The Great Debate

Obama’s budget bid for a ‘grand bargain’

By David M. Walker
April 10, 2013

President Barack Obama’s budget, released Wednesday, is getting a lot of criticism from ideologues on the right and left. That is one of the most encouraging things about it.

The price of defying your base

By Bill Schneider
April 8, 2013

Defying your base is always risky. It can either bring you down — or it can make you look stronger.

A politics of ‘unreliable narrators’

By Jennifer Gilmore
April 3, 2013

An unreliable narrator cannot be trusted.

He comes in many guises. There is the delusional unreliable narrator, like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, unaware of how the reader and the other characters perceive him. There is the mad narrator, as in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There are the unreliable narrators who lie to themselves to make the unreality appear real. Middle-aged professor Humbert Humbert in Lolita famously lies to the jury and to himself,  believing his sexual affair with the drastically under-aged Lolita is not criminal. Yet Vladimir Nabokov, the author, gives a wink to  the reader: We know the protagonist is not being honest with himself.

Republicans won’t embrace same-sex marriage anytime soon

By Ben Adler
March 26, 2013

In the wake of Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s  announcement that his son is gay, and his son’s coming out prompting  the senator to support gay marriage, it has become  commonplace to assert that Republicans are about to flip-flop on the gay marriage issue. Activists on both sides seem to agree. The Log Cabin Republicans triumphantly declared: “If there was any doubt that the conservative logjam on the issue of civil marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples has broken, Senator Portman’s support for the freedom to marry has erased it.” On Sunday, Karl Rove appeared to take leave of his senses when he said he could imagine the 2016 Republican presidential nominee supporting legal same-sex marriage. And with the Supreme Court set to hear a challenge to gay marriage bans this week, many observers are predicting that one or more conservative justices will join with the Court’s liberal wing to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, and possibly California’s Proposition 8 as well.

Jindal’s model for tax reform

By Grover G. Norquist and Patrick Gleason
March 14, 2013

With dueling budgets being introduced on Capitol Hill this week, the possibility of tax reform is the talk of Washington. As we predicted before last November’s elections, tax reform will be on the agenda in 2013 – but has its best chances in the states. We are seeing that demonstrated Thursday by Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal.

from Judgement Call:

The fiscal crisis nears – or not

March 12, 2013

Few economists preach spending cuts as a cure for high unemployment. Yet that’s exactly what Congress decided when it imposed, starting March 1, across-the-board spending cuts (the “sequester”). Despite Friday’s mildly upbeat jobs numbers, the economy remains limp, with 15 million or so unemployed individuals who want to work. Federal spending cuts won’t make their plight any better.

Obama’s political options

By Bill Schneider
March 11, 2013

Fiscal crisis? What fiscal crisis? The stock market is up, unemployment is down and the deficit is shrinking.

California v. Texas in fight for the future

By Sherry Bebitch Jeffe and Douglas Jeffe
March 8, 2013

It is not a national election year, but the “red state versus blue state” wars continue. Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent foray into California, to lure away businesses and jobs, signals more than a rivalry between these two mega-states. The Texas-California competition represents the political, economic and cultural differences driving American politics today – and for the foreseeable future.

A sequestration solution for the Pentagon

By Benjamin Friedman
February 28, 2013

The sequestration drama in Washington is less severe and intractable than you have heard. A partial solution: Block the across-the-board cut of $42.5 billion in military funds this year — the Pentagon’s portion of $85 billion due March 1 — and spread the savings over several years by tweaking military spending caps already on the books.

Obama’s Two Choices: Good and Better

By Keith Koffler
February 26, 2013

President Barack Obama must like the view from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now. Politically speaking, the sky is clear, and the few clouds on the horizon have silver linings.