Down But Not Out: A New Era Begins for Appropriations

Published February 14th, 2011 by John Scofield

scofieldFor those who want to write the premature obituary to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, let me say that from agriculture to foreign policy, and from defense spending to greenhouse gas emissions, these committees will have their hands in most of the major policy fights of the 112th Congress. With spending earmarks off the table for the time being, regulatory action may become the new earmark. The president’s Wall Street Journal confession to revisit regulations that place “unreasonable burdens on business” has opened the floodgates for Congress to question a host of regulatory proposals. While a lot of committees will hold hearings and introduce legislation, it’s in the appropriations process that these regulatory roadblocks have their best chance of success. The appropriations committees will be at the tip of the spear for the new House majority’s attempts to rollback Obama-care, block EPA’s climate change proposals, and resist a raft of proposed rules across the federal agencies, despite what you read in the Beltway death notice pages.

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Game Changer: Navigating the New Regulatory Playbook

Published February 14th, 2011 by Sally Katzen

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The economy is beginning to rebound, but at a slower than desired rate, especially on the employment front. The Republicans have taken control of the House and have begun to deliver on their promise of aggressive oversight and investigation of the administration. They have also stepped up their message – which originated and clearly resonates with the business community – one of the biggest drags on the economy is the extensive regulatory activity of this administration – rules already issued and those planned or proposed in the next year or so

As his presidency reaches the halfway point, President Obama faces a complex economic and political landscape. And in turn, the business community faces a rapidly evolving regulatory world. Organizations must be nimble and armed with the most sophisticated intelligence available in order to move forward strategically and productively in this ever-changing environment.

The economy is beginning to rebound, but at a slower than desired rate, especially on the employment front. The Republicans have taken control of the House and have begun to deliver on their promise of aggressive oversight and investigation of the administration. They have also stepped up their message – which originated and clearly resonates with the business community – one of the biggest drags on the economy is the extensive regulatory activity of this administration – rules already issued and those planned or proposed in the next year or so.

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Political Puzzle Solving: Redistricting the Pieces

Published December 21st, 2010 by Mike Quaranta

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Today, the Census Bureau announced how 435 House seats will be apportioned among the states for the next decade when it released the first results from the once-in-a-decade government count.

As data from the 2010 census is scheduled to be released in the coming months, states will begin the controversial process of redrawing congressional district lines, which means businesses need to begin bracing for change. The census data is used for geographically defining state legislative districts, or “redistricting”. And confirming early government estimates, the 2010 census revealed that America’s population growth has dropped to its lowest level in seven decades. This resulted in a bit of a boon for Republicans in Congress, with traditionally GOP-leaning states picking up House seats due to a steady migration to the South and West.

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Inside the Obama Tax Compromise: What You Should Know

Published December 21st, 2010 by AJ Jones

jonesThe tax deal of December should give everyone a preview of politics to come in 2011.

While a number of factors drove the tax deal, there are several key issues worth highlighting. First, while President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 pumped over $787 billion dollars in the American economy, the legislation fell short of its goal of substantially lowering the unemployment rate. And although the stimulus bill created a partisan divide throughout the 111th Congress, there was a growing bipartisan chorus for the need to do more to aid the fragile economy and address historically high unemployment. This chorus grew louder as businesses, investors and economists cited an unpredictable tax environment as a strain on the economy.

Second, ever since the passage of President Bush’s tax cuts, also known as PL 107-16, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), Democrats have vehemently opposed them, with only 10 Democrats supporting its passage in 2001. This Democratic opposition was unequivocal, and for 10 years, they laid in wait for the day they would expire.

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Winter Weather Outlook: Federal Budget Forecast Sure to be Stormy

Published December 21st, 2010 by Dale Oak

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Having trouble sleeping? There’s nothing like a good discussion about the federal budget to cure the most serious case of insomnia. But that may change in the coming months, as the new landscape of the 112th Congress begins to shape the budget debate. In fact, the coming budget battles may just keep you up all night.

There will be two 800-pound gorillas in the room early next year: the March 4, 2011, expiration of the new continuing resolution to fund the government, and the lifting of the government debt ceiling that will be required within the March through May timeframe. Most economists agree that lifting the debt ceiling is a must-do action; failure to raise it can trigger a default on the nation’s debt and create turmoil in financial markets that are still in recovery.

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Bill and Newt’s Excellent Adventure: Will History Repeat Itself?

Published November 5th, 2010 by David Kusnet

A View from the White House

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The eloquent young president had been elected with a mantra of hope and change. But, by his second year, his approval rating sank below 50 percent, his healthcare reform was mired in controversy, and candidates from his own party were uncertain whether they wanted him to campaign for them. On Election Day, the Democrats lost 54 seats in the House, eight seats in the Senate and 12 governorships. Shortly afterwards, the President told a news conference: “To whatever extent that we didn’t do what the people wanted us to do or they were not aware of what we had done, I must certainly bear my share of the responsibility.”

The President was Bill Clinton. The year was 1994. And we know what came next: President Clinton alternately worked with and fought against a Republican Congress. He was re-elected in 1996, but control of Congress didn’t change hands until 2006. For the final six years of Clinton’s presidency, national policymaking resulted from the interplay – sometimes collegial, sometimes confrontational – between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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An Inevitable Byproduct of Divided Government: Oversight and Investigations

Published November 5th, 2010 by David Marin

marinTuesday’s midterm election results are sure to mean a renewed and reinvigorated emphasis on congressional oversight, particularly in the GOP-led House. Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-OH) has already sent word to would-be committee chairs that all committees are to have oversight as a key component of their agendas; and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the shoo-in candidate to chair the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been laying the groundwork for a robust investigative slate since President Obama’s election two years ago.

In a companion piece in this newsletter, my colleague Sally Katzen lays out how and why, over the next two years, much of the real action will not be in Congress but in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy. The administration will attempt to advance its agenda on health care reform, financial reform and energy via regulation, trying to put points on the board and position the president for 2012 outside the traffic jam that is Congress. But the chances for major legislation will be slim.

Oversight and investigations can and will fill that vacuum.

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