Give Coburn And Lieberman A Chance
June 29, 2011
Tom Coburn and Joe Lieberman's bipartisan plan to cut Medicare is one of those notions whose every word ("Coburn," "Lieberman," "bipartisan," etc.) seems designed to provoke liberal antagonism. Talking Points Memo calls it "Ryan Plan 2.0." Joan McCarter and Greg Sargent are attacking it as well. I think they're making a mistake. First, it's just not accurate to conflate this proposal with Ryancare. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan has two huge problems. First, it privatizes Medicare, fragmenting the system into an inefficient private insurance market.
What The Norquist Rebellion Means
June 15, 2011
Kevin Drum thinks the defection of 34 Republican Senators from the Norquist line doesn't matter much: [M]aybe this is more of a good old sectional fight than a real schism on the proper interpretation of Norquist's anti-tax pledge. We'll see. The theory here is that having once voted to end a tax expenditure (the ethanol subsidy), Republicans will now be more willing to defy Norquist and vote to end other, bigger tax expenditures (mortgage interest, employer healthcare contributions). I have my doubts about that. Sen.
Senate Republicans Abandon Norquist
June 14, 2011
A pretty surprising and important thing happened today: Senate Republicans opposed Grover Norquist en masse. The drama was buried in a minor vote that will go nowhere, but that fact obscures the import of what happened. Norquist runs Americans For Tax Reform, the sponsor of a no-tax pledge signed by virtually all Republicans. Norquist's pledge has held absolute sway over the party for two decades -- Republicans at the national level have opposed on principle any tax hike whatsoever.
The Grover Norquist Ethanol Trap
June 10, 2011
Tom Coburn has sprung a plan to force the Senate to vote on the ethanol subsidy: Sen. Tom Coburn has pulled the trigger and is forcing a long-sought vote on an amendment repealing billions in annual tax incentives for ethanol. The Senate will vote Tuesday afternoon on Coburn’s motion limiting debate on his amendment that would do away with the 45 cent blender tax credit for ethanol — worth about $6 billion this year — and the 54 cent tariff on imported ethanol. Wait, don't go to sleep, there's something going on here. The press coverage doesn't say so, but this is actually not about ethanol.
Five Guys Following Eerily Familiar Path
June 09, 2011
The Senate's "Five Guys," a.k.a. the "Gang of Six" minus Sen. Tom Coburn who suddenly jacked up his demands and then bolted, is trying hard to stay relevant to the budget debate.
And Then There Were Five
May 18, 2011
Tom Coburn, one of six Senators working on a bipartisan agreement, split off yesterday. My immediate reaction was that the deal is now dead. But I'm not so sure. Philip Rucker and Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post report that Coburn had begun abandoning his previously negotiated positions: Those close to the talks said trouble has been brewing for weeks. Earlier this month, the group appeared to be tantalizingly close to an agreement.
The Saxby Swing
April 20, 2011
When asked about Paul Ryan’s deficit plan, one senator straightforwardly disapproved: “What he seeks to do is balance the budget over about a ten-year period simply by reducing spending. And you can’t do that.” When asked if some people were going to pay more in taxes, the senator added, “You bet.” Such a response was not unique, but the source of the opinion was surprising: conservative Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
Tom Coburn Traps Grover Norquist
March 30, 2011
Senator Tom Coburn, the conservative Republican from Oklahoma, is doing something mischievous, clever, and important. Coburn is a key player in bipartisan negotiations to reduce the medium-term deficit. Everybody understands that a deal like this can only happen via some combination of spending reductions and revenue increases. The latter part violates sacred GOP theology, and the high priest of this theology is Grover Norquist. Through Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist has gotten most Republicans to sign a pledge never to increase tax revenues for any reason.
A Magic, Budget-Cutting Formula?
March 02, 2011
A quick recap of the standoff over the budget: Republicans want to snip off some $60 billion in government spending for the rest of the year. Democrats are arguing that the steep cuts cheered on by conservatives would hit essential programs that people actually need and use—good-bye Pell Grants, good-bye food-safety inspectors, good-bye well-functioning Social Security administration, and so forth. Worse still, economic forecasters—including Ben Bernanke have argued that slashing federal spending right now would drag down the economy.
Five Keys to Obama's State of the Union
January 24, 2011
As President Obama prepares to deliver his 2011 State of the Union address, the American people have already delivered their own verdict: The state of the union is not good. A Gallup survey released yesterday revealed declining public satisfaction on virtually every front—not only about the ability of individuals to get ahead through hard work (the core of the American Dream), but also about our system of government, the size and power of the federal government, and the size and influence of major corporations. Most of these declines have been a long time in the making.