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29 Feb 2012 01:54


Politics: Is partisanship the problem? Or is our political system the problem?

  • Snowe’s retirement will have many lamenting the endangered moderate and wondering how we can turn back the clock. But we can’t. About that, Snowe is right. Polarization is with us now and will be with us for the foreseeable future. The question is whether we will permit it to paralyze our political system and undermine our country or whether we will accept it and make the necessary accommodations.
  • Ezra Klein • Arguing that the problem with congress isn’t partisanship, or ideological polarization, but rather that the institutions and procedures codified in our political system aren’t well-equipped to handle a polarized congress. Klein’s prime example is the filibuster, which as we’ve seen the past couple of years, is absolutely crippling when the two parties in the Senate don’t agree on anything. “Our system, as any historian will tell you, was built by men who hated parties and anticipated their absence from American politics,” Klein says. “But as the two parties have polarized, we’ve learned that a system built for consensus is not able to properly function amid constant partisan competition.” source

29 Jan 2012 12:17


U.S.: GOP: We’ll make this payroll tax cut extension work, we swear

  • There is broad agreement on doing the payroll tax holiday through the end of the year … The problem is paying for it. … (Democrats) just don’t want to cut any spending. That is what made it problematic. But we will get it done. We will get it done before the end of February.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell • Emphasizing that the payroll tax cuts that proved a thorn in the GOP’s side back around Christmas will get extended through the new year, no matter how many arms McConnell has to twist. The thing is, though, he’s not the guy who has to do the hard work. It’s Boehner in the House, who pissed off his rightward-leaning members by ignoring their wishes to score a deal. However, even Boehner is confident: “I’m confident that we’ll be able to resolve this fairly quickly,” he said. The tax cuts expire at the end of February, but there’s no word on how they plan to pay for this. source

25 Jan 2012 10:43


Politics: Michele Bachmann, after tough presidential bid, running for Congress again

Despite the belief among analysts that her skills might better be suited for Fox News, the Tea Party Caucus leader will stick with Minnesota’s 6th district for now. It’ll be Bachmann’s fourth term if she wins. source

22 Dec 2011 20:08


Politics: A rare concession: House GOP loses on payroll tax-cut issue

  • The GOP lost one. The tell-tale signs were everywhere. On a day where John Boehner lost support from the GOP establishment on blocking a payroll tax-cut plan — which mind you, was just for two months, and otherwise would’ve been a big GOP victory because of the Democratic concessions made — the political kayfabe finally gave way to inevitability. Here’s how it went down. (Photo by Gage Skidmore, that guy who takes all the GOP politician photos on Flickr)
  • cause For months, Republicans were soft on the idea of extending payroll tax cuts into 2012, a key issue for Democrats, because they thought it didn’t stimulate the economy. Eventually, the Senate passed a limited extension, but the House wouldn’t go for it.
  • reaction For days, House speaker John Boehner faced significant pressure over the House’s stance, and eventually his own party started criticizing the late-December move, which they believed could give the Democrats major leverage in 2012.
  • result Today, Boehner  gave in, with the House speaker allowing for a voice vote on the issue. “We have fought the good fight,” Boehner said. “Why not do the right thing for the American people even though it’s not exactly what we want?” source

13 Dec 2011 20:39


Politics: House passes payroll tax-cut bill … with a Keystone-shaped catch

  • If Sen. Reid wants to hold up the jobs bill, he will go on Santa’s naughty list.
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) • Offering a somewhat … uh, interesting take on the House’s passage of a payroll tax cut, which Republicans pushed through with a fairly large caveat — it would speed up the process of approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which was delayed until 2013 to give some time to examine environmental issues brought up by critics. The bill is expected to die in the Senate, and even if it weren’t, Obama would most likely veto it. The divided Congress is under the gun to pass a payroll tax cut and a spending bill to fund the government beyond Friday. Sounds like a fun week, all. source

25 Sep 2011 11:04


Politics: House GOP shows weak points after failing to pass shutdown vote

  • While it is widely expected that the parties will eventually reach a compromise to avoid a shutdown, Wednesday’s 230-to-195 vote showed what can happen when the GOP majority operates with no more than minimal Democratic support.
  • Washington Post writers Rosalind S. Helderman and Paul Kane • Correctly pointing out the weak spot in the GOP’s House leadership — that the GOP members aren’t all on the same page, so as a result, the leadership can push for one thing, but have it taken in a different direction by far-right members of the party. (In this case, the bill passed the House only with the addition of some timely anti-environmental-funding rules, then died in the Senate.) And with no help from Democrats, it becomes harder for GOP leaders to push their agenda without making room for compromise. And this isn’t even considering the Senate and president, who provide blockades of their own (unless you’re Obama and you compromise). source

23 Sep 2011 07:52


Politics: House passes shutdown-averting spending bill … with a catch

  • yeah … The House passed a bill preventing a possible government shutdown, and in the process paying for emergency management funding for the recent spate of natural disasters (like the Joplin tornado and Hurricane Irene). As recently as Wednesday, it didn’t look like it would pass. So what happened?
  • … but Well, the bill includes a politically-charged measure removing funding for green energy projects, like the much-maligned Solyndra debacle. It literally seems like they passed it only because House Republicans could score points off of this. As a result, it likely will not pass the Senate in its current form. source

28 Jul 2011 23:23


Politics: An update on the debt ceiling shenanigans

  • boehner’s bill falls short: After a chaotic day of vote-whipping, vote-delaying, and vote-switching, John Boehner has decided to postpone the vote on his debt ceiling bill. Despite multiple assurances that it would be brought to a vote before tomorrow, at the end of the day, Boehner didn’t have enough votes to ensure the bill’s passage (and he wasn’t going to embarrass himself by introducing a bill that was sure to fail). In an unusual alignment, conservative Tea Partiers and House Democrats all pledged to vote against the bill, albiet for different reasons. While the legislation has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, Boehner’s ability to shepherd it through the House is seen by many as the first real test of his leadership abilities. If he doesn’t eventually pass it, there’s a good chance he’ll (eventually) be deposed as Speaker. But it’s not over yet–sources say Republicans plan to tweak the bill a bit, and re-introduce it tomorrow.  source

19 Jul 2011 20:35


U.S.: House passes doomed “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill

  • 234-190 on rigid partisan lines; duh source
  • » The odds of this passing the Senate? Zero. The House has been known for their symbolic votes this term — ones which please the base but not won’t do much else. The bill cuts many Democratic investment priorities — but most notably, takes a long-term hatchet to Medicare. Not so much, kids. Not so much.

15 Jun 2011 16:40


U.S.: North Carolina moving towards axing Planned Parenthood’s funding

  • veto The Republican-controlled House in North Carolina passed a provision attached to their budget which strips Planned Parenthood of all federal and state funding. Democratic Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the budget to avoid the funding being axed.
  • override The North Carolina GOP has voted to override the veto, sending the budget along to the state Senate, which will likely follow suit. This is horrible news for women’s health concerns, as a funding halt would especially limit health care for low-income women. source