Fiscal Responsibility

Market Leninism vs. the West – The Daily Beast

So much for the end of history. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall gave rise to the idea that liberal capitalist democracy would carry the human race inexorably toward broad sunlit uplands, we are confronted with the ugly fact that culture outlasts politics.

The ideology of communism may have ended up on the ash heap of history like Nazism before it, but now “Market Leninism” is taking its place as a challenge to liberty in the 21st Century.

The fault lines reflect Cold War regions.

Russia and China and some of their old satellite states have traded Marx and Lenin for Market Leninism.

The militaristic one-party state endures – but the nomenklatura now attracts global capital, swilling champagne in jet set nightclubs instead of behind dacha walls.
Read More…

Obama has Given Up Seeking a Solution to America’s Financial Woes

Without a bang or a whimper, all hopes of striking a so-called “Grand Bargain” to put America’s public finances on a sustainable track died a quiet death this week.

And because cynicism passes for wisdom in Washington, the passing was little lamented. But its death is a loss to the cause of putting America’s house in order, and all-but-officially marks the moment the Obama administration gave up trying to bridge the political divide on this most fundamental issue.

The death notice itself was printed in the pages of the Obama budget, which quietly rescinded the offer of long-term healthcare and pensions reform by withdrawing the offer of what Capitol Hill policy-wonks call “Chain-weighted CPI” from their budget blueprint. Read More…

Paralyzed by Polarization – The Daily Beast

After 12 days of stalemate, conversations – if not negotiations – have started.

But House Republicans remain deadlocked with the White House, its leadership constrained by their own far-Right-wing caucus, announcing to members in a closed-door session this morning that any deal would have to come from the Senate, where Mitch McConnell, the GOP minority leader, declared: “I’m willing to work with the government we have, not the one I wish we had.” This is a significant concession to reality.

Washington is engaged in a war of attrition – not just between Republicans and Democrats, but an increasingly vicious civil war within the GOP between the Tea Party and what remains of the responsible centre-Right. Read More…

The Suicidal Shutdown: Hyper-Partisan Fever Rules the Government – The Daily Beast

It was darkly appropriate that Congressman John Culberson (R-TX) rallied his conservative colleagues on Saturday to vote for a government shutdown by saying “Like 9/11, Let’s Roll!” Because this legislative plane is headed defiantly nose-down into the ground.

Decency, practicality, and perspective have deserted some of the folks working under the same Capitol Dome that the heroic passengers on Flight 93 saved from destruction. A decade ago, congressional conservatives might have been offended at the casual misuse of 9/11-imagery for hyper-partisan purposes. Today, nothing’s shocking in the obsessive opposition to President Obama and the healthcare law that began its life as a Republican alternative to Hillarycare in the 1990s. Any red meat rallying cry will do. Read More…

Obama Budget Catching Hell From Both Sides: Why That’s a Good Sign – The Daily Beast

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall catch hell from both sides.”

So said a sign on the Justice Department wall of Burke Marshall at the height of the civil rights era. But it could also apply to President Obama’s new budget, finally offered up two months late and on the heels of competing Democratic Senate and House Republican proposals.

But this budget is not like all the others. It is not a positional bargaining document, designed simply to rally the base at the outset of negotiations. One way you can tell is that liberal activists and congressmen are already screaming “sellout” at the White House for offering Social Security reform as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit and debt.

The Republican response so far has been crickets, and that throat clearing you hear in the distance might just be a recalibration before another reflexive “tax and spend liberal” attack on the president. Read More…

Can Jeb Bush Save the GOP and End Its Emerging Civil War? – The Daily Beast

Moon Reagan and Don Nixon never got this kind of reception.

But Jeb Bush, the brother and son of presidents, is already getting the full-court press to run for the White House in 2016. The Drudge Report went breathless with banner headlines on Monday when Jeb refused to rule out a future run on the Today show while promoting his new book with Clint Bolick, Immigration Wars.

The title of the book itself indicates that this isn’t a typical courtship. Jeb is presenting himself as a policy wonk and party reformer, not the typical approach to winning the GOP nomination. And for all the institutional benefits of being a Bush—a ready-made political and fundraising structure fueled by the promise of restoration to power—the reality is that his prospects would be far better if his last name were anything but “Bush.” Read More…

The PowerPoint That Proves It’s Not Obama’s Sequester After All – The Daily Beast

With deep sequestration cuts just days away, Congress is on vacation. But they’ve still got plenty of time to play the blame game.

The latest semantic spin is to call the looming $1.2 trillion in cuts, which could throw the whole economy back into recession, “Obama’s Sequester.” House Speaker John Boehner indulged this approach half a dozen times in a floor speech before he went on break, establishing its place in the talking-points firmament.

There are a couple problems with this tactic, as my colleague Michael Tomasky pointed out Tuesday. Congress passed sequestration before the president signed it, and the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating. Read More…

Obama’s Chance to Lead — or Kick the Can Down the Road –

“What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. … We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.”

So said President-elect Barack Obama at a Washington Post editorial board meeting in January 2009, just days before taking his first oath of office. He was talking about the importance of dealing with the long-term deficit and debt.

The rhetoric hasn’t met the record — debt has exploded under Obama’s watch. Reasonable people can forgive the president for expenses incurred while confronting the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — and, let’s be honest, alternative paths of austerity have not worked that well across the Atlantic. But now is the time to get serious about reigning in our long-term debt, which now exceeds an unsustainable 70% of gross domestic product. Read More…

‘No Budget, No Pay’ is No-Brainer –

If you don’t get the job done at work, you won’t get paid.

But Congress plays by its own rules. Specifically, Congress hasn’t passed a budget in almost four years. This is basic — and required by law. Congress seems to think it’s bigger than the law, however, which might help explain one recent poll that found it less popular than root canals, cockroaches and Donald Trump.

That’s why an act passed in the House on Wednesday deserves widespread support, as well as Senate passage. It’s called “No Budget, No Pay,” and it means what it says. Read More…

Jerry Brown Creates California Surplus Miracle, But Can It Last? – The Daily Beast

California has long been synonymous with budget deficits so deep that it looked like the Golden State would inevitably be our Greece—beautiful and bankrupt.

But Governor Jerry Brown announced that his state has suddenly projected a surplus of $851 million. Two years ago, when Brown came back into office, the state had a $25.4 billion deficit, a Sisyphean problem Governor Arnold struggled with unsuccessfully all last decade.

This reversal of fortune raises a lot of questions. What caused California’s budget turnaround? Is it sustainable? And finally, could there be a national lesson here as Washington tries to confront deficits and debt? Read More…

Callous Conservatives: Gulf State Republicans’ Sandy Shame – The Daily Beast

Slap a scarlet “S” on these callous conservatives. Sixty-seven members of Congress–all Republicans—voted against even $9 billion of Hurricane Sandy relief yesterday.

Remember their names, and hold them accountable.

Twelve of the scarlet 67 voted for Hurricane Katrina relief—which passed ten days after that devastating Gulf Coast storm—but against Hurricane Sandy relief 69 days after its landfall in the Northeast. Their names: Trent Franks (AZ), Ed Royce (CA), Sam Graves (MO), Steve Pearce (NM), Steve Chabot (OH), Jimmy Duncan (TN), Kenny Marchant (TX), Randy Neugebauer (TX), Mac Thornberry (TX), Bob Goodlatte (VA), Tom Petri (WI), and Paul Ryan (WI).

These congressmen are content to use New York City and the tri-state area as an ATM when they are looking for campaign funds, yet they willfully turn a blind eye when hundreds of thousands of homes and small businesses are damaged or destroyed and more than 100 Americans are dead.

Note the name of last year’s vice presidential nominee and potential 2016 presidential candidate Paul Ryan on this list. Donors would do well to ask him about this vote. The Texas delegation likewise asked for federal funds when hurricanes have devastated their state, yet are ignoring suffering in the Northeast. But then conservatives often become liberal when an issue affects them personally. Just two years ago, Missouri Congressman Sam Graves begged President Obama for an emergency declaration to deal with flooding in his district—now he is afflicted with convenient amnesia.

The full list of the 67 “nos” is tilted toward the conservative Gulf Coast states and the congressmen—many elected after Katrina—whose constituents often feel the brunt of natural disasters.

Congressman Paul Broun—who when Obama was elected in 2008 called the president-elect a “Marxist” and compared him to Hitler, who denounced evolution as a “lie from the pit of hell” despite serving on the Science Committee—had no trouble asking for FEMA funds when his district was flooded in 2009. And Alabama’s Mo Brooks was equally eager for federal funds when tornados devastated his district in 2011.

The larger point, of course, is that massive disaster relief is a role for the federal government. There are times when we are 50 individual states and times when we need to unite and act as one country. Hurricane relief should be a no-brainer.

But Club for Growth and other conservative activist groups decided to make Hurricane Sandy relief a litmus test for their annual scorecards, and conservative congressmen started running scared.

The presence of pork in the original Senate Hurricane Sandy relief bill was a predictable disgrace. For example, in an essay on CNN, I called out the presence of pork like $150 million for Alaskan Fisheries and $41 million to military bases including Guantanamo Bay. But that pork was rightfully stripped from the ultimate Senate and House bill. Angry conservative activists never bothered to update their talking points and so they argued from ignorance.

Moreover, the bill that Congress passed on Friday was just $9 billion of the total $60 billion Sandy relief bill (an amount far less than the Governors’ estimate of $80 billion in damage). We’ll have to wait until at least January 15th for a vote on the remaining $51 billion.

The 67 congressman who voted against relief would have almost certainly voted for it if the impact was felt in their district. But if those 67 were to visit Staten Island or the Jersey Shore or the Rockaways today and see the citizens and volunteers still struggling to dig their way out of the devastation, they might have a different opinion. These folks need relief. And the region needs to increase its resilience to avoid future costs.

Hypocrisy is the unforgiveable sin in politics—and it abounds among ideologues in congress. But the absence of compassion matters as well. Because if the threat of professional partisan activist groups is enough to make you overlook the struggle and suffering of your fellow American citizens, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and consider a field of work other than public service.

House Republicans Cave to Sandy Aid Pressure – The Daily Beast

It was a congressional slap in the face to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

More than two months after hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the tristate area were destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Sandy, Republicans in the House of Representatives intentionally killed the $60 billion bill passed by the Senate by refusing to bring it to a vote on New Year’s Day.

Right-wing activist groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, and Heritage Action have all pressured congressional Republicans to vote against the bill. Read More…

Congress’s Fiscal-Cliff Chaos: House Passes Last-Minute Deal – The Daily Beast

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else,” Winston Churchill once said. But even by that standard, the scramble to avoid the entirely predictable fiscal cliff at the last possible minute was an exasperating exercise that made sausage-making look good.

Despite 518 days to deal with the sequestration cuts and 12 years to anticipate the end of the Bush tax cuts, it took two late-night votes on the hinge of the New Year to stop Congress from kicking America’s economic recovery in the teeth. The Chinese must have been laughing, watching C-Span these last few days. This is not a textbook example how great nations govern themselves. Read More…

Our Pathetic Congress – The Daily Beast

Welcome back to Washington, House of Representatives. Hope you all had a great vacation. While you were out, your inaction caused markets to tumble, and now America is just hours away from collectively being pushed off the fiscal cliff.

Your colleagues in the Senate—the supposedly responsible body—have been working the last three days, trying to put together some kind of deal your fractious asses can pass by New Year’s Eve. The bad news is that as of Sunday morning, they still didn’t have a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. Agreement that 98 percent of Americans shouldn’t have their taxes raised isn’t enough. And deficit and debt reduction? Forget about it—this is all now a desperate exercise in political pain avoidance. Read More…

Goodbye, Postal Service? –

It’s the time of year for dashing through the snow to the crowded post office, with arms full of holiday gifts for family and friends.

Not to break the atmosphere of holiday cheer, but this Christmas could be the last for the U.S. Postal Service. It is losing $25 million dollars a day and staring down insolvency — unless Congress steps in to pass a reform package that reduces its costs.

With just a few days left in the congressional calendar, there is still some small hope for a Christmas miracle — maybe the Postal Service can be saved as part of a deal on the fiscal cliff. But with even Hurricane Sandy relief stalled, skepticism is growing. Read More…

As Plan B Fails, GOP Imperils Fiscal Cliff Deal, Boehner’s Speakership – The Daily Beast

Extremes are always their own side’s worst enemy.

Speaker John Boehner’s failure to cobble together enough conservative votes to pass his Plan B is not just bad news for Boehner. It is bad news for the Republican Party and the country.

Not only is the path to avoiding the fiscal cliff now far less clear; Boehner’s position as speaker is imperiled.

This is a symbol of the sickness in our politics: a dogged dealmaker like Boehner is left stranded in the center, while irresponsible ideological activists in his own party encourage insurrection. It’s a no-win situation for the nation because his potential successors—Eric Cantor and Jeb Henserling—would be even less likely to try and make a deal with the Obama White House. Read More…

Fiscal Cliff a ‘Self-Inflicted Crisis – CNN

The country is only 27 days away from tumbling over the fiscal cliff. Yet, neither side is budging to come closer to a deal. CNN Contributor John Avlon says that most politicians don’t want to go over the cliff, but some partisans might derail the discussions on both sides. In a recently published CNN opinion piece, Avlons calls members of Congress the “Cliff-Deniers”. He writes:

There is danger ahead—a growing chorus of ideological activists on both sides who insist there is no reason to fear going over the fiscal cliff, if the cliff exists at all. Call them The Cliff-Deniers. Listening to all-or-nothing advocates got us into this mess in the first place, leading directly to the loss of America’s AAA credit rating. Listening to them again would be the definition of insanity.

The Author of “Deadline Artists – Scandals, Tragedies & Triumphs: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns”, Avlon comes to the studio with his take on the stalemate in Washington.

“Right now, we are in the stage of public positional bargaining, and both sides making opening bids that the other side immediately dismisses as not serious, but of course this is serious,” Avlon says. “This is a self inflicted crisis. And Washington is playing chicken with the fiscal cliff.”


Beware the Fiscal Cliff Deniers –

Washington is playing chicken with the fiscal cliff — the combination of automatic tax hikes and deep spending cuts in 2013 that could plummet our recovering economy back into recession. Brinksmanship is back while the clock ticks.

Responsible voices in both parties say they don’t want the country to go over the cliff, and Republicans have just offered their own outline of a plan to counter the president’s opening bid. (Both sides have rejected those opening offers.)

There is danger ahead — a growing chorus of ideological activists on both sides who insist there is no reason to fear going over the fiscal cliff, if the cliff exists at all. Read More…

Obama’s Deficit Plan Closer to What CEOs Favor –

The deficit and debt are major concerns for swing voters — and President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have very different visions of how to deal with it.

That’s why it was significant to see 80 CEOs of major American companies sign a letter this past week committing to press for a balanced bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit and debt no matter which candidate is elected president on November 6.

The words “balanced” and “bipartisan” are key here — because the CEOs understand that this problem is too big to be solved by tax hikes or spending cuts alone. We can’t simply tax or cut our way out of this problem. Read More…

Deficit-Hawk CEOs Bend Toward Obama –

The deficit and debt are major concerns for swing voters — and President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have very different visions of how to deal with it.

That’s why it was significant to see 80 CEOs of major American companies sign a letter this past week committing to press for a balanced bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit and debt no matter which candidate is elected president on November 6.

The words “balanced” and “bipartisan” are key here — because the CEOs understand that this problem is too big to be solved by tax hikes or spending cuts alone. We can’t simply tax or cut our way out of this problem.

Instead, the CEOs backed the outlines of the Bowles-Simpson commission, which attracted bipartisan support with its plan to cut spending, rein in entitlements and increase tax revenue through lower rates while closing loopholes and deductions. Read More…

Avlon and Hoover on Biden/McConnell Alchemy – Starting Point – CNN

While the House struggled to reach a compromise, President Obama released his two secret weapons: Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Mitch McConnell. CNN contributors John Avlon and Margaret Hoover discuss their success.

Hoover says, “We found the secret formula, the Biden/McConnell alchemy works, the president and John Boehner can’t get it done together.”

Avlon sees the broader picture of where the process failed. He points the finger at the Republicans in the House of Representatives, saying, “Speaking of losers, the House Republicans’ reputation is the problem child in Washington. It has been solidified by this whole last-minute scramble and that is a serious problem. They’ve always been the least popular cohort in Washington. Never popular to begin with, they’re seen in their own conference as the problem.”

Hoover commends their experience and their time spent a different world of politics in Washington. She says, “A lot of people are asking why doesn’t Washington work the way it used to. In a former iteration of Washington, senators, congressmen knew each other personally; they knew how to sit down and negotiate at the bargaining table. In the end, these two men are vestiges of the old Washington and in the end they saved the day.”

As for John Boehner’s colorful words for Harry Reid at the White House a few days ago, Avoln sees it as a prediction for the months ahead. He says, “Never forget, politics, in the end of the day, is people in a room, personalities and how they work and sometimes things get ugly. But, that bad blood is an indication of why we’re in for a rocky time especially in the next two months, but also the next two years.”

Toothless Watchdogs – OutFront – CNN

Despite President Barack Obama’s lead in new polls, he has been outspent pro-Romney Super PACs. John Avlon has been looking at the Super PAC economy all week and how the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are powerless to stop the dark money abuse.

OutFront tonight: CNN Contributor John Avlon is writing a series of reports on the influx of cash into this year’s campaigns for the Daily Beast in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics.

John Avlon is also a CNN contributor and member of the OutFront political strike team.



Dark Money Shuffle – OutFront – CNN

A federal appeals court Tuesday overturned a ruling that would have tightened disclosure rules for political donations. The decision may make it even harder to follow the money trail at a time when record amounts of money are being poured into the election through Super PACs and other groups.

OutFront tonight: CNN Contributor John Avlon is writing a series of reports on the influx of cash into this year’s campaigns for the Daily Beast in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics.

John Avlon is also a CNN contributor and member of the OutFront political strike team.


The Super PAC Economy – OutFront – CNN

One problem Mitt Romney doesn’t have is raising money. The Super PAC supporting him has already raked in more than 65-million-dollars. That’s more than outside groups in total spent at this point in the 2008 election.

CNN Contributor John Avlon is writing a series of reports on the influx of cash into this year’s campaigns for the Daily Beast in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics.

John Avlon is also a CNN contributor and member of the OutFront political strike team.


Wisconsin’s Healthy Union Mess – The Daily Beast

Republicans in VP nominee Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin got unwelcome news late Friday afternoon when Judge Juan B. Colas declared significant portions of collective-bargaining reform unconstitutional.

This was Governor Scott Walker’s signature reform, the result of a hard-won policy fight that ended up provoking his unsuccessful recall earlier this year. And while the collective bargaining reform may have been ideologically motivated, it helped close a multi-million dollar budget gap in the state.

Since Walker took on the public sector unions—exempting police and firefighters—Wisconsin has been positioned as ground zero for an ideological Armageddon. Unions unleashed lengthy protests that presaged the Occupy Movement, while fiscal conservatives saw an opening for ongoing reforms that could be exported to other states. Read More…

Medi-Scare: Now Ryan Budget Has Republicans Fear-Mongering Too – The Daily Beast

Republicans have long complained about Democrats playing the Medi-Scare card—trying to scare senior citizens about the affects of entitlement reform.

The most vivid example of this ugly political ploy might have been the 2011 ad showing “Paul Ryan” literally pushing Grandma off a cliff.

Well, now the real Paul Ryan is on the Republican ticket and the Medi-Scare attacks are flowing—but surprisingly, from both sides. Read More…

Dueling budget Plans: Romney-Ryan – OutFront – CNN

John Avlon discusses with a panel the Romney-Ryan and Obama budget plans.


What We in 2012 Can Learn from Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 –

One hundred years ago Monday, Theodore Roosevelt launched the most successful third party presidential bid in American history, declaring, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!”

It was the culmination of the Progressive Party Convention in Chicago on August 6, 1912. And its influence still echoes through our politics today.

Roosevelt, the former president, had tried and failed to wrest the GOP nomination from his successor, William Howard Taft. His supporters believed that the nomination had been stolen by the conservative power brokers and declared their independence. Read More…

Congress Is Taking Another Vacation? Seriously? – The Daily Beast

Five full weeks of summer vacation have just begun for members of Congress. That’s after nine full weeks off so far this year—and the House gets six more away before the election. All that time off, a sweet health-care plan, and quasi-fame as well. Is this a good gig or what?

But most folks only take time off when they get their job done—and that definitely isn’t the case for the 112th Congress.

While Midwest farmers suffer through the worst drought in decades, the House left a bipartisan farm bill passed by the Senate sitting on the table. Certainly, there’s room for improvement in that traditionally pork-filled appropriation bill. But make the improvements and pass the damn bill—the all-or-nothing tug-of-war between the perfect and the good doesn’t help people who need it now. Read More…

Interview with James Clyburn – OutFront – CNN

CNN Contributor John Avlon talks to U.S. Rep. James Clyburn about Wednesday’s Senate vote on extending Bush-era tax cuts.

OutFront tonight: Fmr. Super Committee member and U.S. Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC).

House Plans to Extend Cuts – OutFront – CNN

The Senate today voted on competing Democrat and Republican plans on extending the Bush tax cuts. The Democrat-led Senate passed its plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for middle income Americans.

CNN contributor John Avlon says today’s vote is nothing but political theater.

US City Economies – OutFront – CNN

Another California city is preparing for bankruptcy: Compton is due to run out of money on September 1. That would make it the fourth California city to go under since June. John Avlon speaks with Austan Goolsbee about the state of US City Economies.


Romney Doubles Down on Tax Returns – OutFront – CNN

Mitt Romney continues to stand firm against calls for him to release additional personal income tax returns. He said Tuesday, “I am simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort and lie about.”


GOP Kills DISCLOSE Act and Leaves Voters in the Dark – The Daily Beast

The DISCLOSE Act was summarily executed via filibuster in the Senate last night. But this is one symbolic vote that mattered, because it offered at least an attempt to address the flow of hidden money into our elections.

But wait, you say—the promise of Citizens United was to balance unlimited money with unprecedented transparency. Well, brace yourself, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. In fact, the trade of cash for transparency has been undercut by a variety of vehicles, especially the use of 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations grafted onto super PACs that allow for anonymous donations and big-ticket expenditures that we won’t see until the election is in the rearview mirror. Read More…

3 Bipartisan Bills That Could Get the Economy Moving –

Welcome back to work, Congress. Hope you enjoyed your fourth full week off this year. Now find a way to work together to help get America back to work.

Experts all say not to expect any constructive action from Congress until after the election. There is a reason that cynicism passes for wisdom in Washington. But with economic clouds from overseas depressing our own recovery, there is an obligation to act now. And, in fact, there is a handful of bipartisan bills that could help get the U.S. economy moving again if they were enacted.

These are not Democrat or Republican ideas — they are simply good ideas. And unlike bipartisan pork barrel bills, they cost taxpayers comparatively little to enact.

Let’s take a look at three proposals with bipartisan support that could pass this summer if given a chance. Read More…

Is Norquist’s anti-tax pledge losing GOP support? – OutFront – CNN

Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge have been recognized as one of the most powerful forces in Washington.

But is there a rebellion brewing in the GOP? At least a dozen Republican representatives and eight senators have come out against the pledge recently. Norquist is headed for Capitol Hill tomorrow, but tonight, he comes OutFront to discuss his views with Erin Burnett and John Avlon.

Jeb vs. Grover: Battle for GOP’s soul –

This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.

The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.

That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States. Read More…

Unions Under Fire – OutFront – CNN

All eyes were on Wisconsin on Tuesday as Scott Walker emerged victorious from just the third gubernatorial recall election in the nation’s history.

But in his latest column, John Avlon explains why the results of two local California elections held that day might end up playing an even more important role in how cities and states across the country will attempt to deal with record budget shortfalls and unfunded pensions.

Past Scott Walker: Fight Crosses Party Lines as California Voters Back Pension Reforms – The Daily Beast

The most significant election on Tuesday wasn’t in Wisconsin.

It was in San Jose and San Diego, where nearly 70% of citizens voted for public-sector union pension reforms, introduced by Democrats, that could save their cash-strapped cities billions of dollars.

California voters rallying behind pension reforms introduced by mayors shows the sea change in the politics of public-sector unions. Connect the dots between Scott Walker’s decisive defeat of the recall effort spurred by his rollback of collective bargaining and the push by Democrats and Republicans to restore a semblance of fiscal responsibility and you’ll see this once controversial idea is beginning to garner bipartisan support.

Read More…

Norquist on Alan Simpson – OutFront – CNN

CNN contributor John Avlon talks to President for Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist about Congress’ up coming battle over Bush tax cuts.

Grow Up, Congress: Make a Deal on Debt –

Confronted with record-low approval ratings, Congress seems determined to drive them down even further by planning another game of chicken with the debt ceiling this fall.

The last time they tried this game, the United States lost its Triple-A credit rating as Standard & Poor’s opined that “the political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policy making becoming less stable, less effective and less predictable.”

Talk about a zero percent learning curve. As you know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, this asylum is being run by the inmates. Read More…

Why Tax Reform Talk a Dead End –

It turns out that Richard Nixon was a hippie.

Here’s Tricky Dick’s wisdom on taxation, always worth dusting off this time of year:

“We shall never make taxation popular, but we can make taxation fair.”

See — he’s talking about “fairness” — and we all now know that’s code for social justice straight out of Saul Alinsky. And it was especially socialistic for him to invoke the concept back in a time when the top tax rate was 70%. Read More…

Mitt Romney’s Tax Idea Would Wallop High-Income Blue States – The Daily Beast

When candidates talk to high-level donors, they tell the truth.

And so despite his campaign’s strenuous downplaying, Mitt Romney’s open-mike “gaffe” revealing some details of his tax plan at a closed-door fundraiser in Palm Beach is real news.

Forget for the moment Romney’s announcement to the well-heeled crowd that he would likely let HUD die on the vine. And given that this was a crowd likely lousy with second homes, his talk about ending the mortgage deduction for second homes could perhaps qualify as political courage. Read More…

Why the Right Turned Its Back on the Individual Mandate – The Daily Beast

This is it, showdown at the Supreme Court corral—or Three Days That Could End America, as one conservative website put it.

At the heart of the apocalyptic rhetoric is the individual mandate—that not long ago was considered a conservative idea.

“Nobody was saying that it was creeping socialism or unconstitutional at the time. A lot of conservatives were for it,” former GOP senator Bob Bennett told me yesterday, looking back to the 1993 fight against “Hillarycare.” Read More…

Three Simple Ways to Make Congress Work –

It’s not your imagination: Our dysfunctional divided Congress is the least productive and least popular in recent history.

Some congressmen walk the halls like members of rival gangs. The simple job of reasoning together seems out of reach. A few good men and women — like Sens. Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe — have decided to retire rather than subject themselves to this disheartening Kabuki theater. The system is broken. But what can we do to fix it?

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. In the past, divided government presided over ambitious accomplishments like the Marshall Plan and the creation of the interstate highway system. Read More…

The Postal Service Is Fighting for Its Life and Should Be Saved – The Daily Beast

A crowded post office is part of the scenery of the season-–long lines, arms full of packaged presents, spare Christmas decorations hanging under the humming lights. Read More…

The GOP’s Supercommittee Backlash – The Daily Beast

Congressmen coming back from Thanksgiving break are hoping that a seasonal spirit of forgiveness—or the lingering effects of a food coma—will erase the supercommittee’s stain of failure.

It won’t. There will be an enduring political price to pay for last week’s pathetic face-plant. And while confidence in the entire institution’s capacity to reason together will continue to decline, polls show that congressional Republicans are taking the brunt of the blame, specifically among swing voters. Read More…

The Supercommittee Needs an Intervention – The Daily Beast

Cynicism passes for wisdom in Washington for a reason.

With the hours counting down before a November 23 deadline, the so-called supercommittee seems either unable or unwilling to make a deal that would reduce our debt by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Read More…

George Washington to Debt Panel: Man Up –

The clock is ticking in Washington on the bipartisan supercommittee, those 12 members of Congress tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving.

More than 140 of their colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, are encouraging them to be bold and go bigger — reaching $4 trillion of deficit reduction in order to put the U.S. on stable long-term fiscal footing and avoid another round of downgrades. Read More…

We Need Deficit Deal Now – The Daily Beast

Nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives from both parties have signed a letter urging the so-called supercommittee to go big and tackle $4 trillion in deficit reduction instead of the $1.2 trillion it has been tasked.

The letter says that “all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table”—giving the kind of increased cover necessary to inspire an outbreak of political courage on the supercommittee. Read More…