Daily Deadline: A Little More Action, Please
October 11, 2011

[with contributions from Matthew O'Brien and Darius Tahir] As noted below, the Senate votes on President Obama’s jobs bill tonight. And although Democrats have more than 50 votes in their caucus, it’s not clear they’ll get 50 votes for this bill. President Obama takes a lot of grief for political timidity and, at least some of the time, he deserves it. But if Democrats can’t get 50 tonight, that’s not on him. In the last few weeks, he’s said all the right things and made all the right moves. And it still might not be enough. That’s the reality of our political system.

Are Senate Democrats Really That Stupid?
October 11, 2011

Are Senate Democrats really foolish enough not to line up behind President Obama's jobs bill?  Quite possibly. On Tuesday night, Majority Leader Harry Reid will try to bring the newly revised package to a vote. He won't succeed, because the chamber's 47 Republicans will vote unanimously to filibuster it. And it takes only 40 to succeed. But if Reid can get just 50 Democrats to signal their support by voting to break that filibuster, then the Democrats will have a powerful rhetorical weapon.

My Week at the National Conservative Student Conference
August 11, 2011

Day 1 The giant, disembodied heads of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley glared down at me; they knew I was up to no good. It was the opening banquet of the National Conservative Student Conference, and I couldn’t even find a seat. I wandered through the crowd at the Hyatt Regency: flags, blue mood lighting, white tablecloths, white people, and bowties.

Debating Obama's Ransom
August 01, 2011

My evaluation of the debt ceiling deal is decidedly mixed, and many liberals are deeply unhappy. Dave Weigel wittily captures the spirit in his liberal denunciation mad lib: I am [outraged/fed up/fixin’ to vomit] at the news of this [sellout/betrayal/Chekovian drama of political adultery]. While I have yet to see all the details of this plan, it may be the worst piece of legislation since [the Kansas/Nebraska compromise/the Enabling Act/the one that renamed a rest stop in New Jersey after Howard Stern].

The CEO Pay Explosion And Football Coaches, A Case Study
March 30, 2011

One factor behind the astonishing rise of CEO pay over the last several decades is a kind of Lake Wobegon effect, after the famous Garrison Keiler joke about a town in which all the children are above average. When a Board of Directors decides the pay level for its CEO, it usually first consults the average compensation for peer companies. Since nobody believes, or wants to admit, they hired a below average CEO, the board invariably picks a number at or (more commonly) above the average.

Defending Obama on Taxes
December 07, 2010

Why is Obama giving Republicans an extension of upper income tax cuts when polls show Americans overwhelmingly oppose them? Maybe because those polls don't translate into leverage on Capitol Hill. Political scientist and blogger Brendan Nyhan makes the case: First, public opinion in more conservative states is likely to be less favorable to Obama's original position than national polls.

You Thought Passing Health Reform Was Hard? Try Repealing It.
December 02, 2010

My latest column for Kaiser Health News: Critics of health care reform this week thought they would get their first win in the campaign to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Instead they got a lesson in just how politically challenging a wholesale repeal might be. At issue was an obscure, but unpopular, provision within the new health law that requires businesses to file 1099 tax forms anytime they purchase goods or services worth more than $600. The idea is to collect income taxes from the vendors producing those goods and services -- taxes many vendors avoid paying now.

Function, Form, and the Metropolitan Future
September 14, 2010

The National Journal and The Atlantic just published the second supplement in its "next economy" series entitled: "the geography of opportunity." The lead essay chronicles the ongoing "war over the future" between urban gurus Joel Kotkin and Richard Florida: a contest between suburbs and cities, sprawl, and density, Middle America and the coasts, the metropolis and the megaregion. What to make of all this? Who is right?

For THIS Congress Might Defund Public Health?
September 12, 2010

Should we promote public health by providing extra funds for HIV prevention, cancer screening, flu vaccination, and the like? Or should we zero out these funds in order to repeal a small health reform provision that clamps down on rampant tax evasion? That’s the choice Congress is likely to face next week.

Why So Many Dems Are On The Wrong Side Of The Class War
September 10, 2010

Yet another poll shows that very strong majorities of Americans want to let the Bush tax cuts that only benefit Americans earning more than $250,000 a year expire. Normally when an issue like this has such lopsided standing with the public, you'll see moderates from the party standing on the unpopular side defect to the popular side.