Category The state of our democracy

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT PART II

ABSTRACT: Other than the individual mandate (see 8/19 post), the biggest focus of resistance to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been the expansion of Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income individuals. If all states implement the Medicaid expansion called for by the ACA, over 21 million individuals, including 4.5 million children, who […]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT PART I

ABSTRACT: As implementation of another key piece of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (also known as Obama Care) approaches, the information and disinformation in the media and from the opposition builds. On January 1, 2014, the “exchanges” – where individuals can purchase health insurance if they don’t have it – will begin operation. On October […]

VOTING RIGHTS AT RISK

ABSTRACT: Judicial activism by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court was on display on June 25 when by a 5 to 4 vote the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was ruled outdated and unnecessary despite: 1) Previous Supreme Court rulings upholding the law including as recently as 2009; 2) Use of the Voting Rights Act […]

OBSTRUCTIONISM AND EXTREMISM BLOCK PROGRESS IN THE US HOUSE

ABSTRACT: While the use of the filibuster in the US Senate gets more attention, the obstructionism and extremism in the US House is more insidious. And it is no less harmful. One of the tactics in the House is the so-called “Hastert rule.” It stipulates that no piece of legislation will be voted on unless […]

A RESPITE FROM OBSTRUCTIONISM

ABSTRACT: The US Senate reached a bipartisan agreement that ended the obstruction of confirmation for seven of the President’s nominees for executive branch positions. Votes will be held before the August recess on these seven nominees. To obtain this concession, Senate Democrats threatened to change the filibuster rule to prevent its use on executive branch […]

BLOCKING JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS

ABSTRACT: Senate Republicans have delayed and filibustered President Obama’s nominees to fill vacant judgeships nationwide, resulting in 87 vacancies for federal judges, 10% of the total judgeships. Even when President Obama goes out of his way to nominate what would seem to be uncontroversial choices with bipartisan support, Senate Republicans have blocked and delayed confirmation. […]

BLOCKING EXECUTIVE BRANCH APPOINTMENTS

ABSTRACT: The willingness of some Republicans to impede the effective functioning of the federal government has extended to consistent efforts to block or delay the President’s nominees to fill positions in the Executive Branch. Senate Republicans have filibustered, threatened to filibuster, or have otherwise delayed a number of Obama’s selections for cabinet posts, including the […]

IDEOLOGY, OBSTRUCTIONISM, AND MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK

ABSTRACT: Democrats believe in making government work. Republicans, at least many current ones, don’t exhibit a commitment to making government work. They block legislation and an unprecedented number and breadth of Presidential appointments, including judges and cabinet secretaries. Rigid ideology and extreme partisanship are drivers of the gridlock: many Republicans seem willing to use any […]

GOVERNMENT AUSTERITY DEBUNKED

ABSTRACT: The argument for government austerity was largely built on two economic theories, both of which have been debunked recently by academia and reality. First was the theory that if government debt exceeded 90% of economic activity, then economic growth would be sharply lower. The second was that cutting spending in a depressed economy would […]

REDUCING INTEREST ON STUDENT LOANS

ABSTRACT: The interest rate on new federal student loans is scheduled to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% in July. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) has introduced legislation to give students the same interest rate that the big bank corporations get when they borrow from the Federal Reserve: 0.75%. Warren’s bill highlights the enormous advantages and preferences […]

MOVING FORWARD ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE

ABSTRACT: A serious effort for campaign finance reform is moving forward in New York State. The citizen / public campaign financing system that is in place in New York City is a great model for the state’s efforts and others. We need campaign finance reform because, for example, in the 2012 federal election campaigns over […]

IRRATIONAL EXTREMISM BLOCKS PROGRESS

ABSTRACT: The irrational extremism associated with the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party has just blocked progress for disabled people around the world by defeating ratification of a treaty. Radical Republicans used scare tactics and lies to defeat it. They ignored the support of 61 Senators including John McCain, of former President G. W. […]

CAMPAIGN SPENDING: THE FUTURE

ABSTRACT: The huge sums of money in our political system are corrupting it, in subtle and not so subtle ways, and are undermining the promise of democracy of, by, and for the people. We the people need to work to blunt the impact and eventually stop the flow of these huge amounts of money. Steps […]

WHY LIMITED SUCCESS FOR CAMPAIGN SPENDING

ABSTRACT: So why were all the outside money and all the advertising it bought less effective than was anticipated in the recent election? First, the great bulk of the outside money was spent on advertising, largely negative advertising. Voters were overwhelmed and simply tuned them out. The advertising lost effectiveness and experienced diminishing returns. Second, […]

THE IMPACT OF ALL THE CAMPAIGN SPENDING

ABSTRACT: Roughly $6 billion was spent on the 2012 elections for federal offices. Although complete data isn’t yet available, an unprecedented $1.3 billion plus of this amount was “outside” money. Roughly a quarter of this outside money was “dark” money – money where the actual source of the money cannot be identified. About 80% of […]

CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING: WHO RUNS FOR OFFICE

ABSTRACT: Because of the way we fund campaigns, we have two elections every cycle, the money election and the voting election. For Congressional races, fewer than 1 in 400 people contribute $200 or more to a campaign. This one-quarter of 1% of the population determines who will show up on the ballot for the voting […]

Hello world!

I’ve been very frustrated that important information and context for our national policy making and politics is not being provided by our mainstream media. Although the information is available, most people don’t have the time to do the searching to find it. Often it is buried in pieces that are too long and cumbersome for […]

FIXING THE FILIBUSTER

Here’s issue #36 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 6/15/12. The previous issue outlined the abuse of the filibuster [1] and its impact on the gridlock in Congress. This issue focuses on what can be done about it. The requirement for 60 votes to end debate and stop a filibuster is part of the […]

THE FILIBUSTER: WEAPON OF OBSTRUCTION

Here’s issue #35 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 6/10/12. It focuses on the filibuster as an important problem contributing to the gridlock in Congress. The use of the filibuster [1] – or the threat of a filibuster – by the minority party in the Senate to block action has become much more frequent […]

WHY GRIDLOCK IN D.C.?

Here’s issue #31 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 5/20/12. Just about everyone is concerned about the political and policy gridlock in our federal government. This issue of the newsletter takes a look at why this is happening. The Washington Post published an article on April 27 that is the best piece I’ve seen […]

CORPORATE POWER (Part 3): LOBBYING AND THE REVOLVING DOOR

Here’s issue #23 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 3/15/12. This issue examines how corporations influence our government and its policies through lobbying and the “revolving door.” Corporate influence on government actions and policies occur through campaign contributions (see Newsletters #13 – 17), lobbying, and the “revolving door” where personnel often cycle back and […]

CRONY CAPITALISM AND WINNER TAKE ALL POLITICS

Here’s issue #21 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 2/29/12. This issue will begin to link the issues of corporate power, great inequality of income and wealth, and campaign finance. It is a bit long, as it is a summary of the first three shows of Bill Moyers’ return to public TV. In case […]

WHY THE RESTRICTIONS ON VOTING? (Part 2)

Here’s issue #12 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 12/18/11. This newsletter continues looking at the issue of voting, exploring who is affected by the changes in voting laws and why they are happening. The new hurdles to voting and registering to vote that have recently been put in place in various states (see […]

WHY THE RESTRICTIONS ON VOTING? (Part 1)

Here’s issue #11 of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, written 12/16/11. This newsletter addresses the issue of voting – an issue that has been simmering in the background but is coming to the forefront. The ability and right to vote is a foundational principle of our democracy. From the end of the Civil War, through […]

Bill Moyers and Winner take all politics

The first issue of my Policy and Politics Newsletter, back on 11/1/11, was an atypical item. It provided a link to a speech by Bill Moyers at an event honoring Ralph Nader and the 40th anniversary of his organization, Public Citizen. I did not send other videos, let alone anything this long – 20 minutes. […]