Antonin Scalia, R.I.P.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Saturday, practiced a constitutional conservatism that is out-of-step with today's Right. [Credit: lifenews.com]

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Saturday, practiced a constitutional conservatism that is out-of-step with today’s Right. [Credit: lifenews.com]

The arc of conservatism’s decline was traced in the course of a few hours last Saturday. That afternoon we learned of the passing of a genuine constitutional conservative, Antonin Scalia. Hours later, we endured another GOP debate during which professed conservatives traded barbs and insults, now considered a suitable substitute for character and substance by a large swath of Republican voters. Continue reading

Iran Nuclear Agreement: Disagreeing Over How To Disagree

Secretary of State John Kerry shook hands with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Sharif on a nuclear agreement earlier this month. But the two don't agree on what they agreed to. [Credit:vocfm.com]

Secretary of State John Kerry shook hands with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Sharif on a nuclear agreement earlier this month. But the two don’t agree on what they agreed to. [Credit:vocfm.com]

The parties to the Iran nuclear agreement don’t agree on what they agreed to.  Congress is struggling to agree on how to express its disagreement with the agreement.

Such is the debased state into which U.S. foreign policy and constitutional governance have descended. Continue reading

The GOP’s Gift To Henry Waxman — Part I

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and John Boehner (R-OH) took a bow when the House passed a $141 billion health care bill. But Henry Waxman deserves the credit. [Credit: Politico]

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) took a bow when the House passed a $141 billion health care bill. But Henry Waxman deserves the credit. [Credit: Politico]

“What a way to celebrate a birthday!”  — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after the House passed bipartisan health care legislation

Sorry, Nancy.  It’s not about you.

The $141 billion health care bill that cleared the House last month and that is expected to win Senate approval next week is a tribute from the GOP-controlled Congress to former Congressman Henry Waxman, a man who worked tirelessly – and with great success – to expand health care-related welfare spending. Continue reading

A Sensible Immigration Ruling Makes No Sense In Washington

The President took immigration policy into his own hands, bypassing Congress. A federal judge has ruled that he acted improperly. [Credit: Tax Justice Blog]

A federal judge has ruled that the President improperly took immigration policy into his own hands. [Credit: Tax Justice Blog]

A federal judge in Brownsville, Texas, on Monday provided a way out of the Congressional impasse over a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  But the opportunity might be squandered by Congressional Republicans bent on self-immolation.

Compared with the President’s executive excesses and Republican circular firing squads, Federal District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s preliminary injunction against the Administration’s immigration policy is a model of rationality and restraint. Continue reading

How Cutting Jobless Benefits Cut Joblessness

During his December 2013 Hawaiian vacation, President Obama phoned lawmakers, asking them to extend unemployment benefits.  They did not.    Which is a good thing, according to a new study published by NBER. [Credit: Fox News]

During his December 2013 Hawaiian vacation, President Obama phoned lawmakers, asking them to extend unemployment benefits. They did not. Which is a good thing, according to a new study published by NBER. [Credit: Fox News]

A little more than a year ago, the President was distressed.  It was a few days after Christmas 2013, and extended unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people were about to expire.  In a typically perfunctory lobbying effort, he called two Senators to urge them to move a bill to preserve the benefits.

To recover from his exertions, he and his family then “ventured to the white-sand beach at Bellows Air Force Station, which is on the windward side of the island of Oahu and features turquoise water and a stunning view of the Mokulua Islands,” the Washington Post reported.

That tranquil scene augured the best year for U.S. employment growth since 1999.   According to the Labor Department, the economy added more than 3.1 million jobs in 2014.  The topline unemployment rate was 5.6% in December, down from 6.7% the prior December and the lowest rate since June 2008.

And here is the surprising major reason for the resurgence in employment: Congress spurned the President’s entreaties and let extended unemployment benefits expire. Continue reading

The President, His Critics And the Politics of Impatience

What do these two men have in common?   More than you might think.  [Credit: Politico]

What do these two men have in common? More than you might think. [Credit: Politico]

“But what I’m not going to do is just wait.  I think it’s fair to say that I’ve shown a lot of patience…But what we can’t do is just keep on waiting.”  President Obama, November 5, 2014

The Constitution offers no remedy for presidential impatience. Presidents, Members of Congress and judges are sometimes constitutionally required to “just keep on waiting.”  And that is something officeholders of both political parties seem increasingly unwilling to do.  When it comes to circumventing the rules to achieve the political objectives of the moment, the President and some of his most strident conservative foes are soulmates.

Continue reading

The Lawsuit Boehner Should Bring

The House has authorized the Speaker to sue the Administration for overreaching in its Obamacare implementation. He should sue over its corporate welfare provisions. [Credit: rightspeak.net]

The House has authorized the Speaker to sue the Administration for overreaching in its Obamacare implementation. He should sue over its corporate welfare provisions. [Credit: rightspeak.net]

Hi Chet –
After speaking at length today with Jeanne and our other policy folks, I do not think I have any more to add. They seem to have given you 80 percent of what you requested and I am not in a position to second guess there [sic] analysis.
Sincerely,
Valerie

“Valerie” would be Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama’s closest advisers. “Chet” would be Chet Burrell, CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross. In the April 15 email, Jarrett advised the insurance executive that he would have to live with 80 percent of what his industry asked the White House for.

A month later, the Administration relented and gave the industry 100 percent of what it asked for – a regulation that will involve the giveaway of an additional $1 billion in taxpayer funds to insurers participating in the Obamacare exchanges.

If the Speaker intends to file a lawsuit against the Administration for abuse of power, as a resolution adopted last evening by the House authorizes him to do, he should sue over this. Continue reading

When Dead Men Rule

G.K. Chesterton worried that our predecessors would have too little influence on our politics. But Gene Steuerle says that they have too much. [Credit: christiancompletely blog]

G.K. Chesterton worried that our ancestors would have too little influence on our society. But a new book by the Urban Institute’s Gene Steuerle says that they exert too much control over our politics. [Credit: christiancompletely blog]

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.”G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton fretted that modern democracies might show too little deference to past generations.  But according to the Urban Institute’s Gene Steuerle, the very opposite is true: in American democracy, dead men rule. Continue reading

War on Women: Dispatches From The Front

The latest skirmish in the "war on women" took place this past week in the Senate.  [Credit: ACLU]

The Senate was the scene last week of the latest skirmish in the war on women, one of several contrived controversies manufactured by the political class. [Credit: ACLU]

Resolving conflicts is a core function of government.  Inciting them is a core competency of our political class.

The habit of inflaming passions for political purposes was on display again this week in the US Senate. Wednesday’s show vote ostensibly concerned the right of women to receive “free” birth control from their employers.  But the legislation, as its authors surely knew, would not become law.  If it did, it would result, not in employers buying more contraceptives for their employees, but in more workers losing employment-based health insurance.

Continue reading

Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-Progressivism

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) preaches progressivism but is her student loan proposal anti-progressive? [Credit: NPR]

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) preaches progressivism but is her student loan proposal anti-progressive? [Credit: NPR]

“This country should not be run for the biggest corporations and largest financial institutions.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

To judge from Warren’s record so far, she would be prefer that the country be run for the benefit of its biggest universities. Continue reading