Menzie Chinn on House Prices
It's Not as Bad as It Looks--Yet

Trying to Reduce the Power of K Street

Sam Stein of The Huffington Post:

'Accountability Now': Bloggers And Progressive Groups Plan To Challenge Elected Dems: Some of the most prominent names in progressive politics launched a major new organization on Thursday dedicated to pinpointing and aiding primary challenges against incumbent Democrats who are viewed as acting against their constituents' interests... it will actively target, raise funds, poll and campaign for primary challengers to members who are either ethically or politically out-of-touch with their voters.... "Most of the time, regardless of your record in Washington, an incumbent does not have to worry about being challenged in a primary," explained Jeff Hauser, an online Democratic operative who will serve as the group's executive director. "This only increases the power of the Washington echo chamber and the influence of lobbyists. We are trying to change that... We think there are potentially talented challengers out there who think the process of mounting a primary challenge is simply too daunting. When you bring to bear the resources of national organizations and the influence of the netroots, you can help these potential candidates."

It is a concept bound -- indeed, designed -- to ruffle the feathers of powerful figures in Washington.... Hauser, Hamsher and Greenwald said that the process by which targeted incumbents were chosen would not constitute an ideological litmus test. The goal, they noted, was simply to follow the numbers: figure out which Members were casting votes that were out of tune, philosophically speaking, with their constituent's public opinion readings....

[N]ot everyone is bound to be on board, least of all official Washington. Protecting incumbency is, as Accountability Now's founders are acutely aware, one of D.C.'s foremost operating principles.... [S]ome Democrats expressed worry about pushing for progressive change from the outside rather than from within. Would running an election opponent be the best measure of political persuasion? What if, hypothetically, a primary challenger won the nomination only to lose in the general? These are concerns that Accountability Now does not take lightly. They insist that they will "take district realities into account," which means that Democrats who represent moderate districts will be forgiven for their moderate votes.... "No incumbent worth their salt should lose in a primary -- their advantages are considerable, and so to be vulnerable indicates a considerable focus on K Street, not Main Street," said Hauser. "A primary is the height of democracy, a two-year job performance review -- what is wrong with having to listen to constituents as well as D.C. lobbyists and groupthink"...

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times:

Bloggers and Unions Join Forces to Push Democrats: A group of liberal bloggers said it is teaming up with organized labor and MoveOn to form a political action committee that will seek to push the Democratic Party farther to the left. Soliciting donations from their readers, the bloggers said they are planning to recruit liberal candidates for challenges against more centrist Democrats currently in Congress. The formation of the group marks another step in the evolution of the blogosphere, which has proven effective at motivating party activists to give money and time to political campaigns, especially in local races. But it also illuminates a deepening wrinkle for President Obama, whose attempt to build a broad governing coalition — often by tempering some of his more liberal previous positions — has already angered some of his supporters on the left.

The new organization is in many ways the liberal equivalent of the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has financed primary challenges against Republicans it deems insufficiently dedicated to tax cuts and small government...

There seem to be two big things wrong with Rutenberg's piece. The first is that the Club for Growth is not in favor of tax cuts and small government. The Club for Growth is in favor of tax cuts for the rich and large deficits. There's a big difference.

The second is that the Club for Growth's purpose is to push moderate Republicans in swing states and swing districts to the right--to use its money try to make sure that they don't represent their constituents' views and interests. Accountability Now--Hauser, Hamsher, and Greenwald say--has a different purchase: to push moderate Democrats in liberal states and safe districts to the left to try to make sure that they do represent their constituents' views and interests.

Rutenberg does not see any difference between trying to push members votes away from and trying to push members toward positions that represent their constituents' views and interests. I think this is because Rutenberg likes incumbents because he has lunch with them. I do see an important difference.

Yet another reason to read The Huffington Post rather than the New York Times to learn what is going on...

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?