Chris Van Hollen

Some people will remain below the line, no matter what.

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The Future Mr. Speaker

Chris Van Hollen has the talent to run the House. If he ever gets his chance.

Chris Van Hollen is talented enough to run the House. Will he ever get the chance?

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A Purity Ring For Bambi

The moral relativists are at it again. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.) and Reps. Jim Moran (D., Va.) and Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) have written Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to propose use of a non-lethal immunocontraception vaccine to control the population of white-tailed deer in Rock Creek Park. The deer have taken over this urban park, which runs the length of Washington, DC, posing a danger to motorists.

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There's been some debate over whether the supercommittee will simply deadlock over the Republican refusal to raise any taxes, or whether Republicans will roll Democrats again and force another all-cuts budget deal. I am less sure, in part because the alternative to a deal (huge cuts to medical providers and the military) frightens Republicans as much as Democrats.

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Around 11 a.m. on Thursday morning, Nancy Pelosi fielded a question from a journalist who wanted to know the same thing everyone else wanted to know: How, exactly, are the talks over a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown faring? The former Speaker of the House paused—back when Dems had a majority, after all, she would have been smack in the center of those negotiations. But now?

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The next big fight in Congress revolves around extending the Bush tax cuts. Unlike issues like climate change or stimulus, where the public does not accept the Democrats' basic analysis of the problem, on the tax cuts the Democrats hold the whip hand. The question is whether they emerge with a political win, a public policy win, or both. Let's review a few basic facts about the Bush tax cuts. When Republicans took control of government in 2001, their top priority was reducing tax rates on high income earners.

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Head Lock

Some two dozen executives from large corporations will be descending on Capitol Hill today to make the case against over-regulating derivatives. The “fly-in” is being organized in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through a group called the Coalition for Derivatives End-Users, according to the Chamber’s Ryan McKee. Many corporations use derivatives to hedge against fluctuations in the price of their inputs—for example, an airline might sign a contract to lock in future fuel prices, thereby passing the risk along to someone else.

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Somewhere in the White House or Capitol Hill, I imagine, is a whiteboard that looks like this: August recess September Columbus Day Thanksgiving Christmas New Year's State of the Union Valentine's Day St. Patrick's Day And now passing health care reform by St. Patrick's Day, which is next Wednesday, seems impossible.

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Court and Racket

WASHINGTON -- In a city where the phrase “bipartisan initiative” is becoming an oxymoron, the urgency of containing the damage the Supreme Court could do to our electoral system creates an opportunity for a rare convergence of interest and principle. At issue is the court’s astonishingly naive decision in January that allows unlimited corporate spending to influence elections.

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As Democratic leaders scramble to salvage the imperiled reform bill, Congressional liberals seem increasingly wary about a plan that would ask the House to pass the current version of the Senate bill and send the bill directly to Obama’s desk. “The House needs to be very careful about not merely rubber-stamping the Senate bill and sending that to the president… I just don’t think it’s wise policy or wise politics to merely regurgitate [it],” Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told me this morning.

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