Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
By John Feehery
Chuck Todd and his crack team of political smart guys have put together a very useful Final Four tournament of the greatest Senators in history.
I love the concept. I think is a great way to look at the history of the Upper Chamber and to review for people how great Men (and they were all men but one in the First Read tournament) impact history.
Todd’s team organized it chronologically, and came up with a final eight of Lyndon Johnson, former longtime Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Everett Dirksen, Ted Kennedy, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Scoop Jackson, Henry Clay, Charles Sumner, and Daniel Webster. Their brackets promoted Webster, Clay, LBJ and Kennedy to the Final Four.
I gave Chuck a hard time about his Final Four because Henry Clay was a House guy, perhaps the most influential Speaker in the history of the House, and he shouldn’t be tainted with the Senate label. Similarly, Lyndon Johnson, while a very effective Majority Leader, is most famous for being President, not for being a Senator.
If I was organizing this Senate Final Four, I would have broke it down into four regions, and I would have made it a requirement that the Senators be known primarily for their work in the Senate, not for outside activities.
The Four regions would have been the East, the South, the Midwest and the West.
The Sweet Sixteen would have broken down this way: From the East, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ted Kennedy, Henry Cabot Lodge and Daniel Webster. From the South, it would have been Richard Russell, John C. Calhoun, Jesse Helms and Robert Byrd. From the Midwest, I would have had Robert LaFollette, Bob Dole, Everett Dirksen and Stephen Douglass. From the West, I would have put Mike Mansfield, Barry Goldwater, Ted Stevens and Scoop Jackson.
In my final eight, I would have pitted Daniel Webster vs. Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the East, Richard Russell vs. John C. Calhoun in the South, Everett Dirksen vs. Bob Dole in the Midwest, and Ted Stevens vs. Mike Mansfield in the West.
In the Final Four, it would be Daniel Webster, Richard Russell, Everett Dirksen and in an upset, Ted Stevens.
The final two would be Richard Russell vs. Everett Dirksen, the man who fought against civil rights vs. the man who made it happen.
And of course, in my view, Dirksen would win in a blowout in the final game.
As you can see, if they name a building after you, you get more street credibility than if they don’t in my brackets. And if you are on the right side of history, you win in the final contest.
By John Feehery
The Grand Bargain seems to be back in the news.
The President is addressing House Republicans today, after he kibitzed with Senate Democrats yesterday. He dined with some select Senate Republicans and lunched with House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. He finishes his week tomorrow fending off angry questions from House Democrats.
If it seems weird that the President is actually doing his job in reaching out to Congress, that’s because it is weird. Mr. Obama, despite once being a member of the Upper Body, hasn’t spent much time interacting with the legislative branch.
There is plenty of reason for skepticism about the President’s motives. Most of that skepticism is coming from the President’s own people, which is probably not a good sign.
Ron Fournier had a memorable quote in his story yesterday: “This is a joke. We’re wasting the president’s time and ours,” complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. “I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we’re doing it for you.”
If the White House thinks this is all a big show, imagine how Republicans really feel.
John Boehner is no Charlie Brown. He is not going to run and try to kick the football, only to Obama’s Lucy pull it away from him at the last minute. That makes it even more difficult to get a grand bargain.
A Grand Bargain, by its very nature, is an affront to the regular order. A Grand Bargain happens when the big guys get into a room and cut a deal and tell their colleagues to fall in line. A Grand Bargain happens when the leaders have a firm hold on their followers. And a Grand Bargain happens when the leaders have enough trust in one another to jump into the abyss together.
Grand Bargains are very rare, because the historical conditions that make Grand Bargains possible don’t happen very often.
It doesn’t seem like this is the best time for a Grand Bargain. The followers seem to have little trust in the leaders. The leaders have no trust in each other. There seems to be a desire to get back to regular order.
So, instead of trying to foist a Grand Bargain on reluctant Congress, maybe the leaders should instead focus on concluding a mini-bargain, done through regular order.
What would a mini-bargain contain?
Well, instead of trying to find a dramatic overhaul to entitlement programs, perhaps the committees could find a way to make some pretty modest changes that will slowly but surely save trillions of dollars in the out years. We aren’t going to get a premium-support plan through the system, but perhaps we can slowly raise the retirement age for Medicare and slowly make rich people pay more for the program.
On Social Security, we aren’t going to be able to get a complete overhaul of the program, but perhaps we can make some modest changes to the consumer price index used to determine how much each senior gets in a cost of living adjustment. Small changes will lead to big bucks in the future.
On the tax front, perhaps doing a complete overhaul might be too ambitious for this crowd. Instead, perhaps Camp and Baucus could come up with a series of smaller corporate tax reforms, perhaps getting rid of some loopholes, perhaps finding ways to bring the trillion dollars of corporate money parked overseas back home in a repatriation holiday.
Daniel Burnham didn’t want to make little plans, but sometimes, only the little plans can make it through our convoluted political system. This might be one of those times.