The Obamacare confession

When I heard about the Obama operative who said that the passage of Obamacare was helped by Americans’ “stupidity,” I assumed it was just a gaffe, with which Republicans could play “gotcha.”  But it turns out, the comment was in the context of a frank explanation in front of a friendly liberal audience at MIT about how the administration got Obamacare through Congress.

And the operative’s other comments are even more damaging to the bill.  A second video supports the opponents’ of the law’s case before the Supreme Court by indicating that the language restricting subsidies to state exchanges was intentional. [Read more...]

Our latest war is now illegal

The War Powers Act allows presidents to launch hostilities at their discretion, but they must receive the concurrence of Congress (to which the Constitution gives the authority to declare war) within 60 days.  If that doesn’t happen, the president has 30 additional days to end the hostilities.   The clock ran out on our war against ISIL on November 6.

President Obama is invoking the authority previously granted to fight the War in Iraq, but legal authorities question its applicability, since that war has been declared over and much of the fighting against ISIL is taking place in Syria.  But he could certainly make a good case for fighting those monstrous terrorists.  So why doesn’t he?

I suspect that neither the lame duck Congress with the Democratic Senate or the incoming Republican legislative branch wants anything to do with this issue.  This leaves the President to, once again, rule by decree. [Read more...]

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...]


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