I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

I NAIL: Checking the Executive

I NAIL:  Impeachment, Nominations, Appropriations, Investigations, Legislation

Legislation:  Executive Branch Organization and Laws on Reporting 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Democratic inter-Party conflict over Dodd-Frank roll back bill

Elizabeth Warren is leading the campaign against a bipartisan bill (S.2155 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act) that will roll back key parts of the 2010 Dodd Frank financial regulation reforms. There is no evidence that mid to small sized banks have struggled to recover in recent years; when this bill was introduced community banks recorded a 9% increase in profits and larger banks recorded record-setting revenues in 2016. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the financial sector spent a record-setting $2 billion on lobbying in the 2015-2016 election cycle. With several red-state Democrats facing election this fall (Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill, Tester, Donnelly, etc.), and a lull in the banking regulation issue cycle, the bill stands to challenge the Democratic Party's unification on economic policy in light of Trump-era economic populism.

This brings us to where we are today; this week Warren sent out a fundraising email decrying Democrats who support S.2155, followed by a caucus meeting where the Party's disagreements were laid bare. Senator Schumer, who publicly opposes the bill, but also received the most financial sector lobbying donations of any Congressman in the 2015-2016 cycle, has recently urged Warren to focus her attack on the bills policies rather than fellow Democratic senators. Schumer is facing the biggest rift in the Democratic caucus since his tenure as minority leader. His solution thus far has been to allow moderate Democratic backers to "do what they got to do." Critics are split over whether Schumer should have done more to shut down the inter-party conflict, while others question the Democratic message bend towards pro-corporations in the eyes of liberal activists.

The bill will likely pass the Senate (currently 16 Dem supporters). The Democrats will undoubtedly push the message that the bill is intended to help small to mid-sized banks in rural areas in spite of news exposing big corporation benefits such as expanding restrictions barring consumer lawsuits against companies like Equifax. Economic policy will be a big topic this midterm season, and especially come 2020, it will be interesting to see how the Democratic Party aligns progressive ideology with the need to appease big donors and incorporate an agenda to re-invigorate working class Trump voters. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Congress and the Executive II

More on Vetoes.  See Newt Gingrich, Lessons Learned the Hard Way (1998):
We had not only failed to take into account the ability of the Senate to delay us and obstruct us, but we had much too cavalierly underrated the power of the President, even a President who had lost his legislative majority and was in a certain amount of trouble for other reasons. I am speaking of the power of the veto. Even if you pass something through both the House and the Senate, there is that presidential pen. How could we have forgotten that? For me especially it was inexcusable, because when I was Republican whip during the Bush Administration one of my duties had been precisely to help sustain presidential vetoes.
1.  Item Veto (Davidson 297)

2.  Legislative veto and the Congressional Review Act (more after the break)

Unilateral Power:  Executive Actions

Forms of executive action
But what one administration does unilaterally, another administration can undo unilaterally

Courts can also undo actions.  The case of DAPA:US v. Texas\

They can also undo the  undoing: The case of DACA.

Signing statements

Monday, March 5, 2018

Congress and the Executive I

LBJ orders some pants.

The simulation manual

Make use of institutional memory:

Hamilton in Federalist 8: "It is of the nature of war to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative authority."

Statements of Administration Policy
1— Strongly Support Passage
2— Support Passage
3— Do not Object to Passage
4— No Position on Passage
5— Oppose
6— Strongly Oppose
7— Secretary’s veto Threat (single and multiple agency)
8— Senior Advisor’s Veto Threat
9— Presidential Veto Threat
CQ on presidential success (see Thurber, pp. 14-15)

Of all Senate votes (117), 36 percent were taken with knowledge of where the president stood on the issue. For the Senate, that is the highest score for a president’s first year since Ronald Reagan’s 128 in 1981.

When nominations are weeded out, the Senate voted 23 times knowing Trump’s position (10 percent). But only 19.7 percent of Senate votes cast with the president’s stance known were not nomination votes, the second-lowest total in three decades.

Senate Republicans opened the floodgates for nominations, giving Trump 94 confirmation floor votes last year, compared to 44 for Obama in the last two years of his presidency while the chamber was under GOP control.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Art of the Political Deal II

A Facebook post:

Politico Playbook offers an example of a discharge petition (Davidson, 238-240):
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT (YOU PROBABLY DID) … AS OF LAST NIGHT, 87 HOUSE DEMOCRATS have signed a discharge petition to try to force a vote on a bill that would “ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process.”
-- A DISCHARGE PETITION is really the only way the minority can pressure the majority to bring a bill to the floor. It needs another 129 signatures to make it to the floor -- that means Republicans need to sign on, as well. The signers http://bit.ly/2BU7U8L

The Issue-Attention Cycle
Image result for issue attention cycle
Public Lands Case Study

Most public lands are in the West:

 Image result for public lands forests map
Policy Windows

A couple of quotations about Congress and life in general:

  • "At some point somebody has to decide, let's do it the old-fashioned way, which is `one thing I hate for one thing I love.'" (Lawrence, p. 39)
  • "Here's a list of what we have to have. Here's a list of the ones we really, really hate.  Here's a list of `if you put this language on page 4 we could swallow it.'  And then you work that list." (Lawrence, pp. 40-41).

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Art of the Political Deal

A reprise of our class anthem:

More on the sources of NRA's political strength.

Conditions for Deliberative Negotiation

  • First, participants must agree to acceptable sources of information. In some cases, the various sides rely on their own partisan facts; however, in other cases, the negotiation setting builds in an explicit role for nonpartisan third parties or technical expertise.
  • Second, a bargaining situation includes implicit decisions about patterns of interaction among participants; in particular, the decision to incorporate repeated interactions among parties may help to overcome myopia-inducing short-term and zero-sum calculations. The fear of each party that others will not cooperate (e.g., in the prisoner’s-dilemma game) creates incentives for short-term, self-interested choices. Bringing participants together in repeated engagements  facilitates future punishments for uncooperative behavior and, consequently, fosters trust and commitment.
    • Adam Smith was clear on the concept: "A dealer is afraid of losing his character and is scrupulous in observing every engagement. When a person makes perhaps twenty contracts in a day, he cannot gain so much by endeavouring to impose on his neighbour, as the very appearance of a cheat would make him lose. When people seldom deal with one another, we find that they are somewhat disposed to cheat, because they can gain more by a smart trick than they can lose by the injury which it does their character.
  • Third, decisions must be made about the consequences for nonaction in a negotiation process. Setting penalty defaults may move negotiators toward action, overcome blocking coalitions, and improve the chances for agreement 
  • Finally, decisions must be made about the degree of autonomy and privacy accorded to negotiators. In general, privacy boosts negotiators’ capacities to bargain effectively by producing some autonomy from influences that try to shift the focus away from the core objects of negotiation or that insist on hard-line positions opposed to compromise

Sanders and McCain find a deal

Bernie praises McCain

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sim Roles 2018

Armed Services Committee

  • Jack Reed, RI, chair  Kai O'Neill
  • Kirsten Gillibrand, NY Sarah Malott
  • Tim Kaine, VA Talha Jilani
  • Elizabeth Warren, MA Ellie Wainstein
  • John McCain, AZ, RMM Chloe Amarilla
  • Tom Cotton, AR Mickey McFall
  • Joni Ernst, IA Matthew May
Finance Committee

  • Ron Wyden OR, chair Alec Lopata
  • Charles Schumer NY, majority leader* Julia McCarthy
  • Debbie Stabenow MI Skyler Addison [from the parties class]
  • Maria Cantwell WA Jacob Brady
  • Claire McCaskill MO Nick Sage
  • Orrin Hatch UT, RMM Reid Dickerson
  • Mitch McConnell, KY, minority leader* Charlie Harris
  • John Cornyn, TX Mica Laber
  • Tim Scott, SC Kyleigh Mann
Judiciary Committee

  • Dianne Feinstein, CA, chair Anna Green
  • Dick Durbin, IL Betzy Perez
  • Cory Booker, NJ McKenzie Deutsch
  • Kamala Harris, CA Becky Shane
  • Chuck Grassley IA, RMM Jenna Lewinstein
  • Ted Cruz, TX Nicole Larson
  • Lindsey Graham, SC Gretta Richardson