Worst Congress Ever?
Is this the worst Congress ever, asks The Hill: “The most memorable action taken by this Congress was last year’s shutdown. It is not that passing lots of laws necessarily makes a ‘good Congress,’ and many people would argue that the opposite is true. But even measures that both parties’ leaders want to get done, such as immigration reform, tax reform and transportation legislation have scant chance of reaching Obama’s desk. House Democrats and Senate Republicans are both using this inaction to persuade voters to give them control of their respective chambers.”
Sen. Marco Rubio to offer Republican economic ideas in speech today. WSJ: “[Rubio will] propose streamlining the federal regulatory review process for natural-gas pipelines, creating a system to monitor the impact of regulations, expanding access to the wireless spectrum and more closely coordinating research breakthroughs between the government and private businesses … [He will] lay out at least 10 policy changes that he said would help boost the economy, including a repeal of the ban on crude-oil exports, a provision to allow businesses to immediately deduct investments from taxable income, and a stronger push to broker international trade agreements to open new markets to the ‘tens of thousands’ of small U.S. businesses … His planned speech notably omits any mention of immigration…”
Are conservatives offering new ideas or new packaging? W. Post’s E. J. Dionne: “[Rep. Paul] Ryan may have revealed more than he intended when he downplayed conservative divisions. ‘For the most part,’ Ryan insisted, ‘these disagreements have not been over principles or even policies. They’ve been over tactics.’ In which case, this is not an argument over ideas at all, but a discussion of packaging.”
Big business proves reluctant to take on Tea Party. Politico: “Business isn’t taking on sitting lawmakers responsible for grinding legislative business to a halt on Capitol Hill. It isn’t backing many candidates early. And it hasn’t cowed conservative groups fueling challenges to incumbent senators … more than a dozen Republican lobbyists and operatives said they think business is missing a crucial moment to course correct the Republican Party and make a dent in the Washington gridlock.”
Bernie To The Rescue?
Sen. Bernie Sanders teases presidential run to Vermont Public Radio: “…as I understand American politics and American history, nobody is anointed, that we need a vigorous debate about the issues that impact working families and I suspect that in my debate my views will be quite different from Secretary Clinton’s … I do not want to be in the position of helping to elect some right wing Republican as president of the United States. That I do not want to do and I’m not going to do, and there are ways that we could deal with that.”
Reducing income inequality will help economic growth, argues NYT’s Paul Krugman: “But how can the effects of redistribution on growth be benign? Doesn’t generous aid to the poor reduce their incentive to work? Don’t taxes on the rich reduce their incentive to get even richer? Yes and yes — but incentives aren’t the only things that matter. Resources matter too — and in a highly unequal society, many people don’t have them…”
Climate All-Nighter on Senate Floor Tonight
Dems plan Senate floor all-nighter on climate. The Guardian: “The marathon session will get underway after the last vote on Monday night and could last until 9am on Tuesday … The Senators said they would be tweeting throughout the night, using the hashtag #Up4Climate … Some of the 28 senators taking to the floor on Monday night have been working for years to try to get climate change legislation through the Senate … But there will also be some newcomers on Monday night, as well as a number of senior Democratic senators, such as Nevada’s Harry Reid and New York’s Charles Schumer…”
Can Big Money put climate on the national agenda? National Journal: “Skeptics on both sides of the aisle—scoffing Republicans on one hand and some Democratic strategists arguing over the best way to win votes on the other—wonder whether [Tom] Steyer’s group, no matter how well moneyed it is, can elevate climate issues enough to drive voters’ decisions … polling shows that voters started the year far more concerned about the economy and jobs than the environment. But Steyer has already had some success outside California, using opposition to gas drilling to set up a wider ethics-based attack on Republican Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia last year. Now, he thinks he can build on it.”
Record use of mass transit in 2013. NYT: “More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved [and] local economies grew … The ridership in 2013, when gas prices were lower than in 2008, undermines the conventional wisdom that transit use rises when those prices exceed a certain threshold, and suggests that other forces are bolstering enthusiasm for public transportation …”