Mary Lynn Jones

Mary Lynn F. Jones is a Washington-based writer. Her work has also appeared in The Chicago Tribune, National
, the Washington Business Journal and Barron's Guide to the Most
Competitive Colleges
. A native Washingtonian, Jones has been a regular
political commentator for WMAL-AM and has made numerous radio and television
appearances, including on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation"
and Fox
News Channel. Mary Lynn received her master's degree in journalism from
Columbia University and her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College.

Recent Articles

Budget Busters

House Republican leaders twisted the rules -- and some arms -- to get their way last week on Capitol Hill. Democrats had proposed a motion instructing budget conferees to adopt pay-as-you-go rules, which would have required lawmakers to make budget cuts to offset any additional spending increases or tax cuts, something the Senate had already approved. Top House Republicans, though, opposed such offsets for tax cuts, and President Bush apparently shares that view. So a five-minute House vote on Tuesday went on for 28 minutes. Every Democrat voted for the motion, and 11 Republicans joined them. Eight other Republicans also supported the motion, but then party leaders got them to change their minds after the five minutes were up. The bill failed in a 209-to-209 vote. (A simple majority -- or, in this case, 210 votes -- was required to pass the motion.) The first lawmaker to fall was Arizona Representative Rick Renzi, a Republican freshman who's facing a challenge from Paul Babbitt,...

Chamber Potshots

Throughout the past week, members of the Bush administration and other top Republicans have engaged in a game of career assassination against Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism chief who has criticized President Bush for being disengaged in the fight against al-Qaeda. They've noted that Clarke was the only constant during the ten years of al-Qaeda attacks against U.S. interests that began in 1993. Conservative commentators Bob Novak and Ann Coulter even suggested that Clarke made his remarks because he's ticked that Condoleezza Rice, an African-American woman, got the job he wanted. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) joined the chorus . On the Senate floor, he said he was "troubled" by Clarke's statements, "troubled that someone would sell a book, trading on their former service as a government insider with access to our nation's most valuable intelligence, in order to profit from the suffering that this nation endured on September 11, 2001." Frist called...

Friendly Fire

Over the last few decades, presidents have used many methods of influence to get lawmakers to pass pieces of legislation. They've personally called members of Congress or invited them for meetings at the White House. They've worked with Hill leaders to gain votes by making concessions on other, less-prized legislation. And they've cajoled members with charm or, in the case of Lyndon Johnson's famous "treatment," intimidation. President Bush and current congressional leaders, however, have shown a disheartening willingness to take lobbying to a whole new level. Earlier this month, it was disclosed that the chief actuary for Medicare was told last June that he would be fired if he released the cost estimates of the prescription-drug benefit to lawmakers. (The administration is now putting the cost at $534 billion, not the $395 billion figure lawmakers were given by the Congressional Budget Office last year). Republicans pressured their own Nick Smith of Michigan to vote for the bill; if...

Congress Conquest

The past few weeks have been kind to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Two prominent Republicans have decided not to run for retiring Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell's seat (R-Colo.), while Democrats have coalesced around state Attorney General Ken Salazar. Former Gov. Tony Knowles (D-Alaska) continues to poll well against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). And Democrat Nancy Farmer shows signs of increasing strength against Republican Sen. Kit Bond in Missouri, according to Farmer's internal polling. "Without question, the Senate map is continuing to move in our direction," the DSCC's Cara Morris told me. Jennifer Duffy, who follows Senate campaigns for the non-partisan Cook Political Report, agreed. "It looks better [for the Democrats] than it did six weeks ago," she told me. Democrats' chances of taking back the Senate have "entered the realm of possibility." What's changed? For one thing, Colorado. Had Campbell run for reelection, as was expected, he would have been...

Common Cause

After the 2000 presidential election, liberals and centrists blamed one another for Al Gore's loss. Liberals argued that Gore's populist message helped his campaign. Centrists countered that Gore went too far to the left to attract enough votes to win. No more. The party's two branches are putting aside their differences to achieve a common goal: ousting President Bush from office and stopping his agenda on Capitol Hill. “There is more Democratic unity than I've ever seen,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). He attributes the lack of dissension to Democrats “correctly recogniz[ing] how terrible it would be for every liberal value” if Bush is reelected. Of course, as Frank pointed out to me, it's often easier to be united in opposition to an agenda than in support of one. That's what Republicans are experiencing now. Deficit hawks are furious about out-of-control spending and the projected $521 billion deficit. Moderates are unhappy about Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to ban...