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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Friday, January 31, 2014

Health Care

Kaiser Health News reports:
Uninsured Americans — the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed to most aid — are increasingly critical of the law as its key provisions kick in, a poll released Thursday finds.
This month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47 percent of the uninsured said they hold unfavorable views of the law while 24 percent said they liked it. These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)
The poll did not pinpoint clear reasons for this drop, which comes in the first month that people could start using insurance purchased through the online marketplaces that are at the heart of the law. It did point out that more than half of people without insurance said the law hasn’t made a difference to them or their families. In addition, the pollsters noted that almost half of people without coverage were unaware the law includes subsidies to offset premium costs for people of low and moderate incomes.
Among all Americans, the sentiment was also negative, with 50 percent holding unfavorable views of the law and 34 percent supporting it. Views on the law have not been even since the end of 2012. Despite this, just 38 percent of the public wants the law to be repealed.
Most Americans say they have not been personally affected by the law. However, 27 percent say they have had a negative experience, while 15 percent say they’ve had a positive one. People with negative views chalked it up most often to the high costs of health care and insurance.
At National Journal, Sam Baker reports on a Democratic congressional brain drain on health issues:
  • Edward Kennedy (chaired the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; died)
  • Chris Dodd (ran the HELP Committee while Kennedy was sick, retired)
  • Tom Harkin (chairs the HELP Committee now; retiring in 2014)
  • Max Baucus (chaired the Finance Committee during Obamacare markup; principal author of Obamacare; retired to be ambassador to China)
  • Jay Rockefeller (No. 2 on Finance Committee; advocate for Medicaid; retiring in 2014)
  • Pete Stark (senior member of Ways and Means Committee; career-long interest in health care; lost reelection in 2012)
  • George Miller (Pelosi lieutenant; chaired Education and Labor Committee during Obamacare markup; retiring in 2014)
  • Henry Waxman (chaired Energy and Commerce during Obamacare markup; long career in health issues; retiring in 2014)
  • Allyson Schwartz (active on Medicare and the health care delivery system; retiring to run for governor of Pennsylvania)
And while Democrats' ranks have diminished, Republicans' have swelled.
There are now 21 members of the House GOP Doctors' Caucus (not all of them are doctors, but they're all health care professionals), and some still practice. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who's challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu, still sees patients—many of them on Medicaid—when he's back in his district, a fact he has emphasized while attacking Landrieu for supporting Obamacare.
The exodus of experienced Democratic lawmakers also means a loss of experienced staffers, health care lobbyists noted. Some experienced health care aides cashed out after Obamacare passed, heading for lucrative lobbying and consulting jobs, and some of those who remained will likely follow suit next year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Two Chambers, Two Branches, Two Parties

THE LENGTH OF STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES:  As mentioned in class, Clinton gave several that were longer than Obama's. See link

A second look at Federalist 51:
But it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions.

The average size of a congressional  district based on the 2010 Census  apportionment population will be  710,767, more than triple the average  district size of 210,328 based on the  1910 Census apportionment, and 63,815  more than the average size based on  Census 2000 (646,952). Based on the  2010 Census apportionment, the state  with the largest average district size will  be Montana (994,416), and the state with  the smallest average district size will be  Rhode Island (527,624).
The House (and a Stag prayer from Fr. Patrick Conroy `72).

A pro forma session:

A real session:

  The executive view v. the legislative view:  ROBERT GATES ON CONGRESS

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Sonny Corleone Approach to Congressional Press Relations

NY1 reports that Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), at the end of an interview about the State of the Union, declined comment on a campaign finance investigation.
"So Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances," Scotto said before tossing back to the station. But as the camera continued to roll, Grimm walked back up to Scotto and began speaking to him in a low voice.
"What?" Scotto responded. "I just wanted to ask you..."
Grimm: "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f-----g balcony."
Scotto: "Why? I just wanted to ask you..."
[[cross talk]]
Grimm: "If you ever do that to me again..."
Scotto: "Why? Why? It’s a valid question."
[[cross talk]]
Grimm: "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

Interesting Congressional Polarization Visual


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Polls and the 2014 Congressional Elections

Reposted from Epic Journey:

The tea leaves do not look great for Democrats, though there could be some turnover in primaries -- provided strong challengers emerge.

Peter Grier writes at The Christian Science Monitor:
A new Associated Press/GfK poll demonstrates his residual personal appeal. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said Mr. Obama is very or somewhat likeable. That’s an increase of nine percentage points since the end of the partial government shutdown in mid-October.
But there’s a cliché about where nice guys finish. Hint: It’s not first. That’s reflected in AP’s numbers, in that only 31 percent find Obama to be an outstanding or above average president. Forty-two percent rate his presidency as below-average or poor. Twenty-five percent say it's average.

A just-released CBS survey contains numbers that are better for Obama, but only just. It shows Americans almost exactly split on his merits, with 46 percent approving of Obama’s job performance, and 47 percent disapproving.
RealClearPolitics political analyst Sean Trende crunches the numbers on this in a long piece that’s attracting attention among experts at the moment. In short, Mr. Trende says there’s a relationship between the level of presidential approval and the vote share of the president’s party in congressional races. Applying Obama’s current numbers to the 2014 electoral landscape produces a mild surprise, says Trende: Right now it’s possible, even likely, that Republicans will win control of the Senate.
Gallup reports:
Consistent with abysmally low congressional approval ratings and widespread dissatisfaction with the nation's system of government, the proportion of registered voters saying Congress deserves re-election has hit an all-time low of 17%. While Congress as an institution is no stranger to voter disenchantment, American voters are usually more charitable in their assessments of their own representatives in the national legislature. But even this has fallen to a new trough.
Typically, results like these have presaged significant turnover in Congress, such as in 1994, 2006, and 2010. So Congress could be headed for a major shake-up in its membership this fall.
However, unlike those three years, when one party controlled both houses of Congress, the beneficiary of the anti-incumbent sentiment is not clear in the current situation, in which one party controls the House and the other, the Senate. Partisans on both sides of the aisle are displeased with Congress. But with so few voters saying they are willing to re-elect their own representative, it suggests that many officeholders will be vulnerable, if not in the general election, then perhaps in the host of competitive primaries soon to take place.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014