Friday, February 29, 2008

New Social Contract

I'm live blogging a meeting at the New America Foundation meeting on the topic of the new social contract.

CSPAN broadcasting.

Room not really set up for blogging. SFF did much better last July.

Room is packed. Few empty seats.

New era of American politics? Post partisan? Progressive? Comeback conservatism?

Post partisan -- advocated for deficit reduction. Normal partisanship unable to cope with long standing problems. JFK Jr. -- George reference.

Now Schwartzenegger, Bloomberg. Republicans and Democrats working together to bring forth new ideas.

Americans becoming more partisan, not less, according to polls. Partisanship rising among youth as well. Millenials have been formed by exposure to out of control individuals. Parents have emphasized cooperation, prosocial behavior. Open minded, keep focused on big picture. New generation looks for respect, comity, etc.

Rutgers prof Cliff? up. Middle aged, grey beard (literally). Political culture and issues of day quite different.

Issues will be played out in political culture. Core values will underlie.

Core values:

1. Society favors equal opportunity to succeed. Committed to altruism, also self reliance, entrepreneurism, etc.

2. Commitment to public sector, also wary of it. Ambivalence about major institutions.

3. Americans have firm belief in God. 80% see themselves as believers. Religious beliefs shape our politics.

4. We believe we should have aggressive place in world. Opening for space: Charles Elachi.

5. Social security and retirement income. People no longer believe it will be there for them. No trust in government retirement plans.

6. People believe they are overtaxed. Think taxes are unfair, complicated. Replacement could be worse.

7. Health care an important issue. People concerned about cost.

8. Job satisfaction OK. (Didn't ask me.)

9. Environment a second tier issue. Finance and economics can affect.

Good for next social contract. Crisis will produce change. People tired of Bush, war in Iraq. Concern about economy has hit major proportions.

Public ready to put 9/11 behind us.

Cliff stops. Liked working with NAF very much.

Younger people less likely to be interested in politics. More leisure oriented, more entrepreneurial, more cooperative.

Interesting thought -- what about cooperation among individuals? Out of control individuals more a symptom of failed authoritarianism than democratic societies.

Millenials have sense of us, not of they.


Mark? Panel of people from whom I have learned the most about Congress. Singularity point in American politics. Does he know of techie "Singularity?"

I'm wearing a suit. Lots of people more casually dressed. Lots of young people. Fair number of middle aged folk. They tend to be more business dress.

Mark thinks we can't go back to governing like we did in 1980s and 1990s. 1994 wiped out Southern Democrats. 2006 wiped out northern Republicans. Democratic Party now the liberal party with base in north and west. Republican party now conservative party with base in south.

Question is now how do we govern the country. Reading liberal encomiums to Buckley. We need a liberalism that can engage with conservativism. Obama has this approach. Mentioned Dionne. Laugher: Dionne once used TSA as an example supporting "sensible" gun control.

K Street project of conservatives. Courts have been shifted. Conservatives have had some policy victories.

Democrats still in Bill Clinton era -- big government is over.

Susan: Republicans have created new agency, Federal intrusion into education, new benefits. Can't happen now -- majority is too thin. Personalities, e.g., Delay, Rove also played role. Shift to Senate led to House style being tried in Senate. Electorate taking control back. McCain would not have been pick of Republican leadership. Hillary according to theory should have been shoe in. People tired of partisanship. Much larger turnout inn 2008.

Susan says demographics driving elections. Hmm. Why do people from NYC move to Nevada?

12:15. Battery at 57% -- 1hr, 45min left.

Powerful communication tools at service of politically active.

12:30. Panel scheduled to start at 12:15.

Savings have been eroded. Housing a problem.

Tax benefits will flow to people with higher incomes, more wealth. Need an inclusive savings policy. Must be life long. Left focuses on opportunity, right on ownership. Universal 401k, savings plans that start at birth.

David Gray -- work and family issues. Under the radar issues: foster care, child care. Work family imbalance. Stress, two earner couples. 81% want better work life balance. People feel stressed at work. Democrats all had work life proposals. Tight labor markets leading business to accommodate desires, needs. States taking a lead. War forcing administration to take a look at work life balance. Lots of stress on family life for military. Back to 18th century? Baby boom retiring. Want to work flexibly. Older people want flexibility in work place. Fiscal crisis will also push flexibility.

Maya: budget issues. Need to update and raise revenues. We need fundamental tax reform. Percent of total economy an important line for many people.

Only a few of us live blogging. Some people taking written notes.

Now switching to dead tree note taking. Keeping the laptop on my lap is not that comfortable.

Here are my dead tree notes:
Len Nichols: Why now? Why optimistic? Cost of doing nothing is very high.

China, India make it impossible to increase prices. (What will happen if China collapses?)

Reality: Need 70 votes in Senate for a proposal to get the 60 you need. (Mikulski does bipartisanship well on aerospace issues.)

Need to buy smarter. (We need discussion of what is possible and what is not.)

Incentives are for much health care.

Political parties.

David Frum: Coalition of 70s and 80s declining. Republicans not doing as well. Movement to Democratic Party real and strong.

Bush aimed at reassembling Republican coalition.

9/11 elevated nationalism.

Lack of success in Iraq has been painful.

Collapse in Republican identification among young.

Open door at end: party shift, not political shift.

Typical voter quote: "If Eisenhower were alive, I'd vote for him." (Susan Eisenhower has endorsed Obama. She's also married to Roald Sagdeyev -- one time head of Soviet civil space program.)

Johnathan Chait: Issues moving to left. People in antigovernment mood. Democrats are shills for home state industry. Left creating an institutions on left to counterbalance ones on right.

I left at 1:47.