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A Familiar Landmine: The Looming Debt Ceiling

With all the other tumult going on in our politics, one might be forgiven for not focusing on a familiar landmine: the debt ceiling.  After all, since its regularized inclusion in the appropriations process a decade ago, Congress has shifted from extending the debt limit to a specific amount


Politics by Other Means

I have been in Washington, DC, for the two major attacks of the past generation, on September 11, 2001, and on January 6, 2021. On 9/11 I was a college freshman. A sleepy morning narrowed quickly into a hyper-focused state as classes were cancelled and people became glued to their televisions. Around my dorm, I


Social Movements and Policy Change

How should we understand the fire this time?  In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, a movement has re-ignited for civil rights in general and against police brutality specifically.  August 28 saw a March on Washington, 57 years after the original march with MLK’s famous “I have a dream” speech to crowds


Lessons of Economic Recessions

In politics, we often learn the lesson of the last time.  Our current economic troubles prompt comparison to previous episodes, particularly the 2007-2009 Great Recession.  While the past six weeks may seem like an eternity to many Americans, we are early in the government response to this crisis, particularly its economic effects.  The future


The Long Shadow of 2010

The dawning of a new decade brings the expected retrospectives. While algorithms compute our most listened-to songs and pundits connect the latest torrential news cycle to a loose historical pattern, finding the signal amidst the noise can be elusive.  Periodization schemes can be difficult to pin down.  But arguably, a decade is precisely the right


Back In Session

Congress is back in session, and all eyes are on the impending budget negotiations.  The past month has not provided a respite from significant news.  A number of mass shootings, border developments, and the clattering of the 2020 presidential aspirants reminds us that while Congress may have escaped the Potomac’s heat, the world does not


Lessons In Impeachment

In politics, we often learn the lesson of the last time. When President Obama came into office, he and his advisors read Gordon Goldstein’s Lessons in Disaster, which covered mistakes made in Vietnam, to apply them to Afghanistan and Iraq.  The enduring legacy of these conflicts is the power vacuum that enabled the rise


Congressional Oversight in the 116th

Congressional oversight in the 116th Congress has gotten off to a roaring start.  After two years of unified government in the Trump administration, Democrats are eager to begin looking into a long list of topics now that they have retaken the House.  The news cycle, already moving at an exhausting pace, now regularly features oversight efforts


The Aftermath

Another election cycle has washed over our nation’s capital.  As outgoing members clear out their desks and incoming members eye their new offices, Congress gets ready for the next phase.  It’s time to adjust to the aftermath of the election results, their ongoing appropriations work, other lame duck session policy attempts, a budget process


Budget Dysfunction: Potential Reforms

The federal budget process, laid out in the 1974 Budget Act, is a complex, multi-stage process with many opportunities for partisanship and intra-party divisions to derail it. And derailed it has been, with workarounds like omnibus appropriations and Continuing Resolutions (CRs) becoming the new normal. The myriad challenges in the present-day process were discussed at length in


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