Opinion: This Budget Isn’t Dead on Arrival
Trump’s budget draws the battle lines between the parties

Every year, Congress affixes the same toe tag to the White House budget within minutes of its delivery: “Dead on Arrival.”

The phrase is such a cliche, and so often repeated by members of Congress who dislike the president’s numbers, that it’s hard to find a news story about each year’s budget that doesn’t include those three words. It’s also discounted as just a “blueprint,” “a political document” or a “proposal” written for disposal. When I was a budget reporter for CQ, and at other publications, these were my watchwords.

Opinion: Put Up Your Own Plan, Democrats
Lawmakers could give Trump an alternative to foundering GOP plan

Democrats have a golden opportunity to save Obamacare and pick up political credibility at the same time. 

With House Speaker Paul Ryan’s vision for the American health care system being rejected by the left, the center and the right, Democrats should offer their own plan to bring relief to those who are paying more or getting less under President Barack Obama’s signature law.

Opinion: Lying to Congress — Harm, But No Foul
McConnell let Cabinet nominees get away with it

It is a serious offense to lie to Congress — except when Congress doesn’t care.

Trump Embraces Christian Charity? Not So Much
President displays a tolerance for intolerance

Donald Trump was sworn in using two Bibles, the one Lincoln used during his first inauguration and a family copy.

If he’s read either of them, he knows that Jesus separates the sheep from the goats — the people going to heaven from those going to hell — by how they treated their fellow men and women.

Robbing the Poor to Pay Paul Ryan’s Pals
Speaker may have powerful ally for assault on Medicaid

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan wants you to know that he cares about the poor. He wants you to know that his deeply held Catholic convictions drive him to seek opportunity for those in poverty, particularly people of color.

He speaks in the compassionate tones of someone who means to help not harm, and I believe that these are his real values, even if I often don’t agree with his policy prescriptions.

Sean Duffy’s an Embarrassment to Wisconsin’s 7th District
And he should apologize to everyone

Rep. Sean Duffy’s constituents and colleagues should be ashamed of him.

In an interview on CNN on Tuesday, the Wisconsin Republican applauded the “good things that came from” a white supremacist murdering nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

What Sally Yates Really Betrayed
She has a better sense of what makes America great than Trump

God bless Sally Yates’s America, where justice is a function of both law and morality. 

Many Americans first heard of the acting attorney general on Monday, when she instructed Justice Department lawyers not to defend President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at making it harder for many Muslims to enter the United States.

Grow up, Earl Blumenauer
Twitter rant against Trump by Oregon Democrat ill-advised

As my colleague Eric Garcia reported, Rep. Earl Blumenauer went on a Twitter rant against President Donald Trump Monday night. The Oregon Democrat used the hashtag #LiarinChief to call out the commander in chief for a string of statements that bent the bounds of truth.

The venue was much different, but that’s the same sentiment Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., rightly took a beating for, for expressing during an address by President Barack Obama to a joint session of Congress in 2009. Wilson’s a kind man who will nonetheless go down as the guy who yelled, “You lie!” at a sitting president in the House chamber. Appropriately, the House approved a resolution condemning Wilson’s behavior. Blumenauer voted in favor.

Trump vs. Lewis: A Question of Character
The difference between being a character — and having it

When we think of Rep. John Lewis on a bus, it is as a teenage “Freedom Rider,” putting his own life at risk in order to form a more perfect union. When we think of Donald Trump on a bus, it is as a boorish billionaire, musing about sexually assaulting women.

When we think of Lewis and racial politics, it is in the context of waking America’s conscience to the civil, voting and housing rights denied to citizens because of the color of their skin. When we think of Trump and racial politics, it is in the context of denying housing to citizens based on the color of their skin, fomenting white nationalism and seeking ways to discriminate against Muslims without running afoul of the First Amendment.

Sessions Will Follow the Law, But He Won’t Lead on It
Job requires someone who is aware of oppression and discrimination

It sounds so good that Jeff Sessions said it over and over again when Democratic senators pressed him on how he would approach the job of attorney general: I will follow the law.

It’s what he said when Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin asked what he would do with “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Ditto when Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked him about gay rights and abortion rights. 

Nancy Pelosi’s Path Back to House Speaker
Republicans remain vulnerable on the ‘ethics’ thing

Nancy Pelosi just might be speaker again someday if she turns “ethics” into the watchword of the Democratic minority and forces a lot of House floor votes.

She has a new opening to do it, thanks to a House Republican majority so tone-deaf and self-absorbed that it tried to open the Trump era by gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Opinion: The Romney Agonistes

Poor, gullible Mitt Romney. He thought maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump wouldn’t focus his transition on settling petty scores. He fooled himself into believing the Donald might consider him a diplomat rather than a comic prop. He got so wrapped up in the possibilities of the moment that he let photographers snap shots of him at a dinner with Trump, not realizing that, without doubt, he was the main course.

Mitch McConnell Could Be the Superhero to Stop Trump
Majority Leader’s secret weapon: procedural arcana

If we’re all lucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stashed a blue bodysuit and a matching Republican-red cape-and-boots set in one of the old-school phone booths in the GOP cloakroom.

Over the next two years, at least, the Kentucky Republican will be the most important force for “truth, justice and the American Way” in Washington. He’s the guy with the power to protect the Senate, the Congress and the country from a new president who is both awash in power and hungry for more of it.

Pelosi Proves She's Still an Unequaled Vote-Counter
But the formidable leader should put the goals of her party above her own ambition

Nancy Pelosi’s still got it. Never lost it. But she should step aside anyway.

As Republicans and Democrats around the country scratch their heads and wonder why this septuagenarian San Franciscan was elected to a sixth term as House minority leader on Wednesday, it’s certainly not that she’s a visionary, that she looks like the future of the party or that she’s the perfect national spokeswoman for Democratic values and policies.

Judge Trump With an Open Mind
Critics should hope he succeeds, then put up a better candidate in 2020

If Donald Trump is willing and able to turn the page on the ugliness of his campaign for president, so, too, should the 65 million Americans who voted against him.

Trump’s critics should stop worrying about “normalizing” him and start assessing him by the actions he takes during the transition and as president. The question isn’t whether Trump is normal — for better and worse he is not — but whether the policies he pursues adhere to the fervor and fury of his candidacy or the sobriety that tends to wash over presidents as they take office.

Jeff Sessions Is Unfit for the Cabinet
A partially reconstructed baiter of minorities is beyond the ideological fringe

During his last set of confirmation hearings, before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions lost out on an appointment to the federal bench.

Witnesses testified that the Alabama Republican had called major civil rights organizations “un-American,” used racially insensitive language with associates and even said pot-smoking was the only reason he no longer thought the KKK was OK. His nomination was withdrawn after two fellow Republicans crossed the partisan divide on the panel to disapprove of his confirmation.

Trump's Opportunity and Why He Should Take It
He has a cult-like hold on his followers and can convince them to follow on just about anything

The nation is in crisis, and Donald Trump has an opportunity to fix that.

The new president-elect is more responsible than anyone else for dividing us along racial, ethnic, religious, gender and, importantly, economic lines. He has trashed large segments of the population, and the racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism of some of his supporters — not to mention their lust for intimidation — is rightly terrifying to many Americans.

What We’ll Learn About Ourselves on Election Day
Are we striving for a more perfect union or a new national construct?

Throughout this presidential campaign, more than any other in memory, the concept of America has been the subject of our political debate.

Is our system so paralyzed that it needs radical transformation? Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump offered that in ways that should remind us our politics are well within the boundaries of the global political spectrum.

The Case for a Clinton Presidency
An insider who knows how to work the levers of the federal government

Much has been written about Hillary Clinton’s flaws — a good bit of it by me. But less examined are the reasons that Clinton is uniquely suited for the job to which Americans seem likely to elect her on Tuesday.

I wouldn’t think to tell someone else for whom they should vote, or endorse a candidate or even reveal publicly for whom I plan to vote. But I think it’s important, at this moment, to take stock of the strengths of the woman who would make history by becoming the nation’s first female president and, more important, is as well positioned to lead the country as any person in generations.

Make the IRS and FBI Disclose Candidates’ Records to the Public
The cost of a spot in a presidential election may be too low

There’s an old myth that the bar to elective office is so high that no one truly worthy would ever run.

The idea is that the financial and tax disclosures, rigors of raising money, potential embarrassment and limited rewards of the job are so daunting that a successful person would have to be crazy to trade their privacy and sense of decency for it.