President Obama has made all kinds of speeches and proposals about how to reduce the deficit. But, at least recently, he hasn’t submitted a formal plan – a fact Republicans and their allies constantly use against him. That will change Monday, when the Obama administration introduces a detailed proposal on how to reduce the budget deficit. Overall it will call for about $2 trillion in new* deficit reduction over the next ten years, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on Sunday evening.
This week, Pennsylvania Republicans created a stir by proposing to shift the way the state apportions electoral votes in presidential contests, switching from winner-take-all to the Maine plan, in which one electoral vote is awarded to the winner of each Congressional district, and then two are given to the winner of the state.
Should Rick Perry win the Republican presidential nomination, he’ll no doubt be eager to tack to the political center. The first order of business will no doubt be to taper off his most populist rhetoric, including his recent talk of treasonous monetary policy and Ponzi entitlement schemes. But if it comes to wooing independents in the general election, he may also be able to leverage a surprising aspect of his record as governor of Texas: criminal justice reform. Texas, of course, has the largest and one of the harshest penal systems in the country, and the most active death chamber.
A week after introducing his jobs proposal, President Obama has hit a few obstacles. Republican leaders are criticizing the proposal more loudly than before. A failed green energy investment has much of Washington thinking scandal. And the polls still look pretty grim. So what’s Obama doing now? Exactly what he was doing before: Campaigning loudly, and insistently, for the jobs bill. That’s a really good thing – although he's going to need some help. And he's going to need it soon. The speech Obama gave last Thursday was everything it needed to be.
When the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a memo this summer that urged “prosecutorial discretion” in pursuing illegal immigrants, it was hailed by liberals as a step in the right direction. The memo was largely a restatement and clarification of longstanding immigration practice, but with an important new twist: It discouraged the pursuit of undocumented immigrants who would be covered under the DREAM Act, which the Obama administration favors but can’t get through Congress.
Next week President Obama will propose, one more time, a plan for reducing the budget deficit. And that plan may include cuts to Medicare. I’ve written about the policy merits of this approach before: Sensible, careful reductions in what Medicare pays for services can make the program more efficient and sustainable, without sacrificing the ability of seniors to get quality, timely care. That’s largely what the Affordable Care Act does, notwithstanding the conservative caricature of “death panels.” But cruder, harsher cuts to Medicare are dangerous.
Today brings yet another story about disgruntled Democratic lawmakers complaining about President Obama's jobs bill. It's from the New York Times and quotes a series of Democrats, from both houses, complaining about various aspects of the proposal. Some of this complaining is obviously real and genuinely worrisome. Particularly when it comes to new taxes on corporations and the wealthy, Obama's proposed way of paying for his jobs bill, Democrats are all over the map -- albeit in some predictable ways.
Republicans made a lot of arguments against the Affordable Care Act. But perhaps none were as effective, or as seemingly plausible, as their contention that their new law would cripple Medicare Advantage. New evidence suggests -- surprise! -- that the argument was wrong. Medicare Advantage is the program that gives seniors the option of enrolling in private insurance rather than the traditional, government-run program. The government pays the insurers a flat fee, per enrollee; in return, the insurers provide coverage, sometimes including benefits that traditional Medicare does not.
Anyone interested in understanding the ongoing feud between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney—indeed, between the belligerent Texan governor and any of his many political adversaries, Democrat and Republican—would do well to look past the presidential debates of the previous week, and look instead to a book that was written by Perry several years back. No, not Fed Up, Perry’s 2010 manifesto, which Romney has been busily (and successfully) mining for discrediting material.
President Obama created big expectations last week for the speech where he announced his new jobs plan. Remarkably, his rhetoric came close to fulfilling them. But what about the actual plan he sent to Congress on Monday? If it were to be enacted in its current form (which it won’t), would it have a shot at turning around the economy? As it turns out, there are definitely some things to like in Obama’s roadmap, even while there are some very big warning signs as well. On the plus side, President Obama asked for a sizable package.