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.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

James Madison Rules!

Bicameralism and the separation of powers create internal friction within parties -- just as James Madison intended. Three examples:

President Obama's fundraising is causing heartburn for congressional Democrats. From Politico:
Congressional Democrats also are privately alarmed by Obama’s future fundraising plans. The Los Angeles Times reported that “Organizing for America,” Obama’s new
organization, “will employ a full-time staff of hundreds of professional organizers — possibly an average of between one and two workers per congressional district in certain politically important states.” The possibility that Obama will have a separate fundraising vehicle, outside the Democratic National Committee, which he already controls, has led to “delicate discussions” with party leaders on Capitol Hill. Conservative House Democrats fear that Obama will use his fundraising muscle to organize support in their districts — and then pressure them to back legislation that could hurt their reelection chances. “The Blue Dogs are really worried about this,” said a Democratic insider. “They are complaining to leadership about it already.”
According to Roll Call, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is telling donors and would-be Senate candidates that focusing on the House is futile:
“I would love to get a Republican majority in the House, I just don’t think it’s feasible this cycle,” Cornyn said in an interview. “Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t make gains, and certainly they can. But we’re friendly competitors.” Cornyn is candid that his appeals to GOP campaign contributors include emphasizing that — contrary to the Senate — House parliamentary rules afford the Republican minority virtually no power to obstruct or shape the agenda of President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats. Individual Senators have available to them a powerful set of parliamentary tools regardless of which party holds the majority.

In CQ Politics, we see that different strategic situations face House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
Senior Republicans say Boehner and McConnell share a low-key managerial style, but that their differences may be highlighted when they confront a Democratic administration. A longtime appropriator, McConnell has long pushed for deals on big spending measures such as the stimulus. Boehner, leading a caucus that has grown more conservative, has taken a harder line on curbing domestic spending.“Mitch knows that on any given vote, he can influence the process through the use of the filibuster. John doesn’t have the filibuster. His job is difficult because he faces the constant challenge to boost morale. I mean, it’s not fun to lose every time,” said Sen. Richard M. Burr , R-N.C., the chief deputy whip to McConnell, a former House colleague of Boehner, and a friend of both.

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