Tom Harkin

The Unnecessary Fall
August 12, 2010

A counter-history of the Obama presidency.

Is Edujobs Dead?
July 23, 2010

Last night, the Senate passed a pared-down version of a war funding bill that the House passed earlier this month. Billions in domestic spending, which the House had attached to the legislation, got the boot—including all of the money intended to prevent hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs. “Edujobs,” as the provision is known, had been in trouble for months. It was initially a bill unto itself in the Senate, with a $23 billion price tag. But the Senate dropped it, after Republicans and conservative Democrats attacked it as a “bailout” (the nefarious political term of the moment).

U.S. Law Doesn't Protect Child Farmworkers. Does Congress Even Care?
July 15, 2010

The New York Times ran a feature on Wednesday about how cigarette giant Philip Morris is benefiting from the use of child labor on tobacco farms in Kazakhstan. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented how children in the Kazakh fields face routine, dangerous exposure to nicotine and polluted drinking water. When HRW presented its findings to Philip Morris, the company vowed to change its purchasing policies in the Central Asian country and to step up efforts to eliminate all child labor. Philip Morris, however, isn’t the only entity that needs to adjust its policies on child farmworkers.

Obama: Don't Touch Education Reform
July 02, 2010

President Obama has threatened to veto the war funding bill that passed the House on Thursday night. The president's beef is with a provision to prevent teacher layoffs, which Democrats tacked onto the bill along with several other domestic priorities. To pay for the measure, the House agreed to cut money from some of the president's key education reform initiatives. Obama isn't happy about it. Nor should he be. Here's the back story: Thanks to severe cuts in state budgets, between 100,000 and 300,000 teachers could lose their jobs this year.

The Layoff Epidemic
June 05, 2010

Two years ago, Nick Melvoin was hired to teach English at Markham Middle School, which serves some 1,500 students in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. The school, which is 72 percent Hispanic, 27 percent black, and mostly poor, posts among the lowest test scores in the city. Last year, nearly 60 percent of students were suspended at some point. And, just off school grounds, students must navigate poverty, crime, and gangs. But, fresh out of college, Melvoin, a Los Angeles native, was excited to work with kids in one of his city's most challenging schools.

Taking An Incomplete
April 13, 2010

By most accounts, the fourth week of March was a triumph for the Obama administration. After months of wrangling, Congress finally passed health care reform, and the president signed it into law. In the same budget reconciliation bill that sealed the health care deal, Democrats also overcame Republican defenders of corporate welfare and improved the nation's main federal student loan program.

The Other Huge Reform At Stake Sunday
March 19, 2010

If health care reform weren't such an enormous deal, people would be paying more attention to the sweeping student loan reform that's being attached to it and could pass on the same vote. It's a pretty simple issue, though opponents do their best to muck it up. The old student loan program was based on federal guarantees -- banks or other lenders would lend money to students, and the federal government would pay back the lender whether or not the student repaid the loan.

Health Reform And Personal Responsibility
March 17, 2010

I recently wrote a TRB column arguing that the Republican position on health care has increasingly come to be defined by a belief that the issue is a matter of personal responsibility: The core of this philosophical divide was on display in last week’s health care summit. Senator Tom Harkin, a traditional liberal, denounced policies that “allow segregation in America on the basis of your health.” Harkin’s point was that the only way to protect the sick is to pool them with the healthy. Conservatives seized upon Harkin’s remark.

Sink or Swim
March 05, 2010

When you consider the differences between Democrats and Republicans on health care, you probably think in terms of scale. Democrats want to enact a big reform, while Republicans favor incremental progress.

Harkin: Senate OK With Reconciliation
March 03, 2010

Another major step forward: Senator Tom Harkin tells Politico that the Senate will take up amendments to its health care bill via the reconciliation process: The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate to House leaders that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate. Harkin made the comments after a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office including Harkin and Sens. Baucus, Dodd, Durbin, Schumer and Murray. This is consistent with what House sources said yesterday.