Opinion & Analysis

Capitol Ink | 115th Congressional Highway

Opinion: Weighing the Costs of War and Diplomacy
Military action is not always the courageous choice

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly could do more listening and learning, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

John F. Kelly is getting a lot of criticism these days, and that’s understandable. As leader of the Department of Homeland Security, the retired Marine general now has to be more sensitive to the politics of any given situation.

So when he publicly said critics of his agency’s policies — whether they come from Congress, civil rights groups or the public — should “shut up,” he came off as what he once was, a military man giving orders. When the administration, Kelly’s department in particular, is challenged on its travel bans and inconsistent immigration enforcement, Kelly could do more listening and learning.

Opinion: How Jon Ossoff Became the Face of the Anti-Trump Fight
Liberal blog Daily Kos led the way in resistance to president

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff’s rise to national prominence happened largely thanks to the efforts of the liberal blog Daily Kos, Patricia Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the days after Donald Trump was inaugurated in January, liberals in America were depressed, despondent, and asking themselves what to do next. David Nir, the political director of the liberal blog Daily Kos, had an answer and that answer was Jon Ossoff.

Nir and the Daily Kos team had been crunching the numbers from Trump’s election since the day after it happened. Which districts did Trump underperform in? Where were the opportunities for Democrats? They quickly noticed that in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which Mitt Romney won by 23 points in 2012, Trump had won by just a point and a half. Could Rep. Tom Price be vulnerable the next time around?

Capitol Ink | Survey Says...!

Opinion: Stifling Competition Reduces Access to Affordable Prescriptions
FAST Generics Act easy way to lower costs for patients and taxpayers

Martin Shkreli, former CEO Turing Pharmaceuticals, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on "methods and reasoning behind recent drug price increases," in February 2016. Turing had raised the price of a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients  from $13.50 to $750 a pill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“We don’t want excessive profiteering. But the key word in profiteering is profit.”

When Martin Shkreli told Business Insider this in 2015 he might not have been trying to make a broad statement about perverse incentives in the regulatory status quo. But the statement did belie real problems that arise from a system far more complex than the heroes and villains of many popular media narratives.

Opinion: Trump Must Resist His Inner MacArthur on Korea
A miscalculation could be very costly

A propaganda mural painting outside the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, North Korea. The country has bedeviled American policymakers for nearly seven decades, Shapiro writes. (Feng Li/Getty Images file photo)

Melissa McCarthy ended her latest impersonation of Sean Spicer — delivered in Easter garb on “Saturday Night Live” — by offhandedly mentioning, “And, by the way, the president's probably going to bomb North Korea tonight.”

Beyond the incongruity of a presidential press secretary announcing impending war while wearing a bunny suit, what made this moment funny was its small glimmer of plausibility.

Opinion: Why Congress Should Value, and Keep, AmeriCorps
The national service program efficiently lifts America’s most needy schoolchildren

Without AmeriCorps, roughly 14.5 million children currently living in families strained by poverty would fall further behind, Dale Erquiaga writes. (Courtesy AmeriCorps Facebook page)

When the new administration’s budget blueprint arrived last month, the math was, to say the least, unsettling. The EPA and State Department would see their budgets slashed by nearly one-third, Agriculture and Labor by 21 percent and the Education Department — which affects my area of work and interest — would take about a 13 percent hit.

The severe proposals sparked an intense and important national debate that continues today. Largely lost in the back and forth, however, has been the proposals affecting AmeriCorps, a program that since its inception has been a model for how to efficiently and effectively improve millions of lives. The Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, which has administered AmeriCorps and other volunteer service programs for a quarter-century, has undoubtedly changed America for the better. But in the proposed budget, CNCS, and with it AmeriCorps, would be eliminated.

Opinion: House Members Should Take Civics Tests
… and avoid ‘let them eat cake’ moments

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin recently told his constituents that the idea that he works for the voters of his district is “bullcrap.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress should have to take a civics test. 

As you may have heard by now, Rep. Markwayne Mullin has a unique take on his relationship to his constituents. At a town hall meeting recently, the three-term Republican from Oklahoma, said the idea that he works for the voters of his district is “bullcrap.”

Opinion: In North Carolina, the Good and Not-So-Good News
Compromise on ‘bathroom bill’ but an attempt to ban same-sex marriage

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, left, is fighting a Republican supermajority in the state legislature that has sometimes seemed more intent on thwarting him than governing, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Courtesy Gov. Roy Cooper Facebook page)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s North Carolina, so, of course, the good news is followed by that pesky dark cloud every time.

You would think everyone in the state would welcome the end of the long saga over House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, which was repealed recently in a compromise. That bill, which had compelled people to use the bathroom that corresponded to the gender on their birth certificates, also said cities could not follow Charlotte’s lead and enact their own anti-discrimination ordinances or a minimum wage and much more.

Capitol Ink | The Golden Egg

Opinion: You May Rush to Judgment on United Incident — But Don't Rush to Regulate
Market forces may have more impact than legislation

United Airlines passenger David Dao was dragged from flight to make room for airline employees. (Screenshots)

Watching videos of a man bloodied and limp being dragged from an airline seat is disconcerting irrespective of your relative weighting of common sense and the enforceability of contracts. No matter what the legal entitlements of the passenger and United Airlines might be, few will deny that what occurred on Monday’s United flight from Chicago to Louisville was outrageous and should never have occurred,.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is already calling for hearings on the event in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In prior airline situations where outrageous and disconcerting events have occurred, legislators and regulators have rushed to respond to public opinion, and those reactions have been ill-conceived or at the very least burdened with unintended consequences, which, if known, might have resulted in a different response.

Opinion: Trump’s 100th Day Could Start With a Government Shutdown
President should look for bipartisan agreement on spending bill

The biggest wildcard and the most serious potential stumbling block to a spending bill is President Donald Trump himself, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Getting to the 100th day in the White House is a major milestone for any new president. But because of a case of truly unfortunate timing, Donald Trump’s 100th day in office could also be the day that the federal government shuts down unless Trump and a bipartisan majority in Congress pass a major spending bill to lock in federal funding for the rest of the year.

But how will President Trump get an agreement on a difficult piece of legislation that he must pass when he’s had so much trouble managing bills that he and congressional Republicans wanted to pass?

Opinion: Trump Is Paying Back Corporations by Wiping Out Regulations
11 protections have been lost through CRA resolutions so far

More than 80 days into his administration, the CRA resolutions are the only legislation of consequence that President Donald Trump has signed, Gilbert writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If many of President Donald Trump’s proposals become law, regular Americans — including many diehard Trump supporters — have a great deal to lose.

In the past month, this has been illustrated most clearly through Trump’s health care plan and his proposed budget, both of which would harm regular Americans to pay back the Republicans’ benefactors and corporate cronies.

Opinion: Would Trump Nuke Congressional Budget Rules?
They could stand in the way of president’s infrastructure plans

President Donald Trump may feel that he has the credibility to shatter the Republican consensus on budgetary issues now that his nominee has joined the Supreme Court, Walter Shapiro writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If real life resembled apocalyptic 1950s movies, the triggering of the nuclear option would have left a radioactive cloud all over North America and Europe. And the remnants of humanity would be hunkering down in Australia, calculating how long it would take for the deadly wind currents to reach that far south.

Instead, when the Senate went nuclear, Neil Gorsuch was elevated to the Supreme Court and Congress went home for recess without needing Geiger counters or fallout shelters. In fact, amid the thrill-a-minute gyrations of the Donald Trump White House, the nuclear option is already half-forgotten as all punditry is now raining down on the cruise missile strike in Syria.

Opinion: Good on You, Mr. President
Unleashing missiles on Syria is Trump’s most reassuring action so far

President Donald Trump’s decision to unleash Tomahawk missiles on Syria is his most reassuring action so far, Jonathan Allen writes. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Ironically, President Donald Trump’s decision to fire Tomahawk missiles into Syria is the most reassuring action he’s taken since he was sworn into office nearly three months ago — ironic because even some Trump voters were worried that he didn’t have he right temperament to use America’s arsenal judiciously.

Despite the absence of nuance in his rhetoric, Trump showed that he is capable of deploying force in limited fashion. More important, he displayed a capacity to listen and learn from experts at the Pentagon and in the foreign policy intelligentsia.