Jim Bunning

[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] There's an interesting new development on the Elizabeth Warren front today. But, before I get to that, some backstory. I've written before about why Warren is likely to be confirmed as head of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection if the president nominates her. Basically, some key Republicans, like Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe (and even Jim Bunning), seem to like her.

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If you're a liberal who follows politics closely but not that closely, then you probably know a lot about Elizabeth Warren but not much, if anything, about Peter Diamond. That's too bad. Like Warren, Diamond could end up with a pretty important position--one from which he could do a lot of good. But, like Warren, Diamond has provoked the ire of some conservatives who want to keep him from that post. Diamond is one of President Obama's three nominees to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

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Rand Paul's Crucible

Rand Paul has had a rough time adapting to life as a Senate candidate. Since he's become a national figure, the Kentucky ophthalmologist has had to compromise his strictly libertarian ideological attitudes—for instance reversing his stance on the necessity of the Civil Rights Act and shying away from previous comments about a secret plan to build a NAFTA superhighway.

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In a night of big political developments, the one that will echo for some time is the victory by Rand Paul in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s not often that someone leapfrogs a still-active and very famous congressional father to get a short track to the U.S. Senate.

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All across the country, Republicans are fantasizing about a gigantic electoral tide that will sweep out deeply entrenched Democratic incumbents this November. In their telling, this deep-red surge will be so forceful as to dislodge even legislators who don’t look vulnerable now, securing GOP control of both houses of Congress. But could this scenario really come to pass? That will depend, in part, on what type of Republican Party the Democrats are running against in the fall. Hence the importance of this year's Republican civil war.

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All across the country, Republicans are fantasizing about a gigantic electoral tide that will sweep out deeply entrenched Democratic incumbents this November. In their telling, this deep-red surge will be so forceful as to dislodge even legislators who don’t look vulnerable now, securing GOP control of both houses of Congress. But could this scenario really come to pass? That will depend, in part, on what type of Republican Party the Democrats are running against in the fall. Hence the importance of this year's Republican civil war.

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Defiance

Washington—The word "partisanship" is typically accompanied by the word "mindless." That's not simply insulting to partisans; it's also untrue. If we learn nothing else in 2010, can we please finally acknowledge that our partisan divisions are about authentic principles that lead to very different approaches to governing? Last week's health care summit was a day-long seminar that should make it impossible for anyone to pretend otherwise. But before we get to that, let's examine the Senate debate over whether to extend unemployment insurance coverage.

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Conservatives like to quip that, for the average member of Congress, spending other people’s money is the best part of the job. If that’s true, then grilling the Fed chairman after a financial crisis has to rank a close second. The members of the Senate Banking Committee didn't hold back when Ben Bernanke made his case for a second term on Thursday.

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Senator Kent Conrad's smack-down of Senator Jim Bunning provided one of the few entertaining episodes in this week's Finance Committee hearings. But another moment during the same debate, one involving Senator Olympia Snowe, deserves some attention, as well. For those who missed it, the debate was over Bunning's proposal that Finance wait for final legislative language before holding its final vote on a health reform bill.

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Wonk Off!

The Senate Finance Committee has just cast its first vote of the day, and the claws are already out. Senator Jim Bunning had an amendment requiring the bill to be translated into legislative language and for the CBO to post a cost estimate based on the new version 72 hours before voting. It's a proposal that would delay the vote by at least 2 or 3 weeks, and opinions divided almost strictly along party lines.

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