Tale Of The Tape: Comparing The Budget Committee Heads

by Frank James

October 30, 201311:08 AM

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., differ in style and ideology but show signs of having a good working relationship.Win McNamee/Getty Images

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., differ in style and ideology but show signs of having a good working relationship.

Two wily veterans of Congress’ fiscal wars will lead the budget talks scheduled to start Wednesday: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the heads of the House and Senate budget committees.

As the 29 lawmakers on the budget conference committee — 22 from the Senate and seven from the House — sit down to begin negotiations, they’ll have in Ryan and Murray two lawmakers who from most accounts get along well despite their many differences.

“I think they’ve established a good working relationship with mutual respect for each other when you think about how many of our leaders aren’t really talking to each other anymore,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, who has talked about fiscal matters with both lawmakers over the years. Continue reading “Tale Of The Tape: Comparing The Budget Committee Heads”

Our Democracy Is at Stake

Op-Ed Columnist

Our Democracy Is at Stake

Published: October 1, 2013 310 Comments

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.

What we’re seeing here is how three structural changes that have been building in American politics have now, together, reached a tipping point — creating a world in which a small minority in Congress can not only hold up their own party but the whole government. And this is the really scary part: The lawmakers doing this can do so with high confidence that they personally will not be politically punished, and may, in fact, be rewarded. When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.

This danger was neatly captured by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, when he wrote on Tuesday about the 11th-hour debate in Congress to avert the shutdown. Noting a shameful statement by Speaker John Boehner, Milbank wrote: “Democrats howled about ‘extortion’ and ‘hostage taking,’ which Boehner seemed to confirm when he came to the floor and offered: ‘All the Senate has to do is say ‘yes,’ and the government is funded tomorrow.’ It was the legislative equivalent of saying, ‘Give me the money and nobody gets hurt.’ ” Continue reading “Our Democracy Is at Stake”

2013? Poll finds Americans weary and wary

2013? Poll finds Americans weary and wary

Even as the economic outlook brightens a bit, Americans’ view of the nation’s future, its leaders and its fundamental promise have darkened.

PITTSBURGH — Remember that wave of optimism and good feeling that typically greets a presidential inauguration, not to mention a new year?

This time, it’s hard to find.

Battered by an economy that is only slow recovering — and soured by the spectacle of Washington dysfunction in the “fiscal cliff” debate — views of the nation’s future and its fundamental promise have darkened in the four years since Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

Then, even during an unfolding financial crisis, Americans believed by a double-digit margin that it was likely young people would have a better life than their parents, one facet of the classic American dream. Now, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds they’re narrowly inclined to say that’s not likely. By 50%-47%, respondents say the country’s best years are behind us.

“I’m pessimistic about where the country is and where it’s going,” says Rick Rogoff, 55, the owner of a small food-service company here, ticking off the reasons why. “From the cost of living to the quality of health care to inflation to the politics of the country — the partisanship, it’s endless. I’m not really a pessimist. I’m a realist. I look at the situation and it’s hard to find things that are good.”

Even those with a more upbeat perspective sound less than confident. “I’m optimistic,” Tamera Bryant, 39, the auditor for a non-profit organization, says of Obama’s next four years, “but I think it’s going to be a fight.” Continue reading “2013? Poll finds Americans weary and wary”

With no ‘fiscal cliff’ deal in sight, sequestration seems all but certain

With no ‘fiscal cliff’ deal in sight, sequestration seems all but certain

It was designed to be the budget cut so painful, so indiscriminate, so downright mindless that even a gridlocked Congress wouldn’t allow it to happen.

Now, it looks like it’s going to happen.

What going over the 'fiscal cliff' would mean.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spent Saturday working on a last-ditch deal to spare the vast majority of Americans a dramatic tax increase on Jan. 1. Continue reading “With no ‘fiscal cliff’ deal in sight, sequestration seems all but certain”

Federal employee groups laud Obama victory, seek to end pay freeze

Federal employee groups laud Obama victory, seek to end pay freeze

President Obama’s reelection was hailed by major federal employee groups as a vindication of the view of government as a force for good, urging lame-duck lawmakers as they confront the fiscal cliff to acknowledge the contributions government workers have already made to deficit reduction.

“Leading our nation through one of the most difficult times in our history, President Obama plied a steady hand at the wheel and kept us on track,” said William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents 110,000 federal employees in 40 agencies. “Within government, he has taken innovative approaches to improving workforce morale, efficiency, and productivity” while involving employees in decision making. Continue reading “Federal employee groups laud Obama victory, seek to end pay freeze”

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