Up until now, a government shutdown because of a stalemate over the budget was a strong possibility, but it didn’t appear inevitable. That’s because House Speaker John Boehner stands to be badly hurt by the train wreck a shutdown would be, and I’m confident—from what he’s said and because he was around the last time it happened—that he realizes it.
Another federal district judge has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. And this one didn't mince words. In a 64-page opinion, Judge Gladys Kessler dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of individuals who claimed the government has no right to impose an individual mandate—that is, to require that they either obtain insurance or pay a fee to the government. Kessler’s opinion makes the score 3-2, in the sense that the federal bench has now produced three detailed defenses of the Affordable Care Act but just two opinions striking down the law.
Conservative lawmakers in the Arizona legislature made national headlines last week for a slew of draconian and potentially unconstitutional immigration bills. It turns out, however, that those measures were just the beginning of a bigger campaign.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal has gotten a lot of attention for what it would do to the state’s public employee unions. And rightly so. If Walker gets his way, state workers will lose virtually all power to negotiate over compensation and the unions themselves will become far weaker. As Greg Sargent noted on Monday, a Walker victory would likely embolden Republican governors in other states, many of whom are planning their own assaults on public employees. But that’s not all Walker’s budget proposal would do.
Throughout much of the nineteenth century, West Point cadets were permitted to check books out of the library only once a week: “On Saturday afternoon,” the 1857 regulations state, “any book that a Cadet may have been reading during the week, may be taken to his quarters, on the approval of the Librarian, and shall be returned on the succeeding Monday. If not then returned, he shall be reported by the Librarian.” Decades of Saturday borrowing activity are recorded in handwritten ledgers now preserved in the archives.
As House Republicans press for deeper budget cuts, one of their top targets is foreign aid. It is a tempting candidate for draconian cuts—a soft priority in today’s hard fiscal times and a budget line with no strong domestic constituency. Before Republican budget hawks wield their knife, however, they should take a lesson from their conservative cousins in the United Kingdom: When belt-tightening gets serious, foreign aid should be improved, not gutted. After coming to power last summer, British conservatives have not just talked about slashing Britain’s budget, they have delivered.
This bothered me: [T]hat’s what we learned in WikiLeaks over three years, that sometimes if you look at raw, unfiltered information, not a write-up by a media organization but a genuine document, then the truth is very blunt, and that is something that has a completely different impact on people.
It's one thing to argue that unions are wrong about charter schools or that they need to pay more for their health insurance. It's quite another to suggest they shouldn't exist. That was Paul Krugman's point this morning and it's Kevin Drum's point here: Every single human institution or organization of any size has its bad points. Corporations certainly do. The military does. Organized religion does. Academia does. The media does. The financial industry sure as hell does.
The fight in Wisconsin is about power--the power to organize into unions and the power to influence politics. But it is also about money. If Republican governor Scott Walker weren’t claiming that the state’s public workers were wildly overpaid, and if a lot of people weren't inclined to believe him, his proposal to crush the state's public employee unions wouldn’t be on the verge of becoming law. As an empirical matter, Walker’s claim seems suspect.