After deliberating for five days and considering more than 300 amendments, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan immigration reform bill on Tuesday evening, clearing the way for a debate on the Senate floor early next month. The bill was approved 13-5, with support from only three Republicans; Gang of Eight members Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, and Orrin Hatch, who the group wooed by accepting his amendment to offer more visas for high-skilled workers. The new version of the bill should be more palatable to Republicans, particularly since they won their game of chicken with Patrick Leahy over adding provisions to protect same-sex couples.
Lois Lerner, an official at the center of the IRS's ongoing conservative-targeting scandal, announced today that she plans to plead the Fifth if forced to appear before Darrell Issa's House Oversight Committee tomorrow. At the same time, her lawyer maintains her innocence. “She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” the lawyer's letter contends.
Predictable scoffing has ensued. If you're pleading the Fifth, you obviously have something to hide.
The most prominent serious economic case against using stimulus to fight the economic crisis — the Reinhart-Rogoff 90 Percent Threshold of Death — has collapsed ignominiously, leaving true believers in austerity grasping for some justification that isn’t based on simple data errors. Washington Post editorial writer Chuck Lane has a new nominee: James Buchanan, Nobel Prize–award-winning economist.
Lane concedes that stimulus can boost the economy in the short run. But there may be a cost. Buchanan’s work, he explains, found “deficit spending is very easy to turn on and very hard to turn off.” Politicians like giving their voters lower taxes and better services, and don’t like giving them the reverse. A short-term stimulus can become a long-term deficit increase. So the real debate is whether stimulus is worth the risk of morphing into permanent deficits. It’s not that the austerians are wrong, he says, they just care more about the long term:
The Butler Screenwriter Danny Strong Doesn’t Get Why Anyone Cares That Jane Fonda Is Playing Nancy ReaganBy Keertana Sastry
Some conservatives are incensed that Jane Fonda, a woman who basically took up arms against the United States during the Vietnam War, will be portraying American patriot Nancy Reagan in The Butler, an upcoming film about longtime White House butler Cecil Gains. The First Lady's former press secretary called the casting decision "ludicrous." A Facebook group called "Boycott Hanoi Jane Playing Nancy Reagan" currently has more than 20,000 likes. It's a whole thing.
Republican nominees for the upcoming Virginia statewide elections appear committed to upholding the Commonwealth's tradition of invasive and unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds and arcane regulations designed to put abortion providers out of business. Mother Jones’s Kate Sheppard has the rundown.
But unlike Franco, she's unlikely to try her hand at soap opera acting or a "homo-sex-art-film." In addition to serving as an assistant vice provost at NYU, pursuing a doctorate degree from Oxford, and working as a special contributor to NBC News, the Post reports that Clinton has become co-founder and co-chair of NYU's Of Many Institute, a new program that aims to “develop multifaith dialogue and train multifaith leaders.” Clinton should be slightly less busy now that Rock Center has been cancelled, and apparently using that time to catch up on Real Housewives wasn't an option.
Last week, sources said the Clintons wouldn't endorse Anthony Weiner if he runs for mayor for fear that Americans would suddenly remember that the president had a sex scandal of his own in the late nineties. (Was it a sexy AIM chat or something? We're a bit foggy.) Apparently Weiner and supportive wife/Hillary aide Huma Abedin aren't the only issue; The Clintons aren't interested in choosing between Bill de Blasio, Hillary's 2000 Senate campaign manager, Christine Quinn, potentially the city's first female/openly gay mayor, and Bill Thompson, who would be the city's second black mayor. Hillary Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill tells Politico, “Secretary Clinton knows all of the candidates, she has worked with many of them, and is close with many of them, so won’t be weighing in one way or the other.”
The Obama presidency has been a golden era for right-wing kookery. Many aspects of this kookery, like gold fetishism or threats to default on the national debt, are simply too esoteric to filter into the general public and haven’t hurt the party’s image. Where Republicans have suffered damage is when their kook beliefs wander into the terrain of social issues, which hinge less on specialized knowledge, and the nuttiness is apparent to all. They keep throwing away winnable elections in this manner, and they may be about to do it again in Virginia.
The most interesting part of this Washington Post op-ed on guns by Jeffrey Nugent ("Ted Nugent’s older brother") is not the case it makes for expanding background checks. Everyone with the capacity for common sense thinks expanding background checks is a good idea, including, apparently, Jeffrey Nugent. The most interesting part of Jeffrey Nugent's op-ed is this line, right at the beginning:
Jeffrey Nugent is the former president and chief executive of Revlon.
We know they're brothers, but were they separated at birth or something?
It's unknown what Justin Timberlake is showing President Obama in this photo from a White House musical performance last month, which was released today on the White House Flickr page. But some are suggesting that it was Timberlake's high score in Candy Crush.
Deep behind a tangle of denial and rebranding initiatives, a GOP resuscitation plan emerges.By Frank Rich
When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.By Jason Zengerle
Jon Favreau’s most enduring riffs.
Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013
For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.By Ezra Klein
Mother Jones Jan. 15, 2013
Our debt dysfunction began with the Constitution, funded Manifest Destiny, and makes the trillion dollar coin look tame.By Tim Murphy
Salon Jan. 15, 2012
Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.By Steve Kornacki
New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010
After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009
Obama drew progressive ire from day one.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008
How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.By Jeff Coplon