Democratic Strategist Mark Penn explains which base has been strengthened by the debt battle.
By MARK PENN
Published December 10, 2010
Democrats should move quickly to back the president on the tax bill or risk turning themselves into a minority party in Congress for a long time to come. By becoming reverse tax protesters (chanting “raise taxes”), the liberals are sending out all the wrong messages to a country that overwhelmingly backs the key elements of the bipartisan deal the president struck.
Obama took the first step this week in seeking to save his floundering presidency by moving to the center. His execution was far from perfect but his actions were sound.
First, when it’s done, the president will sign major legislation unequivocally backed by super-majorities of the American public. Yesterday’s Gallup poll shows that 66 percent support both extending the tax cuts and extending unemployment benefits for the next two years — the two key components of the package. While the far-right squabbles over the unemployment extension, and Obama’s liberal base is unhappy with the tax cuts, most of America — and the moderate wings of both parties — support the extension of both. Gallup found that 78 percent of moderate Republicans support the tax cuts, and 62 percent feel the same about unemployment extension; 85 percent of moderate Democrats are in favor of the extension of benefits, and 64% approve of the tax cuts for all. This deal attracts exactly the moderate and swing voters Obama needs to attract if he wants a shot at a second term.
Mark Penn talks about the outlook for the U.S. midterm elections and the challenges that may face President Barack Obama if Republicans hold a majority in Congress. Penn speaks with Margaret Brennan on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness.”
By MARK PENN
September 28, 2010
The selection of loopy Republican Senate nominees has given the Democrats their first serious opportunity in months to turn this election around to hold onto the House — a feat that would now be considered a major political victory no matter how slim the margin.
But capitalizing on these turns will take more than mocking negative ads — it will take a dash back to the center. The Democratic Congress is perceived as too far to the left to keep our fiscal house in order, safeguard our families or bring about needed jobs in the new economy. Its approval ratings are rock-bottom at 21 percent in the last New York Times / CBS News poll.
There is no doubt 2010 is looking more and more like 1994, when President Clinton’s series of legislative victories related to guns, trade and taxes boomeranged. Either President Obama acts now, or he will be faced with similar post-election choices that President Clinton faced in 1994.
The temptation on the Democratic side will be to nationalize the election with a broadside of attacks on the Republican Party, accusing the GOP of backing tax cuts for the wealthy. Making the election about class warfare has consistently been a loser for the Democrats, and this year will be no exception.
By MARK PENN
August 15, 2010
It’s not news in this poll that Congress receives poor marks for its overall performance, given the state of the national economy, but what is a surprise is that solid majorities of the public and overwhelming majorities of DC elites want some kind of comprehensive immigration legislation passed now.
The scarcity of jobs, the growth of the Latino vote and the legislation in Arizona have all contributed to creating an atmosphere in which the public says that progress on this issue is overdue.
Fifty-nine percent of the general population wants to see action on meaningful reform and so do 76 percent of DC elites. More notable in today’s partisan climate is that reform gets the nod from Democrats and independents in equal measure (61 percent of both think Congress should “pass comprehensive immigration law guidelines now”) and that 59 percent of Republicans agree as well.
By MARK PENN
Published March 5, 2010
The idea of jamming major legislation through Congress usually crops up whenever there’s serious popular desire for change, and equally serious Congressional resistance. In the past, reconciliation has typically only ever made it to the table when one factor of Congress — at the behest of special interests — has set themselves squarely in the path of popular legislation, threatening its passage with delays, obfuscation, and parliamentary maneuvers.
This has been true of just about every major fight I can recall, from gun safety measures to mandatory gas mileage requirements. In every case, the public debate had generated majority support, but Congress was blocking it because of special interests groups — and, every time, the president won a solid victory by overcoming the gridlock.
But, for better or worse, this is not the dynamic in health care today. The litmus test of solid public support remains unmet, making this new strategy a potentially dangerous political Molotov cocktail.
On CNBC, Mark Penn reviewed the latest NY Times-CBS News poll showing that 75% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling their job.
By MARK PENN
Published October 7, 2008
My polling over the years has found that about two-thirds of Democrats define themselves as moderate, while two-thirds of Republicans see themselves as conservative. That polling trend was mirrored in the initial unsuccessful Sept. 29 House vote on the financial bailout proposal: Democrats were divided, with 60 percent of members in favor, while Republicans opposed the measure 2-to-1.
The 228-205 defeat saw the left and right team up against the center, revealing the fundamental unfulfilled divide in American politics today. Centrists viewed it as common sense to shore up the credit markets to stabilize America’s economic condition, which the president and others saw as on the verge of collapse. Yet to the right, it was an unacceptable intrusion by the federal government into the marketplace. And to the left, it was an unacceptable bailout of the rich on Wall Street. Together, they were successful in holding back the winds of change, if only temporarily, as a modified version of the bailout proposal was enacted four days later.
The two-party system works against moderates in Congress: Each side is a fusion of moderate and either left or right elements. So even though voters have repeatedly rejected politics too far to the right or left, the vital center often gets lost in the debate.