Reid

The constitutional crisis du jour has been averted. The Senate will proceed with the confirmations of most executive branch nominees that have been held in limbo by Senate Republicans threatening a filibuster, including new chiefs for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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I think Kevin Drum (along with Austin Frakt) is right that John Boehner and the House Republicans are very obviously moving to the realm of pure symbolism with their ACA repeal vote scheduled right away.  Drum asks: So he's scheduling a quick vote with no hearings and no CBO scoring just so he can say he's done it, after which he can move on to other business he actually cares about. The only thing that puzzles me is why he's being so obvious about it. Is this a genuine signal to Obama that he's kinda sorta willing to work with him on future legislation?

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Here are some of the phrases people have used to describe Democratic Senator Russ Feingold: “A humorless scold.” “Insolent, arrogant, aloof.” “A holier-than-thou prig.” And it’s not terribly surprising. Feingold has made a habit of annoying his colleagues, like the time in October, 2001, when he introduced a bill to freeze congressional pay and end automatic cost-of-living increases. “I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t win a Mr. Popularity contest,” Feingold told a reporter many years ago.

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The Wall Street Journal's climate editorial this morning is a perfect display of pro-business ideology untethered to even the pretense of support for the free market. According to the Journal, it's not fair to lift the liability cap for oil spills: As for the Senate, Mr. Reid's new nonclimate energy bill is all about trying to link Republicans to Big Oil. With BP as the corporate villain, Democrats are proposing to lift the $75 million oil spill liability cap for economic damages to infinity. And to do so retroactively on all rig leases. This is a bad-faith exercise. Mr.

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In his big press conference Thursday on the ongoing Gulf disaster, Obama finally decided to put the oil spill in the context of broader energy reform and spent a few brief seconds asking the Senate to pass climate legislation. It wasn't the most rousing plea ever, but at least it's a start. Still, as Dave Roberts points out in this post, a big climate bill isn't the only way for the United States to start curbing its oil use.

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Specter of Defeat

Just over a year ago, Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak was seriously weighing a Senate bid in Pennsylvania against then-Republican Arlen Specter, but he wanted one last word of sage advice. So he called up his former boss, Bill Clinton, for whom he’d served as director for defense policy on the National Security Council, and, according to Sestak, “he invited me over to sit down with him over at his home in Georgetown.” But the meeting didn’t go exactly as planned. “Just as I walked in,” Sestak says, “an aide came up and said, ‘Did you hear?

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Dear Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, and Representative Boehner: Thank you again for the time, energy, and preparation you invested in last Thursday’s bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform.

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Truman Show

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. There must be 100 smart analyses of last week's State of the Union speech. Many of my blogosphere friends were happy with it. I was pretty dismayed. I thought the President needed to push much harder and with greater specificity for a comprehensive bill. A week later, I feel even worse. The origin of my disquiet was ably expressed by Brown University professor James Morone in Wednesday morning's Los Angeles Times.

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A Place Called Hope

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. As we enter health reform’s final lap, critical details remain uncertain. Blue dogs and progressives must both be appeased. Critical financing issues must be resolved. House and Senate bills must be reconciled. Lots could still go wrong, but it seems likely that a 2,000 page behemoth will be thwonked onto the President’s desk.

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If negotiations over health care reform get to conference between the House and Senate--no jinxing here--controversial issues like abortion and funding are going to get the most attention. And, precisely because the issues evoke such strong feelings, coming to agreement on them will be relatively difficult. But there are myriad issues more amenable to compromise because they are lower profile. And, in some cases, they have the potential to improve the bill significantly. Among them is what’s come to be known as the “choice initiative,” whose chief advocate is Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

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