As Donald Trump appears poised for a big round of victories in today’s Super Tuesday primaries, his success is forcing everyone to rethink their assumptions about politics. One assumption to question is that gerrymandering gives Republicans a lock on the House of Representatives until the next round of redistricting after the 2020 Census. I’m not saying Democrats will win the House of Representatives if Trump is the Republican nominee, and I wouldn’t rule out the chance that Trump wins the White House, but I do think the House is in play this year. Continue reading
87 Republicans joined 198 Democrats to support legislation to end the government shutdown and prevent a default on the national debt. This was the key vote to ending the standoff. The Senate and President Barack Obama had been ready to support this legislation from the beginning. But Speaker of the House John Boehner was reluctant to bring a bill to the floor that would rely on Democratic votes to pass. Speaker Boehner has relied on Democratic votes before, but only on a few occasions and usually as a last resort to end some kind of legislative crisis like the recent shutdown. Much more could be accomplished in Congress – and we could stop governing by crisis – if Speaker Boehner was willing to work with Democrats to govern. Continue reading
The House celebrated tax day last month by considering the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act, which cracks down on federal employees who aren’t paying their taxes. Basically, if the IRS files a public lien on a federal employee for a tax debt, they would be fired, and people with tax liens would be ineligible for federal employment. When our country is running large budget deficits, going after people who aren’t paying taxes to support the government they work for seems like a no-brainer.
Except it turns out the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act “would have a negligible effect on revenues,” according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That’s probably because if the IRS has a lien on someone, they’ve already discovered the tax delinquency and are aggressively collecting on it. Also, if someone owes money, it helps if they have a way to pay. Like their job. It’s a shame we fired them.
The CBO did make clear that the law would have some effect on the federal budget. It would cost $1 million in 2014 for agencies to implement the new rules. That’s not a lot of money in the context of the federal budget, but it’s probably more than the government should be spending to needlessly antagonize their workforce.