. The Dems version of immigration reform is a loser. Free beer is the fantasy of the Ocasio-Cortez’s of the world. Maybe they waste money on infrastructure. But there is no there, there on Russia. The supposed rampant corruption is overwrought. It will be cheap theatrics. Cummings, Schiff, Waters?? Seriously? Like the scorpion they can’t help themselves. It’s their nature.

  • The problem here in Illinois in particular and in the country more generally is that fixing the obvious problems isn’t just a matter of tinkering around the edges here and there. Decades of bad policy decisions need to be reversed and compensated for. It will become harder with each new bad decision.

    But an increasing number of people’s livelihoods depend on staying the course on those bad decisions. For them it’s a matter of survival.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Looking at the results last night; all sides could draw lessons.

    Democrats did well in the suburbs; including the South; but their performance in Midwest was relatively weaker to other regions – the Michigan / Ohio senate races for example – they are drifting red.

    Republicans did well in rural areas and strength in Appalachia saved them from disaster. However the South keeps shifting to the Democrats.

    Trump can take comfort he seems to have a head start for 2020 in Florida and Ohio – his must haves like Lincoln needed Kentucky. But he is at a disadvantage in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania; he loses if the Democrats rebuild their blue wall. So he will need to change up his approach.

  • Guarneri Link

    I think that’s correct, Dave. Take trade, for example. Its not very insightful for critics to observe that there will be losers. There will also be winners, and correcting decades of bad policy, to use my words, will be messy. Like all such issues, pols tend to kick it down the road.

    My words were sincere on IL. You guys just hired a nut. I don’t know how close IL is to the breaking point, but they just pressed on the gas pedal. Hope you are wearing your seat belt.

    It seems to me that the ignored elephant in the room is the judiciary. And I’m not just talking just about RBG, who did not look, um, robust, at the K ceremony. Its the lower levels. More progress.

    Parting observations:

    Obama brought nobody home.
    Kav no votes got slaughtered.
    HRC was exposed as the problem in 2016, not the Russians.
    Trump needs to tone it down. Its a turnoff o/s the red meat base. (BTW – that doesn’t mean capitulate to the obviously dishonest press for example. Just don’t personalize it and lose things like “the enemy of the people.” The press needs no help to self immolate.)

  • Andy Link

    I’m frankly surprised the Democrats didn’t do better. Maybe their internal problems are even worse than I thought.

    Here in Colorado, it was an interesting race. The wealthy, self-funded Democratic candidate, Jared Polis, won the election easily. I ended up voting for him despite his flaws given the major problems with all the other candidates, to include third party. (Pro-tip for third-party candidates: When the major state newspapers send you a questionnaire about your positions, answer and return it. If you’re too lazy to do even that, then even this third-party loving guy isn’t going to vote for you).

    His election is an interesting contrast to the failure of all the ballot initiatives for tax increases and road and education funding.

    Probably the best thing are the redistricting plans that were passed (and are now part of the state constitution). They’re a bit convoluted, but redistricting will be decided by a tri-partisan commission of four Republicans, four Democrats and four unaffiliated voters (Independents are called “unaffiliated” here for some reason). Plans must be approved by a supermajority – 8 of the 12 commissioners. As an independent/unaffiliated voter I’m really pleased that, in theory at least, the silent majority will have a decisive say in redistricting.

  • Andy Link

    BTW, there was a Blue Wave here in Colorado – Democrats now control both legislatures as well as all the senior executive positions.

    Again, an interesting contrast to the other things on the ballot that didn’t pass.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    For health care; Republicans should do what I suggest for Democrats.

    (a) give the states control on how to run health care; the Federal government’s role would be to enforce standards and transfer cash so the states have relatively equal resources to meet those standards. The states can do whatever they want (UK style NHS, mixed public private like continental Europe, something else…) as long as they meet the standards. It should appeal to the Republican notion of Federalism and limited Federal government.

    (b) where possible, use proper powers to lower cost. e.g. drug patents. There is no “free market” justification for supporting the rampant abuse of the patent system. Drugs are a national market; and patents is an Article 1 power.

  • The anarcho-capitalists/objectivists among the Republicans think that patents are a fundamental right while believing that health care is a fundamental right is increasingly becoming a litmus test among Democrats. I think that both are better thought of as benefits granted to the citizenry for the general good which Congress has not only the authority but a responsibility to limit. So, for example, health care should only be granted to the extent that there is a willingness to pay. The yardstick for willingness to pay is the willingness to impose taxes to pay for it.

  • TastyBits Link

    So, how does this work?

    On Monday, the Republicans were kicking me in the ass, and the Democrats were kicking me in the balls. Do they switch, or do they both kick me in the ass & balls?

    If my health care would just pay for sexual change surgery, I could eliminate one problem. In any case, I have my popcorn and hotdogs.

    Burn baby, burn.

  • PD Shaw Link

    My county (and at least one adjoining county) voted to raise the sales tax by one percent, to go to school buildings. A majority of voters in both counties also voted for the Republican governor. I voted for both as well.

    (There is now a commercial development zone in my city with a 10.75 percent sales tax, said to be perhaps the highest in the country.)

  • Guarneri Link

    No, no, no, Tasty. You just need an ass and balls trauma endorsement.

  • Guarneri Link

    “The yardstick for willingness to pay is the willingness to impose taxes to pay for it.”

    The yardstick for willingness to pay is the willingness to impose taxes on someone else to pay for it.


  • The yardstick for willingness to pay is the willingness to impose taxes on someone else to pay for it.

    The tragedy/joke is that they’re not even willing to do that. They’re afraid they’ll be voted out of office. The poorer people are the more inclined they are to impose taxes on them.

  • However the South keeps shifting to the Democrats.

    The South keeps shifting to the Democrats because Northern Democrats keep moving to the South for jobs, cheaper housing, and lower taxes. It’s a Mad Tea Party.

  • steve Link

    “The South keeps shifting to the Democrats because Northern Democrats keep moving to the South for jobs, cheaper housing, and lower taxes.”

    have you ever posted on that with data. I know that when it has been looked at for several states (I think New Jersey was one) what you find is that it is the old people moving South. Which they have always done. Has something to do with snow.


  • Does their age matter? Whether they’re 20 or 80, when they move they take their incomes with them. Illinois, just to take one example, is losing population and it’s losing it to mostly Southern states. In Illinois’s case we’re losing prime working-age adults.

  • Guarneri Link

    This is totally anecdotal. But it’s a pretty widely shared anecdote for those living in the SE.

    They are coming in droves from the NE, upper MW and Canada. NOT just old people, unless you consider 45-60 old. And it is escape. Not just snow. However, it is undeniable they are leaving the messes they created in the NE, etc……….and bringing their political proclivities with them. Don’t fool yourself steve.

  • steve Link

    This looks like a pretty good piece looking at the issue in a more comprehensive manner. (It bothers me when someone like Lucci, who clearly seems to have an axe to grind, fails to point out that Illinois has been faced with net out migration for 100 years.)

    Drew- The plural of anecdote is not data. Also, don’t forget that I lived in Florida for a while.


  • From your link:

    1. He acknowledges that Illinois has a problem.
    2. Illinois has not merely net domestic outmigration; it has an absolute decline in population.
    3. 27% of those leaving say taxes were the main factor.

    Unmentioned is that the median income of those leaving is higher than the median income of those staying and that it hasn’t faced a declining population for the last 100 years.

    I can also testify that anyone who’s ever run a business in Illinois and, particularly, in the Chicago area which should be the state’s magnet will tell you that the regulatory environment is problematic.

    Illinois isn’t a natural vacation destination. It isn’t warm and sunny. It doesn’t have mountains or oceans or other natural beauty. And it’s surrounded by states with lower state minimum wages and lower taxes. People come here to work and stay here to work. It either needs to accept permanent decline or it needs to improve its regulatory and tax climate.

    Over the period of the last 30 years I have repeatedly heard grandiose plans to turn one part of the Chicago area or another into the Silicon Valley of the Midwest. They have all flopped. The incoming Pritzker administration has announced its plans precisely along those lines. They’ll flop, too. We aren’t going to be the Silicon Valley of the Midwest or the Wall Street of the Midwest.

    My claim is not that taxes are the only factor. It’s that they are a significant factor and the article to which you linked substantiates that.

  • Gray Shambler Link

    In Ne. we have a constitutionally balanced budget, we just re- elected the budget hawk Republican governor, heir to Ameritrade, Ricketts, and we voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid to low income workers. Contradictory. But taxes will have to rise or other budget items will be cut. The Legislature will have to figure out how to do it.

  • steve Link

    Dave- All true, but you keep linking to stuff that does not note the following.

    1) Illinois has always had net out migration. Whatever the reason(s), it probably isn’t taxes alone, unless the state has always had higher taxes. (27% of people, at least, will always say their taxes are too high.) Your sources keep saying it is all about taxes.

    2) Illinois has a lot of foreign students come in. When they leave, as many do, they are counted as domestic out migrants. If you are going to compare Illinois with other states, you have to factor that in. Your sources, best as I can recall, do not do that.

    3) On a per capita basis, Illinois is 29th in out migration. (Hope I remember that correctly.) Illinois has a decreasing population problem, but out migration is not the primary cause.

    4) I dont really know there guy who wrote that analysis, maybe he is a closet liberal or something, but it looks pretty reasonable to me.


  • You persist in throwing in irrelevancies. ILLINOIS’S POPULATION IS DECREASING IN ABSOLUTE NUMBERS. That it has experienced domestic outmigration for a century is utterly irrelevant. Its population hasn’t decreased in absolute numbers for a century. That’s what’s important. In addition the median income of those leaving exceeds that of those staying.

    but out migration is not the primary cause.

    I think it’s the problem because the state has no way to attract a workforce that earns as much or more than the exiting population. However, I’ll bite. How does Illinois solve its problems without reducing domestic outmigration? Make it up in volume?

    Engage in a little thought experiment. 100,000 people leave who put in a net $10,000 per person into the state’s coffers. 100,000 people move in who remove $10,000 per person from the state’s coffers. The $1 billion is just gone. You can’t make it up by bringing in more low-paid workers. And high-paid workers don’t want to come here. You can’t attract them with amenities to match California or Washington or inexpensive housing like Texas.

    maybe he is a closet liberal

    I don’t know or care whether he’s left, right, or center. He has a clear agenda which is to cloud the issue. I have an agenda, too. I want the state to survive. It can’t survive by borrowing to pay its bills, driving the present population out, and replacing them with people who work for less.

  • steve Link

    “He has a clear agenda which is to cloud the issue. ”

    Nope, he has tried to make clear what the problem really is. Until you understand the problem, you probably cant fix it. The articles you always cite claim that the population is decreasing and it is because of out migration and that is because of taxes. This guy shows that out migration is not a new problem and is not really the source of the current population decrease for Illinois. The guy you cite, and you seem to support the idea, says that taxes are driving people out of the state. Yet, your own article says that this accounts for, at best, 27% of out migration. Why has Illinois always had high out migration? Have taxes always been higher than everywhere else? Seems unlikely.

    So you have a population issue. Figure out why, then try to fix it. Maybe out migration is part of the problem. Then figure out why it is a long term issue for the state and address that long term problem. Maybe taxes are a newer issue, then fix that too, but once you know the history it looks like, from someone who doesn’t live there, that you need to look for other causes.


  • Why has Illinois always had high out migration?

    That’s obvious. It’s in the middle of the country. I haven’t looked into it but I’d guess Missouri has, too.

    Population = present population – outmigration +inmigration + births – deaths

    In Illinois the birthrate has been falling and is below the replacement rate. Not as low as New York, Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts but those states don’t have declining populations so that probably isn’t it. The death rate is just about at the U. S. median and it’s lower than New York, Pennsylvania, higher than Massachusetts so that probably isn’t the factor, either.

    In-migration and out-migration tend to be affected by the same factors: amenities (like climate, scenery, etc.), availability of jobs, pay rate, taxes, government regulations, political corruption, and violence (directly related to political corruption).

    Every successive administration has tried to do something about the availability of jobs without a great deal of success.

    From your own link 27% of those who leave do so because of high taxes and that’s the difference between a population that’s stable or increasing and one that’s declining. Taxes haven’t always been increasing here. That’s relatively new. The highest property taxes in the country (other than in New Jersey) and that although home prices are around the median they’re higher than in the adjacent states are probably preventing people from coming and encouraging them to leave.

    And you’ve dodged my question. What’s your solution?

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