budget-and-fiscal-policy

Ryan, Don't Run | Kondracke

Ryan has a big decision in front of him. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not a challenge for Rep. Paul D. Ryan to run for speaker. It’s a suicide mission that will damage — if not destroy — the Wisconsin Republican's political future and his chance to get America’s economy right. USA Today’s Susan Page had it right on Fox News Sunday about the Ways and Means chairman's mentor, Jack Kemp: He was the kind of quarterback who, faced with a challenge, would have said “Count me in — send me in, coach.” But it doesn’t follow, as Page said, that Ryan should yield to pressure and run for speaker.  

Besides, there’s a better solution available: John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, should stay until his warring minions anoint another sacrificial lamb — and get stuff done, acting like a statesman and speaker of the House, not just speaker of the Republican Conference.  

IRS Wars Heat Up | Rules of the Game

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Both Republicans on Capitol Hill and the Obama administration have brought fresh artillery to their war over the IRS and its policing of politically active tax-exempt groups.  

GOP leaders are taking advantage of their new Senate majority and expanded House ranks to step up ongoing probes into IRS targeting of 501(c)4 social welfare groups, including tea party organizations. Republicans in both chambers have also introduced legislation that would block the IRS from issuing any new regulations to constrain political activity by tax-exempt groups until early 2017. The Stop Targeting Political Beliefs by the IRS Act would “halt further action on the IRS’ proposed targeting regulations until the Justice Department and congressional investigating into the IRS’ previous targeting are complete,” Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said when introducing the bill last month with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. An identical House bill was introduced by Reps. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. and Peter Roskam, R-Ill.  

Budget Act Anniversary Prompts Introspection | Procedural Politics

Any anniversary divisible by ten, whether of a country, institution or historic event prompts a spate of news articles, speeches and special commemorations that inevitably pose the question: What does it mean today?  

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on July 12, 1974, is no exception. The Bipartisan Policy Center (where I am a resident scholar) marked the anniversary this week with a symposium, “The Congressional Budget Act at 40: Midlife Crisis?” I half-seriously suggested amending the title by adding, “or Terminal Illness?” Judging from comments made at a recent congressional hearing on budget reform, the current process is badly broken and in need of either substantial renovation or immediate demolition.  

Unemployment Extension Cause Has Invisible Lobby | K Street Files

Unemployment extension lobbyists aren't as visible — even though 3 million are affected. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Walk through the Capitol South Metro station and you’ll pass SoftBank ads that festoon the walls — but you won't see a campaign for the 3 million people hoping Congress will pass an unemployment insurance extension.  

Business groups and most big-money lobbies that typically place such advertising to influence the people working in the Capitol either oppose extending jobless benefits, or they won’t take a position.  

Opinion Duel: CQ Roll Call Moderates Debate on Raising the Minimum Wage

In the third installment of The Purple Network’s “Opinion Duel,” Roll Call Editor-in-Chief Christina Bellantoni moderated a discussion with Charles C. W. Cooke , from National Review and The Nation ’s Zoë Carpenter over the politically charged topic of increasing the minimum wage.  

Carpenter contended that "even Republicans in the South" want the minimum wage raised to $10.10 an hour, but said that hike might not be enough. "There's a lot of momentum" for legislative action, Carpenter said. Cooke took issue with the idea that raising the minimum wage would "lift people out of poverty" saying that most who currently make minimum wage are not below the poverty line. "When you're looking at how to help people in need," Cooke said, minimum wage is "often not the best way to do it."  

The State of K Street | K Street Files

No one expects a boom in the lobbying business this year. But out of the dysfunction and stalemate of 2013, K Streeters see signs of potential work in select areas, including a revival for an old standby: appropriations.

The bipartisan budget deal (tiny as it may have been) from late last year has given lobbyists cause for hope that a return to regular order on appropriations bills will offer them a legislative vehicle to work on behalf of clients.

The Best (or Worst) of Congress in 2013 (Video)

The first session of the 113th Congress — the least productive in modern times — will be remembered for what it did, and did not, accomplish.

An immigration overhaul, gun control and health care mixed with "calves the size of cantaloupes," "Alice in Wonderland" and cocaine. Together, it is the best and worst of the year that was, wrapped into one.

The Tragedy of the Budget Deal | Kondracke

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., are grown-ups, and it looks as though they are reaching a deal to avoid another government shutdown crisis — provided superpartisans don’t block it.

That said, it’s sad — and bad for the country — that the best they could do was avoid immediate disaster. What they could not do, apparently, is make the slightest dent in the long-term disaster that the federal debt represents.