Al Franken

Republican leaders and, finally, many of their followers are coming to grips with the obvious: They can't use the government shutdown or threat of default to kill Obamacare. But some conservatives aren’t quite ready to give up—whether because of heartfelt sentiment or political opportunism, or some combination of the two. That’s left GOP leaders searching for some kind of blow they can deal, ideally as they negotiate a way to restore govenrment funding and raise the debt ceiling.

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The liberal bloc of the Senate today is up there with the early 1960s and mid-'70s.

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Senator-turned-lobbyist Evan Bayh says a new tax will kill the medical device industry. Really?

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BEFORE HE EARNED his reputation as one of the best ad men in politics, before he wrote for several major television shows, and long before he became Mitt Romney’s top campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens found himself in Cameroon, face to face with a machine-gun-wielding soldier looking to shake him down. It was 1988, and a few weeks earlier, Stevens had deposited himself in the nearby Central African Republic to pick up a friend’s Land Rover and drive it back to France. But the trip was a disaster from the get-go. Local officials confiscated the car and refused to release it.

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The Turnaround Men

Just after dawn on a cool morning in September 2008, two FBI agents and a police officer walked into the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas and took the security elevator up to the twenty-third floor, where they knocked on the door of a high-roller haven known as the Grand Lakeview Suite. A Minnesota businessman named Tom Petters answered wrapped in a bathrobe. After a moment’s hesitation, he invited them in.

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 -- A short history of iceberg towing schemes. -- Stimulus from Fannie and Freddy. -- Al Franken reminds everyone about his proposal to reform the rating agencies. -- A proposal to eliminate the debt ceiling.         -- It may not be a “grand strategy,” but Daron Acemoglu has some good ideas about how to promote growth

On Wednesday morning the managing directors of Wall Street’s biggest bond rating agencies lined up in front of the House Financial oversight committee. To the administration and the Treasury, these men currently represent their worst nightmare. In the last two weeks, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch have all threatened to downgrade America’s triple-A debt rating, a move that would cost the government billions in raised interest rates and spark disastrous macroeconomic consequences for the country.

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-- Remembering Richard Holbrooke. -- CBPP's big picture on the budget and taxes. -- Al Franken defends his vote for the tax deal.

Ever since he declared his campaign for Senator, Al Franken has been trailed by endless Stuart Smalley jokes. In TNR's latest issue, though Jeff Rosen trails Franken around and concludes that Franken is, indeed, good enough and smart enough: In recent years, congressional hearings have become little more than televised sideshows in which most senators rely on questions scripted by their staff and seem unable to ask tough or even relevant follow-ups.

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Franken Sense

Please join Jeffrey Rosen for a live conversation about Al Franken and the Democratic Senate "after the shellacking," at 3p.m. EST, on Friday, November 19. In July 2009, after a cliff-hanger of an election and an ugly court battle over the results, Al Franken finally arrived in the United States Senate. Eager to lay the groundwork for legislative accomplishments, the author of Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot looked for common ground with his new GOP colleagues. In the case of Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, that common ground was music.

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