Can Democrats Win Back the House?
June 01, 2011

Charlie Cook points to reasons for historical caution: There is no historical precedent for the party of a president seeking reelection scoring a net gain of more than 15 seats; presidential re-election coattails do not exist. Franklin Roosevelt’s Democrats only picked up 11 seats in 1936, Dwight Eisenhower’s Republicans lost two in 1956; Republicans under Richard Nixon picked up 12 seats in 1972 and 14 seats in 1984 under Ronald Reagan.   In the last two reelection years, Democrats gained nine seats in 1996 under Bill Clinton and Republicans three in 2004 under George W. Bush.

What Were House Republicans Thinking?
May 06, 2011

Republicans appear to be nervously backing away from their plan to transform Medicare into partially-funded private insurance vouchers: After House Republican leaders pushed through a budget that contained a politically charged plan to overhaul Medicare, the chairman of the House tax-writing committee suggested Thursday that he did not intend to draft legislation turning the proposal into law any time soon. The comments by Representative Dave Camp, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, coupled with remarks by other top Republicans, suggested that the party’s

The Counterintuitive Liberal Case For Ryan Is Too Counterintuitive
April 06, 2011

Slate's Dave Weigel deftly skewers Paul Ryan's political persona: Two products made their debuts in Congress on Tuesday. The first was "The Path to Prosperity," House Republicans' budget resolution for the next fiscal year. The second was the budget's author: Honest Paul. Honest Paul is the heroic persona of Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House budget committee. He's like the regular Paul Ryan, except he must pause regularly to accept plaudits for his candor, heroism, and courage.

Why Boehner Must Shut Down The Government
March 30, 2011

How should Republican leaders deal with the dilemma of being caught between a base that will view any budget deal with President Obama as a sellout and independent voters who are likely to turn on them if they shut down the government? Jonathan Bernstein thinks they should bite the bullet and cut the best deal they can, figuring they'll get hit by the base no matter what: what Boehner has to do is to convince Republican Members of the House that the hit they’re going to take from the right for compromising is inevitable. They’ll be seen as sellouts if they cut a deal before a shutdown.

Why Michele Bachmann (and Other Reps) Probably Won't Win in 2012
January 25, 2011

Aaron Blake argues today that present-day circumstances make it more likely that Members of the House can win presidential nominations, something that as he notes hasn’t happened for some time. He points to former Speaker Newt Gingrich and current Members Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann as potentially viable national candidates this time around. I continue to disagree. Let’s see what we have here. First, I think Blake undercounts past House candidacies during recent (post-reform) history.

Paul Ryan's Orphaned Roadmap
January 17, 2011

National Review's Robert Costa observes that Paul Ryan's much-ballyhooed Roadmap is being stiff-armed by Republicans in Congress: On Capitol Hill, praise for the Wisconsin Republican comes easy and often, full-scale endorsement of the roadmap less so. Most leading first-year legislators temper their words when discussing the plan. “I think it’s a good start; it’s not perfect,” says Rep. Allen West (R., Fla.). “We have to be able to be flexible.” Rep.

Why Originalism Is So Popular
January 14, 2011

When members of the House read aloud the Constitution at the start of the legislative session last week, the event was widely regarded as a political stunt. Commentators mocked the House GOP for squabbling over the procedure for reading the text and for skipping passages that had been superseded by amendment—although it’s not clear what’s wrong with skipping provisions that are no longer in effect.

Is It Time To Expand the House of Representatives?
December 21, 2010

With reapportionment in the news today, there’s been some tweeting about a recurring Big Think kind of reform: increasing, perhaps radically increasing, the size of the House of Representatives. David Dayen: Why is increasing the size of the House of Representatives, so 1 lawmaker doesn’t represent 700,000 people, just completely off the table? And Reihan Salam: Montana has 989,415 people and one member of Congress. We need to increase the number of House members to at least 650.

Why 'Triangulation' Is the Most Empty Phrase in Politics
December 10, 2010

Mori Dinauer: Isn't "Triangulation" Just Another Way of Saying "Makes Political Deals?" Perfect. I've seen a variety of attempts at defining triangulation over the last few days; Dinauer's is my favorite by far. What is triangulation, really? I'll tell you, and you'll enjoy it, but first I'll make you sit through a couple of paragraphs about how bills pass in different contexts. With unified government, the best course for a president is usually to pass legislation by mobilizing his party. That's pretty much what Barack Obama did during the 111th Congress.

How Parties Work, Hill Staff Edition
November 24, 2010

I could call Dave Weigel's story about incoming GOP members of the House hiring lobbyists as their Chiefs of Staff a "Catch of the Day," and it is that. Great catch! But I'm really interested in parties, and how they work. And what's interesting about all these new House Chiefs of Staff isn't, to me, that they were lobbyists; it's that they are part of the GOP party network. Just as people elect a presidency, and not a president; just as elections are about candidacies, and not candidates; the careers of members of Congress are shaped in part by the people that they hire.