Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

More of the same in Obama’s SOTU; Rubio hits the right notes in GOP response

Toward the beginning of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama said we need a “smarter government,” not a “bigger government.” He then proceeded to request a long wish list of new government programs that make clear that, in his mind, the only smarter government is a bigger one.

So, we would have the federal government providing everything from universal pre-K to a network of manufacturing hubs to rebuilt bridges to refinanced homes — none of which is a bad thing, but also none of which require the involvement of a federal government already well beyond its ability to pay for the things it already tries to do. His assertion that this wish list would not add “a single dime” to the deficit didn’t pass the laugh test, particularly when administration officials after the speech declined to provide cost estimates for the new programs.

One can only guess his proposals won’t add “a single dime” to the deficit because they would, instead, add many billions if …

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Who says there’s no common ground in Washington anymore?

Tonight, President Obama will try to kick-start his legislative priorities for his second term in his State of the Union address to Congress. Much is being made, as is the case every year, of what the president is likely to say. Most of the guesses so far have him focused on the economy, while also mentioning gun control, immigration reform and climate change. There are bound to be a surprise or two, and I’ll have it covered for you here tomorrow morning.

Much less effort is given to predicting what the Republican response from Sen. Marco Rubio will be — or, for that matter, the “tea party response” from Sen. Rand Paul. But Ira Stoll has taken a crack at writing what he thinks Rubio ought to say, and I think it’s rather clever on his part.

Because “our nation’s challenges are too great” for partisanship, Stoll advises Rubio to say, “first thing tomorrow, I will introduce legislation in the Senate called the Barack Obama Campaign Promise Implementation Act of 2013.”

That …

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The next Republican in the Senate race? Probably not Tom Price

Now, that’s not to say Tom Price, who represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, won’t run in next year’s election to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. But unless no one else gets in the race during the next three months, Price won’t be the next candidate to jump in. (Paul Broun was the first.)

In a statement emailed today, Price said he’d raised $300,000 in the two weeks since Chambliss announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. That’s on top of the nearly $1.6 million in cash on hand his campaign committee reported as of Dec. 31. But, Price dded:

In November of 2012, the citizens of Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District re-elected me to represent them in the U. S. House of Representatives. This is a great honor and serious responsibility. As Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee, I’ve been entrusted with a leadership position by my colleagues. My current focus is on the formulation of a sound Budget Resolution, a plan to balance the budget within ten years and …

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Broun wastes no time in Georgia Senate race

Here’s what appeared on my screen when I checked the AJC Political Insider blog a few minutes ago:

Broun for Senate ads screen shot

That’s not one but two Broun for Senate ads, just two days after the congressman from Athens officially entered the race to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. Both ads take you to the typical landing page at which you can sign up for email updates or give money to the campaign. Beyond that, there’s a one-page website set up with what Broun calls his “Four Way Test for all legislation”: Is it constitutional/right/necessary/affordable?

Lest you have to guess which one of these four appears to be most important to Broun, here’s the script from his landing site:

Broun for Senate landing page screen shot

<– “Constitution”




<– “Constitutionalist”

<– “Constitution”




<– “Constitutional”


I guess you could say his campaign has a theme.

It’s a theme that will resonate with a lot of Georgia voters, mind you. But will it be enough of one to move many members of even the state GOP’s very conservative base beyond his

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Poll shows muddled Georgia Democratic field for Senate

Most of the attention paid to Georgia’s soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat has gone to possible Republican candidates — including Congressman Paul Broun, who today became the first to file paperwork to run. But the race may be the best chance Georgia Democrats have at winning a statewide election in 2014, so who might run for their nomination?

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said he isn’t running. Congressman John Barrow has been more coy, but his hints suggest he is reluctant to give it a shot.

With all that in mind, I was intrigued by a poll tweeted a short while ago by the AJC’s Washington correspondent, Daniel Malloy. Pollster Fred Hicks surveyed 1,411 Democratic voters statewide Feb. 1-2. Here’s what he found:

Undecided: 21.5 percent

Congressman Sanford Bishop: 16.3 percent

Former Attorney General Thurbert Baker: 15.4 percent

Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox: 15.0 percent

Former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond: 12.6 percent

Someone else: 8.8 percent

Former DeKalb CEO …

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Will national Republicans try to shape Georgia’s Senate race?

As possible candidates to replace Saxby Chambliss in the U.S. Senate continue to sidle up to the proverbial ring with their proverbial hats aimed at it, take a few minutes to read this story from the New York Times about how national GOP figures are trying to get more involved in recruiting and promoting candidates in Senate races across the country. Here’s the gist of it:

The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate. …

The Conservative Victory Project, which is backed by Karl Rove and his allies who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races to try to weed out candidates who are seen as too flawed to win …

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Senate immigration reform tries to be everything to everybody

The package of immigration reforms unveiled today by four GOP senators and four Democratic ones has been pitched as “comprehensive.” And it certainly is comprehensive — so all-encompassing, in fact, it seems to include everything both side wants, even the things that would seem to be mutually exclusive.

For example, the package’s first “pillar” stipulates that a revised “path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already here” is “contingent upon securing the border and combating visa overstays.” For the left, the the key bit is the “path to citizenship.” For the right, it’s “securing the border.” (I’m speaking in broad terms for both groups, obviously.) Those two goals aren’t necessarily in conflict; it depends on how you try to accomplish them.

That’s where the contradictory details come into play. The Republican senators point to the package’s “commission comprised of governors, attorneys general and community leaders living along the Southwest border” and suggest this …

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Before dropping out, Chambliss had mixed feelings about running again

The first serious indication I got from Sen. Saxby Chambliss that he wasn’t planning to run for re-election next year came two weeks ago, during an interview at his local office in Cobb County. I put some of it in my write-up of the meeting, and I could have written a whole column about his mixed feelings about running for a third term in the Senate. But I had to balance space considerations (that piece was for the print edition of the AJC) and interest in what the “Gang of Six” member had to say about the fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, etc., so I kept the re-election talk in my column limited and placed at the end. Plus, he gave me no reason to believe he’d announce his intentions for 2014 so soon.

Looking back, and in light of his statement today that he’s leaving due in largest part to “frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress,” I thought I’d publish his entire remarks about whether he’d run and how …

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With Saxby out, these Georgians might run for Senate in 2014 (With updates)

My colleague Jim Galloway drops a mighty big political bomb for a Friday morning more than 21 months before the next election: Saxby Chambliss reportedly has told his senior staff members he will not run for re-election next year. (Update at 11:40: An announcement from Chambliss’ office just arrived, making it official. He’s not running.)

There’s been plenty of speculation about this possibility in the past, and just a couple of weeks ago he told me — in probably the strongest terms he’d used to that point — that he was seriously considering it. Now that it’s set to become official this morning, we can begin speculating in earnest about who might run for that seat.

In my mind, the list is not short. Here are some possible names, in alphabetical order and with some thoughts about their respective likelihood of running:

Paul Broun: The congressman from Georgia’s 10th District is first on the list alphabetically but probably would be first on the list if I were ranking the …

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House GOP skirts debt-ceiling drama, can now focus on spending cuts

As I suggested last week, congressional Republicans don’t have to play around with the debt ceiling in order to make sure spending is cut during the next two months. And it appears that approach is more or less what they’re doing. From the Washington Post:

As House Republicans prepared to vote Wednesday on a plan to suspend the debt limit, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan made clear that the party is in no way abandoning its uncompromising approach to the budget battle with President Obama.

Republicans will insist that automatic spending cuts take effect March 1 unless other cuts are adopted, Ryan said. They may force a shutdown of the government on March 27 unless Democrats agree to additional cuts. And they will demand that any future increase in the debt limit – likely to be necessary this summer if the measure to suspend the current debt limit is adopted — be paired dollar-for-dollar with spending cuts or other reforms.

“We have a sequester kicking in on March 1, a …

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