Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) marked the third anniversary of health care reform's passage in the House of Representatives Thursday by warning that the law will soon begin to kill American citizens.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Republicans can now count the leading tea party senator, their brightest 2016 prospect, the speaker of the House, and the chairman of their party as supportive of immigration reform. Meanwhile, anti-reform -- even just anti-citizenship -- politicians can't seem to find any oxygen. Among the party's elites at least, the battle over whether to support the basic planks of comprehensive immigration reform looks like it's over.
There's still plenty that can go wrong for reformers: negotiations could get bogged down in the details of a guest worker plan or border security or rank-and-file Republicans could get spooked by a revolt in their home districts. Already, a handful of GOP senators are asking to slow the legislative process down (which is itself a sign of reform's current momentum), and if it languishes too long its opponents could take the opportunity to organize more effectively. But if immigration reform does pass, this week may mark the tipping point.
Let's review:PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
If the consequences of indiscriminate defense and domestic spending cuts aren't severe enough at the outset to force Congress and the White House to cut a deal in early March, the fight over sequestration could easily be swallowed by a different -- more routine, but more pressing -- budget fight.
Funding for the federal government expires on March 27, and if Congress doesn't pass legislation to renew that funding, most government services will grind to a halt. The turbulence of sequestration will turn into the spiral-dive of a government shutdown.
These issues might seem wholly distinct. After all, sequestration emerged as a tool to force Congress into an agreement on taxes and entitlement spending, whereas a government shutdown would be the consequence of Congress failing to pass federal appropriations -- a different category of spending altogether.
But because sequestration largely targets the same category of spending, it stands to reason that Democrats and Republicans will use the imperative of funding the government to press their distinct visions of how to replace sequestration.
Thus events of the next several days -- particularly the public's early reaction to sequestration -- will determine whether the two issues blend into one, and whether the synthesis redounds to the benefit of one party or the other.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Republicans from Speaker Boehner (R-OH) on down are accusing the White House of threatening the public's safety by freeing hundreds of dangerous criminals detained by immigration authorities. But according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the claim is untrue.
Once again, House Republicans are in a predicament on the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, aimed at combating domestic abuse, is political dynamite with women voters, and for that reason GOP leaders desperately want the issue off the table. But they can't figure out how to make that happen now any more than they could last year, during an election.
House GOP leaders find themselves unable to appease simultaneously House conservatives and advocates against domestic violence. The two factions are at an impasse on new protections for gays, illegal immigrants and Native American women who suffer from domestic abuse. Anything that placates one side seems to aggravate the other. The legislation House Republicans unveiled Friday came after weeks of trying to resolve that tension, but fell short of the goal.
"Unfortunately, the National Task Force must oppose the House proposed VAWA legislation," said the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, after the bill was released. "This legislation lacks necessary protections for victims of violence and rolls back current law. NTF supports efforts to move the House legislation closer to the inclusive, bipartisan Senate-passed bill."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Where the media succeeds at not letting politicians shirk responsibility for the sequester's existence, it fails miserably at explaining and evaluating the two parties' positions on what to do about it.
That failure isn't entirely because news organizations are confused by the various plans to replace it. It's also because the story of the sequester's origin is coincidentally well served by the assumption that Democrats and Republicans are equally to blame for the country's problems, while the story of the current impasse is not.
But the parties' negotiating positions and substantive proposals aren't particularly confusing. And unlike the fake fight over who's to blame for creating the sequester, explaining and adjudicating the fight over how the parties would like to avoid the sequester is actually illuminating -- at least inasmuch as it's not just a cynical exercise in reverse engineering the conclusion that everyone's being equally unreasonable.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)