Energy

A Radical Fix for Washington: Have Congress Do Its Job
If Congress performed more of the tasks assigned to it by the Constitution, it also would feel compelled to act more responsibly

ILLUSTRATION: ALEX NABAUM
By Gerald F. Seib
May 17, 2018 11:29 a.m. ET

Here’s a simple yet radical thought on how to fix much of what ails Washington: Have Congress do its job.

When attempting to explain the myriad problems that plague the nation’s capital, people talk of partisanship, polarization and a White House in perpetual chaos—and there’s certainly plenty of all that to go around. Yet every one of those problems is exacerbated by the way Congress has abdicated or shirked its duties.

Maybe, just maybe, if Congress accepted and performed more of the tasks assigned to it by the Constitution, it also would feel compelled to act more responsibly—to find the compromise, to overcome the partisanship, to reach the durable solution. Like the young adult who leaves home and suddenly has to live with the consequences of his or her own actions, it would have to start doing the mature thing.

Instead, we often are living with the opposite. For years, Congress has punted its Constitutional responsibilities down Pennsylvania Avenue to the president. It’s often unable to perform its most basic function, which is to pass spending bills, instead resorting to giant catchall spending measures that nobody has read and that leave the executive branch to fill in many policy blanks. In a similar illustration of its problems, a House crippled by intramural feuding on Friday failed to pass a farm bill, another piece of core legislation.

On problem after problem, in other words, Congress has said in effect, “We’re not responsible”—which only liberates it to act irresponsibly. Continue reading

 

Photo courtesy of Amanda Croy

Colorado’s Gubernatorial Race 2018: The Hot Topics

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Talking Points

The topics that will dominate candidates’ messaging throughout the campaign season.

Growth

It is the best of times…or is it the worst of times? That depends a lot on how you feel about Colorado’s growth. “Normally, the economy would be the highest issue for most voters,” Paul Teske, a dean at CU Denver, says. “There will be a lot of talk about sustaining the boom.” But, adds DU’s Seth Masket: “There are a lot of different areas of the state that are adversely affected by this growth.” Transportation has become a perennial funding battle at the Capitol and could benefit from strong gubernatorial influence (read: political pressure) to make Republicans and Democrats find bipartisan ways forward. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Colorado is three percent (it was 8.9 percent at the end of 2010), which on its face is great news, but that near-full employment causes woes for companies desperate to fill jobs. Wages—particularly in the metro area—haven’t kept up with cost-of-living expenses, which means that although people are finding work, they may not be able to pay bills. And the biggest expense for many voters is rising housing costs. Mix that all together, and the moment is prime for a gubernatorial candidate to stand out by creating a unique vision for Colorado’s future.

Education

This may seem like a topic that matters most to people who are raising families, but this year, candidates will compel everyone to think about Colorado’s education system (funding here ranks in the bottom third of all states in the country). Which makes sense: Property owners help pay for schools, employers benefit from a well-prepared workforce, and we all want the best for society’s youngsters, right? But how we ensure we have a strong education system is quite a bit more complicated. Magellan Strategies’ David Flaherty says Republican candidates should be talking about education right now and through November. “It’s the one issue we completely give to the Democrats,” Flaherty says. “It’s unfortunate because it’s one of the top two issues for unaffiliated voters.”

Tabor

Conversations about addressing growing pains or giving more money to teachers inevitably evolve into talks about what to do about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which limits government spending to match population growth and inflation increases.

Under TABOR, which passed in 1992, leftover revenue is returned to the taxpayers. Proponents herald the limits on government spending; detractors warn that TABOR isn’t robust enough to respond to real-time needs, like shifting populations in schools due to high housing costs.

But Coloradans tend to like the control TABOR gives them: A January 2018 report from the American Politics Research Lab at CU Boulder found that “support among Coloradans outpaces opposition,” with 45 percent of respondents supporting TABOR.

That number has fallen since 2016, and the study notes that more than a quarter of respondents had “uncertainty about a position.” In short, there’s room for candidates to make TABOR the issue of the campaign.

Republican candidates are likely to support working within TABOR’s constraints. Democrats will probably talk more about reform or repeal.

Guns

 

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Last fall, Oprah Winfrey spoke with 14 Michigan voters, seven of whom voted for Donald Trump. Winfrey sat down with the voters again to get their thoughts on Trump’s first year in office Continue reading

The Rule of Shutdown Politics
Democrats oppose a bill that reauthorizes children’s health care.
 
By The Editorial Board
Jan. 17, 2018 7:21 p.m. ET
 
Washington is going through one of its hoary melodramas with the threat of a partial government shutdown at 12:01 Saturday morning if Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill. These are usually worth ignoring, but in this election year we are likely to see more such showdowns. So it’s important to understand the rule of shutdown politics: Democrats want a shutdown but Republicans will get blamed for it.
 
This has been roughly true in every shutdown brawl we’ve watched going back to the 1980s. It doesn’t matter if a Republican is President with a Democratic Congress, or vice versa, or if Republicans run both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Sometimes Republicans deserve the blame, as they did with Ted Cruz’s kamikaze run for ObamaCare repeal in 2013. But even if they work in good faith to avoid a shutdown, the media blame Republicans, and many voters figure the GOP must be at fault because it’s the party that prefers smaller government.
 
Democrats understand this and they use it as political leverage. That’s what’s going on this week behind the scenes as Republicans struggle to put together a budget that can get past the Freedom Caucus in the House but also get at least nine Senate Democrats to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
 
Democrats don’t want to take yes for an answer. GOP leaders want to negotiate a two-year budget deal separate of negotiations over immigration. But Democrats are refusing, though the date when new work permits will no longer be issued to the so-called Dreamer immigrants is the first week of March.
 
Democrats are refusing even though the tentative budget deal being hashed out behind the scenes would also give them a big increase in new domestic non-entitlement spending over two years. Republicans would get more defense spending. Such a deal will give more Republicans heartburn on the policy merits, but Democrats still won’t accept.

Continue reading

The Reagan Club meets on the first Thursday of every month at The Amazing Grace Community Church ( 541 E 99th Pl, Thornton, CO, 80229) from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. with doors open at 6:00 p.m.. We feature different programs and speakers as we honor the 40th President. The Reagan Club of Colorado seeks to promote the Constitution, smaller government, lower taxes, personal freedom, helping candidates, and educating the public about one of our greatest presidents, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

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