Nice Guys Finish Last
February 11, 2010
Everyone remembers that George W. Bush’s first tax cut was contentious when Congress considered it back in 2001. So contentious, in fact, that the Bushies didn’t even try passing it under normal Senate procedures. The GOP leadership, worried that it couldn’t collect 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster, relied on reconciliation, the Senate rule that allows budget-related measures to pass with a simple majority. What fewer people remember is the margin by which Bush’s tax cut finally passed the Senate. As it happens, the number of yeas was 62—including 12 Democrats.
If Only Rahm Had Tried Jim DeMint
February 09, 2010
I've been critical of Rahm Emanuel recently. But this line of attack seems a little unpersuasive: Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform. ... The lawmaker said Emanuel misjudged the Senate by focusing on only a few Republicans, citing Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as too narrow a pool. “In the Senate, you have to anchor in the middle and build out," said the lawmaker. “They just wanted to win," the source said of Emanuel and other White House strategists.
Racing Against Time
February 02, 2010
For most of the last year, time has been health care reform's enemy. Could it now be reform's friend? That's the gamble reform's proponents in the administration and Congress are making now. For most of the last year, the Obama administration and its chief allies in Congress have been trying to pass health care reform as quickly as possible. And, as we all know, they haven't been terribly successful. Deadlines slipped, negotiations stalled, and the public grew increasingly disenchanted. When the Senate passed its health care bill on Christmas Eve, none of this seemed to matter.
If Health Care Dies, Who Will The Murderer Be?
January 29, 2010
Is health care reform dead? Megan McArdle says so, offering two arguments -- one persuasive, the other not. Her unpersuasive argument is that Democrats are going to walk away from health care reform because it's unpopular: Health care's popularity drops any time Congress discusses it. With respect to Nate Silver, who argues that the bill would be popular if they ever passed it and could discuss what's in it, you cannot "prove" that voters like a bill because various bits of it poll well on their own.
Obama Wants Reform. Is He Fighting for It?
January 25, 2010
Health care reform may not be finished after all. Despite the political reverberations of last week’s special election in Massachusetts, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are still discussing ways of passing a comprehensive reform bill. But it’s going to take heroic political efforts, given the number of Democrats suddenly skittish about supporting such a bill.
Are The Senate Climate Talks Leading Anywhere?
January 24, 2010
From chatting with people on the Hill these past few days, it's clear that there's a lot of pessimism about the Senate passing a big climate bill this year. (And if nothing passes in 2010, next year won't be any easier, given that Democrats will likely lose a bunch of seats in the midterms.) The dour predictions aren't surprising, given that even health care reform is in peril right now.
Dead or Only Mostly Dead?
January 21, 2010
Is health care reform dead or, to quote the Princess Bride, "only mostly dead"? It depends a bit on who's talking and when, but at the moment it seems to be only mostly dead. To review, things looked grim--really, really grim--most of Wednesday. Senate Democrats seemed to be throwing up their hands: We've passed our bill, they were suggesting, and the House could take it or leave it. House Democrats responded pretty clearly: They were inclined to leave it. And the White House?
Where Rahm Should Call in Favors, Post-Coakley
January 19, 2010
Like Chait and Cohn, I think Obama's only real option for passing health care should Coakley lose is getting the House to pass the Senate bill and massaging the differences later. Which means that knocking heads together in the House these next few weeks is going to be the most important task of Obama's presidency so far--possibly his entire presidency. On the plus side, Nancy Pelosi seems to have a reasonably good grip on her caucus.
January 19, 2010
In early December, the White House announced four finalists for the president’s Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award--a competition that plumbed the depths of the federal bureaucracy for ideas on how the government could save money. One finalist proposed streamlining the way the Forest Service forwards campground fees to the government. Another suggested that the Social Security Administration allow people to book appointments online rather than only by phone.
How To Fight Terrorism
January 04, 2010
Peter Baker's upcoming New York Times Magazine cover story (mentioned by Mike below) on Obama and terrorism has this slightly unsettling nugget: [Obama] is committed to taking aggressive actions to disrupt terrorist cells, aides said, but he also considers his speech in Cairo to the Islamic world in June central to his efforts to combat terrorism. “If you asked him what are the most important things he’s done to fight terrorism in his first year, he would put Cairo in the top three,” Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, told me. Really?