Opinion & Analysis

Speaker Pelosi? Maybe. Tea Party Redux? Not if She Can Help It
California Democrat won’t face the same problems Boehner did eight years ago

As speaker, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is likely to lead a Democratic Caucus that is smaller than the Republican majority of 2010 and with fewer ideologues, Murphy writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — I’m not sure anyone enjoyed John Boehner’s speakership as much as I did covering him and his new majority in 2011 and 2012. What more can you ask for in a storyline than a merlot-loving congressional institutionalist who wins the speaker’s gavel on the wings of a pack of angry rebels?

Fast forward eight years to the Trump-fueled anger on the progressive left, along with projections that Democrats will more than likely win back the House, and you have to wonder if it’s time for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to switch from chocolate to cigarettes to gird herself for life leading a pack of would-be insurrectionists as Boehner had to do in 2011.

Why Congress Shouldn’t Emulate Amazon
A $15 wage may work for the supersized retailer, but it won’t for the country’s smallest

Amazon hiked its minimum wage. That doesn’t mean Congress has to follow suit, Saltsman writes. (Mark Makela/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Does Amazon’s embrace of the Fight for $15 mean Congress should do the same? 

New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross recently made that case in these pages, arguing that the retail giant’s embrace of a $15 minimum wage meant other businesses could afford it as well. But Norcross’ argument confuses a voluntary raise with an involuntary mandate: One boosts paychecks; the other could leave employees without any pay at all.

The Case of the Missing President — in House Debates
Candidates may want to avoid him, but election is still a referendum on Trump

The recent debate in Virginia’s 7th District between GOP Rep. Dave Brat and Democrat Abigail Spanberger revolved around both candidates taking a vow of silence regarding the president, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Judging from two House debates this week in hotly contested races on both sides of the country, you would think that the president of the United States was a shadowy, off-stage figure whose personality and politics are barely worth discussing. Even “The Invisible Man” of the 1897 H.G. Wells novel and the 1933 Claude Rains movie had more of a corporal presence than Donald Trump.

During the one-hour debate in Utah’s 4th district in suburban Salt Lake City, the word Trump was not mentioned until the 45-minute mark when the moderator blurted out the president’s name in a question on tariffs.

If Protesting Is Wrong, America Doesn’t Want to Be Right
As Trump talks of ‘mobs’ and channels King George III, dissenters are doing what they’ve always done

When athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists 50 years ago, they were kicked out of the Olympic village and banished from their sport. Now statues of them stand in museums. So goes American history, Curtis writes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

OPINION — This week marks the 50th anniversary of that electrifying moment at the summer Olympics in Mexico City when Tommie Smith and John Carlos, accepting their gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter dash, each raised a black-gloved fist in a protest of racism and equality in the year of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights.”

They are now immortalized in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and by a sculpture at their alma mater San Jose State University — their bravery noted, their impact on society acknowledged.

Capitol Ink | Red Wave

The Political Class Got 2016 Wrong. Could We See a Repeat?
What’s possible is sometimes more important than what’s probable

The difference between what was probable and what was possible in 2016 was the difference between a President Clinton and a President Trump, Winston writes. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

So said Sherlock Holmes in “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” and the great detective’s observation may well apply to the upcoming midterm elections.

Is Beto O’Rourke the Next Jon Ossoff?
Democrats can’t seem to help falling for white, Southern men in unlikely races

Democrat Beto O’Rourke historic fundraising numbers set off alarm bells in the GOP that the Texas Senate race was not one to be ignored, Murphy writes. Above, O’Rourke arrives for a rally in Lockhart, Texas, on Oct. 1. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — There have been so many glowing profiles of Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Senate hopeful in Texas, that there is a running joke  among journalists about the ingredients for a perfect O’Rourke piece. The short version goes something like this: He looks like a Kennedy! He’s got tons of cash! He’s a Democrat in a Red State! Let’s do this thing!

The one detail that’s almost always missing in those profiles is reality — namely, the fact that O’Rourke could run a perfect race against Sen. Ted Cruz and will still probably lose based solely on the fact that far more Republicans are likely to vote in Texas this November than Democrats. Although twice as many Texans (about 1 million) voted in the Democratic primary this year compared to 2014, 1.5 million votes were cast in the Republican primary. Even as the state’s demographics are changing, the math for Texas Democrats still doesn’t look good.

You’d Think Samuel Beckett Was In Charge of Our Health Care
Finding a path forward for the Affordable Care Act has been like waiting for Godot

Estragon and Vladimir — above as portrayed in a 1978 French production of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” — were stuck in limbo. After waiting on Congress to act on health care, we all know how they feel, Hoagland writes. (Fernand Michaud/Gallica Digital Library)

OPINION — Finding bipartisan agreement in Congress on a path forward for the Affordable Care Act has been like waiting for Godot. Polls tracking Americans’ views have consistently shown an evenly divided public. No single public policy issue captures the country’s polarization better than the debate that has surrounded this law.

That doesn’t mean we have to settle for “nothing to be done.” Improving health insurance markets is a goal worth pursuing, and Republicans and Democrats at the state level are already showing us the way.

One Way to Fix the Child Care Crisis? Look to the Tax Law
‘Opportunity Zones’ incentive can help close the early childhood gap

A Chicago teacher works with kids as part of an early childhood education program. The “Opportunity Zones” incentive could help expand such programs across the country, Smith and Shaw write. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — America faces a mounting child care crisis. Too many families lack access to safe, affordable and high-quality care for their infants and toddlers. But a small but important provision in last year’s tax law, designed to spur investment in under-resourced communities, could provide an unlikely solution.

That solution comes in the form of a new economic development incentive known as Opportunity Zones. Under the tax law, investors will receive a steep reduction in taxes on their capital gains in exchange for substantial and long-term investment in low-income communities designated as Opportunity Zones. This tax incentive could be combined with others in the economic development toolkit, such as the New Markets Tax Credit and historic building preservation tax credits, to support a wide variety of investments in real estate and businesses.

Want to Build a More Diverse Capitol Hill? Start With the Staff
Congress has a diversity problem, and I had a front-row view

If we’re going to grow the pool of diverse candidates for Hill jobs, we have to start by directly addressing the barriers that young people of color might face, Perez writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Diversity is a driving force behind a changing America: People of color now represent almost 40 percent of the U.S. population. Yet somehow, a new Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies report shows that they make up merely 13.7 percent of senior staffers in the U.S. House of Representatives.

That means our elected officials’ legislative directors, communications directors, and chiefs of staff are overwhelmingly white, even in offices representing states with large Latino and African-American populations.

If Amazon Can Raise the Minimum Wage, Why Can’t Congress?
Here’s what I learned as a young single dad — raising wages is the moral issue of our time

A worker places a label on an order at an Amazon fullfillment center in May. Amazon is showing moral leadership, Norcross writes. Why won’t Congress? (Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — As the country awaits an announcement about where Amazon’s next headquarters will be located, there is equally big news coming from the online giant — they’re rightfully raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour.

This is a big win for America’s workers, and I know because I once worked for minimum wage. I was a young single dad raising my son and having to balance work, family life and a checkbook. After completing an apprenticeship, I became an electrician and spent my adult life fighting for working families through the labor movement.

It Turns Out Democrats Are Really Bad at Getting Mad
They’re doing their best scorched-earth impression of Mitch McConnell. It isn’t working

Fight fire with fire, says Hillary Clinton. Civility can wait. But Democrats do a pretty weak impression of Mitch McConnell, Shapiro writes. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

OPINION — Anger in politics is like the porridge in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” — it has to be just right.

Too little anger breeds a sense of complacency and decreases the urgency of voting. Too much anger produces self-defeating rhetoric that repels the very undecided voters that you are struggling to attract.

In North Carolina, the Midterms Are Not Just About 2018
Democrats strive to regain voice lost during Obama era

The great seal of North Carolina seen outside the State Legislative Building. November’s elections in North Carolina will have consequences for redistricting, voting rights and more, Curtis writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When President Donald Trump last visited the Carolinas, it was a relatively nonpartisan stop to offer sympathy and aide to those affected by Hurricane Florence. But now the big names heading South are placing politics front and center.

It’s a sign of the high stakes of November’s midterm elections, particularly in North Carolina, a state that mirrors the turbulent national political scene. At issue in the state and across the country is not only getting out the vote, but also who gets to vote, and how gerrymandering affects the fairness of the vote.

Capitol Ink | Farm Bill Pumpkin

Memo to GOP: You’ve Got a Winning Message and It’s Not Pelosi
Republicans should be touting the success of their economic policies

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans celebrate the passage of the tax overhaul last December. With 27 days to go until Nov. 6, Republicans need to stress the successes of their economic policies, Winston writes. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Republicans have a great economic story to tell if they are willing to tell it. They have less than a month to make their case to voters that the economic policies that House Republicans began pushing in 2010 are finally paying off. Now is the time to reinforce success, not change direction.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent, its lowest mark in nearly 50 years. Remarkably, unemployment has stayed under 4 percent for five of the past six months and remains at near record lows for African-Americans, Hispanics and women.