The Week: Most Recent Congress recent posts.en-usTue, 19 Feb 2013 21:50:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Congress from THE WEEKTue, 19 Feb 2013 21:50:00 -0500Simpson-Bowles 2.0: Is the new bipartisan deficit plan too conservative?<img src="" /></P><p>Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairmen of President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction panel, earned the good regard of centrist pundits in Washington, D.C., for proposing a fairly balanced plan in 2011 that included both new tax revenues and spending cuts. But a balanced plan was not to be: Obama's negotiations that year with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to reach a grand bargain foundered on their inability to reach a compromise. Still, the Simpson-Bowles plan endured as a rare beacon of common sense shining through the partisan miasma in Congress, and the two men have come...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Tue, 19 Feb 2013 21:50:00 -0500Who will the public blame if the sequester hits?<img src="" /></P><p>President Obama is cranking up the pressure on Republicans, insisting they'll be the ones the public will blame for the economic damage that could result if Congress doesn't do something to avoid deep, automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in 10 days. On Tuesday, Obama urged GOP lawmakers to pass a Democratic stopgap proposal that would trim deficits with more modest spending cuts and extra revenue from closed tax loopholes, but delay for the rest of the year deep reductions in defense and other spending, which would slash $1.2 trillion from the next decade of deficits. "It won't help...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Tue, 19 Feb 2013 15:29:00 -0500Is it too late to avert the sequester's deep spending cuts?<img src="" /></P><p>Republican leaders in Congress predicted Wednesday that painful automatic spending cuts &mdash; the sequester, in Washington lingo &mdash; will hit at the end of the month, as scheduled. "I think the sequester&rsquo;s gonna happen," Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Senate Republican leadership, said at a <em>Politico</em> post-State-of-the-Union event. Indeed, Democrats and Republicans have made little or no progress on a compromise deficit reduction deal that would head off the across-the-board budget cuts, which would hit the Pentagon and social programs especially hard.<br /><br />President Obama warned in his...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/harold-maass" ><span class="byline">Harold Maass</span></a>Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:28:00 -0500President Obama's new short-term budget fix: Why kicking the can down the road is smart<img src="" /></P><p>On Tuesday, President Obama proposed a modest package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would replace $1.2 trillion worth of across-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect beginning March 1. Obama said the slate of larger cuts &mdash; known as the sequester &mdash; would have a debilitating effect on the economic recovery if Congress didn't head them off at the pass. "Cuts to things like education and training, energy and national security, will cost us jobs, and slow down our recovery," he said.</p><p>Obama maintained that he was committed to reducing the deficit in the long term...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Tue, 05 Feb 2013 14:55:00 -0500Why the House GOP's clever 'No Budget, No Pay' ploy is pointless<img src="" /></P><p>The sugar coating for many of the House Republicans who voted Wednesday, for all intents and purposes, to raise the debt ceiling was a provision they inserted to pressure the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass a budget resolution, something it hasn't done since 2009. The "No Budget, No Pay" measure, if it clears the Senate, will withhold the paychecks of all lawmakers in whichever chamber of Congress doesn't pass a budget by April 15, as required under the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. "All told, the Senate Democrats received a total of $46 million in compensation since...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Thu, 24 Jan 2013 09:05:00 -0500The House suspends the debt limit: Are Republicans in the driver's seat?<img src="" /></P><p>The House on Wednesday voted&nbsp;285-144 to pass a bill that would suspend the nation's debt limit until May 18, completing the GOP's retreat from its hard-line stance that any authorization for new borrowing be accompanied by dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. The House technically did not raise the debt ceiling; instead, the bill authorizes the Treasury to effectively ignore it, a semantic maneuver that eased concern among rank-and-file Republicans who could have faced conservative anger for raising the limit without concessions from President Obama.</p><p>Included in the legislation is a provision...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Wed, 23 Jan 2013 15:30:00 -0500Republicans back down on the debt ceiling: What's next?<img src="" /></P><p>In a significant retreat, House Republican leaders on Friday unveiled a plan for a three-month increase to the debt ceiling, with the condition that the House and the Senate pass a budget by April 15. The House GOP had previously demanded dollar-for-dollar spending cuts for any increase in the borrowing limit, seeking to use the threat of a debt default to extract deep concessions from President Obama. But Obama held firm, and in recent weeks pressure had mounted on the GOP &mdash; from business groups and conservative media outlets &mdash; to drop the threat, since the economic impact of a default...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Fri, 18 Jan 2013 15:58:00 -0500Why Republicans will vote to raise the debt ceiling<img src="" /></P><p>By this point, the script for Washington's upcoming budget battle seems preordained: President Obama requests that the federal debt limit be raised by Congress, with no legislation tacked on, and House Republicans say no, leading to a standoff that freaks out global markets and is only resolved by an 11th hour deal that makes everybody angry. But this time may be different. "We're discussing the possible virtue of a short-term debt limit extension," with no add-ons, says Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the influential House Budget Committee chairman, from the House GOP retreat in Virginia. That gives...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Fri, 18 Jan 2013 09:05:00 -0500Paul Krugman vs. Jon Stewart: The grudge match over a $1 trillion coin<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">During the Bush administration, perhaps no two personalities captured the torment of the liberal psyche better than Paul Krugman and Jon Stewart. Writing in <em>The New York Times</em>, the Nobel Prize-winning economist represented the kind of ardent, white-knuckled fury that resulted in outbursts &mdash; "This world is going crazy!" &mdash; at the breakfast table. The comedian, on the other hand, used satire and a can-you-believe-this stare to induce amused head-shaking &mdash; "The world is going crazy!" &mdash; in the television den. They were the alpha and omega, the yin and the yang, of the liberal...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Tue, 15 Jan 2013 13:35:00 -0500Why is the GOP trying to commit political suicide?<img src="" /></P><p><span >Prior to the 1983 elections in the United Kingdom, the Labour Party, then led by one of the left's true believers, former journalist Michael Foot, put out its pre-election manifesto. Titled <em>The New Hope for Britain</em>, the document stated that a Labour government would </span>renationalize<span > the huge telecom, aerospace, and ship-building companies that Margaret Thatcher's Tories had just privatized, seek universal nuclear disarmament, withdraw from the European community, and abolish the House of Lords. Another Labour MP, Gerald Kaufman, gave the '83 Labour Manifesto a different title: "The Longest Suicide...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/jeb-golinkin" ><span class="byline">Jeb Golinkin</span></a>Tue, 15 Jan 2013 11:08:00 -0500Will Obama cave on the debt ceiling?<img src="" /></P><p>At his press conference on Monday, President Obama insisted repeatedly that he wouldn't negotiate with congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling, demanding that Congress allow him to pay the bills it has racked up. The House GOP "will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy," he said. For many liberals, this looks like a more politically savvy use of the bully pulpit than Obama has demonstrated previously, the idea being "that he can simply continue to say, 'Do your job,' to Congress when and if they come to him seeking concessions in exchange for it...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Tue, 15 Jan 2013 08:47:00 -0500Why a government shutdown would help the GOP<img src="" /></P><p>Now that we've moved past the tax portion of our never-ending series of fiscal cliffs, we're heading to the spending portion. Or at least that's what most of us thought after Barack Obama largely won the tax debate and got rates increased for those making more than $400,000 a year, along with a permanent Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch that protects the middle class from the LBJ-era equivalent of the Buffett Rule. But in a rare press conference marking the upcoming end of Obama's first term in office, the president insisted on Monday that he would refuse to agree to any deficit solution that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/edward-morrissey" ><span class="byline">Edward Morrissey</span></a>Tue, 15 Jan 2013 06:13:00 -0500President Obama attacks the GOP on the debt ceiling<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">President Obama on Monday aggressively attacked the GOP's reluctance to raise the debt ceiling, saying the opposition's all-or-nothing approach to budget negotiations could lead to a "self-inflicted wound on the economy." At the final news conference of his first term, Obama criticized the Republican position as reckless, absurd, and against the interests of the American people.&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">GOP leaders in recent weeks have demanded that any lifting of the debt ceiling coincide with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts, which Obama equated with holding a "gun to the head of the American people."&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">"They...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Mon, 14 Jan 2013 13:18:00 -0500Are half of House Republicans really willing to let the U.S. default?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">Unless Congress acts, the U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills in late February or March &mdash; at which point, economic chaos would (at least theoretically) break loose. And yet, more than half of Republicans in the House are willing to allow such a catastrophe as a way of forcing President Obama to agree to steep spending cuts,&nbsp;according to <em>Politico</em>:</p><p >Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesn't understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/ryu-spaeth" ><span class="byline">Ryu Spaeth</span></a>Mon, 14 Jan 2013 10:40:00 -0500Why the Fed killed the $1 trillion platinum coin<img src="" /></P><p>The dream of a $1 trillion platinum coin is dead. "The Treasury Department will not mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin to get around the debt ceiling," Ezra Klein reports in <em>The Washington Post</em>, citing Treasury spokesman Anthony Coley. And "if they did, the Federal Reserve would not accept it." From its humble May 2010 beginnings in the comments section of monetary policy blog&nbsp;<em>The</em><em> Center of the Universe</em>&nbsp;to its embrace by financial bloggers Joe Weisenthal and Josh Barro, economist Paul Krugman, and former U.S. Mint director Philip Diehl, the idea of the platinum coin had become something...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Mon, 14 Jan 2013 09:58:00 -0500How Congress can solve the U.S. budget crisis: Do nothing?<img src="" /></P><p>It almost seems hard to believe now, but a mere dozen years ago Washington was arguing over how best to handle the nation's budget surplus. That didn't last long, of course, and the last two years have seen protracted battles and absurd brinksmanship over how we're going to solve our terrible budget deficit. Well, good news, says Richard Kogan at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities&nbsp;(CBPP), a Washington think tank: Thanks to the recent fiscal cliff deal (ATRA) and the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), we're only about $1.4 trillion away from putting our fiscal house in acceptable order...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/peter-weber" ><span class="byline">Peter Weber</span></a>Fri, 11 Jan 2013 09:23:00 -0500