Saturday, December 18, 2010

Analysis: Do the president's recent legislative successes make him the "new comeback kid," or is it too little too late, or something else?

Tax Compromise: Passed
Budget Bill: Continuing resolution passed to keep the government open (the work continues to find a budget within the next three days)
DREAM Act: Failed (had only 55 votes)
DADT Repeal: Very likely to pass
START Treaty: Likely to pass

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Analysis: Will a supposed return to the culture wars benefit or hinder the GOP?

By Sandhya Somashekhar
Sunday, November 21, 2010; 12:22 AM

Liberal groups in Wisconsin are bracing for a fight over contraception coverage under Medicaid. Battle lines are being drawn over sex education in North Carolina. And conservatives in several states intend to try to limit the ability of private insurers to cover abortions.

Social issues barely rated in this year's economy-centric midterm elections. More than six in 10 voters who cast ballots on Election Day cited the economic downturn as their top concern, according to exit polls. And this year was the first in more than a decade in which same-sex marriage did not appear on a statewide ballot.

But major GOP gains in state legislatures across the country - where policy on social issues is often set - left cultural conservatives newly empowered. Opponents of same-sex marriage, for instance, now see an opportunity to block or even reverse recent gains by gay rights advocates in Minnesota and New Hampshire.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Opinion: What should the focus of the upcoming lame duck session of congress be? Why?

Congress Braces For Hectic Lame Duck Session
by Liz Halloran

Congress returns Monday for a lame duck session that will provide Democrats their final taste of Capitol Hill dominance before Republicans take over the House and expand their Senate minority caucus in January.

But with the controlling party limping back after an Election Day thrashing, it remains unclear whether Democrats will decide to close out the final four weeks or so of the 111th Congress with a bang or a whimper.

"There is so much uncertainty going on," says Sam Rosen-Amy of the nonprofit OMB Watch, which tracks federal budget policy and spending. "I have no idea what might happen."

The uncertainty is especially strong with Republicans suggesting they'll block any measure lacking a strong consensus and Democrats in a quandary over their leadership and tone going forward.

The Fate Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
What is guaranteed: Congress will have to quickly decide what to do about Bush-era tax cuts scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Members must also deal with a dozen current-year spending bills that they have yet to pass more than a month into the 2011 fiscal year.

What is far less clear is whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, other Senate Democrats and the White House will go to the mat on issues that include a high-profile measure that would end the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on openly gay Americans serving in the military.

"Clearly the president and his staff realize that if we don't get don't ask, don't tell repealed now, it will be a very long time before we have the opportunity again," says Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and head of the pro-repeal Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The issue took on new relevancy this week when a leaked Pentagon study due to President Obama on Dec. 1 suggested that there would be little risk in repealing the measure, which Congress passed in 1993. The Supreme Court on Friday declined a Republican gay rights group's request to stop enforcement of the ban while a lower court reviews its constitutionality.

Latino activists are also watching to see whether the freshly re-elected Reid will make good on his win-or-lose campaign promise to pursue a measure that gives children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship through education and military service.

And other pending measures also hang, but barely, in the lame duck balance — including one that would set renewable electricity standards and another that would provide new bargaining rights to police and firefighters.

All hinge on the question of whether Democrats return to Capitol Hill on Monday defeated or defiant.

The Bush-Era Tax Cuts
The brief session is expected to be dominated by debate over the fate of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which disproportionately benefited higher income taxpayers.

Democrats have argued that the cuts, which expire at the end of the year, should be extended only to families earning less than $250,000. Resurgent Republicans, who will take over the House under presumptive Speaker John Boehner, want all the cuts made permanent — at a cost that OMB Watch has estimated at more than $5 trillion, including debt serving and related costs, over the next decade.

Republicans have yet to put forth a plan to pay for the high-income tax cut extension.

The tax-cut prospects became increasingly muddied in recent days by competing accounts of where Obama stands on the issue. The White House, which has opposed extending the cuts to people who earn more than $250,000, has attempted to beat back a report in the Huffington Post that quoted top Obama adviser David Axelrod as suggesting that the president had stepped back from that position.

"We're willing to discuss how we move forward," Axelrod later said in an e-mail to the National Journal, "but we believe that it's imperative to extend the tax cuts for the middle class, and don't believe we can afford a permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthy."

The coming debate has also been complicated in recent days by deep cuts proposed by the heads of Obama's bipartisan deficit commission.

"The new report," says Rosen-Amy, the OMBWatch federal fiscal policy analyst, "is going to retrench partisans on both sides."

Control Of Spending
The nation's fiscal year began in October, but the government is currently operating under a congressional resolution that continues funding of the past year while a dozen spending bills have yet to be passed.

That resolution that essentially keeps government open expires Dec. 3, leaving Congress with a choice: either approve the 12 spending bills in one big package, or pass another resolution that allows the government to continue operating under 2010 budget levels until sometime after the new Congress convenes.

The latter would give Republicans, who take over the House in January, more control over the spending for the remainder of the fiscal year — a scenario many conservatives prefer.

Path To Citizenship Just A 'DREAM'?
In his tough re-election campaign in Nevada, Reid relied on Latino voters for his edge over Republican Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favorite. One of his promises was to raise the so-called "DREAM Act" legislation during the lame duck session.

The bipartisan measure makes children of illegal immigrants eligible for a six-year path to citizenship that hinges on the completion of a college degree or two years of military service.
Democrats had tried to attach it to the Defense Department spending bill earlier this year.

"Here's what we know: Reid promised in a very clear way that he would bring this up, win or lose," says Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the liberal Center for American Progress.

"Reid still has a job as Senate majority leader in no small part because of the high, high turnout of Latino voters in Nevada," she says.

If the measure doesn't make it into the defense bill — GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona and others oppose its inclusion — and Reid fails to raise it on the Senate floor, Kelley says, "it will not go unnoticed by the Latino community."

Race To The Finish
Whatever the agenda, it will be a race to the finish with enormous economic stakes.
Or, as Rosen-Amy puts it: "The result could be a hectic lame duck session with trillions of dollars in spending on the table."

And that has the potential to produce, he says, "legislation motivated by political expediency rather than sound fiscal policy."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Based on what you are reading, what are your predictions for the midterm elections?

By Aaron Blake
Two weeks before the election, Republicans are choosing their battles on mostly friendly turf, spending heavily in districts won by Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

Despite a widening playing field, most of the National Republican Congressional Committee's targets remain in districts that went for the Arizona Republican and, often, even more strongly for President Bush in 2004.

Of the 60 Democratic districts where the NRCC has spread around its $30 million in ad buys, 33 are districts McCain won, while 27 were won by President Obama. When you include four districts where the NRCC is such a heavy favorite that it hasn't had to spend money, that means the party is pursuing 37 of a possible 48 seats that were won by both McCain and currently represented by a Democratic congressman -- also known as "McCain-Democrat" seats.

In a 38th McCain-Democrat district -- held by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) -- national Democrats just spent their first money, but Republicans haven't joined the fray yet.

The only McCain-Democrat districts that the NRCC isn't spending in are those held by Shuler and Reps. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). The GOP holds some hope in some of these districts (expense may prohibit investing in districts like Altmire's and McMahon's), but many of them are lower-tier targets without big-name recruits that will likely only flip in an absolute bloodbath.

The NRCC is effectively trying to ensure victory in the most vulnerable Democratic districts while also playing in plenty of districts won by Obama. Indeed, they could conceivably win a majority just by winning McCain-Democrat districts.

They think by bringing an aggressive approach early in districts where the demographics are friendly, they have begun to push the Democrats to retrench in districts that are more Democratic-leaning.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010

If it's Tuesday, it's election day somewhere in the U.S.

U.S. Senate runoff in Arkansas
Blanche Lincoln is hoping to avoid becoming the third sitting senator to lose an intraparty fight this year, but even her closest allies acknowledge that her Democratic runoff race against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is a tossup.

Three weeks ago, Lincoln got 44.5 percent of the vote to Halter's 42.5 percent in the Democratic primary. A third candidate in that race, conservative D.C. Morrison, won 13 percent, forcing Lincoln and Halter into Tuesday's runoff.

Much like the primary, the runoff has pitted Lincoln and her supporters within the Democratic establishment -- former president Bill Clinton has campaigned for her and she has been endorsed by President Obama -- against organized labor, which has dumped millions of dollars into ads and voter identification programs on Halter's behalf.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Which races did you think were important last Tuesday and which ones are you watching for the future.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) narrowly leads Florida's U.S. Senate race, "despite nearly half of the voters saying he made a 'purely political' decision to bolt the GOP and run as an independent candidate in the Nov. 2 general election, a new St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll finds. Crist leads with 30%, followed by Marco Rubio at 27% and Kendrick Meek (R) at 15%. However, the race remains volatile: Crist's lead over Rubio is within the poll's four point margin of error, and nearly one out of four voters are undecided.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Blame it on the president. He's a week too late to help...

Mike Allen: "Look for President Obama to name his Supreme Court pick Monday, and look for it to be Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a former Harvard Law dean. The pick isn't official, but top White House aides will be shocked if it's otherwise.

Kagan's relative youth (50) is a huge asset for the lifetime post. And President Obama considers her to be a persuasive, fearless advocate who would serve as an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia, and could lure swing Justice Kennedy into some coalitions The West Wing may leak the pick to AP's Ben Feller on the later side Sunday, then confirm it for others for morning editions."

Another sign: Salon reports the White House is circulating pro-Kagan talking points.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt on this day in 1910:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"Citizenship in a Republic,"Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Friday, March 19, 2010

A brief guide to the healtcare vote:

With assistance from David Waldman and Sarah Binder -- and the caveat that we don't know many details yet -- here's a very rough guide to what will happen with the health care reform bill this weekend:

The House Rules Committee will likely meet on Saturday morning to draft a special rule *that allows the House to pass a bill by approving the rule and not necessarily the bill itself. By all indications, this rule will be the now famous "self-executing" rule which "deems" the Senate health care bill passed upon adoption of the rule. While Republicans on the Rules Committee may try to amend the rule, they're dramatically outnumbered by Democrats 9 to 4.

The House will likely debate the rule for about an hour and hold a vote on whether to end debate. Assuming that passes, the House holds another vote on adopting the rule. If the rule is approved with 216 votes, the House may begin debate on the reconciliation bill that makes fixes to the Senate version of the health care bill.

The House then debates the reconciliation according to guidelines set forth by the rule. Once debate is finished, the House will finally hold an up-or-down vote on the reconciliation bill. If it passes with 216 votes, the original Senate bill goes to the President for his signature.

However, the fireworks start all over again in the Senate next week as debate begins on the reconciliation bill with the "fixes." Republicans have promised a flurry of amendments and other stalling techniques to try to block the bill.

*this didn't happen this way. there is no "deem and pass" rule.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

everyone look!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!haha sorry Mr. Bretzmann go to 72:30 to see Mr. Bretzmann in 1992...with hair


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interest Groups (not healthcare...interest groups)

Washington interest groups have burst back into action in hopes of bolstering or defeating a new Democratic push on health-care reform legislation, sparking another wave of rallies, lobbying efforts and costly advertising campaigns.

The fresh round offers a clear signal that the industries and advocacy groups most likely to be affected view the coming weeks as the final battle in determining whether Democratic proposals become law.

Their efforts suggest a return to the frenzied pace of last year's health-care debate, which prompted more than $200 million in advocacy ads and broke records for lobbying. Companies and trade groups last year hired more than 4,500 lobbyists to influence health reform -- amounting to about eight lobbyists for each member of Congress, according to an analysis released last week by the Center for Public Integrity.

Reacting to President Obama's recent statements that he will move ahead with legislation, health insurance companies have enlisted hundreds of lobbyists in a full-court press against the proposed overhaul, which would force dramatic cuts and increased regulation on the industry. At the same time, insurers are pushing back against a separate bill approved by the House last week that would remove the industry's antitrust exemption.

Pharmaceutical lobbyists are also targeting Obama's plan, which includes administration proposals to secure an extra $10 billion in cuts from the industry and to ban deals between brand-name and generic drugmakers that keep cheaper medicines off the market.

The ramped-up effort is particularly evident among conservative advocacy organizations, many of which had optimistically halted spending after Democratic reform plans were cast into doubt by the January loss of a Senate seat in Massachusetts. The 60 Plus Association, a conservative group, announced a $500,000 television advertising campaign last week aimed at 18 centrist House Democrats, all of whom voted in favor of reform legislation last fall but whose support is now seen as wobbly.

The National Right To Life Committee -- which strongly opposes the Senate version of the health-care package -- has launched its own grass-roots campaign to pressure dozens of antiabortion Democrats in the House, who are crucial to passage of a final bill. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative Arlington-based group, also says it bought $250,000 worth of television advertising last week and is laying plans for more ads and rallies in March.

"I think a lot of people thought we had it licked, so it was natural to let up a little bit," said Tim Phillips, president of the Arlington group, which organized hundreds of antireform demonstrations over the past year. "All those thoughts are gone now. We are re-engaged in a big way."

Democratic and liberal activist groups, meanwhile, are rallying with their own efforts in hopes of pushing legislation across the finish line., for example, said that a "virtual march" organized Tuesday bombarded lawmakers with more than 1 million pro-reform e-mails. The group also released a television ad Friday targeting House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) for opposing the antitrust bill.

"We have the votes; let's get it done," said Ilyse Hogue, the group's political advocacy director. "We're focused on sending that clear message to the House and Senate."

One glaring exception to the renewed activity is AARP, the 40 million-member seniors group, which has spent millions on advertising and other efforts over the past year in favor of Obama's health-care plans. A. Barry Rand, the group's chief executive, called on other groups last week to lower the temperature in the debate so that "compromise is possible."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Crunch time is creeping up...please read the chapter on political parties again. There is a great video summary below.

Arguably, political parties are less significant in elections than they have been historically. What factors have led to a decrease in the importance of political parties?

Third parties are like bees!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The White House released the following excerpts from President Obama's State of the Union address:

We face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope - what they deserve - is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds and different stories and different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared. A job that pays the bill. A chance to get ahead. Most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids; starting businesses and going back to school. They are coaching little league and helping their neighbors. As one woman wrote to me, "We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.

"It is because of this spirit - this great decency and great strength - that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight. Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We don't allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength. And tonight, I'd like to talk about how together, we can deliver on that promise.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Exam: Remember that regardless of the grade you NEED to get on the exam, the grade you DO get shows up on your report card!

Martha Coakley saying that Curt Schilling is a Yankees fan would be something like a Wisconsin politician saying that Brett Favre is a Vikings fan...OK never mind...bad example.

Go study for the exam.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On January, 18, 2010, people of all ages and backgrounds will come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned.

Dr. Martin Luther King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome.

Dr. King’s teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs---poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education.

Volunteer with Americans across the nation on the 2010 King Day of Service and make a real difference in your community.

Analysis: Should the Democrats' hair be on fire as they think about losing the senate seat in MA?

You should go to this (with your parents' permission).


In response to the present global economic downturn, the Waukesha Plowshare Center and Carroll University are hosting a forum on SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010. The event will be held at the Carroll University Campus Center from 9:00am-noon, with six panelists addressing various aspects of our economy today. The purpose of the forum is to explore with students and the wider community the root causes of poverty and the growing disparity between the “haves and have-nots”. Discussion will also include models and projects which are restoring the social fabric by allocating resources in ways that serve the needs of all.

Pre-Forum Films will be shown on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2010 at 4:00-6:00 PM and repeated at 7:00 to 9:00 PM in the Stackner Ballroom of the Campus Center, Carroll University.

Dr. David Korten, president and founder of the People Centered Development Forum, will discuss via the Internet, “Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth”. Dr. Korten serves on the boards of Yes! Magazine as well as on the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. He is also an associate of the International Forum on Globalization, a member of the Club of Rome and co-chair of the New Economy Working Group. Dr. Korten has worked extensively with Asian leaders building civil society organizations to function as a strategic catalyst for positive national and global change.

Will Allen from Milwaukee’s Growing Power, Inc., will speak on a new agricultural model to access high quality, healthy and affordable food for all people, especially for people who live in the inner city. Growing Power is a nationwide non-profit organization which teaches innovative methods of agriculture to people from around the world at their greenhouse and training center in Milwaukee. Will Allen received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award in 2008 and was honored by President Bill Clinton at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Conference.

Several other speakers will participate in this forum. They include Alice Foley, co-founder of the Plowshare Center; Bernie Juno, Executive Director of the Waukesha Hebron House of Hospitality; Dr. David Block, Carroll University Environmental Scientist; and Dr. Rich Coon; Sociologist from Carroll University. Issues addressed will include the fair trade model and how it is promoting economic justice; local poverty and the impact of the economic downturn; a positive example from East Africa; growth-based capitalism and its affect on the environment; and projects which are transforming lives by offering jobs and opportunities.

The forum is free of charge and all are welcome to attend.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Opinion: Are lobbyists good, bad, or it depends. EXPLAIN.

China's lobbying efforts yield new influence, openness on Capitol Hill

By John PomfretSaturday, January 9, 2010
Ten years ago, U.S. lawmakers publicly accused the China Ocean Shipping Co. of being a front for espionage and blocked plans to expand its Long Beach, Calif., port terminal over fears that Chinese spies would use it to snoop on the United States.

By last year, Congress was seeing the state-owned Chinese behemoth in a far kinder light. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) authored a resolution applauding the company for employing thousands of Americans and helping keep the waters of Alaska clean. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.) hailed the firm on the House floor, calling its chief executive "a people's ambassador" to the United States after it rescued Boston's port -- and thousands of jobs -- when a European shipping line moved out.

The congressional about-face illustrates a dramatic increase in China's influence on Capitol Hill, where for years its lobbying muscle never matched its ballooning importance in world affairs. Members of Congress, lobbyists and other observers said China's new prominence is largely the result of Beijing's increasingly sophisticated efforts to influence events at the center of U.S. power -- and a growing realization among U.S. lawmakers that China has become a critical economic player across America.

Although many Americans still view China with deep suspicion because of its communist system and human rights record, the results of Beijing's image-and-influence campaign are clear. Members of Congress "are starting to understand that the Chinese are not communist but that the Chinese are Chinese," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). China is Oregon's biggest export market after Canada.

"China is an overarching backdrop to almost everything that I am involved with," said the seven-term congressman, adding that on matters as diverse as the U.S. economy, climate change and energy policy, "China is something that no one can ignore."

For years, as China steadily rose to global economic and political heights, it all but ignored the U.S. Congress, with outreach to American lawmakers left to friends in the business community. But now China has launched a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort so effective that it is challenging the heralded efforts of nemesis Taiwan.

A decade ago, U.S. politicians of all stripes routinely subjected China to attacks. Now acts of benevolence are more likely -- such as a resolution commemorating the 2,560th birthday of Chinese philosopher Confucius, which the House overwhelmingly approved in October.

"There was originally this kind of anti-communist view of China," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who in 1979 became the first U.S. mayor to visit China when she ran San Francisco. "That's changing. . . . China is a socialist country but one that is increasingly becoming capitalistic."

The new openness toward China is often subtle and not shared by all. But an undeniable evolution is taking place, congressional staffers and analysts said, as members of Congress, many with increasing numbers of large and small businesses in their districts that depend on trade with China, are now far more likely to kill or water down measures opposed by Beijing.

While China maintains a huge trade surplus with the United States, U.S. exports to China have surged in recent years. In 2008, according to the U.S.-China Business Council, exports to China grew in 85 percent of congressional districts. China is now the third-biggest market for U.S. goods, after Canada and Mexico.

"People in Congress are not stupid," said Minxin Pei, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. "A few years ago, China-bashing was costless. Now they will get phone calls from worried CEOs. China is creating jobs in their congressional districts."

Zhou Wenzhong, China's avuncular ambassador, has visited about 100 senators and representatives in their districts during his four-year-old tenure in Washington. But he said it wasn't simply lobbying and shoe-leather efforts that have helped China's image in Congress.


RIP Mrs. Biden...

Vice President Biden's mother died Friday in Wilmington, Del., the White House said. She was 92.

"My mother, Catherine Eugenia 'Jean' Finnegan Biden, passed away peacefully today at our home in Wilmington, Delaware, surrounded by her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and many loved ones," the vice president said in a statement released by the White House. "

At 92, she was the center of our family and taught all of her children that family is to be treasured, loyalty is paramount and faith will guide you through the tough times.

"She believed in us, and because of that, we believed in ourselves.

"Together with my father, her husband of 61 years who passed away in 2002, we learned the dignity of hard work and that you are defined by your sense of honor. Her strength, which was immeasurable, will live on in all of us."

Jean Biden gained national attention with a handful of campaign appearances with her son during the 2008 presidential race. She underwent hip surgery last March after falling at her Wilmington home.

Vice President Biden returned home to Wilmington on Thursday to join family members at his mother's bedside, the White House said.

Jean Biden is survived by three sons and a daughter, as well as numerous grandchildren. Her husband, Joseph R. Sr., died in 2002.

From ABC News:

"...We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama,” Giuliani said.