Republicans are now playing nice on the budget

Republicans in Congress tried to cut the deficit by letting the government shut down, being willing to dive over the fiscal cliff, and sequestering expenditures, but those measures didn’t go over very well politically.  So now Congressional Republicans are going along with the Democrats, and they are close to an agreement on a budget deal.   Is that good news or bad news? [Read more...]

Laws that try to cover everything

In a discussion of the struggling Immigration Reform Bill, George Will tells about the Compromise of 1850.  Henry Clay worked it out, but the bill that would implement it–dealing with scores of inter-related issues, such as limiting the spread of slavery, statehood for California, the mode of territorial government for Utah, what to do about fugitive slaves, and on and on–could never get passed.  It was up to Stephen Douglas, better known as Lincoln’s nemesis, to get the legislation through.   He broke the gargantuan bill apart into smaller bills, each of which found its own constituency, and each of which passed.

Mr. Wills says that part of the problem in our paralyzed government is that bills are just too long.  They try to cover everything.  Which is a symptom of a government that thinks it knows everything. [Read more...]

What to do about gerrymandered elections?

An issue for election day:  One of the problems in our political system today is that Congressional districts have been drawn up to ensure that each one is a “safe seat” for the incumbent and a particular political party.  That means that voters almost never have competitive elections with genuine choices–unless, that is, the incumbent has a primary rival from the same party.  This makes for ideological polarization, say many observers, as well as thwarting the basic processes of democracy. [Read more...]

Congress stops default & ends shutdown

Cutting it close as usual, on the day before the government would run out of money, Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling and end the 16-day partial government shutdown.  Basically, both sides dropped their demands and kicked the can down the road.  The government will be funded until January 15, and the debt limit will rise until February 7.  In the meantime, a commission will be appointed to try to resolve the controversies. [Read more...]

Democrats up the ante on default bill

It looked like Congress was close to an agreement on funding the government and avoiding default on Thursday, but negotiations fell apart yesterday.  And as Republicans abandoned their insistence on defunding Obamacare, Democrats made demands of their own, insisting that Republicans agree to end the sequester, the across-the-board cuts from last time we were about to go over the fiscal cliff that have actually worked to curb government spending. [Read more...]

Defund Obamacare or shut down the government

Republicans in Congress say they will agree to stop the impending shutdown of the federal government only if Democrats agree to defund Obamacare.  Does this strike you as a disastrous strategy? [Read more...]


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