The Tucson Shooter and Arizona Politics
January 09, 2011
Perhaps the stupidest and least surprising comment about the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson came from New York Times columnist Matt Bai. Bai, the author of an interesting book about Democratic politics, analyzed the political environment—the universe of discourse that framed the alleged attempt at assassination by Arizonan Jared Lee Loughner. Here is what he wrote: Within minutes of the first reports Saturday that Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and a score of people with her had been shot in Tucson, pages began disappearing from the Web.
And So It Has Come To Demon Pass
January 05, 2011
Possibly my favorite news of the new Congress has been that its budget approach will revolve around "deem and pass." This is a parliamentary maneuver in which the House deems a piece of legislation to have been passed by rule: Because Democrats didn't pass a budget, and because spending authority expires in early March, there's a strong chance that the government will run out of money before the House and Senate agree to new spending levels.
What Defunding Health Reform Would Do
December 23, 2010
With all of the focus on efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, another story about health care reform has gone largely unnoticed. The Obama Administration has been working furiously to draft the rules by which the new health care system will work. So far, they seem to be doing pretty well. But wouldn't you know it? The Republicans want to put a stop to that. To get a sense of the work that's going on, take a closer look at the draft regulation the administration released on Tuesday.
Things Fall Apart
December 18, 2010
When Barack Obama burst onto the national scene at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he represented—among many things—the shining hope for the religious left. Here was a liberal politician who was not afraid of the language of faith, who just might reclaim territory that the Democratic Party had, willingly or not, ceded to Republicans.
Newt's Lesson for John Boehner: Be More Like Pelosi
November 22, 2010
What lessons should John Boehner take from the fall of Newt Gingrich? I think there are three leading explanations for why Newt was a failed Speaker. John Harwood today pushes what I think is the least helpful of these, what I think of as the Sonny Bono explanation: Newt had a terrible media image. It is of course correct that Newt Gingrich was highly unpopular, and to a fair extent that was because of mistakes within his control. But Nancy Pelosi has is highly unpopular, and her caucus has shown essentially no signs of jettisoning her.
November 22, 2010
WASHINGTON—Ronald Reagan (bless his sense of humor) loved to say that the problem with his administration was that the right hand didn't know what the far right hand was doing. Something of that sort is happening among conservatives on the supposed urgency of closing the federal budget deficit. On the near right is the preliminary proposal of the co-chairs of the president's deficit commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. It is a deeply conservative document that would make sharp reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while also cutting and flattening income tax rates.
Boehner Claims He'll Clean Up the House. But Don't Count On It.
November 19, 2010
“So let’s start and build a House that works for the people, because this is the people’s House.” —Greg Walden (R-Oregon) Even the most avid Congress watchers probably have a hard time recognizing Greg Walton (R-Ohio), the head of the House Republicans’ transition team. But most veteran observers of Congress would recognize his call to build a more open and bipartisan House. In preparing to take up their new gavels, Newt Gingrich, Nancy Pelosi, and now John Boehner each committed their majorities to transforming the operations of the House.
Citizen Cohn, the World Tour
November 18, 2010
A quick programming note: I'm out of the country for the next few days, so my blogging may be light to non-existent. But we've lined up a terrific cast of guest bloggers. They'll be writing on some familiar topics, like the budget and health care reform, plus some new ones, as well. P.S. Predictably, I end up taking a fourteen-hour, no-internet flight on the same day we see a new health care proposal, a new framework for reducing budget deficits, a major controversy over the Congressional Budget Office, and the re-election of Nancy Pelosi as leader of the House Democrats.
We Should Have Dumped Pelosi
November 18, 2010
On Thursday, the House Democratic caucus selected Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader. A few hours earlier, Quinnipiac University released its latest survey, which sheds some interesting light on that decision. Included in the survey was a standard question that Quinnipiac has asked for several years: Is your opinion of Nancy Pelosi favorable, unfavorable, or haven’t you heard enough about her?
Bad Obama! Admit You Were Wrong!
November 10, 2010
One of the defining beliefs of sensible-center Washington establishment types is that elected officials need to make Tough Decisions, including unpopular decisions, rather than just try to skate through to the next election. However, a second set of beliefs held by this group is that, if you do lose an election, this proves that all your ideas were not just politically unwise but substantively wrong. Here, for instance, is Washington Post editorial writer Ruth Marcus: The day after his shellacking, the bruised president offered a sober, tripartite analysis of voters' message.