Obamacare On The Docket Again

[ Posted Monday, March 2nd, 2015 – 16:41 PST ]

This will be a rather busy week in the political world. We've got the Prime Minister of Israel giving a controversial speech before Congress tomorrow, and then at the end of the week we'll have another round of government shutdown follies, courtesy of the House Republicans. Between these two events, the Supreme Court is going to be busy with a few questions in the political arena. The most prominent of these cases is King v. Burwell, which puts Obamacare back on the docket.

The first time the high court heard a major Obamacare case was in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, back in 2012. At the time, the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare's official name) was upheld by a vote of 5 to 4. This time around will likely be a close decision as well, but neither side should really be counting their chickens in advance of the expected ruling (the court will hear the oral arguments Wednesday, but a decision isn't expected until June, at the latest).

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Program Note

[ Posted Saturday, February 28th, 2015 – 18:47 PST ]

[OK, another item on my ever-longer "upgrades needed for the site" list is to create a page where these sorts of things are easily available, complete with controls so you can listen without having to download big audio files. But until we get to that point....]

Yesterday, I was interviewed on a morning talk show in Atlanta, Georgia (WAOK 1380 AM). Since I'm a West Coast type of guy, I'll ask you to please bear in mind that this interview took place between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM, my time. In other words, my brain was (barely) working, and awfully slowly. But it was a fun interview to do, complete with a break in the middle for a call-in guest who propounded the notion that Barack Obama was a warlock.

In any case, my apologies for the do-it-yourself nature of listening to the interview, but here are the two mp3 files (Part 1 and Part 2) which contain the interview. Scroll about halfway through the first file to hear when my interview starts, and then it continues throughout the whole second file (they're both about 10 minutes long).

Enjoy, and somebody please bring Chris some more caffeine (heh)....

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Friday Talking Points [337] -- D.C. Smoke-In History

[ Posted Friday, February 27th, 2015 – 18:58 PST ]

Before we get to anything else...

Mr. Spock is dead. Long live Mr. Spock!

That may be a rather illogical construct, but it just seemed the most appropriate thing to say. The fictional character the late Leonard Nimoy played often used "Live long and prosper" as his favored salutation, which is just a rephrasing of the basic sentiment, really. Nimoy will be missed by fans all over the world, who agree with President Obama's simple statement: "I loved Spock." We all did, which is why Spock will live on in many hearts. Long live Mr. Spock!

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Elizabeth Warren's "Put Up Or Shut Up" Viral Video

[ Posted Thursday, February 26th, 2015 – 18:27 PST ]

[Program Note: I had intended to write something different today, but it turned out to be more research-intensive than I had originally thought. So, instead, I am putting it together for tomorrow, as a bit of a departure from my normal Friday Talking Points (as I am often wont to do). But because we'll be pre-empting the weekly talking points, I thought this was a good way to fill that void. So see you all tomorrow, and for today, enjoy some finer wordsmithing than I am capable of, courtesy of Senator Warren.]


Senator Elizabeth Warren has another viral video out. Tuesday, she spoke to a forum on the middle class, and in the past two days the video has been viewed over a million times on Facebook.

In it, she asks precisely the right questions of the Republicans who are now using soaring language to speak of the plight of the middle class in America. As Warren put it, it's time for such Republicans to "put up or shut up."

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Please Run, Donald. Pretty Please?

[ Posted Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 – 17:26 PST ]

The big headline at the Washington Post website today reads: "Trump For President? Mogul Says He's Serious About Running In 2016." The story notes that Trump has "hired staffers in key primary states, retained an election attorney and delayed signing on for another season as host of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice." It certainly sounds like he's serious, in other words. May I just take a moment to speak for all of America's political pundits, celebrity-watchers, and late-night comedians, as I openly beg for such rich pastures of political amusement: "Please run, Donald. Please?"

Right next to this juicy headline was a seemingly unrelated story: "Marijuana Set To Be Legalized In D.C. At Midnight." Well, not a moment too soon, since the best possible way for everyone inside the Beltway to contemplate a Trump candidacy (much less a Trump presidency) is, quite obviously, stoned out of their gourds.

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Government Shutdowns Never Work

[ Posted Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 – 16:57 PST ]

Mitch McConnell has just defused the ticking Department of Homeland Security shutdown bomb, and signaled that the department will not have to shut down this weekend. No word yet on how John Boehner and the House Republicans are going to react (to say nothing of the right-wing media). But by acting this early, McConnell is allowing time for such tantrums and hair-pulling before the House actually votes for a clean D.H.S. budget bill, right before the weekend.

You'll forgive me if I take a little victory lap today. Because I've been predicting precisely this outcome for quite some time now. This wasn't all that hard to do, because it merely proves what seems to be a natural law in Washington politics: holding budgets hostage and shutting down the federal government to pick some political fight never works. It didn't work back in the Bill Clinton years, it didn't work for the Tea Partiers a year and a half ago, and it didn't work this week. Predictably.

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Big Bills Versus Little Bills

[ Posted Monday, February 23rd, 2015 – 18:08 PST ]

The Senate just voted for a fourth time to open debate on a budget bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, coupled together by the House with poison-pill language to block President Obama's new policies on immigration. For the fourth time, the bill failed to gain the 60 votes necessary to move forward. This time around, Republicans could only muster 47 votes in favor of the legislation -- fewer than any of the previous three times the Senate has voted on it (the bill has never even gotten 55 votes, much less 60, and the only bipartisanship has come from one Republican voting with the Democrats, for those of you keeping score at home).

The reason the fourth vote was held is a simple one: Mitch McConnell is stalling. He is buying time until the last minute looms, which will happen later this week. Republicans will not back themselves out of their self-induced corner until the absolute last possible opportunity to do so arrives. What is amusing in this contest of wills is that the endgame depends not on a fight between Obama and the Republicans, but rather on the outcome of the power struggle between John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Perhaps "power struggle" is the wrong term -- what it really amounts to is "avoiding being the Tea Party's scapegoat." One way or another, there will be conservative blame. That blame will be laid at the feet of whichever Republican leader is seen to cave first, and neither McConnell nor Boehner wants to be that target. This is why absolutely nothing productive is going to happen until much later in the week.

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Friday Talking Points [336] -- GOP's Government Shutdown Showdown

[ Posted Friday, February 20th, 2015 – 17:56 PST ]

Hello and welcome back to our Friday political news roundup. I must apologize for not writing one of these columns last week, but I was under the weather and far too sick to type (or think coherently). So the events covered today really encompass the previous two weeks, just to warn everyone in advance. Also, this intro is going to move along at an accelerated clip, because there is a lot to cover. Our awards this week are backwards, and then we've got a rant on the Republicans in Congress who are getting ready to have another government shutdown (because the last one worked so well, right?). But enough overview, let's get on with things.

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Foreign Policy Questions For GOP Candidates

[ Posted Thursday, February 19th, 2015 – 18:12 PST ]

Jeb Bush gave a speech this week that was supposed to lay out his foreign policy ideas. The speech itself fell far short of this goal, according to most who bothered to listen to it. Bush did announce his foreign policy advisory team -- which looks a whole lot like his brother's, with a sprinkling of his father's advisors added into the mix. But the entire exercise left many questions unanswered.

I don't mean to single Bush out, here. At least he's talking about foreign policy, which is more than most of the Republican candidates can claim, at this early point. But sooner or later the discussion will get wider within the party, and what I'm hoping is that we'll eventually get some answers to the questions that remain. I should also state up front that I certainly don't have the answers to all these questions either, but then again I am not running for president.

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Escape Hatch, Can-Kick, Or Shutdown?

[ Posted Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 – 16:51 PST ]

The immigration fight just got a little more complicated for the Republicans. A federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of President Obama's new immigration policy, which has thrown a curve ball into the Republican congressional strategy of having a big political battle over immigration next week. Will they realize the ruling gives them a political "escape hatch" out of their unwinnable position? Will they use the legal case as an excuse to "kick the can down the road" a bit more? Or will they just go ahead and shut down the Department of Homeland Security anyway? These are really their only three viable options, and all of Washington is atwitter over which they'll choose to take.

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