Congress

Dear White House, You'll Regret This

Olivier Douliery/AP Images

The latest dust-up in the descent of Bob Woodward from fearless investigative reporter to manipulative media celebrity began with his contention in a Washington Post column that President Obama, by asking for revenue increases as part of a deal to defer the sequester, was “moving the goal posts” from the 2011 budget deal (in which Obama got thoroughly hosed by the Republicans).

Victory for the Violence Against Women Act

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Early this morning, the House of Representatives passed the Senate's version of the Violence Against Women Act, which includes the protections for LGBT victims, immigrants, and Native Americans that House Republicans rejected at the end of last year. As Amanda Marcotte writes, "their ongoing resistance to this popular legislation was starting to make them look like monsters," and so they caved.

The Five Most Terrifying Things about the Sequester

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The latest fiscal showdown concerns the “sequester”—across the board cuts to (almost entirely) discretionary spending that will total just over $1 trillion in the next decade, and which are set to take effect on March 1. What should those who have better things to do with their life than follow fiscal policy debates know about the sequester? 

Lockheed, Stock, and Barrel

Do we truly need brand new aircraft carriers? Nope, but try telling the Pentagon and their many contractor friends.

AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily News, Devon Ravine

AP Photo/Eric Talmadge

Victory for the Friends of Hamas!

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr

By a vote of 71 to 27, the Senate closed debate on Chuck Hagel's nomination to lead the Department of Defense, thus beating a Republican filibuster on his confirmation.

The Sequestering of Barack Obama

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Obama has miscalculated both the tactical politics of the sequester and the depressive economic impact of budget cuts on the rest of his presidency. The sequester will cut economic growth in half this year. But it’s now clear, one way or another, that we will get cuts in the $85 billion range that the sequester mandates this fiscal year. All that remains are the details.

Trading The Blame Game for The Bully Pulpit

Flickr/Neon Tommy

The White House apparently believes the best way to strengthen its hand in the upcoming “sequester” showdown with Republicans is to tell Americans how awful the spending cuts will be and blame Republicans for them.

It won’t work. These tactical messages are getting in the way of the larger truth, which the president must hammer home: The Republicans’ austerity and trickle-down economics are dangerous, bald-faced lies.

Yes, the pending spending cuts will hurt. But even if some Americans begin to feel the pain when the cuts go into effect Friday, most won’t feel it for weeks or months, if ever.

Threat versus "Threat"

The second entry in our series on how to fix the Pentagon budget

flickr/zennie62

AP Photo

Ted Cruz Is the Next Jim DeMint, Not the Next Barack Obama

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That isn't to say that first impressions are necessarily immutable destiny in politics, since there are those who have bombed in their national debut and turned things around, and others who looked terrific at first but turned out to be something less. Bill Clinton gave a famously terrible speech at the 1988 Democratic convention, and Sarah Palin was dynamite in her speech at the GOP's 2008 gathering. Nevertheless, there are some things you just can't overcome, particularly if what caused them wasn't a bad night's sleep but the very core of your being.

A year or two ago, if you asked Republicans to list their next generation of star's Ted Cruz's name would inevitably have come up. Young (he's only 42), Latino (his father emigrated from Cuba), smart (Princeton, Harvard Law) and articulate (he was a champion debater), he looked like someone with an unlimited future. But then he got to Washington and started acting like the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, and now, barely a month into his Senate career, we can say with a fair degree of certainty that Ted Cruz is not going to be the national superstar many predicted he'd be. If things go well, he might be the next Jim DeMint—the hard-line leader of the extremist Republicans in the Senate, someone who helps the Tea Party and aids some right-wing candidates win primaries over more mainstream Republicans. But I'm guessing that like DeMint, he won't ever write a single piece of meaningful legislation and he'll give the Republican party nothing but headaches as it struggles to look less like a party of haters and nutballs.

Shorter White House on the Sequester: "It Will Destroy Everything"

Wikipedia

At this point, odds are low for a deal to avert the sequester. Republicans want an agreement to replace the planned across-the-board spending cuts—which include cuts to defense spending—with ones that target social spending and entitlements. President Obama is willing to compromise on spending cuts, but insists on new revenues. "Balanced" deficit reduction—a key part of his reelection platform—is still a priority for the administration, and it commands wide support from the public.

Fix the Economy, Not the Deficit

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

It’s hard to be happy about the prospect of the sequester—the huge, automatics cuts to domestic spending set to take place if lawmakers can't reach a long-term budget deal—going into effect at the end of the week. Not only will it will mean substantial cuts to important programs; it will be a further drag on an already weak economy, shaving 0.6 percentage points off our growth rate. The end of the payroll tax cut, which expired on January 1, has already pushed it down to around 2.0, but the sequester cuts will depress it below the rate needed to keep pace with those entering the labor market. As a result, we are likely to see a modest increase in unemployment over the course of the year if the cuts are left in place.

Happy Birthday, Dear Income Tax

Five lessons for progressives from our first century of income taxes. 

flickr/jpconstantineau

flickr/jpconstantineau

In February 1913, exactly a century ago, the Sixteenth Amendment gave Congress a constitutional green light to levy a federal tax on income. Later that same year, lawmakers made good on that opportunity. An income tax has been part of the federal tax code ever since.

Extremist Republicans Don't Want to be Attacked for Extremism

Google Images

The National Review's Andrew Stiles is still upset with Democratic messaging on reproductive rights.

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