ABOUT THIS BLOG

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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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

David Dreier (R-here?) Retires after Independent Redistricting Takes Away His District

From Politico
Of all the retirements that have rocked California’s Capitol Hill delegation, GOP Rep. David Dreier’s was the least surprising. 
Redistricting had thrown the powerful House Rules Committee chairman into Democratic territory and left him with no good options for where to seek reelection. Over the last year, the Dreier had done little prepare for a bid, raising just $121,000 — a paltry sum for a gavel-holder who has served in the House since 1981.
 The article didn't say what he planned to do post-retirement. It did, however, detail his efforts to enlist other California Republicans to fight back against the independent redistricting commission that essentially drew him out of office. I personally got a kick out of how the redistricting consultants quoted in the article reacted:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From the Atlantic Wire:

 Snowe to Retire and the Senate Loses Another Moderate

Her press release states that "With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. "

Fiscal Policy and Congress


Budget process

Taxes

Practice Exam

The following will help you understand what the March 7 exam will look like.

Briefly identify 8 of the following 10 (5 points each):
  • Great Compromise
  • Budget authority
  • Committee of the Whole
  • Structured rules
  • 501(c) organizations
  • Phonemarking
  • The Johnson Treatment
  • Kevin McCarthy
  • NRCC
  • Burke's speech to the electors of Bristol
Answer two of the following three questions. Each answer should take a paragraph or two (15 points each).
  • Explain the distinctions between the authorization process, the appropriations process, and the budget process.
  • Who actually writes the bills?
  • Explain the difference between a regular PAC and a super PAC.
Answer one of the two questions. Your answer should take 2-3 bluebook pages. (30 points)
  • Explain the sources of the incumbency advantages in congressional elections.Compare and contrast the advantage in House and Senate elections. If the incumbency advantage is so strong, how did Republicans take control in 201o?
  • How could the Senate benefit by removing the possibility of a filibuster? How could it lose?
  • "In all bodies, those who will lead, must also, in a considerable degree, follow." A British statesman wrote that line about the French National Assembly.  How does it apply to Congress?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Committees, Procedure

The Committee System


Legislative Terms

Feinstein's Embezzled Campaign Funds

Feinstein: Let me re-raise lost cash
Feinstein's campaign lawyer wrote: “[T]he donors who provided these funds should be permitted to replace their attempted contributions,” Elias wrote. “And the donors’ earlier provision of funds should not count against the donors’ per election limits to the Committee.”

...

The wealthy Feinstein cut a $5 million check to her own campaign to cover the losses, but she now wants to go back to previous donors for more.

Would this action hurt Feinstein's image?

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/73221.html#ixzz1ncDE2COD

Monday, February 20, 2012

Democratic Simulation Roles


Armed Services – Panetta’s plan to downsize the military (including use of drones) 
  • Levin (MI): Alex Heiney
  • Lieberman: Heather Siegel 
  • Nelson: Noah Proser
  • Webb: Kyle Woods
  • McCaskill: Patrick Paterson
  • Begich: Chloe Cotton
  • Manchin: Walker Adams
  • Gillibrand: Lauren Kenney
HELP – higher education policy (including for-profit schools) 
  • Harkin: Christopher Eldred
  • Mikulski: Nasya Sierra
  • Bingaman:  Anna Eames
  • Murray: Maren Hotvedt
  • Sanders: Megan MacColl
  • Casey: Elizabeth Van Buskirk
  • Franken: Wendy Qian 
  • Reid [added for simulation]: Jordan Santo
Judiciary – intellectual property (including SOPA and PIPA)  
  • Leahy: Ryan Shaffer
  • Kohl: Courtney Searls
  • Feinstein: Robert Chew
  • Schumer: Mary Doyle
  • Durbin: Dave Meyer
  • Whitehouse: Alex Saslaw
  • Klobuchar:  Ellen Lebow

Gratuitiously Long Bill Title

Following today's discussion of bill names, a (sarcastic) suggestion for a bill in our Armed Services Committee simulation:

Initiative
For
Yanking the
Over
Use of
Various
Opulent
Tax
Expenditures in
Afghanistan,
Going
After
Inessential
Naval (and other military)
Spending
That
Takes from
Household
Income and
Spends
Your money
Overseas
Unnecessarily,
Abating
Resources
Expended
Abroad, and
Taking
Every
Reasonable step to
Redirect
Our
Resources back
In the
States
Today

Or, the IF YOU VOTE AGAINST THIS YOU ARE A TERRORIST Act. I...I have too much free time.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Legislative Process, Part One




Legislative Research
Bill Drafting
The Name Game




Rules
Do They Read The Bills? No.
John Conyers has consistently taken a skeptical view of reading the bills:





Sim-Related News Item on Education Policy

From Inside Higher Ed:
A group of U.S. senators on Thursday proposed legislation that would make it harder for for-profit colleges to enroll substantial numbers of veterans and active-duty members of the military without running afoul of federal financial aid rules. For-profits can collect up to 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, but student payments from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the Department of Defense's tuition benefit program do not count toward that amount. The new bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, would change the formula and count that revenue as federal dollars. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House.
The proposed legislation follows a similar bill, introduced last month by Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, that would reduce to 85 percent the amount of federal aid revenue for-profits can receive, and also count military tuition aid toward the federal side of the equation. Both bills face long odds, due to Republican opposition and the legislative doldrums of a presidential election season.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/02/17/senators-introduce-new-bill-veterans-and-profits#ixzz1me3D4vgp
Inside Higher Ed

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Santorum Campaign Strategy

In describing Rick Santorum's potential strategy following his rise after the last series of primaries, I thought this NYTimes article does a good job summarizing the strategic grid we talked about in class


According to the article, Romney needs to Either choose the opponent on candidate strategy or the opponent on opponent strategy, probably the former

Candidate on Candidate:
The Princer Movement, both 'the true conservative' 
and economically middle of the road

Opponent on Candidate

 "Romney needs to find a way to portray his latest rival (fairly accurately) as the consummate Bush-era Republican"


Candidate on opponent:
Flip-flopper, Bain 'wall street insidee'


Opponent on opponent
" rebrand himself with primary voters by embracing a more rigorously right-wing policy agenda"


Elections and Home Style

A candidate website


  1. You are an Organizer.
  2. Things are always great. Be positive.
  3. Think with your head: be driven by your heart.
  4. People will come to the campaign for Barack. They stay because of you.
  5. Empower yourself and others will be empowered.
  6. Respect your community and your coworkers.
  7. NEVER lie.
  8. The phone is your greatest tool and your best friend.
  9. If it is not written down, it does not exist.
  10. Campaigns are won when goals are met.
  11. Have goals. Be accountable. Make others accountable.
  12. “Some” is not a number, “soon” is not a time. Only hard numbers count.
  13. Keep it simple.
  14. Listen actively.
  15. Time is the most valuable resource you have. Don’t waste it.
  16. Have a back-up plan for every situation.
  17. Look and act professional. You are Barack’s surrogate in your community.
  18. When you’re not working, remember that the other side is.

Another way to raise money?

Looks like Newt is making endorsements for campaign cash:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-15/gingrich-name-drops-business-theory-touted-by-wealthy-super-pac-supporter.html

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Redistricting Resources

This is a little late for the first round of papers, but here are some additional resources for redistricting:
  • (shameless self promotion) the Rose Institute's RedistrictinginAmerica.org has overviews and profiles of every congressional district in every state, along with summaries of each state's redistricting process
  • Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School, has a similar site called All About Redistricting, which also includes frequent updates about court cases in progress
  • The Rose Institute has an interactive viewer of California's new lines, old lines, and all the draft plans in between
  • Redistricting Partners, a consultancy, has nice .jpeg and PDF maps of California's new districts
  • Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog has great coverage of court battles, etc.
  • On Twitter:
    • @redistrictUS, @rickhasen, @_justinlevitt_, @CiceroAPI, @wedrawthelines, @redistrict, @udrawthelines

Tuition: Material for Our HELP Committee

From Inside Higher Ed (a publication that committee members should skim from time to time):

For-profit colleges that can accept federal financial aid from students charge about 75 percent more in tuition than those that can’t, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which suggests that federal aid might drive up college costs.

While the reasons for higher tuition levels at aid-eligible for-profits are hard to pin down, those colleges “may indeed raise tuition to capture the maximum grant aid available,” wrote Stephanie Riegg Cellini, an assistant professor of public policy and economics at George Washington University, and Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University, the study's authors.

The two economists say their research lends credence to the so-called “Bennett Hypothesis,” a difficult to measure theory attributed to William Bennett, Ronald Reagan’s second education secretary, who alleged that federal financial aid disrupts the higher education marketplace. But unlike Congressional Republicans or Bennett, who have pointed to nonprofit colleges when making that argument to bolster attempts to cut aid programs, the researchers focused on for-profits.

The difference in tuition between the two categories of for-profits “seems to match, pretty well, the size of a Pell Grant,” said Cellini.
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/14/profits-receive-federal-aid-charge-more-study-finds#ixzz1mOh23IRY
Inside Higher Ed

Outside Money

Sean Sullivan writes at National Journal:
The next time you hear a candidate talk about shifting his or her posture toward the influence of outside groups, it's a pretty safe bet that, like most things in politics, the calculation is rooted much more heavily in self-interest than scrupulousness.

Take the game of one-upmanship going on in Montana right now. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, armed with an almost 2-1 cash advantage over Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, proposed an agreement last week to curb the influence of outside groups, even offering to abide by cash penalties in instances where allied groups boost their preferred candidates or slam the opposition in an ad.

In addition to his cash advantage, Tester is familiar with the influence wielded by powerful GOP-aligned outside groups like American Crossroads, which have been raising and spending money at a clip outpacing its Democratic counterparts so far this cycle.

Rehberg, meanwhile, returned serve with a counteroffer that raised the stakes a step further, decrying the influence of out of state donors, including PACs and lobbyists. The biggest recipient of lobbyist cash in the Senate? Tester, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Campaigns: Incumbency, Resources, and Strategy



Congressional staff

Strategic Grid



Boxer on Boxer:

 

Fiorina on Fiorina:


 Boxer on Fiorina:

 

 Fiorina on Boxer:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Elections, Parties, Interests

Ideological distinctions between and within the parties.

An example of an unelectable candidate who wins a primary.

Obama Reverses Opinion on Super PACs

Since we will be discussing the subject of super PACs and political fundraising in class tomorrow... looks like Obama is now endorsing super PACs in an interesting (if not unexpected) decision:

President Barack Obama — in an act of hypocrisy or necessity, depending on the beholder — has reversed course and is now blessing the efforts of a sputtering super PAC, Priorities USA Action, organized to fight GOP dark-money attacks.

On Monday morning, Obama reviled the “negative” tone of the super PACs, a dominant fundraising source in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But by the evening, word leaked to POLITICO that Obama had offered his support for Priorities USA Action, which thus far has raised a fraction of what GOP-backed groups have raked in.


Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72531.html#ixzz1lismmfld

The Earmark Down the Street?

Legislators' earmarking ability may be restricted, but it certainly isn't dead. And the Washington Post is reporting that some big beneficiaries are perilously close to where members of Congress own property.

Constituent service indeed. Fair warning: the actual article is quite long.

The Post analyzed public records on the holdings of all 535 members and compared them with earmarks members had sought for pet projects, most of them since 2008. The process uncovered appropriations for work in close proximity to commercial and residential real estate owned by the lawmakers or their family members. The review also found 16 lawmakers who sent tax dollars to companies, colleges or community programs where their spouses, children or parents work as salaried employees or serve on boards.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Non-Earmark Earmarks

The New York Times reports:
Members of Congress may no longer be able to direct federal money to projects back home because of a moratorium on legislative earmarks, but that has not stopped them from trying.
A coalition of budget watchdog groups says that in the absence of the age-old practice of Congressional earmarks, the legislative tools that let members attach pet projects to bills, lawmakers appear to have found a backdoor method: special funds in spending and authorization bills that allow them to direct money to projects in their states.
...
The latest example, the groups say, is the recently passed budget for the Army Corps of Engineers. Budget documents show that Congress included 26 different funds — totaling $507 million — for the corps to spend on various construction, maintenance and other projects that were not included in President Obama’s budget or the final spending bill.
The funds were financed by reducing money for projects included in the president’s budget request and adding $375 million to the corps budget, documents show.
Congress also gave the corps criteria to use in selecting projects and instructed it to report within 45 days about how it intends to spend the money from the funds, according to the budget documents. On Monday, the corps will release the list of projects it plans to finance.
The watchdog groups — which include the conservative National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform, led by the antitax activist Grover Norquist — note that the 26 new corps funds add up to nearly the same amount as the earmarks in the 2010 budget. The funds are listed in the House and Senate joint report that accompanies the spending bill, but they are not in the text of the bill, one of the ways Congress used to add earmarks.

Tentative Simulation Committees and Roles

Harry Reid will also be a role:  committee TBA


Armed Services – Panetta’s plan to downsize the military (including use of drones) 

  • Levin 
  • Lieberman 
  • Nelson 
  • Webb 
  • McCaskill 
  • Hagan 
  • Manchin 
  • Gillibrand



HELP – higher education policy (including for-profit schools) 

  • Harkin 
  • Mikulski 
  • Bingaman 
  • Murray 
  • Sanders 
  • Casey 
  • Franken 



Judiciary – intellectual property (including SOPA and PIPA)  

  • Leahy 
  • Kohl 
  • Feinstein 
  • Schumer 
  • Durbin 
  • Whitehouse 
  • Klobuchar

Elections: First Take

If you are writing on a House election, check out this site:


Redistricting:

Context

Thursday, February 2, 2012

From the NYTimes Opinionator Page, The Revenge of Saul Alkinsky

Boehner v. Cantor

In class this week, we discussed intraparty tensions that sometimes pit leaders of a party against one another.  From Politico, here is a current example:
The top aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker John Boehner are now seeking a truce after a bitter year of behind-the-scenes fighting that pitted the top House Republicans against one another.
Tensions had gotten so bad between the two offices that senior aides decided, for the good of the party and their own bosses, that the rivalry has to be toned down.
The interoffice tensions were so prominent that elected Republican lawmakers were chafing at the public and private tribulations of the ongoing Boehner-Cantor drama — one GOP lawmaker stood up and complained about it in a recent closed-door meeting of House Republicans — and the two operations came to the realization that the constant sparring between their camps could hurt both lawmakers politically.
One top House staffer described the tense relationship as having “reached the breaking point.”
So like two warring nations, Boehner and Cantor aides, with the approval of their bosses, have decided to hit the “reset button.” GOP insiders used different terms to describe the new reality — a truce, a cease-fire, a d├ętente.
Whichever euphemism is used, the two sides are clearly trying to mend their relationship for the good of their Republican majority.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72340.html#ixzz1lEMgU38m

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leaders and Parties

Hill leadership


House
Senate


Party campaign committees:

RNC NRCC NRSC 
DNC DCCC* DSCC



Four Strategic Postures

...............................................Majority.............................Minority

President's Party..........GOP 04, Dems 08...............GOP 06....Dems 10

Out Party.....................GOP 10, Dems 06...............GOP 08....Dems 04


Party leaders are not always in sync with their presidents:

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