Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

Senate Dems Sign On For Filibuster Reform.

Every returning Democratic Senator has signed on to a letter in support of filibuster reform: While it does not urge a specific solution, Democrats said it demonstrates increased backing in the majority for a proposal, championed by Sen. Tom Udall , D-N.M., and others, weaken the minority’s ability to tie the Senate calendar into parliamentary knots. Among the chief revisions that Democrats say will likely be offered: Senators could not initiate a filibuster of a bill before it reaches the floor unless they first muster 40 votes for it, and they would have to remain on the floor to sustain it. That is a change from current rules, which require the majority leader to file a cloture motion to overcome an anonymous objection to a motion to proceed, and then wait 30 hours for a vote on it. ... The fact that every returning Democrat signed the letter circulated by Sens. Carl Levin , D-Mich., and Mark Warner , D-Va., urging changes underscores growing determination on the part of the Senate...

No, You Can't Have Your Spy Back.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to formally ask President Obama to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard . Read Spencer Ackerman , who knows about these things, for some context to this story, which includes, rather interestingly, the Center for American Progress' national security expert Larry Korb . It strikes me as pretty gutsy, however, for Netanyahu to ask for Pollard's release on humanitarian grounds after making zero concessions to American requests during the past two years -- indeed, even going so far as to reject international law limiting illegal settlements. I would say a bigger humanitarian concern than Pollard, a convicted criminal living in jail, are the conditions on the Gaza Strip or Palestinians' lack of political rights . Now Pollard has been in jail for a long time. Perhaps he deserves clemency; I'm not familiar enough with the details of his case to really make any judgment. But given the lack of cooperation this administration has received...

Jesus Will Justify My Policy Preferences.

I must say, just two days from Christmas Eve, I am infected with the Christmas spirit. So is Washington, D.C.'s city council, which does its level best to make laws during the occasional periods when members of Congress aren't trying to impose their own views on the District's citizenry. Here's a report from local blog DCist on the council's debate over imposing residency requirements on homeless people seeking to use the city's shelters. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. noted that "as we approach Christmas, that there was someone we were celebrating that was homeless." Disputes followed. Councilmember David Catania (I-At-Large) attempted to refute Thomas the conventional way, telling him that the story of the virgin birth of Christ didn't really have anything to do with a bill that won't take effect until the spring -- at the earliest. But Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) had the definitive word on the subject: Just for historical accuracy, Mary and Joseph actually had a house. In Nazareth. And...

Government Will Be The Problem.

Ezra Klein notes that the budget resolution approved by the Senate to keep the government running through March doesn't fund the implementation of health-care or financial reform. Pat Garofalo has been doing yeoman's work keeping an eye on the financial reform side of things, and what he's found ain't pretty: Both the SEC and CFTC won't see increases in their budgets needed to implement the new Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. It's particularly egregious, in the CFTC's case, because the agency needs over $100 million more to move it's critical work regulating derivatives forward, a relative pittance in federal budget terms. Some good news: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is insulated by the Fed and can't be de-funded without changing the bedrock legislation, a very smart move by its crafters, particularly Rep. Barney Frank . There are two after-effects here: One is that, aside from lacking the budgetary power to hire the hundreds of new employees needed to enact the bill's...

Wasted.

Brad Plumer examines Senator Tom Coburn's efforts to identify waste in the federal government, and sums up nicely: Not surprisingly, the report garnered adoring press attention. Stories of “gold-plated potties” in Arkansas feed into stereotypes about unaccountable government bureaucrats. Plus, there’s a comforting moral here: Surely, the report suggests, we can balance the budget without wincing—all we need to do is rid ourselves of waste, fraud, and abuse. Lower taxes and better government. What’s not to love? Trouble is, a closer look at Coburn’s “Wastebook” (which, mind you, was also footed by taxpayers) suggests there’s less here than advertised. Indeed, rather than the massive savings Coburn promised, there are a couple of billion dollars. That's not to say we shouldn't cut spending -- the Defense Department, and on unneeded corporate subsidies, and legitimate waste are among other items at the top of my list; we obviously need to do more to control health care spending. But...

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