Dennis Hastert

If the government shutdown is going to end any time soon, it seems likely that the vehicle of its demise will be a clean continuing resolution, a bill that would fund the government temporarily without defunding Obamacare. The Senate has already passed such a bill; the vast majority of House Democrats support the plan, as do 22 moderate Republicans.

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Republicans are promising the change the way the House works if they win a majority.

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Yesterday Chuck Grassley threw cold water on the idea of a bank tax to repay the financial bailout. His logic was, on its face, puzzling: "Any money raised from the TARP tax would have to be used to pay down the deficit. If a TARP tax is imposed and the money is simply spent, that doesn't repay taxpayers one cent for TARP losses. It's just more tax-and-spend big government, while taxpayers foot the bill for Washington's out-of-control spending." Ezra Klein puzzles over what Grassley was saying. Let me translate.

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Newtered

“We are all Keynesians now,” said Richard Nixon in 1971. That phrase came to mind reading historian and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s riposte in The Washington Post to my op-ed expressing amazement that President Obama is being attacked on the right as a radical, a socialist, and more.

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Political scientists understand that structural factors, mainly the economy but also things like wars and midterm elections, tend to drive voter behavior. Pollsters, on the other hand, have an unfortunate tendency to take public opinion purely at face value. And so you get results like this: Only 28 percent believe the federal government is “working well” or even works “okay,” versus seven in 10 who think it’s “unhealthy,” “stagnant” or needs large reforms.

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The Retro Man

About 20 minutes into my sit-down with House Minority Leader John Boehner, I am overcome by the desire for a drink. Scotch, maybe. Or a bone-dry martini, extra olives. It’s not that the Ohio congressman is shaping up to be confrontational or unresponsive or in any way unpleasant.

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Norwalk, Connecticut There's no greater softball question in all of politics than the one reporters lob at candidates right before they go into their local polling places to vote for themselves: How do you feel? All politicians, even the ones destined for certain defeat, invariably respond with something upbeat, like Great! or Confident! But, on Tuesday morning, as the embattled Connecticut Representative Chris Shays headed into an elementary school in his Bridgeport neighborhood to pull the lever for himself, he couldn't muster anything quite that optimistic.

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Daddy Dearest

Most parents feel a twinge of anxiety at the thought of leaving their teenagers unsupervised for any length of time. It’s not that the kids are bad; it’s just that, set free from parental oversight, the urge to run wild can prove irresistible. The 1983 Tom Cruise hit Risky Business provided a worst- case template for how quickly things can spiral out of control: One minute, your super-responsible son is lip-synching Bob Seger tunes in his underpants.

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Page Turner

It’s the afternoon of December 19, 1998, the day the House will impeach Bill Clinton, and one Republican representative can’t bring himself to vote. Not, as you might expect, because he’s torn between his partisan passions and constitutional principle—the representative has just delivered a screed pronouncing the president’s offenses impeachable. But because he literally can’t vote.

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It’s Labor Day at the Wyoming County Fair in Meshoppen, Pennsylvania, and the campaign season is underway. At the Wyoming County Democrats booth, Chris Carney, an earnest young Naval Reserve commander-turned-professor who is running for Congress, entertains a steady stream of voters. Carney, the challenger, is stumping hard—there’s speculation that if he can win in the strongly conservative Tenth District, Democrats can take back the House—and, soon, his booth runs out of yard signs. One might expect a similar scene at the GOP booth a few yards away.

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