The Biggest Losers in the Budget Battle
February 28, 2011
Who's winning the political battle over the budget and federal spending? Damned if I know. Politico's Jonathan Allen says the score is "Republicans 1, Democrats 0." The reason: The temporary agreement that will keep the government running another two weeks includes $4 billion in cuts, which is more or less a pro-rated version of the Republican demand for $60 billion in cuts over the rest of the fiscal year. Democrats, in other words, caved. Or did they? The $4 billion comes from a list of cuts that President Obama himself had endorsed.
Sharron Angle Moves On
January 31, 2011
Defeated nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle, having failed to knock off wildly unpopular incumbent Harry Reid on account of insanity, is now (per Political Wire) doing things like appearing at a makeup convention to share tips: Sharron will be sharing her beauty and makeup challenges during the campaign and how she overcame them! She had confidence that she would look great with 14 -16 hour days & with numerous appearances daily...so can you! At least she didn't respond to her loss by resorting to Second Amendment remedies.
January 29, 2011
When Congress convened earlier this month, senators Merkley, Udall, and Harkin introduced a package of proposals to reform Senate rules—including, most notably, the filibuster. But the proposal failed to gain traction in the Senate, and, on Thursday, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell announced a deal that confirmed what reformers feared: the filibuster as we know it will remain. The big mystery for me in all this is why the reformers were so insistent in their package of proposals on forcing “live,” or “talking,” filibusters.
Senate Reform Goes Dormant (But It's Not Dead)
January 27, 2011
Both Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent interpret today’s agreement on Senate reform -- in which Harry Reid explicitly and apparently unconditionally pledged not to attempt to change the rules with a simple majority vote -- as the end of the road for reform. The reasoning? Since neither party will ever reach the 67 votes it takes to unilaterally change the rules by using the rules, the only way significant reforms will happen will be through either a majority vote, or, perhaps more likely, in response to a threat of a majority vote.
The Long Game
January 27, 2011
Last week, on the same day that Hu Jintao was dining with Barbra Streisand and Jackie Chan at the White House, there was another piece of less welcome news about China: According to a statement issued by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of activists, Hu’s government had recently disseminated a list of “requirements and prohibitions” for journalists during the coming year. The rules included a ban on the use of the phrase “civil society.” This revelation was not front-page news, of course—and, in the sense that it represented nothing out of the ordinary, it shouldn’t have been.
Senate Dems Throw In the Towel
January 24, 2011
Last month, every member of the Senate Democratic caucus signed a letter signalling support for reforms that would end anonymous holds and force the minority to actually mount a continuous debate if it wanted to block a bill, rather than require a supermajority vote even to begin a debate: All Democratic senators returning next year have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging him to consider action to change long-sacrosanct filibuster rules. The letter, delivered this week, expresses general frustration with what Democrats consider unprecedented obstruction and as
A Not-Very-Flattering Defense Of Lieberman
January 21, 2011
It's not surprising that David Brooks would devote a column to praising Joe Lieberman as a paragon of principled moderation. What's surprising is the evidence he summons to make this case: After Barack Obama won the election, the hammer came down. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, told Lieberman that some Democrats wanted to strip him of his chairmanship of the homeland security committee. Lieberman, an independent, said if that happened then he might not be able to vote with the Democratic caucus.
Republicans Learn To Hate The Filibuster
January 19, 2011
Brad notes, hilariously, that Republicans have been running the House for a week and they're already flip-flopping on the merits of the filibuster: Earlier this morning, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor kept insisting to reporters, "The Senate ought not to be a place where legislation goes into a dead end." (He said some variation of this three times.) Cantor's frustrated because the House is all set to repeal health care reform, and Harry Reid has said he's not even going to bother bringing the bill up for consideration in the still-barely-Democratic Senate.
‘Right of Revolution’
January 11, 2011
In the wake of the Tucson massacre, the left is attributing the violence at least partially to a “climate of hate” encouraged by anti-government extremists on the right—the phrasing used by Paul Krugman in his latest column—a reaction made easier by conservatives’ frequent use of violent and intimidating rhetoric since 2008. Conservatives have responded by alleging the politicization of a random act of violence by a lunatic, and sought to place themselves in the ranks of victims of the event.
Will Senate Reform Happen?
December 23, 2010
One little-known fact about the filibuster is that it no longer requires the minority to hold the floor and make long speeches. It actually requires the supermajority to assemble and hold the floor to break it. Here's some good news.