ABOUT THIS BLOG
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.
Monday, April 30, 2012
"Hoping to put a harsh spotlight on the coercive effect super PACs are having on the political process, a prominent progressive activist and a long-time good government watchdog are joining forces to start one of their own."
Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
A timeline of campaign finance reform and Wisconsin Right to Life and Citizens United
A timeline of congressional reforms.
Polarization of House and Senate.
Polarization of leaders
Monday, April 23, 2012
Robert A. Taft on labor law reform (Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose) :
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Here is a link to the whole series on campaign finance 2012:
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as, “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterward”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!
I wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities, and a body to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels.Thomas Hart Benton and pistols in the Senate
You want polarization? Here's some polarization. Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.
Lincoln-Douglas debate (24:32)
Congress and the Civil War
The congressional oath of office dates from this era.
Background on the impeachment process.
There is an entire site on the Johnson impeachment.
1. Take any of JFK’s “profiles in courage.” Did JFK/Sorensen get the story right? How does this story illustrate similarities and differences between the Congress of its time and the Congress of 2012? Your essay should involve research into the senator in question.
2. How effectively has Congress checked President Obama's exercise of the war power? In your essay, take account of Fisher and Haskell. Your essay should involve research into the president's policies and the congressional response.
- Essays should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and no more than three pages long. I will not read past the third page.
- Put your name on a cover sheet. Do not identify yourself on the text pages.
- Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography. In either case, put your documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style).
- Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
- Return essays by the start of class, May 2. Papers will drop a gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a letter grade after that.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Would Obama go after gun rights if he is reelected?
“In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election.” – Mitt Romney
“If we are going to safeguard our 2nd Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.” – Mitt Romney
BUT….. “During his 1994 Senate race, Romney said: ‘I don't line up with the NRA.’” [i]
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
- Very apparent political savvy! His ascension up the House leadership ladder was easily explained -- personable, communicates simply, great at telling his own story, occasionally throws in a story featuring someone else.
- He projected that 2012 will not be a wave election, he doesn’t see a dramatic shift in party representation in Congress.
- Multiple references to his chat with “Jerry” up in Sacramento and his tour of Silicon Valley; cited the innovation of Facebook’s Zuckerman.
- Obama’s tenure has driven him to the conclusion one is fit to be President only if he/she has experience as a state governor -- appointing his own cabinet, familiar with the executive seat. McCarthy doesn't think that congressional experience is enough for a presidential candidate.
- His son, a high school senior, applied to, but was rejected, from CMC. (Because you’re just dying to know -- he’s choosing between Georgetown and Berkeley.)
Friday, April 13, 2012
• Republicans’ reaction to losing the majority in the House was like the 5 Psychological Stages of Death (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance)
• Bonded with Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor because they were freshman and no one wanted to hang out with them.
• Compared 2012 with 1980 (losing international competitiveness, bad economy, need to balance budget); 2012 will also be an election of big ideas.
• Asking the Fed to buy debt is like making a loan to yourself
• Role of whip in the House has changed. McCarthy is known as the Whip Dude (as opposed to Tom DeLay “the Hammer”)
• Opposes high speed rail because it’s not “a good business plan.”
• America should popularize people who research medical technology. Establish a grand prize / incentive for the first person who discovers the cure cancer.
• The Water Resources Development Act was hard to pass but he joined the water districts and passed it.
• Speaker Boehner has a lot of patience. He is responsible and that's why he's qualified as the speaker.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Iraq War Resolution
Hearings in the 1970s:
Monday, April 9, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The author argues, "Whereas a campaign finance system in which it only takes a few rich supporters to make a candidate competitive is a system that may ultimately be more open, not less, to outsiders and insurgents and populists of all stripes." Could be, but raises the question; what if the few rich supporters back mainstream candidates in the future?
In 2003, HR 2
Expiration ... and extension
The situation in January 2008:
Response: HR 5140 -- largely unorthodox lawmaking
Then came the crash
An estimate that came back to bite:
In 2009, Congress passes HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka "the stimulus" From Sinclair: "The 2009 bill traversed a somewhat more orthodox course, at least on the surface."
Why did Collins, Specter, and Snowe vote for it?
Boehner was unhappy about the conference report:
Other kinds of issues: the issue-attention cycle
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Obama brought it up briefly in a speech, saying, “The first president to talk about cap-and-trade was George H.W. Bush. Now you've got the other party essentially saying we shouldn’t even be thinking about environmental protection. ‘Let's gut the EPA.’”
Obama wasn't so much talking about cap-and-trade itself as he was using it as evidence of a recent GOP shift to the right, but his comment still highlights the ability of policy proposals to shift between parties depending on the political context.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Leadership in Government: Remarks from Congressman Kevin McCarthy
LUNCHEON 11:30 a.m.; LECTURE 12:00 p.m.
McCarthy’s career is characterized by early success; he started a deli business before he was 21, became active with then-Congressman Bill Thomas while in college, and in 2002 was elected to represent the 32nd Assembly District in the California State Assembly, where he remained until winning a Congressional seat in 2006. McCarthy’s talk will explain how he advanced so quickly in his career: what has been important to his success, the lessons he has learned, and the various challenges and opportunities he has experienced along the way. McCarthy’s talk is jointly sponsored by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government and the Kravis Leadership Institute.
In the 2008 campaign, Senator Obama expressed reservations about a mandate. By mid-2009, he changed his mind.
Ross Douthat neatly explains the interest group universe:
The mandate offered the interest groups what all entrenched industries desire: a fresh and captive market for their products. For the insurance companies, it promised enough new business to offset the cost of covering Americans with pre-existing conditions. For the health care sector as a whole, it guaranteed that disposable income currently being spent on other goods and services would be spent on its instead.
This explains why the health care bill was ultimately backed by so many industry lobbying groups, from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to the American Medical Association. It explains why the big insurers, while opposing the final legislation, never attacked it as vigorously as they did Bill Clinton’s ill-fated reform effort.By 8/1, Energy & Commerce and HELP approve bills. CQ summary:
Two health care overhaul bills — HR 3200 and a draft Senate bill approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee — are similar. Both bills would require employers to provide health insurance to workers and individuals to enroll in an employer-based, private or government health care insurance plan or face penalties. But there are differences in the details.The political climate changes:
Employer Insurance Mandate
HR 3200: The bill would require employers that do not offer coverage to pay a payroll tax equal to 8 percent of their payroll costs. Certain small businesses would be exempt.
Senate Committee Draft Bill: For employers that do not provide coverage, the bill would assess a fee of $750 per worker per year, or $375 for part-timers. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees would be exempt.
HR 3200: The legislation requires individuals, by 2013, to buy coverage or pay a fine of 2.5 percent of their income — but the fine would be capped at the cost of the average plan in their area. It offers a hardship exemption.
Senate Committee Draft Bill: The bill would make individuals pay a fee of $750 a year if they fail to obtain coverage. As with the House version, it exempts those who have not qualified for any affordable coverage.
Both versions would offer subsidies to those with an income below 400 percent of the poverty level (about $88,000 for a family of four and $43,000 for individuals) down to the eligibility threshold for Medicaid coverage.
In the fall, House passes one version, with public option. The Senate, rather than use the House-passed health bill, instead uses an unrelated tax bill (HR 3590) as the shell for its version.
Scott Brown's election prompts a diffrerent kind of procedure: passing the Senate version, with agreed-upon changes in the reconciliation bill.
The final legislation.
Nourse and Schacter on bill drafting:
Staffers’ drafting choices seem to be driven not by issues of legal dexterity but by the demands of a competing set of virtues—what we are calling “constitutive virtues.” The interpretive virtues are the virtues, generally, of courts: precision in drafting, consciousness of interpretive rules, discovery of meaning in past precedent, and detached reflection on the language of particular texts. Constitutive virtues, by contrast, tend to prize the institutional values of legislatures: action and agreement, reconciling political interests, and addressing the pragmatic needs of those affected by legislation.
Over and over again, staffers explained their choices in terms of constitutive virtues—that deliberate ambiguity was necessary to “get the bill passed,” or that statutory language was drafted on the floor because a bill was “needed” by a particular senator, by the leadership, or by the public. Even staffers’ reliance on lobbyists was an attempt to understand how the bill would “affect” people in the world. It was not that the staffers did not know the rules or recognize the interpretive virtues; it was that those virtues frequently were trumped by competing virtues demanded by the institutional context of the legislature. In an ideal world, the staffers seemed to say, they would aspire to both clarity and agreement, but, if there were a choice to be made, the constitutive virtues would prevail.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
In an incident covered by many conservative blogs, a reporter asked Pelosi where exactly Congress claimed to derive the authority to enact an individual mandate to purchase health insurance. She dismissed the question, saying “Are you serious? Are you serious?” Some people interpreted this as Pelosi implying that it didn’t matter whether the reform was constitutional or not. The next day, her office released a statement explaining that Pelosi believed it was constitutional given the Commerce Clause. The issue was pretty much ignored by most of the major news organizations, although a number of conservative bloggers latched onto it.
The whole exchange, though, raises the question of whether Congress must consider the constitutionality of a law when passing it. Should Congress simply pass the laws it thinks are right/best, and then leave it to the Courts to determine their constitutionality? Or should Congress take constitutionality into consideration when legislating?