Category Archives: Uncategorized

America is Not Broke

The fiscal outlook is far better than it was a few years ago, but the political conversation remains stuck in an outdated panic about a looming “debt crisis.” My former colleague at Center for American Progress, Michael Linden, wrote a whole paper about that problem, called “It’s Time to Hit the Reset Button on the Fiscal Debate.”

Today, Reuters published my op-ed debunking the myth that America is “broke,” and pushing back against the politicians who peddle that line to justify their radical and unnecessary agenda: Continue reading

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Why I’m Voting Muriel Bowser for Mayor

Ward 4 council member Muriel Bowser (murielformayor.com).

Ward 4 council member Muriel Bowser (murielformayor.com).

The DC primary elections are April 1st, and early voting has already started. The Democratic primary is where most DC elections are decided, and it looks like we’ll have a close race for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Vince Gray and Council member Muriel Bowser lead the pack, with Council members Jack Evans, Tommy Wells, and Vincent Orange also mounting credible campaigns. I’ll be voting for Muriel Bowser.

I am comfortable with where most of the candidates stand on the issues, so for me this election comes down to who can best lead the city. DC government has come a long way in recent years, as has the DC economy. I look for a mayor who can continue that positive momentum, while broadening our newfound prosperity to benefit all residents. While the city may not be divided by partisanship (DC voters are basically all Democrats), DC politics is sharply divided along geographic and racial lines.

To me, Muriel Bowser is the only candidate who can speak to the entire city. That comes through in the polls. Bowser has gained substantial support among white voters, and runs second behind Mayor Gray among black voters, according to a Washington Post poll. I have not seen polling that breaks down support by Ward, but I imagine it would show Bowser (and possibly Gray as well) as the only two candidates that get meaningful support in all eight wards. Continue reading

The Democrats Are Not Going to Beat Mitch McConnell in 2014

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Wikimedia Commons)

Senator Mitch McConnell has led the Republicans in an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster to stop the Senate from passing much of anything. It’s understandable that Democrats would hope to unseat him when he is up for reelection in 2014. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that a recent poll found that only 17% of Kentuckians plan to vote for McConnell, while 34% plan to vote against him, without even knowing the opponent, which has raised Democratic hopes:

Continue reading

Why Not About Quality?

The title honors the most honest statement ever made by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). On Thursday, February 3, 2011, Senator Paul made the following statement about his own amendment on the Senate floor:

“Mr. President, this amendment is not about quality.”

Indeed, the amendment was not about quality. It exempted contractors for FAA projects from requirements to pay workers the prevailing wage in their area (known as Davis-Bacon rules). Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) opposed the amendment with studies showing that contractors who pay prevailing wages deliver better work. That argument wasn’t persuasive to Senator Paul, since after all, this is not about quality.

For too many politicians, public policy is not about quality. Legislation is written to support talking points, instead of writing talking points to support legislation. Budgets are debated as if they are just numbers on a page, without examining whether the programs next to those numbers are worthwhile or not. Making government work better doesn’t interest Senator Paul and his fellow travelers, because government is inherently bad, and this is not about quality.

But it should be about quality. Getting public policy right determines whether we are assured a dignified retirement with Social Security and Medicare, whether our schools give all children an honest shot at the American Dream, and whether our military can defend us at home and secure our interests around the world. It’s not enough to say “Support the troops.” If those troops and veterans are going to get the health care they earned, it really matters whether the military and VA can ever figure out how to make their health record systems talk to each other (they can’t now).

This blog aspires to be about quality, despite the title’s suggestion to the contrary. Which policies are working, which are not, and how do we make it better?

Also, every so often I’ll complain about the Redskins.