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Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

Tax reform progressing in spite of fiscal gridlock

March 11th, 2013


President Obama and his Republican dining companions showed last week that bipartisan schmoozing is back. Whether bipartisan deal-making will follow is anyone’s guess. But if it does, there are reasons to believe tax reform will be on the menu.

The most visible movement on tax reform is in the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week announced that the bill name “H.R. 1” would be reserved for tax reform. Traditionally, House speakers have given that title to bills that are among their top priorities. Consider some of the recent bills with that name: the stimulus package of 2009 and the Medicare prescription drug law of 2003.

The H.R. 1 designation signals the end of an internal Republican dispute over whether to proceed with tax reform. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-OH) previously advised the party to avoid the issue, because its progress could require votes on controversial topics like the mortgage and charitable deductions. But now, with Boehner’s blessing, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has a green light to pursue his priority issue.

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Perfect could be enemy of the good on immigration

January 31st, 2013

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This piece was originally published in The Hill.

The phone rings in the house of an undocumented immigrant who has lived here for decades. The person on the line offers her a deal. If she registers with the US government, goes through a criminal background check, and pays a fine, she will be forever allowed to work, travel, and conduct her affairs in America without fear of deportation. For her children, even better — they will be given a fast-track path to citizenship. And down the line, once more is done to secure the border, she can get in the back of the line and eventually earn her citizenship as well.
Is there any chance she would say no?

On Monday, a bipartisan group of 8 Senators released an immigration reform proposal that would offer exactly that scenario to undocumented immigrants. Yet many reform advocates reacted warily to the plan, and even the Administration offered a few pointed criticisms in its otherwise favorable statement. In particular, they argued that using a “trigger” of border security to determine when some immigrants can move from a provisional legal status to a permanent one with a path to citizenship is unacceptable.

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Blue World Order

December 7th, 2012

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This post was originally published in Foreign Policy

For Republicans, the recent U.S. presidential election was supposed to be 1980. They would paint President Barack Obama as Jimmy Carter—weak on the economy and weak on national security. High unemployment and low growth? Check. National security? Democratic presidential candidates—from Carter to John Kerry—were often hobbled by public doubts about their fitness to protect the United States from foreign threats (see: “Dukakis, tank“).

But not this year. For the first time in decades, Democrats had a presidential candidate with an advantage on these issues. Obama entered the 2012 election with a successful foreign-policy record: The U.S. war in Iraq was over, the war in Afghanistan was winding down, Osama bin Laden was dead, al Qaeda’s top ranks were decimated, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi was toppled, and an international coalition had been assembled to impose the toughest-ever sanctions on Iran. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Get Safe New Drugs Quickly

May 24th, 2012


In a rare moment of bipartisanship on a health care issue, the Senate is poised to pass the Food & Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187). This bill would continue the very successful practice of collecting user fees from drug and device companies so that the FDA has enough money to swiftly approve new products. Leaders in both parties have worked closely together to bring this bill to the floor despite a highly charged atmosphere on Capitol Hill. We are glad to see that the bill will continue to ensure the economic and health benefits of a robust FDA approval process for years to come.

The only remaining obstacle in the Senate is a handful of highly controversial floor amendments that go beyond the scope of the legislation. They address issues like the reimportation of drugs from Canada and other countries, legal battles over brand name drugs turning generic, and changes to penalties for violations of the FDA Act. Adoption of any of these amendments in this legislation would threaten the future of the bill. The House, which has yet to act, would have every reason to include its own set of controversial amendments, making final passage of the legislation difficult, if not impossible, before the September 30, 2012 deadline. Delay as a result of controversial riders would therefore force the FDA to lay off thousands of employees involved in medical drug approvals, causing lengthy delays as well as widespread economic uncertainty.

The Senate can start reversing the country’s record low regard of government by passing the Food & Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. Third Way urges Congress to pass this legislation without poison pill amendments.

GOP acts out revenge fantasy

February 22nd, 2011


This piece was originally published in Politico.

The orgy of budget cutting on the House floor last week was not about the deficit. It was about ideology.

The House Republican majority acted out a revenge fantasy against President Barack Obama and the Democrats in retaliation for what they see as the left-wing ideological aggression of the last two years. They are the counterrevolution.

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How the Democrats can stay relevant

November 4th, 2010

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This piece was originally published in Politico.

After sweeping to congressional majorities in 2006 and electing a president in 2008 with the largest Democratic percentage of the popular vote since Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrats are now in danger of becoming an irrelevant party.

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