Archive | November, 2010
WaPo: A lobbyist’s defense of earmarks: They make the government work

WaPo: A lobbyist’s defense of earmarks: They make the government work

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: In the recent midterm elections, voters endorsed the view of tea partiers and small-government enthusiasts that congressional earmarks have become a threat to the republic. Leaders in Washington quickly responded.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

If the fiscal and political impact of earmarks is considered, their use is entirely defensible.

I should know. I’m a Washington lobbyist who has practiced for more than two decades. I’ve secured earmarks for a bioscience park in Aurora, Colo., regional transit in Denver and a job-training program in Richmond. Earmarks don’t bankrupt our government. They make it run more smoothly.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

First, earmarks are largely irrelevant to balancing the budget. The $16.5 billion Congress spent on earmarks in fiscal year 2009 sounds like a lot, but leaves a minuscule footprint – about 1 percent of 2009′s $1.4 trillion deficit. Those seriously concerned about deficits should look elsewhere for meaningful spending reductions.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

Second and more important, why would conservatives in Congress unilaterally offer to limit a constitutionally delegated authority for nothing in return? The founders’ Constitution vested the power of the purse in the legislature to check presidential power. Constitutionalists of all persuasions should support the retention of earmarks.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think about the use of earmarks? Do you agree or disagree with the author of this article, a lobbyist himself?

Republican Senators File Amicus Curiae Brief on Repealing Healthcare Reform Measure

Republican Senators File Amicus Curiae Brief on Repealing Healthcare Reform Measure

FROM THE HILL: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 32 other GOP senators officially filed a brief on Thursday in favor of a court case challenging healthcare reform.

McConnell filed a 16-page brief in a federal case based in Florida arguing that a key part of the new healthcare law, the requirement that all individuals have health insurance, was unconstitutional.

Read the full story at The Hill.

“Where, as in this case with respect to the [health bill]‟s individual mandate, Congress legislates without authority, it damages its institutional legitimacy and precipitates divisive federalism conflicts like the instant litigation,” McConnell wrote in the filing.

“The long term harms that the PPACA may do to our governmental institutions and constitutional architecture are at least as important as are the specific consequences of the PPACA.”

Read the full story at The Hill.

No Republican senators-elect signed onto the amicus curiae filing since the brief is an official Senate communication, and none of the new members are sworn in.

Read the full story at The Hill.

What do YOU think about the idea of repealing the healthcare reform bill passed this year and signed by President Obama? Do you agree with what Republicans are saying here about big government? Or do you side with what the Democrats are saying on this issue? What do you think the American public is feeling about the issue?

WSJ: GOP Earmark Ban Shifts Clout

WSJ: GOP Earmark Ban Shifts Clout

FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: With deep-draft cargo ships set to steam through a widened Panama Canal in 2014, South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown tucked $400,000 of federal money into a House spending bill to deepen the Port of Charleston so it could accommodate the bigger ships.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.

Next year, Charleston will have no one to press the case. That could mean losing shipping business to deepwater ports along the Eastern seaboard.

Congressional Republicans decided this week to swear off such “earmark” spending for their districts and states—effectively eliminating it altogether given the GOP’s expanded numbers in both chambers. That means the Obama administration will have sole discretion over which ports to deepen, waterways to dredge and dams to build, among other things.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.

“We’re going to be in a position where we can implement decisions really based on highest priorities,” said Rob Nabors, acting deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

… The president will have more power to eliminate or trim programs that have resisted cuts for years, White House and congressional officials say. By some estimates, eliminating earmarks could save $15 billion a year.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.

What do YOU think about the GOP’s desire to completely ban earmarks? Does this give too much power to the Executive Branch? Is Congress giving their power away? Is there a compromise somewhere within both sides of this issue?

The Hill: Senator Hatch files amicus curiae (friend-of-court) brief in challenge to healthcare law

The Hill: Senator Hatch files amicus curiae (friend-of-court) brief in challenge to healthcare law

FROM THE HILL: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced Wednesday that he signed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new healthcare law.

Read the full article at The Hill.

The announcement is noteworthy for two reasons:

1) Hatch is expected to be the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee next Congress, and that committee played a major role in writing the healthcare legislation.

2) Voters signaled their unhappiness with the new law by voting a record number of Democrats out of office last week. Hatch is up for reelection in 2012 and could face a primary challenge from the right. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has said he’s thinking about running against the six-term senator. Plus, Hatch saw his home-state colleague, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), lose to a more conservative candidate in the primary process this year.

Read the full article at The Hill.

What do YOU think about Senator Hatch’s amicus curiae brief? Do you agree or disagree with the Senator’s challenge to the healthcare law? Is he doing this just to save his job? Why or why not?

The Hill: Senate Dems defend earmarks as GOP votes to ban practice

The Hill: Senate Dems defend earmarks as GOP votes to ban practice

FROM THE HILL: Senate Democrats on Tuesday defended the congressional system of earmarking even as their GOP colleagues approved a voluntary two-year ban on the practice.

Read the full article at The Hill.

There was scant support among the chamber’s majority party to follow the lead of Republicans who voted in a closed-door conference meeting to ban the practice of tucking home-state pork into appropriations bills. The vote was almost unanimous.

Instead, Democrats defended the age-old practice by noting they had already improved the system’s transparency in 2008 and they reserved the right to seek funding for their states’ needs.

Read the full article at The Hill.

“I’m not ready to throw in the towel. Apparently Mitch McConnell is,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), an Appropriations Committee member. “The arguments being made to ban earmarks are that it’s going to reduce spending. That’s nonsense. It’s not. It just changes who decides — from elected officials, on the basis of what they’re hearing from local folks, to nameless, faceless bureaucrats.”

Read the full article at The Hill.

What do YOU think about the Democrats defense of earmarks? Are they against banning them because Republicans want to ban them? Is this an ideological divide?

WaPo: Democrats strategists ready to take page from GOP playbook for 2012

WaPo: Democrats strategists ready to take page from GOP playbook for 2012

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: Major Democratic strategists, still reeling from a barrage of midterm spending by conservative groups, are planning a similarly well-funded campaign by liberal organizations aimed at reelecting President Obama in 2012.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

The fledgling discussions – including a conference of top Democratic donors that wrapped up in Washington this week – underscore a dramatic shift in strategy by Obama and his aides, who quashed plans for major outside groups in 2008 in order to rely on their own record-breaking donor efforts.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

But many chastened Democrats now say they must fight fire with fire by encouraging the formation of counterweights to the GOP-leaning independent groups that dominated the airwaves this fall. One of the leaders, American Crossroads, says it plans to continue running ads against the Democratic agenda for the next two years.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

The change in Democratic strategy illustrates the extent of the fundraising earthquake that has shaken the U.S. political world this year. A series of court decisions effectively wiped away decades of campaign-finance restrictions, helping groups operating outside the political parties spend an estimated $500 million on attack ads and other election-related activities, most of it favoring Republicans.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

Obama adviser David Axelrod, who will leave the White House in the coming months to focus on the president’s reelection bid, said in an interview: “I don’t think we can put the genie back in the bottle” when it comes to campaign spending by outside groups.

“We’re going to continue to urge all of our supporters to participate through our campaign,” Axelrod said. “But it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to have this deluge of spending on behalf of Republican candidates and not engender a reaction on the Democratic side. It’s a natural thing.”

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think about the “money race” to win in elections? Why is money so important in winning the election? What would you change to focus more on the voters?

The Hill: Pelosi quashes uprising

The Hill: Pelosi quashes uprising

FROM THE HILL: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants won reelection as House Democratic leaders on Wednesday, beating back an uprising that exposed deep divisions within the party rank-and-file.

Read the full article at The Hill.

Members of the caucus voted overwhelmingly to make Pelosi (Calif.) minority leader, brushing aside a challenge by Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), a Blue Dog who said Pelosi’s toxic public image is a liability to Democrats’ efforts to retake the House majority in 2012. The tally was 150-43.

Read the full article at The Hill.

“The message we received from the American people was that they want a job — they want jobs,” the Speaker said. “Nine-and-a-half percent unemployment is a very tough screen to get through with any other message.”

She also rejected the argument that her low approval ratings brought down Democrats in 2010.

“Well, let me put that in perspective,” Pelosi said. “How would your ratings be if $75 million were spent against you?” she asked, referring to the Republican campaign to vilify her in television ads.

Read the full article at The Hill.

What do YOU think of the vote for leadership in the Democratic caucus? Should they maintain the same leadership? Or is new leadership a better way to go? What will it mean for the American people?

WaPo: Krauthammer calls Election 2010 a ‘return to norm’

WaPo: Krauthammer calls Election 2010 a ‘return to norm’

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: For all the turmoil, the spectacle, the churning – for all the old bulls slain and fuzzy-cheeked freshmen born – the great Republican wave of 2010 is simply a return to the norm. The tide had gone out; the tide came back. A center-right country restores the normal congressional map: a sea of interior red, bordered by blue coasts and dotted by blue islands of ethnic/urban density.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Or to put it numerically, the Republican wave of 2010 did little more than undo the two-stage Democratic wave of 2006-2008 in which the Democrats gained 54 House seats combined (precisely the size of the anti-Democratic wave of 1994). In 2010 the Democrats gave it all back, plus about an extra 10 seats or so for good – chastening – measure.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Nonsense. In 1946, for example, when party loyalty was much stronger and even television was largely unknown, the Republicans gained 56 seats and then lost 75 in the very next election. Waves come. Waves go. The republic endures.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Our two most recent swing cycles were triggered by unusually jarring historical events. The 2006 Republican “thumpin’” (to quote George W. Bush) was largely a reflection of the disillusionment and near-despair of a wearying war that appeared to be lost. And 2008 occurred just weeks after the worst financial collapse in eight decades.

Similarly, the massive Republican swing of 2010 was a reaction to another rather unprecedented development – a ruling party spectacularly misjudging its mandate and taking an unwilling country through a two-year experiment in hyper-liberalism.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think about the latest election cycle shift from the Democrats to the Republicans? IS this just another shift of independents? Or is there more to it than that?

WaPo: Pentagon’s Cyber Command seeks authority to expand its battlefield

WaPo: Pentagon’s Cyber Command seeks authority to expand its battlefield

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: The Pentagon’s new Cyber Command is seeking authority to carry out computer network attacks around the globe to protect U.S. interests, drawing objections from administration lawyers uncertain about the legality of offensive operations.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Offensive actions could include shutting down part of an opponent’s computer network to preempt a cyber-attack against a U.S. target or changing a line of code in an adversary’s computer to render malicious software harmless. They are operations that destroy, disrupt or degrade targeted computers or networks.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

The administration debate is part of a larger effort to craft a coherent strategy to guide the government in defending the United States against attacks on computer and information systems that officials say could damage power grids, corrupt financial transactions or disable an Internet provider.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think about the military’s role in battling cyberattackers in the online world? Is it justified to make more advanced moves and stay ahead of cyberattackers? Or is it another sign of an over-eager military advancing its efforts around the world on behalf of the U.S. Government?

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The Hill: Boehner under fire to cut lawmakers’ salaries

The Hill: Boehner under fire to cut lawmakers’ salaries

FROM THE HILL: Soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) is being pressed by taxpayer groups to slash the salaries of House lawmakers.

Cutting member pay would show voters the new GOP majority in the House is going to lead by example in their efforts to rein in spending and start with their own wallets, say officials with three prominent taxpayer advocacy groups in Washington, D.C.

Read the full story at The Hill.

“There has to be a visible gesture that people can immediately relate to,” said Pete Sepp, the executive vice president of the conservative National Taxpayers Union.

“And cutting pay would be one of the best symbols, because unlike virtually anything else the federal government does, when Congress spends money on its own salaries and benefits, people can make a direct comparison to their own situation,” Sepp said.

Read the full story at The Hill.

Boehner is slated to receive a $30,100 pay increase next year when he becomes Speaker of the House. His annual salary will be $223,500. The base pay for House and Senate lawmakers is $174,000, while majority and minority leaders each make $193,400 per year.

Read the full story at The Hill.

What do YOU think about the idea of cutting lawmakers’ salaries as a goodwill gesture by the next, new Congress? Is it a good first step? Is it too much? Why or why not?

WaPo: Speaker Nancy Pelosi to seek minority leader post

WaPo: Speaker Nancy Pelosi to seek minority leader post

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: Rejecting demands that she relinquish power after her party’s losses in the midterm elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that she will run for minority leader, potentially setting up an ideological battle within the Democratic membership.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Several Democrats called this week for the Californian to step aside after the defeat of at least 60 Democrats and the return of the House to GOP control. Others said the same thing in private, describing a feeling of frustration with her tough, uncompromising leadership style.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) compared the situation to that of a sports team that has had a bad season. “When you suffer a defeat as big as we have, you have to change something. And often you have to change the person who led you in that direction,” he said.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said Friday, before Pelosi’s announcement, “My perception of what the minority leader does is communications, and I don’t think that’s her skill set.” Yarmuth, a liberal who calls himself “a big fan” of Pelosi’s, later announced that he would support her for minority leader.

Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) told CQ-Roll Call, “We need some new direction, and I think the best way is for her to move on.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

But Pelosi’s allies, who spent the past few days quietly sounding out other Democrats, said that despite grumbling in the ranks, Pelosi has no obvious challenger, making her the clear favorite to win in a caucus that is more liberal after the loss of many moderate Democrats.

Pelosi and her inner circle, blamed their losses on the struggling economy, and they said President Obama bears much of the responsibility for Tuesday’s electoral rout.

Relations between the speaker’s office and the White House appear strained, as they often have in the past. Pelosi’s closest allies said her stature had fallen because Obama and his top aides did not stand up for her.

“There’s no evidence they rose to her defense,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), her best friend in Congress.

The president has not come forward to say whether he thinks Pelosi should stay on as Democratic leader.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think about Speaker Nancy Pelosi seeking to run for minority leader of her party? Do you think she should run for it or step aside? Why?

WSJ: What the Next Speaker Must Do, by John Boehner

WSJ: What the Next Speaker Must Do, by John Boehner

FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (Opinion Editorial by U.S. Representative John Boehner, R-Ohio, also nominee to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives): 

I grew up in a small house on a hill in Cincinnati, Ohio, with 11 brothers and sisters. My dad ran a bar, Andy’s Café, that my grandfather Andrew Boehner opened in 1938. We didn’t have much but were thankful for what we had. And we didn’t think much about Washington.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

That changed when I got involved with a small business, which I eventually built into a successful enterprise. I saw firsthand how government throws obstacles in the way of job-creation and stifles our prosperity. It prompted me to get involved in my government, and eventually took me to Congress.

Millions of Americans have had a similar experience. They look at Washington and see an arrogance of power. They see a Congress that doesn’t listen, that is ruled by leaders who seem out of touch and dismissive, even disdainful, of the anger that Americans feel toward their government and the challenges they face in an economy struggling to create jobs.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

The members of the 112th Congress must heed this message if there is to be any hope of repairing the shattered bonds of trust between the American people and their elected leaders. Accordingly, there are several steps I believe the next speaker should be prepared to take immediately. Among them:

No earmarks. Earmarks have become a symbol of a broken Washington, and an entire lobbying industry has been created around them. The speaker of the House shouldn’t use the power of the office to raid the federal Treasury for pork-barrel projects.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

Let Americans read bills before they are brought to a vote. The speaker of the House should not allow any bill to come to a vote that has not been posted publicly online for at least three days. Members of Congress and the American people must have the opportunity to read it.

Similarly, the speaker should insist that every bill include a clause citing where in the Constitution Congress is given the power to pass it. Bills that can’t pass this test shouldn’t get a vote.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

No more “comprehensive” bills. The next speaker should put an end to so-called comprehensive bills with thousands of pages of legislative text that make it easy to hide spending projects and job-killing policies.

No more bills written behind closed doors in the speaker’s office. Bills should be written by legislators in committee in plain public view. Issues should be advanced one at a time, and the speaker should place an emphasis on smaller, more focused legislation … and consistent with Americans’ demand for a less-costly, less-intrusive government.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

The American people deserve a majority in Congress that listens to the people, focuses on their priorities and honors their demands for smaller, more accountable government. Accountability starts at the top, in the office of the speaker.

Mr. Boehner, a congressman representing Ohio’s Eighth District since 1991, is the House Republican leader.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

What do YOU think about Rep. Boehner’s policy agenda for the next U.S House of Representatives? Do you agree with his agenda or do you disagree? Why?

WaPo: What an immigrant would say to Boehner

WaPo: What an immigrant would say to Boehner

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: Why do Republicans make us feel like the enemy, the non-Americans, the people you want to take the country back from?

Many Republicans see immigration as a Democratic plot to register new voters. And, yes, most immigrant groups today – like the Irish and Italians and others before us – tend to vote Democrat, but that is because the Democrats reach out more to us.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

The irony is that most immigrants are probably natural Republicans. Most of us favor conservative social values and the work ethic. Even those of us with little education, like so many Mexicans and Central Americans, are entrepreneurial. We start businesses more than native-born Americans – 70 percent more, according to a Kauffman Foundation index.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think about the perception of immigrants towards John Boehner and the Republican Party right now? Would you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

WaPo: Washington vs. the new members of Congress: Who will win?

WaPo: Washington vs. the new members of Congress: Who will win?

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: The victors of 2010, by and large, ran against Washington. They pledged to take back the country, to boot out politicians who had become creatures of Washington. Now, they get to live here.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Morgan Griffith ran for Congress from southwest Virginia promising to “bring our values back to Washington.” Voters liked that idea, and when Griffith arrives in January, he says he’ll bring along “a legislative crowbar” to yank open the process and “change the rules, because folks want us to do things differently.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

But as the Republican revolutionaries of 1994 have demonstrated, there’s something about coming to Washington that alters even the purest of intentions. Many of the 73 GOP members of Congress who won office in that huge anti-Washington electoral sweep are still here, as lobbyists, strategists, lawyers and other cogs in the city’s political apparatus.

Do you know who the new members are? See the new members of Congress by clicking here.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think about how the new members of Congress will adapt to life in Washington, DC? Will they change how Washington does business? Or just become part of the problem plaguing voters every election year?

The Hill: Top 10 challenges John Boehner will face as Speaker of the House

The Hill: Top 10 challenges John Boehner will face as Speaker of the House

FROM THE HILL: Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is the toast of conservatives across the country, but he will soon have to confront some difficult decisions that will go a long way in defining his Speakership.

Read the full story at The Hill.

Boehner has said he has learned from prior Speakers from both sides of the aisle, and has vowed to run the House in a much more open manner than his predecessors.

Keeping that promise may be difficult … Here are the top 10 challenges the soon-to-be-Speaker will confront.

1. Earmarks.

After House Democrats banned for-profit earmarks in March, Boehner quickly trumped them by banning all earmarks. House GOP appropriators were not consulted, but they bit their tongues. Boehner, who has never requested earmarks, wants to continue the crackdown.



Read the full story at The Hill.

2. Committee chairmen.

Boehner, a former panel chairman, has vowed to give his committee chiefs more power. That approach is dramatically different than that taken by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif,). Giving his chairmen more authority could foster bipartisanship in a notoriously partisan chamber of Congress — or it could completely backfire.

3. The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

Boehner is probably going to kill the OCE, which was established under Pelosi’s reign. The OCE has been attacked by Democrats and Republicans alike as overreaching, but eradicating it will likely lead to headlines such as “Boehner scraps ethics office.” That won’t look good.

Read the full story at The Hill.

4. Taking on the White House every day.

Though Boehner is well respected and liked by his GOP colleagues, like other leaders, he has made gaffes. Boehner’s comment before the election that he would vote for President Obama’s tax plan if he had no other option made many on the right cringe.

… Boehner did well in going toe-to-toe with Obama this fall on the campaign trail. Next year, Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are sure to team up against Boehner and his policy ideas. Boehner’s communication skills will be tested on a daily basis in the new Congress.

5. Tea Party lawmakers.

Unity is going to be much tougher to attain in the majority. Many of the Tea Party Republicans coming to Washington don’t want to compromise with Obama on much of anything. At first, Boehner will focus on three things that all GOP members can get behind: cutting taxes, repealing the healthcare reform law and cutting government spending. 


Read the full story at The Hill.

6. The economy.

Voters in the last three elections have been angry, leading to two Democratic waves and a GOP wave on Tuesday. To protect his majority, Boehner will need to convince voters that the Republican House is taking steps to fix the nation’s ailing economy. 



Read the full story at The Hill.

What do YOU think will be the biggest challenges facing incoming Speaker-to-be John Boehner?

WaPo: GOP deciding which direction to go with new authority after midterm victory

WaPo: GOP deciding which direction to go with new authority after midterm victory

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: Jubilant over their landslide victory in the House and their pickup of six Senate seats, Republican leaders nevertheless face a dilemma as they debate how to exert their new authority.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Their energetic conservative base is eager to thwart President Obama’s every move, and if Republicans fail at doing so, they risk disappointing the supporters who turned out in vast numbers for Tuesday’s midterm elections.

But if Republicans overreach, and ultimately deliver very little, independents could return to the Democratic fold in time to reelect Obama.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

In a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised that his emboldened party will try to repeal the health-care law that was passed this year, to block spending increases for most federal agencies and to cut some funding that Congress has already approved.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think will dominate the new policy agenda of the U.S. House of Representatives, given the shift in political party power? How will it change their focus? Will this address the concerns that many Americans have about the U.S. Congress today?

WaPo: Resurgent Republicans take back control of the House

WaPo: Resurgent Republicans take back control of the House

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST: Republicans captured control of the House on Tuesday, all but ensuring that a chamber that has been the primary accelerator of President Obama‘s ambitious agenda will instead begin crafting legislation that would seek to undo it.

The GOP easily picked up the 39 seats it needed to take power and eclipsed the 52-seat gain that propelled the party into the majority in 1994.

Fueled by frustration over the economy, voters backed Republicans in every region of the country after a campaign that focused on downsizing government and rolling back Obama’s signature legislative accomplishments.

See graphs and data on state-by-state races on Tuesday.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

“While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people’s House, we must remember it is the president who sets the agenda for our government. The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight, and that message is: Change course,” Rep. John A. Boehner (Ohio), the current minority leader and probable speaker in the GOP-controlled House, told supporters at a rally in downtown Washington.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think will happen now that the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives will be in the majority again? What will happen to remaining House Democrats? How will this shift allegiances in the U.S. House?

Michael Gerson: Political Blips Disguised as Eras?

Michael Gerson: Political Blips Disguised as Eras?

From The Washington Post:

These rapid shifts are a warning to political commentators: Don’t overinterpret a given political moment.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

While the ideological predispositions of most Americans are pretty well set, two factors still vary greatly from election to election – ideological intensity and the support of independents. Both political parties have proved capable of exciting their bases, appealing to independents and securing decisive majorities – and of squandering all these advantages quickly.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

At least in national politics, no future political outcome is predestined by current trends, demographics or other tools of tarot punditry. The [James] Carville-like book of political predictions is a roulette guess, black or red. Either party can dominate – or fail.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think of the shifting ideologies by voters on election day? Is Michael Gerson right or wrong about the swings of the independents on election day? What might this mean for political parties in the future?

Election Day: Will Republicans Take the House?

Election Day: Will Republicans Take the House?

From The Washington Post:

In the House, Republicans need 39 seats to win back the majority that they lost four years ago and are competing on an enormous playing field heavily tilted in their direction.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

According to The Post’s analysis, 19 Democratic-held seats currently lean toward the Republicans, and Democratic strategists all but concede those contests. An additional 47 Democrat-held districts are considered tossups, while 38 other Democrat-held seats, while leaning toward the Democratic candidate, remain in potential jeopardy. Meanwhile, just four Republican-held seats appear truly competitive – three leaning toward the Democrats and one considered too close to call.

That gives Republicans multiple opportunities to win enough seats to claim the majority. Some independent forecasters are projecting GOP gains of 50 seats or more, which would offset all of the GOP’s losses in the past two elections and rank in size with the party’s historic 1994 landslide.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

In the Senate, Republicans need to win 10 seats to take the majority. As of this weekend, they appear all but certain of winning three seats – Arkansas, Indiana and North Dakota – and probably a fourth in Wisconsin. According to The Post analysis, Republicans could gain as many as nine seats. But to do that they would have to run the table on the most competitive seats – Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington – and that appears unlikely.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

What do YOU think? What will happen? Who will win control of the U.S. House of Representatives? What will this mean for upcoming legislation and the policy agenda?

Time Magazine: Will Online Voting Work?

Time Magazine: Will Online Voting Work?

FROM TIME MAGAZINE:

A little more than 24 hours after online ballots started pouring into the Washington, D.C., Board of Elections and Ethics in late September, it became apparent that something was amiss. Washington’s newly elected U.S. Representative went by the name of Colossus. A villainous computer captured the city-council chairmanship. And 15 seconds after voters cast their ballots, they were serenaded by the University of Michigan fight song. The system had been hacked.

Read the full article at Time Magazine.

Fortunately the vote was merely a test, and the disruption was designed to be instructive. For the first time, Washington planned to allow overseas and military voters to submit their ballots over the Internet during next month’s elections. To gauge its security and iron out the kinks, officials invited hackers to take a whack at breaching the system’s defenses. That task turned out to be far too easy. “It just took one open door,” says J. Alex Halderman, the University of Michigan computer scientist who led the assault.

Halderman says the exercise was meant to educate election officials about the dangers of online voting. “The question is not whether these systems can be broken into,” he says. “It’s whether anyone wants to.”

What do YOU think about the controversy surrounding online voting? Will it work? Or will hackers get the best of a new way to get people to vote?