Congress

Murray-Ryan deal heads towards finish line

Featured image The Murray-Ryan budget deal almost surely will pass the Senate, but Republicans are making supporters of the compromise sweat a little: “The struggle is still on in the United States Senate; we will need about eight Republicans to come our way. I feel we’ll have a good, strong showing from the Democratic side. But we need bipartisan support to pass it,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said on CBS’s “Face »

Obama looks to “the stupid party” to bail him out

Featured image According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration is hopeful that the recent budget deal will change the tone in Congress and pave the way for the President’s agenda to move forward. The key element of that agenda is amnesty-based immigration reform. Other elements include raising the minimum wage, spending money on “infrastructure,” and funding early childhood education. Is the administration’s hopefulness delusional? It should be. The budget deal sailed »

Our Churchill

Featured image Dorothy Rabinowitz delivers the good news in today’s Wall Street Journal: In January of 1941, Winston Churchill dined at a Glasgow hotel with his physician, Sir Charles Wilson (later Lord Moran ), and his secretary of state for Scotland, Tom Johnston. The other member of the party was Harry Hopkins, Franklin Roosevelt’s redoubtable unofficial ambassador and the American president’s most trusted adviser. Hopkins had been sent to investigate and report »

Re-use Towels? Quelle Horreur!

Featured image Anyone who travels these days has gotten used to the hotel bathroom notices about how we should all save water by re-using our towels so they don’t have to be washed.  In other words, behave like we do at home. So it must be a shock that senators and congresscritters, who are having to suffer the shutdown privation of having to push their own elevator buttons, now have to re-use »

Public blames Republicans for the shutdown, as expected

Featured image A CBS poll shows that, as most observers expected, Republicans are taking more blame for the government shutdown than Democrats. 44 percent of Americans blame congressional Republicans primarily, while 35 percent put more blame on President Obama and congressional Democrats. These views are virtually the same as they were last week before the shutdown, when Americans were asked who they would blame if a shutdown occurred. Thus, the various shutdown »

Grand bargain or grand illusion?

Featured image The word from Capitol Hill is that Speaker Boehner wants to resolve the current stalemate over the CR and the impending stalemate over the debt ceiling through a “grand bargain” on fiscal issues. Boehner reportedly has long wanted such a bargain. And now, according to NRO’s Bob Costa, “the House GOP’s most influential fiscal strategists, Dave Camp and Paul Ryan, are privately reassuring nervous Republicans that. . .a budget deal »

James Madison on the Budget Impasse

Featured image It’s a favorite parlor game: what would the Founders think of our current government, and in particular, the current budget showdown.  Jacob Heilbrunn, in typical liberal derision of the institutions of limited self-government, thinks we should abolish Congress. More likely, James Madison would not be at all surprised at what is going on.  As he wrote in Federalist #37: “It is a misfortune, inseparable from human affairs, that public measures »

Why Obama is unlikely to compromise

Featured image President Obama has thus far refused to entertain the idea of a compromise with House Republicans that would avoid a government shutdown. From all that appears, he won’t even negotiate. The primary reason for his refusal is political. He believes that the public will place primary blame on Republicans, thereby giving his presidency and his Party some needed much needed momentum. Frankly, I think Obama is probably right about this. »

Congress: Overdrawn at the Bank of Public Opinion, Again

Featured image Last week a student presented himself in my office with a series of questions going back to the 1990s, with one in particular standing out: how the heck did Ross Perot emerge in 1992, and whatever happened to him and the populist mood he tapped into?  Realize that today’s students were barely or not yet born in 1992, so this is distant history.  The Tea Party phenomenon, of course, can »

What never? Well, hardly never

Featured image On September 18, President Obama told the Business Roundtable: You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt used to extort a president of a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt. Obama was referring to Republican attempts to use the debt »

Syria debate jeopardizes immigration reform

Featured image Several readers have asked me what effect the House’s consideration of the Syria resolution will have on immigration reform. Clearly, the Syria debate will push back House deliberation on immigration reform. But does it jeopardize, ultimately, the enactment of an immigration bill? Citing a piece in the New York Times called “Immigration Reform Falls to the Back of the Line,” Mark Krikorian argues that the Syria debate has significantly decreased »

Obama’s syria resolution faces uphill battle in House

Featured image Last night, I watched the backend of the House Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Syria resolution. It provided a sample, albeit a small one (around 15 congressmen), of the views of House members. If the sample is representative — it may not be because it was weighted in favor of newer members who tend to be less inclined to intervene — then the administration’s resolution will not pass. Indeed, »

What if the Senate and House disagree about Syria?

Featured image Suppose the Senate approves a resolution authorizing an attack against the Assad regime, but the House disapproves. This a plausible scenario; indeed, it may be the most likely one. In that event, President Obama might well proceed with an attack, reasoning this way: I consulted with, and fully engaged, both chambers of Congress. The Senate thought I should launch an attack; the House thought I shouldn’t. I concur with the »

Final impressions of the Syria hearing

Featured image If the three witnesses were the Marx Brothers, John Kerry would be Groucho (they are both world class scenery chewers), Gen. Dempsey would be Chico, and Chuck Hagel (who barely spoke) would be Harpo. As the silent partner, Hagel has found his highest and best use. In fairness to Kerry, he presented a forceful case, and made plenty of good points. It’s possible, however, that his at times strident and »

Live blogging the Syria hearing [UPDATED and Fixed]

Featured image I’m waiting for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to begin its hearing on Syria. In the meantime, Nancy Pelosi is holding forth on CSPAN. She denies that she will “whip” House Democrats on the Syria vote; she says she’s merely going to “discuss” the matter with her caucus. In other words, she will “whip” them. I hope she has more success whipping her members than she had whipping her five-year-old »

Why did Obama go to Congress? [UPDATED]

Featured image Theories abound as to why President Obama put to Congress the question of military intervention in Syria. One theory is that Obama decided he didn’t really to want to intervene militarily and hopes Congress will bail him out. Another is that he wants to be able to shift blame to Congress if intervention doesn’t turn out well. A third theory is that Obama wanted to buy time in order, perhaps, »

The raised stakes in the debate over bombing Syria

Featured image In a sense, there is less than meets the eye to the debate over whether President Obama should take military action against Syria. Obama has made it clear that he does not intend to commit ground troops in Syria and that the air attack he contemplates is “limited.” Thus, there is very little risk associated with the kind of action Obama wants to take. But by the same token, there »