As Paul Ryan edges closer to his House speakership decision, which half of his personality will come out? The controller or the corporatist?
Joanne Butler | All Articles
As the ink dries on the Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP) deal, some U.S. winners and losers are beginning to emerge. U.S. workers in sugar-utilizing industries: sorry, you lose. U.S. sugar producers: you win. The reason: while the United States made concessions in other areas, America’s protectionist system for sugar suffered only minor tweaks. Plus, Marco Rubio likely is very pleased with the sugar deal – will it effect his election chances?
With the many “pre-eulogies” of President Jimmy Carter, here’s mine: he actually deregulated a major sector of the U.S. economy. Yes, Carter did create the Energy Department, cobbling a bunch of energy-related agencies together (similar to George W. Bush’s creation of the Department of Homeland Security). But Carter’s deregulation of the transportation sector remains significant and historic, but unlikely to be noted by the mainstream media at the last.
As President Obama’s trade bill limps to a vote in the House, some conservatives are upset at how House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has used many pivots and head-fakes to get votes for an Obama trade deal that many members haven’t read (it’s locked in a secret room in the Capitol). Amazingly, Ryan unwittingly echoed Nancy Pelosi when he admitted yesterday that the secret deal would be made public after it was passed.
Now that candidate announcement season is fully upon us, a question hangs in the air. Could these people actually govern the behemoth of the federal government? Governing has nothing to do with artful stage backdrops and speechifying. But it has everything to do with success; if a president can’t get his or her policies implemented properly and timely, he or she is a failure. Thus I pose this challenge to the Republican candidates and those in waiting: can you obtain a list of Obama appointees who have ‘burrowed in’ and are now career civil servants?
As it’s National School Choice Week, I wanted to see how Republican presidential hopefuls measure up on their actions to increase school choice (versus just talking about it). My specific focus: how charter schools are faring in their home states. Some states are doing well, others are muddling through, and still others are failing. (You can view a state-by-state matchup on charter schools here).
Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris brought back the disturbing memory of an attack in D.C., by a sect of Black Muslims on several institutions, including B’nai Brith’s headquarters and D.C.’s City Hall. The disturbance was prompted in part by anger over a film about Mohammed. A city councilman caught a stray shot, which may have helped in his campaign for mayor a year later. The councilman was Marion Berry, and the year 1977.
Last summer, Congress and President Obama, reacting to the scandals at the Department of Veterans Affairs, rushed through a law giving the Secretary of Veterans Affairs a speedier process with which to fire underperforming executives. Problem solved? Not so fast. There’s a wee thing called due process – which has created a loophole for bureaucrats in the crosshairs to retire instead of being fired.
While Julia Pierson’s resignation from the top spot at the Secret Service was no surprise; the roots of her resignation were no surprise to me either. As I see it, she was promoted as a result of managerial panic concerning the 2012 sex scandal involving agents doing presidential advance work in Cartagena, Columbia.
On Wednesday, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Science (both institutions receive a combination of federal and private funding) issued a report on how America’s medical system lacks proper end-of-life care. (You can read a summary here.) While I agree that end-of-life care is an issue worth discussing, I think the report’s recommendations contain a basic flaw: having a patient register his/her preferences with the doctor. It’s a lawyer -- a professional third-party advocate -- the patient needs, not a doctor.
Andrew Biggs, a policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute (former George W. Bush appointee at the Social Security Administration) recently wrote yet another of his doom-and-gloom articles about the long-term fate of Social Security’s retirement system. I too worked at Social Security (as a career employee) but I don’t share his priorities. If Biggs took an afternoon off from AEI’s hushed offices for a subway ride, he’d see why. Amongst the hoi polloi, he’d see lots of fat people – very fat people: workers, tourists and (sadly) kids. If I were Biggs I’d be more worried about this population’s health care costs than whether Social Security will be there for them in thirty years.
Ben Franklin is the prototype for the celebrity-as-politician. His autobiography is still in print; if he were alive, he’d be on Drudge’s columnists’ list, and command speaking fees that would turn Hillary Clinton green with envy. A popular T-shirt has a quote erroneously attributed to Franklin: 'Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.'
If the sun’s setting on the Export-Import Bank, they have only themselves to blame. Back in the early 1990s I did a training stint there and it’s when I first heard the ‘Bank of Boeing’ joke. Fast forward to last week, when Eric Cantor lost in his primary and Boeing’s stock dropped by 2.3 percent. Which raises the question, given his connections to the big business wing of the GOP, could Cantor’s loss be a death knell for Ex-Im?
With Father’s Day approaching and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation last week, I am reminded of a promise my late Dad (WWII vet, bronze star medalist) demanded I make when I was in 8th grade: That I never send him to a VA hospital. I expect if my Dad were here today, he’d be calling me to say ‘see, I told you.’ My question: where were the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars when the problems began to bubble up last year and earlier this year?
Lost in the cheering over from President Obama’s hype section over last Friday's jobs report was a major factor: the millions of unemployed on the federal disability rolls. If we added them, plus those who have given up looking for work, then April’s unemployment numbers don’t look so bright – a shameful prognosis in the sixth year of the Obama administration.
The news that China’s economy is on track to overtake the U.S. economy this year must have put a grin on one American’s face: Bill Clinton. It was his efforts at the end of his second administration that opened U.S. markets for Chinese imports. But is Hillary smiling? I’m not so sure.
Thanks to Cliven Bundy, there’s a song that’s been rattling around in my brain non-stop: "Razzle Dazzle Them" from the musical Chicago. No, it’s not Richard Gere’s wimpy movie rendition in my mind, but Jerry’s Orbach’s con brio delivery from the Broadway original. But the bottom line of Fred Ebb’s lyrics is the same: “Razzle dazzle them, and they’ll never catch wise.”
There are three takeaways from yesterday’s special election in Florida, where an admittedly not-great Republican candidate -- David Jolly, just divorced, with a much younger girlfriend in tow -- won against a (seemingly) stronger female Democrat. The Republican won because of demographics, Medicare, and a strong data-driven ground game.
Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote about the House Republican agenda for 2014, which included a passing reference on expanding access to charter schools. Note to Mr. Cantor: you should meet my hair stylist here in Wilmington. Not for a haircut (though her skills are excellent), but because she’s a great example of the impact of charter schools on a family.