Republican Chaos, Democrats in Charge

With Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropping out of the race to become Speaker of the House, the level of chaos in Congress has hit a new height. It’s hard to imagine what comes next in this intractable situation as nearly every option has become open – including the longshot possibility that a bi-partisan group of centrists might soon be in charge.

Will this open the floodgates and see something get done or will the gridlock become even more set in stone for the next year? Like the weather, everyone likes to complain about it but no one seems to do anything about it. But next year could be the year that Democrats actually do something and take control – of both the Senate and the House. This is actually possible if we seize the moment.

Continue reading

Runnin’ on Empty

The Feds are about to run out of money.

No, we’re not talking about a government shutdown – that was avoided when yet another continuing resolution was passed to keep it operating through December. After that we have no idea what will happen. What we do know is that the Federal Highway Trust Fund is set to expire on October 29 unless a new bill is passed, which hasn’t been done yet.

Unlike the larger federal budget the attention this is getting is scant at best, so the possibility that it will be lost in the shuffle is pretty high. The implications are rather vast because federal funding is what keeps highway construction moving along. Without it, everything might grind to a halt as early as November.

Continue reading

Reforming Reform

Tax reform is on the minds of many Republican candidates, and that’s a good thing. Donald Trump revealed a plan, suggesting he may be a serious candidate after all. This announcement came as his poll numbers were slipping, so we may have a hint what voters think about actual policies. Jeb Bush released his plan earlier this month with the distinction of being called “weird”.

The point is that we are talking about taxes and serious tax reform, which is good. No one should expect one plan to suddenly spring forward and cut through the elaborate mess we have. Then again, once the knife is out, you could carve a better tax code out of a banana. But what really is needed? What is “simplification” or “reform”? Let’s start at the beginning.

Continue reading

Exit Boehner, Enter …. ?

When Pope Francis came to visit Congress, everyone knew something big was going to happen. Causing Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to have an epiphany and resign was not on anyone’s list.

But, there you have it – a Pope that works strange miracles.

To say that in the aftermath all Hell will break loose depends on whether your definition of Hell is complete inaction (it probably should be). By that standard Congress has been deep in the fire for a long time so we can’t blame Boehner for seeking a cool escape once he was touched by His Holiness. But is there a way out for the rest of us?

Continue reading

Read Their Lips

The long election season should, if anything, bring clarity to what we can expect starting in 2017. The next year will give us a lot of information as the campaigns coalesce. The candidates should at least give us the boundaries of what we can expect in terms of policy regardless of who is elected.

There are many things that are well known already, such as the retirement of Baby Boomers and a lot of reasons to believe that this will be a relatively good time economically. Add to that list a lot of reason to believe that taxes will rise. Why? Because the pressure is completely off the Republican Party to hold the line.

Continue reading

S-s-same As It Ever Was?

September is a month of change, but you’d hardly know it this year. The weather is warm, the Fed still hasn’t raised rates, and the Republican debate still focused heavily on one person (who will remain unnamed).

But that last one is where the more things change the more they stay the same.

My famously conservative friend Mitch Berg complained on facebook about a diatribe regarding parenting responsibilities by a childless 20-something associate, which sounded like an ugly situation. Turns out it was very ugly – it started as a discussion on defunding Planned Parenthood. The young woman in question, described as normally very level-headed, had a serious fire under her that needed venting. It’s a passionate issue, for sure. Mitch and his more conservative friends rolled their eyes as well as anyone can in English prose.

But they shouldn’t have – this is important stuff. Why? Because I think we’ll see a lot more of this in coming months as the Republicans do what they have to do, thus doing a lot of the work that Democrats need to do. It deserves examination.

Continue reading

Anarchy in the UK?

The Labour Party has elected a new leader – one that gives the Sanders movement in the Democratic Pary hope. His name is Jeremy Corbyn, aka “The exact opposite of Ed Miliband.” Unlike his predecessor Corbyn is resolute, visionary, and a completely unabashed member of what we could call “Old Labour” – the party that existed before Tony Blair turned it into something American Democrats would recognize, especially during the (Bill) Clinton years.

Does this mean Sanders and his progressive left supporters will take the Democratic Party? Will history repeat itself yet again and see Britain lead the way for the US? Like nearly any good political question, the short answer is “Yes” but the long answer is “No”.

Continue reading