Imagine a Hostage Crisis Where Democrats Were In Control

We'll be talking more about the debt deal later, but something else in the meantime: Ezra Klein points out that a year and a half from now, there will be a looming deadline in which Democrats, if you can believe it, will actually hold the upper hand:

For Whom the Pell Tolls

The Hill reports that Pell Grants have become a sticking point between the freshman GOP and John Boehner for the passage of his debt-ceiling compromise plan. Representative Denny Rehberg described the right's grievances with the program on a talk show in April: "So you can go to college on Pell Grants — maybe I should not be telling anybody this because it’s turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century.” But if the GOP actually thinks Pell’s size is harming the economy, it’s certainly not making a strong argument.

Will the Kids Be Alright?

Throughout the debt-ceiling negotiations, funding for the Federal Pell Grant Program, which gives low-income students access to higher education through need-based grants that don’t have to be repaid, has been tossed around as a bargaining chip. Though the bulk of Pell spending is discretionary, the program has entitlement status in that each student eligible to receive a grant is guaranteed one. Rising college tuition prices and a tough economy have fueled demand, making the program increasingly necessary and, inevitably, a target for Republican lawmakers trying to cut the budget.

Obama's Approval Continues Its Downward Trend

These new results from Gallup’s survey of presidential approval make me a lot less bullish about President Obama’s chances for re-election:


Today at the Prospect

  • Jamelle Bouie explains how even if Boehner gets the votes for his debt-ceiling plan, the fight won't end.
  • Jennifer Mascia laments that Amy Winehouse's life (and death) romanticized mental illness.
  • Gershom Gorenberg writes of Israelis protesting a dearth of affordable housing.

An Indefensible Defense

Educators and activists opposed to the high-stakes testing that has come to dominate education reform have reason to be concerned, but they may have picked a losing strategy to make their point.

More than 450 teachers and activists are gathering in Washington for the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, a four-day conference and rally at the White House on Saturday. The point is to push back against the administration's school-reform agenda -- particularly the reliance on high-stakes testing to evaluate students and teachers -- before the government finishes its reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.

Why Tea Partiers Are Unmoved By the Prospect of Economic Destruction

Norman Ornstein makes a good observation: While the components of the Affordable Care Act were very popular, the act itself was not, and the opposite happened with the tax-cut deal President Obama struck with Republicans in December. The components (particularly extending tax cuts for the wealthy) were not popular, but the deal was. The reason, of course, is process: When the process looks smooth and cooperative, people think Washington is "getting things done," but when it's fractious and angry, it looks like Washington is bickering. The substance is almost irrelevant. Ornstein argues, therefore, that the Tea Partiers misunderstood their mandate:

Are Senate Republicans Going to Filibuster the Debt-Ceiling Increase?

This morning I was listening to NPR, as we liberal elitists are wont to do, and they brought on Senator Michael Bennett to talk about the debt ceiling. He and host Steve Inskeep were discussing how the competing bills would go back and forth between the two chambers, and Inskeep said (I'm paraphrasing here), "You still need to get 60 votes in the Senate." Bennett agreed.

Michele Bachmann Touts Business Experience, Refuses Questions About Business

Think Progress tells us that Michele Bachmann doesn't think people should ask her questions about whether her husband's "Christian therapy" business performs "reparative therapy" to de-gay-ify its clients:

Today at the Prospect

  • Paul Waldman writes that Obama's biggest mistake was assuming Republicans had the country's best interests at heart.
  • Monica Potts explains how the polygamists' lawsuit against the state of Utah is a nightmare for both liberals and conservatives.

New Voter-ID Laws Target Women

In the last few years, Georgia and Indiana have instated overly strict voter-ID laws. The Supreme Court upheld Indiana's law, which required voters to present valid photo identification at the polls, finding it to be of legitimate state interest in preventing voter fraud. Five more states are now following suit.

Today at the Prospect

  • Ben Adler explains how a third-party candidate could be a disaster for American politics.
  • Robert B. Reich writes that Obama has failed us a bully-pulpit president.

The Freshman Problem

It's natural to assume that if you're a member of Congress, you have access to all kinds of inside information, and your job makes you deeply informed about all sorts of issues, particularly whatever is dominating the nation's debate at a particular moment. For some members, that's true. But not all, maybe not even most, and that fact is having a meaningful influence on how the debt-ceiling crisis is playing out.