[Guest post by Darius Tahir] It’s a minor irony that, when the Republican-dominated House Appropriations Committee proposed on September 29 to defund major parts of Obama’s recently-passed health care reform bill, the proposal went after those portions of the Affordable Care Act intended to actually reduce the deficit in the long-term—most notably, comparative effectiveness research into the cost and outcomes of various medical treatments. Why only minor? That’s because no one has an absolutely clear sense of how well this portion of the Affordable Care Act will end up working.
Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan have an eye-opening piece describing the attempts by GOP House Whip Kevin McCarthy to support some kind of debt ceiling increase. The reassuring part of it is that McCarthy genuinely seems to be working hard to bring his members up to speed. The alarming part is that, hoo boy, they're starting from a pretty low point: The presentation McCarthy and other top Republicans are giving to lawmakers is stunningly simple and illustrates just how unfamiliar House Republicans are with governing.
The notion that House Republicans might risk financial chaos by flirting with a failure to raise the debt ceiling strikes many people, including people who buy Treasury bonds, as too irrational to happen. But leaders can act irrationally, and it's worth thinking about the kinds of circumstances that cause them to do so. When Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, he had a devious scheme for rooting out potential dissidents. Members of his government would be startled by a small team of officials bursting in to announce they were undertaking a coup against Saddam -- were you with them?
I've seen a couple polls showing stronger presidential approval ratings. Here's the latest from Quinnipiac: Halfway through his first term, President Barack Obama has a 48 - 44 percent approval rating, rebounding almost to the magic 50 percent threshold for the first time since October of 2009. It does seem to reflect a larger trend (this chart does not yet include that poll): Who knows if this continues. But my guess is that an improving economy and a GOP House will help. Obama did suffer from being compared to expectations.
Former GOP House staffer Scott Galupo, while crediting my skepticism of supply-side economics, thinks I give Bill Clinton too much credit for the 1990s surpluses, when the credit belongs to House Republicans: The idea it was Clinton’s boldness alone—just a triviality that he was dealing in those days with a deficit-hawkish Republican Congress—that cleaned up a fiscal mess is equally risible.
Lanny Davis wants all of us to take a step back before judging Charlie Rangel: Have we learned nothing from the recent rush-to-judgment travesty of Shirley Sherrod? Charles Rangel stands accused by a House ethics subcommittee, composed of both Democratic and GOP House members, of violating House rules — and of course that should be taken far more seriously than the original tape clip that led everyone to jump to a premature conclusion before taking the time to view the entire tape or even to talk to Sherrod. Except the House subcommittee spent 18 months reviewing the evidence before offici
It disappeared so quickly that it is easy to forget the bipartisan patriotism and common purpose that existed in Washington immediately after September 11, 2001. Perhaps the most memorable event from that period was the gathering of members of Congress from both parties on the steps of the Capitol to sing "God Bless America." Another such episode--little-noticed, but actually more remarkable--occurred the following month.