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Meals-on-Wheels and Political Symbolism

Ending Meals-on-Wheels is a great talking point… when there is no chance of it ever happening. It signals tough budgetary discipline and rugged individualism – values people respond well to, making it a great campaign strategy for a minority party. But when you find yourself controlling government and actually doing it, it goes from being abstract signaling to actually affecting people’s lives. And suddenly...

Tax “Reform” and Deficits

“What’s in store with tax reform?” asks a newspaper editorial. I didn’t bother reading it. I can predict where this is going.¬†All talk about deficits will magically disappear. Just like last time. Then once the taxes are cut (with 95% of the benefit going to the 1%) we’ll suddenly hear how we can’t afford the government that up until the tax cuts had been quite affordable. Talk about the...

Polls and Priorities

FoxNews headline: “Fox News Poll: Voters Say Taxes are Too High, Want Reform this Year”. This headline is blatant propaganda. Polls are all in what you ask, and who you ask. I can get any poll result you want by phrasing the question right and asking the proper group. That is easy. You know what is hard? Governance is hard. Balancing the interests of diverse constituencies. Doing right by the people and not just...

Power and the House of Representatives

It’s not just your impression. It really is harder to lead the US government today. Trump is in the news bashing the Freedom Caucus. But the inability of the House Speaker to pass bills is not just personality or talent. It is structural. In the “old days” before Nixon, the Speaker of the House had significant power over the rest of the legislature. He (it was always a he back then) could make or break the...

The Obstruction of the House Freedom Caucus

The House Freedom Caucus will sink Trump. These are hardcore, fundamentalist Republicans. They refuse to “compromise” on anything. If they get anything less than 100% of what they want, they vote against. This is the kind of obstruction that made it impossible for Boehner to do anything with Obama (remember the Grand Bargain from 2011, when Obama was going to trade entitlement reforms for higher taxes/balanced...