Democrats are increasingly divided

Yet the news media has been focused on the woes of the Republican Party

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The news media has been focused on the woes of the Republican Party. But Stanley Kurtz thinks it's Democrats who are more likely to tear themselves apart.

The often-bitter disputes within the GOP between Tea Party insurgents and the "Establishment" tend to be over how far and how fast to travel down a particular road. Among Democrats, there is sharp disagreement over which road to take.

• Unions want the Keystone XL pipeline -- which has now been "under review" by the Obama administration for longer than it would have taken to build it -- because it means thousands of well-paying jobs. It's opposed by environmentalists such as California billionaire Tom Steyer, who threatened to run negative ads against a Democrat running for the Senate in Massachusetts if he didn't recant his support for Keystone.

"Our economy runs on fossil fuels, yet an ever-growing number of Democrats at the heart of Obama's base are literally convinced that the world is coming to an end because of it," Mr. Kurtz said. "This rapidly proliferating movement of Democratic voters has a near-religious determination to choke off the fuel that drives America's economic engine. Each side of the Democratic split apparently sees the other as Dr. Evil."

• Liberals exploded in outrage last week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he wouldn't schedule a vote on a bill to reinstate the "assault weapons" ban, forcing him to back down.

Gun control is supported enthusiastically by liberals in wealthy urban neighborhoods, but by hardly anyone else. The "assault weapons" ban "couldn't get 40 votes" among the 55 Democrats in the Senate, Sen. Reid had said, in part because he knows gun ownership is rising fastest among women (23 percent say they're gun owners, up from 13 percent in 2005), and Democrats (40 percent, up from 32 percent in 2010).

• Another fracture is between black parents in big cities, who desperately want their children to get a good education, and teacher unions, the chief reason why they don't. This is the sorest point in a broader conflict between public employee unions and the (mostly Democratic) constituencies they purport to serve, said Prof. Walter Russell Mead.

"The blue model is breaking down so fast and so far that not even its supporters can ignore the disintegration and disaster it now presages," he said. "Liberal Democrats in states like Rhode Island and cities like Chicago are cutting pensions and benefits and laying off workers out of financial necessity rather than ideological zeal. The blue model can no longer pay its bills, and not even its friends can keep it alive."

• The Congressional Budget Office has nearly doubled (to $1.6 trillion from $898 billion) its estimate of Obamacare's cost over 10 years. Health insurance premiums are rising, not declining as the president said they would.

Unpleasant surprises mount. Business and union leaders were upset to learn of a provision which charges large employers an extra $63 for each employee for whom they provide health insurance. An excise tax on medical devices will hinder development of life-saving technologies. The administration is so unprepared to meet the Oct. 1 deadline for setting up health care exchanges the official in charge worries it might be "a third world experience" for users.

Obamacare is deeply unpopular, even though only its most popular provisions have been implemented so far. Imagine how much more unpopular it will be next year, when Medicare payments to providers are cut and young people are socked with huge premium hikes. Last week, 33 Senate Democrats voted to repeal the medical-device tax.

Fissures will widen if economic growth remains sluggish. If it sours, they could become chasms.

The media focus on the GOP's woes gives Democrats a false sense of security. Had Mitt Romney won just 15 percent of black votes, he'd be president, noted Deroy Murdock. Running against the first black president, Mr. Romney got only 6. But that was 50 percent more than John McCain got, Mr. Murdock noted.

Barack Obama won't be on the ballot again. The Democratic candidate in 2016 is likely to be an old white woman. The Republican may be a person of color.

Blacks have suffered more from the bad economy than any other ethnic group, so a "muscular, year-round appeal" to black voters could be the key to a GOP victory, Mr. Murdock said.

jackkelly

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette (jkelly@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1476).


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