Opinion & Analysis

Happy New Year, Republicans! It’s Downhill From Here
Get ready for another no good, very bad year, complete with a looming constitutional crisis

If you think 2018 was bad, just wait for 2019. Above, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, walks past the annual Christmas sign in the basement of the Capitol on  Dec. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — 2018 will go in the books as a bad one for most Republicans. They picked up two seats in the Senate, but lost 40 in the House. Their numbers among women in the House shrank from 23 to 13, and President Donald Trump can’t give away his chief of staff job.

Ask anyone who’s been there: The only thing worse than losing the majority in Congress is every day after that, when chairing committees and holding press conferences is replaced by packing boxes and saying goodbye to staff.

All Is Not Lost for Republicans in the Suburbs
Party can regain its suburban advantage with a clearer economic message

Supporters of Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., cheer during an Independence Day parade in Leesburg, Va., in the suburban 10th District, which flipped to the Democrats this year. Republicans can regain their advantage in the suburbs by refocusing on household economic issues, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Will Ferrell once joked about his all-too-normal, stress-free upbringing: “Maybe that’s where comedy comes from, as some sort of reaction to the safe, boring suburbs.”

Safe? Boring? Not any more, especially not for Republicans this year. It was suburban voters — women and men — who voted Republican in 2010, 2014 and 2016 but leaned Democratic this year who played a major role in Republicans losing the House.

The Gospel of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
La congresista goes to Washington

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., brings a fresh perspective to Washington, Manriquez writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“I never had a problem showing ya tha real me” — Cardi B in “Best Life”

OPINION | A decade ago, my first job in Washington politics was waiting tables at “an establishment bar” on Capitol Hill a short walk from the House side of the Capitol. The bar’s management offered night-shift employees a side hustle killing rats for eight dollars per carcass.

Making Congress Relevant Again, One Budget at a Time
First and foremost, lawmakers must recommit to their fiscal responsibilities.

Rep. Steve Womack and his fellow budget process reformers had nine months to come up with a plan. But they couldn’t make it happen — and the budget process continues to collapse, Price writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — With members of the 115th Congress rushing to tie up their legislative loose ends, one unresolved issue may have a more lasting impact than any other. It is the continued failure of congressional budgeting.

Since February, a special Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has been trying to develop ways of repairing Congress’ deteriorating budget procedures. After nine months of discussions, committee members failed to send even their handful of fairly unremarkable recommendations to the House and Senate for a vote. Thus the budget process continues to collapse.

If She Didn’t Give Up on Democracy, Neither Should We
When it came to voting, Rosanell Eaton wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer

After the Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, Rosanell Eaton, center, fought back, Curtis writes. (Walt Unks/AP)

OPINION — If you don’t know Rosanell Eaton’s name, it’s time to learn exactly who she was and why her life and life’s work matters. She is the antidote to the cynicism infecting politics in 2018, a hero of democracy when democracy is under siege. She cared about her country and its highest principles, demanded her basic human and civil rights and brought others along with her.

Rosanell Eaton would not take “no” for an answer.

The President Who Walled Himself Into a Corner
Maybe another president might have gotten away with playing the terrorism card to justify his wailing

Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from the Berlin Wall, Shapiro writes. Above, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other dignitaries place flowers at the Berlin Wall Memorial in 2014, commemorating the 25th anniversary of its fall. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Walls work. Just ask the East Germans.

Of course, the Berlin Wall, with its 15-foot-high concrete walls topped by barbed wire, only stretched for 28 miles across the divided city. And border guards killed nearly 200 East Germans as they tried to flee to freedom in the West.

Capitol Ink | How the Trump Shut Down Congress

Capitol Ink | Gridlock Grande

Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column
From Trump to Beto to the Red Sox, it has been, well, another year

President Donald Trump provided much fodder for Stu Rothenberg's annual end of the year winners and losers column. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Well, it’s time for another of my end-of-the-year winners and losers columns. I’ve titled it “Another End-of-the-Year Winners & Losers Column” just so you don’t miss the point.

As I have often done in the past, I’ll offer up a category with some nominees. Then I’ll give you my winner. If you disagree, please send your complaints to Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections or Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report. Just don’t send them to me.

Paul Ryan: The Good, the Bad and the Truly Disappointing
He never wanted the job. He never lived up to his potential. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom

Paul D. Ryan’s time as speaker is coming to an end, and everyone’s reviewing the tape. It wasn’t all bad for the gentleman from Janesville, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It’s hard to excel in a job you never wanted in the first place. That seems to be one of the primary takeaways from the three years Paul Ryan served as House speaker since Republicans practically begged him to step into the void they created when they ran John Boehner off from the job in 2015.

Add to Ryan’s burden the fact that he had to work with a president who was his opposite in every measure but party affiliation, and it’s easy to think Ryan’s speakership was doomed from the start. But it wasn’t all bad for the gentleman from Janesville. Let’s review.

Capitol Ink | Temper Tantrump

Public Health Should Be as Reliable as Our Highways
Health protection should not depend on local decisions or stop abruptly at political borders

Epidemics don’t recognize state or city boundaries, the authors write. So why should our public health system? Above, traffic moves across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge along the Capitol Beltway in July. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Check your morning news and you are likely to read distressing stories about the threat of a bad flu season, the consequences of natural disasters like wildfires in California, unacceptably high maternal and infant death rates, or the opioid epidemic.

All these emerging challenges occur on top of our nation’s chronic public health issues, like heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS, which continue to take a toll on the length and quality of life for people in the United States. This also takes a toll on the health and vitality of our communities and comes at great cost to our federal and state health care budgets.

Choosing a Health Plan Should Not Be Like Playing ‘Battleship’
CMS should issue guidance to expand benefits and inform older Americans

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services should revise its guidance for 2020 to allow broader coverage of nonmedical services for seniors with multiple chronic conditions, Hayes writes. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

OPINION — Three in four Americans over 65 live with multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma, and the cost of providing their care is rapidly increasing.

Beginning in January, Medicare Advantage, or MA, Medicare’s managed care plans, will offer some relief by providing health-related supplemental benefits to beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Some plans will offer new benefits such as smoking cessation programs, in-home personal assistance, caregiver support and adult daycare. But that’s not enough.

A Naive Letter From Fledging House Democrats
Politicians play their linguistic shell games — and the public loses

Walter Shapiro writes that linguistic sleight of hand is a popular trick on the Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — An enduring Washington truth: When a politician uses multiple clauses in a sentence, the opening words are camouflage soon to be contradicted by what comes later.

Here are a few typical examples of this rhetorical shell game:

A House Race in North Carolina Gets Curiouser and Curiouser
Who knew the background checks for political work were so lax?

For a while it looked like Republican Mark Harris had squeaked out a win in the 9th District. But there’s something rotten in the state of North Carolina, Curtis writes. (John D. Simmons/AP file photo)

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Perhaps North Carolina’s 9th District will have a congressman by January; but maybe not.

You see, there seems to have been a mix-up in the count, distribution and collection of absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties, which make up part of the district — what the state elections board (made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent) called “unfortunate activities” when it first refused to certify the results.