OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

Supercommittee Eyes Social Security Cuts

November 1, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The supercommittee bill will have even stronger protections than budget reconciliation bills. It can't be filibustered or amended on the floor, and, most importantly, there are no restrictions on what can be included in it. Five of the six Byrd-Rule restrictions are about ensuring that reconciliation bills are actually relevant to budgetary matters. The sixth, however, is about protecting Social Security. Nothing that recommends changes in Social Security can be done through budget reconciliations. Since the Byrd Rules were enacted by Congress in 1985, any legislation affecting Social Security has been filibusterable -- until now.

Read Full Article Comments (6)
 

Several of the campaigns involved in last night's Republican debate used Twitter as a back channel to supplement their candidates' appearances. The Bachmann and Gingrich campaigns used it to retweet people praising their performances and declaring them the debate winners. The Santorum and Cain campaigns used it to distill key quotes and sum up their answers. But The Ron Paul campaign did it best. They used the real-time nature of Twitter to back up several of his answers with supplementary links to primary source materials around the web.

Read Full Article Comments (7)
 

'Super Congress' Must Be Open and Transparent

August 3, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The debt ceiling bill that was signed into law yesterday shunts off much of the dirty work of deciding exactly what to programs to cut or whose taxes to increase to a new "joint select committee on deficit reduction," a.k.a the "Super Congress." Whatever the Super Congress comes up with will be brought to the Senate and House for votes under expedited rules that bar amendments and limit filibusters. And the bill contains an enforcement mechanism designed to persuade members to vote for the Super Congress' plan -- if it fails, massive cuts to two sacred cows, Medicare and the Defense Department, would automatically take effect.

The Super Congress appears to be designed so that just a handful of lawmakers, who will probably be selected from very safe districts, have to make decisions about which constituents will bear the burdens of austerity. The vast majority of Congress will only have to take an up-or-down vote, and with the threat of cuts to seniors' health care and precious jobs in teh defense industry, even if they vote for the Super Congress plan they'll be able to tell constituents that they voted for the less bad of two bad options.

Read Full Article Comments (18)
 

The Boehner Plan

July 26, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

As usual, when Congress does something that's actually important, they do it the least transparent way possible. This time around it's the Boehner debt plan, which calls for trillions in cuts to social spending and a "super Congress" for reforming taxes and entitlements in exchange for allowing President Obama to raise the debt ceiling through the end of the year. It's a plan that was negotiated 100% behind closed doors, and it's not being introduced through the regular legislative order, thereby hindering the public's ability to read it and contact their elected officials with feedback.

Read Full Article Comments (10)
 

Default At Home First

February 2, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

In other words, if the Republicans in the House do not pass a debt limit increase, this bill would automatically enforce a deep domestic austerity program. The guiding idea here is to avoid an international default scenario that could permanently destroy U.S. creditworthiness by, apparently, defaulting instead on legal obligations at home, like Social Security payments and benefits for veterans. Toomey himself noted in a recent op-ed that if his bill was triggered, "projects would be postponed, some vendor payments would be delayed, certain programs would be suspended, and many government employees might be furloughed."

Read Full Article Comments (4)
 

The post-election lame duck session is going to be pretty much all about the Senate, with the House hanging around to sign off on Senate amendments to bills they have already passed and not much else. But there is one thing the House is going to take the lead on. On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] announced that she was scheduling a vote on the Seniors Protection Act of 2010, which would give a one-time payment of $250 to social security recipients who are struggling in the recession economic downturn.

Read Full Article Comments (6)
 

Obama Readying Massive Tax Cut Package?

September 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Remember that in-the-works Obama jobs proposal I wrote about the other day? Given that deficit hawks in the Senate have recently forced the Democrats to pare a $123 billion jobs bill back to a $33 billion unemployment insurance bill (H.R.4213), and that they have been blocking a $30 billion small business jobs bill (H.R. 5297) for over a month, I expected this new proposal to be pretty mild. But according to a report out tonight from Lori Montgomery at the Washington Post, the bill that the White House is preparing to unveil may cost the government as much as $400 billion in lost revenue:

Read Full Article Comments (14)
 

The Week Ahead in Congress

January 24, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Still no path forward for health care reform. House Democrats have a light legislative schedule this week, and they will hear Obama's State of the Union address on Wednesday. The Senate's going to be voting on a slate of controversial deficit amendments and on confirming Fed Chief Ben Bernanke to another term.

Read Full Article Submit a Comment