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Washington Insider

  • August 16, 2012

    Obama Takes on Ryan Over Farm Bill

    The stalled-out farm bill got some high-level political attention this week, as President Obama jabbed at Republican veep pick Paul Ryan while both campaigned in Iowa this week. Obama took a swipe at Ryan and his House counterparts in a speech in Council Bluffs for 'standing in the way' of a 5-year, $500 billion reauthorization that has already passed the Senate.
  • August 09, 2012

    Congress Gets a Vacation, but a Full Plate Awaits

    Perhaps five weeks away will be good for Congress, because lawmakers’ recent efforts have failed to accomplish much. From the farm bill to cybersecurity and rescuing the U.S. Postal Service, many issues were still in need of action when Congress recessed last week, and both time and opportunity are running out.
  • July 26, 2012

    With Drought Concerns Rising, House Aims for One-Year Farm Bill

    As Congress prepares for its August recess, one big tomato left hanging on the vine is the farm bill, and it now looks as if leaders in the House will try for a one-year extension of existing legislation. House Republicans began whipping a one-year farm-bill extension on Thursday with a plan to the bill — which will include drought aid for livestock and fruit and vegetable farmers — for a vote next week.
  • July 19, 2012

    Bernanke’s Bleak Assessment Could Presage Future Fed Action

    What’s the Fed’s next move? That’s the question on many lips in Washington lately, but it was one left mostly unanswered as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made bleak economic assessments but offered no prescriptions in two appearances before Congress this week.
  • July 12, 2012

    House Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill

    It took until nearly 1 a.m. Thursday morning, but the House Agriculture Committee was able to pass their Farm Bill 35-11 after a marathon markup. The effort could present a path for the farm bill to become law before the Sept. 30 deadline, a proposition that just months ago seemed unlikely. But there’s still a major hurdle to overcome: getting the bill onto the House floor.
  • July 10, 2012

    What's the Alternative to the Dairy Security Act?

    A margin insurance plan with no supply limits. According to the CBO, a stand-alone insurance program could be offered with similar budget savings as provided by the Dairy Security Act. Not only would dairy farmers be better off, our federal government would save money, too.
  • June 28, 2012

    Congress Reaches Deal on Transportation Bill, But Time a Factor

    What a difference a week makes. Just as the elusive highway reauthorization bill appeared to be falling apart amid a flurry of blame and finger-pointing, matters took a dramatic turn this week as Congress scrambled to pass the measure ahead of a Saturday deadline that could leave thousands of construction workers jobless. And yet, still, time is not on their side.
  • June 21, 2012

    After Amendment Vote-o-Rama, Farm Bill Clears Senate

    The Senate on Thursday passed a five-year farm-reauthorization bill expected to cost $969 billion over 10 years, but there is now concern that a delay in a long-planned mark-up in the House Agriculture Committee could cloud the legislation’s future.
  • May 31, 2012

    Washington Eyes the Eurozone

    Washington is keeping a close eye on economic tribulations in the eurozone this week, with President Obama talking with leaders in Germany, France, and Italy and increasing the pressure to resolve the crisis. World leaders are set to meet at the Group of 20 summit June 18 and 19, to be held in Mexico, which could provide a forum for solutions.
  • May 24, 2012

    CBO Sees Recession if Debt-Deal Pain Imposed

    The Congressional Budget Office’s early verdict on what would happen to the U.S. economy if Congress and President Obama can’t obviate steep tax hikes and dramatic spending cuts by the end of the year was unsurprising: recession. On the other hand, preventing the Bush tax cuts from expiring and blocking the sequestration cuts would fortify the recovery and lead to roughly 4.4 percent growth next year.
  • May 17, 2012

    Portman’s Turn in Current Veepstakes Spotlight

    "I think I’m better suited to stay where I am in the Senate," Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said on Monday. Increasingly, fewer and fewer Republican prognosticators agree with him. Portman is currently enjoying a mini-surge to the top of the field of potential running mates for Mitt Romney.
  • April 26, 2012

    The Latest Battle in the Spending Wars

    The prospect of a congressional brawl over shutting down the government a little more than a month before the November elections edged closer on Wednesday, when the House Appropriations Committee further distanced Republicans from last summer’s debt-ceiling agreement.
  • April 19, 2012

    Senate Democrats Decline Committee Budget Vote

    After the House voted, 382-38, last month in disapproval of a version of the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) relented to heat from within his own party and scratched a committee vote on a similar proposal. Democrats harbor political worries . . .
  • April 12, 2012

    ‘Buffett Rule’ Tax Vote Was More Politics Than Policy

    The so-called Buffett Rule – establishing a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent on those who earn more than $1 million annually – was up for a procedural Senate vote this week. The bill had no chance of getting the 60 votes it needs for passage, but it became a rallying point for both parties.
  • April 05, 2012

    Obama Enters the Arena

    In evident agreement with Mitt Romney that it is time for the general election to begin, President Obama this week acted more like a candidate than he has since 2008. The climax came when Obama excoriated the Republican-led House budget. Also of note was his preemptive strike against the Supreme Court, whose potential ruling against his health care law has unnerved Democrats.
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