Tag Archives: United States Congress

IRS concerns still relevant

The blocks that make up the IRS building might not even be as dense as some of those who work inside

The blocks that make up the IRS building might not even be as dense as some of those who work inside

This post originally published in 2013. I believe, that while some of the details have changed, the overall message still applies two-plus years later

The Internal Revenue Service is on course to hand out $70 million in bonuses even as the agency is mired in scandal. The IRS is still under fire for targeting conservative groups prior to the 2010 and 2012 elections. This latest news is sure to draw ire from Republicans in both the House and Senate – and rightly so. Continue reading

Returning from the abyss

6814934-wallpaper-abyssWell, it has been roughly a gazillion months since I was able to post here. My stubbornness to fix the site problems by myself, as well as some writing contracts caused this to fall by the relative waste-side. It’s not that I was abandoning The Midwest Wing, it is just that the task ahead of me so daunting that it kind of pushed me away. It appears, though, that almost all of the problems are now fixed. While I still can’t create “pretty permalinks” I am really not going to let an inconsequential matter such as that keep me from ramping this back up. There is so very much to talk about…and I haven’t talked about any of it. Continue reading

Hoosier Tuesday: Call of (civic) duty

Voting is not just a right, it is a duty

Voting is not just a right, it is a duty

Today was Primary Day in Indiana. As detailed last week, this election season has shown me a few things I have not really seen before (Not just in the Hoosier State, throughout four different states too). I performed my civic duty and voted with my son in tow. It was fun to be able to take him with me as I explained why we voted.

Continue reading

Bachmann’s World

Michele Bachmann announced recently that she would not seek another term, thus bringing to an end her sometimes very bizarre tenure in the House of Representatives. If you are a long-time reader of this site, you know that she is one of our favorite politicians.

Upon announcing her retirement from the House she told her supporters she was not actually retiring

“I’m not retiring, I’m not going silent, I’m not quitting my public involvement. In fact, I may run for another public office, that may happen, but for right now, I think I’m going to find another perch to weigh in on these matters.”

Continue reading

NSF Research – Purdue Appeals to Bucshon

Larry Bucshon, member of the United States Hou...

Recently Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN 8) toured Purdue University and met with faculty and research leaders to discuss government sponsored research and its importance to the University.  Congressman Bucshon is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Research, so this carries a bit more weight than the normal district work period meet-and-greet.  Additionally, Rep. Bucshon was a heart surgeon prior to being elected to Congress in 2010 so he knows a bit about research and its importance in society.

Continue reading

A Congressional Majority Should be the Real Concern in 2012 for the GOP

While all of the focus in Republican politics has been on the race for the White House, it seems the subject of real importance has been pushed to the side. The United States Senate currently has a 51-47 Democratic majority (with 2 Independents who caucus with the D’s) that is essentially negating the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. In 2010 the GOP had a golden opportunity to close that gap to 49-49-2 but the elections in Nevada and Delaware torpedoed that hope. In 2012 the Republicans must take that next step and win back the Senate.

I do not want this to serve as post diminishing the importance of the presidential race; rather I think the focus on the Senate races needs to be elevated. We have seen numerous instances this year of legislation being passed in the House (even with some Democratic support) and having it fail in the Senate, many times right along party lines. When something like this occurs, it really doesn’t matter who the President is if the legislation cannot even reaches their desk for a signature.

Continue reading

The GOP and the Debt Ceiling

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I found a recent column by Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight very interesting and called it a “must read”.  In short summary it says that if “Republicans in the House insist upon zero tax increases, there is a larger ideological gap between House Republicans and Republican votersthan there is between Republican voters and Democratic ones.”  Initially, I found this quote upsetting – my party in Congress was being hi-jacked by the extreme.

…Then I realized something…

Yes, the average GOP voter feels that 26% of the funding shortfall should come from “tax increases” and the House GOP is saying that 0% can come from “tax increases”.  There are problems with this though – both in language and reality.

First off, of course the House GOP is going to say no to any sort of tax increases.  If they hold the hard-line on that then the Democrats (and President) need to come closer to them.  By holding the hardline, they are trying to guarantee that the needed spending cuts really do happen, rather than produce some sort of watered down version that doesn’t do anyone any good in the end.

There is also the question of exactly what “tax increases” means.  In a polling scenario, without further explanation, that term can mean many things to many people.  It can mean across the board increases.  It can mean targeted increases at certain sectors of the economy.  It can also just mean increased revenues through the closing of loopholes.  Heck, “tax increases” could actually even be actual tax rate reductions that increase the taxes of some who have been skirting the intent of the original tax laws.

So, while I greatly appreciate the work Nate Silver put into the article and find the number fascinating, his analysis could be off-target as he doesn’t explore the backstory – he just examines the polling data on its face.  That all being said, I think the House GOP conference needs to put a bit more of their faith in Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House.  He is a seasoned leader and knows when the GOP should come off that hard-line of 100% spending cuts and 0% tax increases (whatever tax increases are).

Re-Imagining Congressional Redistricting

A popular slogan for the past couple of years has been “Rethinking Redistricting” but with the way some states handle the process, I am not sure how much thought goes into it.  I would instead propose that “re-imagine redistricting” since it seems like quite a bit of imagination goes into some of the district layouts right now and given the highly charged political nature of the process, my proposal will be pure imagination most likely.

Previously I talked about the Electoral College vs. the Popular Vote here and mentioned that one option was to go with a Congressional District type of scheme that Nebraska and Maine currently use.  In that piece I talked about how, for this to be successful, we would need to essentially end gerrymandering of Congressional Districts for political purposes and have fair representation.  If that occurred, then the option shown to use by Maine and Nebraska could be truly applicable to larger states and as such become our national standard.  As it currently stands, most states have drawn their Congressional districts in such a manner that a Democrat or Republican has a clear advantage in a majority of them, with a minority of seats being truly “competitive”.  Ed: interesting that as I was writing this, The Fix, an internet political section of The Washington Post, did a story on redistricting and the political outcomes

What we, as Americans, need is for the redistricting/reapportionment of Congressional seats (and furthermore the State House and Senate seats) to be taken out of the hands of those who directly benefit from it.  Some states already do this, such as Iowa who has an independent government body create a map and then send it along to the House and Senate for an up or down vote.  California has a citizens board (the California Citizens Redistricting Commission) that is in-charge of its redistricting process, the largest in the nation.  Here in the Hoosier State I was able to talk with Speaker Brian Bosma earlier in the year and he indicated a willingness to move towards Iowa’s system but that it would not impact their maps for this next cycle since the maps needed to be out so early in the year.

What we need is for our Congressional districts to be drawn to represent the people of a region, the diversity of a community.  We don’t need all the Republicans on one side and the Democrats on the other.  I don’t think our Founding Fathers envisioned scenarios in which one party would dominate the other so thoroughly in many of our districts.  The United States House of Representatives was set up to serve the people and continually reflect the will of the citizens.  If we are not getting an accurate or fair representation from those citizens because of how we have divided communities then our system is operating outside of the bounds of the Constitution.

I will admit to not fully grasping the Chicago community, but I still don’t see how the map is anything more than gerrymander.

Furthermore it shows that gerrymandering is not just about political parties but other demographics including race and income as the IL 4th and IL 7th, both areas in question, are represented in Congress by members of the Democratic Party.

In order to get the most out of Government, we need fair representation.  Gerrymandering a Congressional district does a disservice not only to the constituents of that district and the populace of the state, but to all of America.  Afterall, those 435 elected men and women are drafting budgets and creating legislation that impacts every single one of us, not just between 2nd and 8th Sts, North of Pine.  It is time that we start picking our Representatives in Congress again, not having them pick us.

SOTU rebuttal

I had the thought that with this blog I would refrain from naming names and try “rise above the fray”. I will continue to try and do this. However, there is an irksome matter I want to address.

It seems that some Republicans (ok, one Republican) felt that the official rebuttal to be given by Rep. Paul Ryan is just simply not good enough. It appears that some are not behind the official selection made by the Speaker of the House and the Senate Minority Leader. So much for Republicans being united in this new Congress.

It is fine to have your own thoughts about the SOTU. That is what press releases and interviews with your local media (or the quick hits on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC) are for. Republicans have an important chance to make a statement tomorrow night – it would be nice if they made it in unison.

– Sam the Eagle