Articles on US Congress

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The fight over fast-track trade authority increasingly resembles a Shakespearean tragedy. Tempest via www.shutterstock.com

Obama, Shakespeare and the aborted legacy of the Trans-Pacific trade agreement

Events in Washington this week on the proposed historic 12-member Trans-Pacific trade agreement have had all the key elements of a Shakespearean tragedy. A resolute, noble and well-intentioned ruler (played…
President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress in 2009 Lawrence Jackson

Filibusters make for strange bedfellows

When Republicans took over Congress, many observers predicted a goodbye to gridlock. Not so fast, however. Politicians say they hate filibusters -- until they want to use them.
Implementing monetary policy is like treating a patient. A central bank needs the freedom to choose which instrument will work best. from www.shutterstock.com

Auditing the Federal Reserve is a frightening idea. Here’s why

The desire of some lawmakers to subject the Fed to extra scrutiny betrays a misunderstanding of central bank independence and monetary policy.
Hot off the presses: the CBO plays a pivotal role determining the price tag of measures in the budget and other legislation. Reuters

‘Truth is our only refuge’: why the CBO must remain independent

Congress created the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 40 years ago to provide lawmakers with information independent of the influence of the executive branch. The CBO’s most important job…
Congressman Henry Waxman: relieved to be going after 40 years? Gary Cameron/Reuters

Fond farewell to the ‘babies’ of Watergate

An era has ended. The last of the “Watergate Babies” has left the Congress. The nickname was applied to the class of House Democratic freshmen elected in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal. There…
Direct negotiations between top leaders may be the best and only way to get significant trade deals done, which requires fast-track authority. Reuters

Updating ‘fast-track’ is key to getting a trade deal in 2015

With the resounding Republican victory in November’s midterm elections, most pundits are despairing that Congress and President Barack Obama will find any areas for cooperation in the coming two years…
Closing the thousands of loopholes that riddle the US tax code is a rare area of bipartisan agreement in Congress. So why is it so hard to end them? Shutterstock

Tax loopholes draw bi-party fire but don’t expect them to vanish

The thousands of tax loopholes that litter the corporate tax code in the United States are frequent targets of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Outgoing Republican Senator Tom Coburn released…
Congress raised the cap on how much an individual can donate to political parties in its spending bill that just passed last week, giving wealthy Americans a greater voice in elections. Shutterstock

Lawmakers show indifference to Americans’ needs by gutting campaign finance caps

The political system’s indifference to the needs of the American people could not have been made clearer in recent days. At a time when economic inequality is increasing and the US racial divide is ever…
Wind farms like this one probably wouldn’t exist if the government didn’t provide a hefty subsidy. Shutterstock

Congress shouldn’t revive the failed policy of subsidizing wind farms

Congress passed the wind production tax credit (PTC) more than two decades ago to spur development in an industry still in its infancy. The wind sector has since matured into adulthood, prompting thousands…
Will the feds raid this Christmas tree? Rick Wilking/Reuters

Goliath vs. 24 Davids: federalism and legal marijuana

Abraham Lincoln said that those who shape public opinion exert an even greater influence than judges and lawmakers. In recent years popular sentiment – on issues like marriage equality and legalization…
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was re-elected despite a tight fight over his tax cuts and resulting deficit, which were revealed to be worse than expected just days after the election. Reuters

Brownback’s Kansas tax experiment may prove death knell for corporate reform

Republican gains in this month’s election, which handed the GOP united control of Congress for the first time since 2006, have lifted hopes that the government can pass corporate tax reform next year…
The outside is being renovated, but what about the inside? Jim Bourg/Reuters

How to make the House of Representatives representative

Foundation essay: This article is part of a series marking the launch of The Conversation in the US. Our foundation essays are longer than our usual comment and analysis articles and take a wider look…
President Barack Obama’s health care bill is behind a looming US government shutdown by Republicans. AAP

Explainer: why the US government is facing (another) shutdown

The dysfunctions of America’s federal government, primarily caused by Republican intransigence, have created a menagerie of strange new political beasts: fiscal cliffs, sequestrations, nuclear options…

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