Blog Posts by National Journal

  • After Weiner’s resignation, what’s next?

    By the National Journal staff

    Less than three weeks after the scandal over his lewd tweets first began to consume Washington, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) finally resigned Thursday afternoon. The embattled congressman fought to hang on to his seat even after he acknowledged sending inappropriate messages to at least six women.

    But as the sordid revelations continued to trickle out -- one woman turned out to be a 17-year-old from Delaware, another was a porn star who alleged Weiner urged her to lie about their communications  — the pressure on Weiner to step down intensified. Here's a look at what's next for Weiner and for his spot in the U.S. Congress:

    How will his seat be filled?

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must first declare the Congressional seat vacant. Once he does, he has to set an election date within 70 to 80 days. Both parties will nominate candidates for the district, a heavily white, ethnic neighborhood in Queens and Brooklyn that Weiner has represented since

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  • States in play: 5 Obama states that the GOP could win back

    By Josh Kraushaar
    National Journal

    President Obama won 365 electoral votes in 2008, but with a struggling economy, his campaign is focused on defending the gains he made.

    National journal interviewed 10 veteran Democratic and Republican strategists to get their sense of which states will be toughest for Obama to hang onto. Based on their feedback, here's the list of the five states that supported Obama in 2008 that are most likely to vote Republican:

    1. Indiana (11 electoral votes). That the president's advisers are privately downplaying their chances of recapturing the traditional GOP stronghold—and talking up, instead, his chances in other longer-shot states like Arizona and Georgia—is a clear sign the Hoosier State is looking out of reach. Democrats took it on the chin during the midterms, losing a Senate seat and two of the state's nine House seats. The recession has hit Indiana particularly hard: Unemployment hovers near 10 percent.

    2. North Carolina (15 electoral

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  • Why is Obama going to Puerto Rico?

    By George E. Condon Jr.
    National Journal

    Recognizing the growing clout of Puerto Rican voters in states he needs to win next year, President Obama will travel 1,000 miles south of Miami on Tuesday to make a brief — but historic — stop in Puerto Rico. The first president to make an official visit there in 50 years, Obama almost certainly will be greeted warmly by cheering crowds. But just as certainly, he will encounter pressure to deliver on his promises for comprehensive immigration reform and to do more to relieve the unemployment that has soared on the island during his presidency.

    The 4 million Puerto Ricans who live on the island are citizens but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. The 4.2 million Puerto Ricans who live in the United States, however, can vote and, almost unnoticed, they have amassed significant political clout in several states that will be key to Obama's 2012 hopes.

    The 11 states with the most Puerto Ricans total 241 of the 270 electoral votes

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  • Romney, Bachmann dominate gracious GOP debate

    By Beth Reinhard
    National Journal

    Mitt Romney easily survived his first debate of the 2012 primary with barely a nick to his early frontrunner status.

    Tarred as a flip-flopping phony during his 2008 White House bid, Romney looked at ease during the two-hour live forum, and none of his lesser-known rivals made him squirm. Eager to make pleasing first impressions on a national audience, they all passed when handed opportunities to attack Romney.

    A picture of the former Massachusetts governor and corporate executive in an open-collared shirt and tie -- posted on Twitter just minutes before the debate in an obvious attempt at campaign image-making -- rang true.

    Romney was pointed in his criticism of President Obama and gracious to his rivals, saying any of them would make a better chief executive than the current occupant of the White House. He stood by his withering criticism of the federal bailout of the Michigan-based auto industry in the state where he was born and where his father was

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  • GOP debate winner: The Tea Party

    By Ronald Brownstein
    National Journal

    The first full-scale Republican presidential debate on Monday night helped clarify the lines of argument the GOP contenders intend to pursue against President Obama, but did little to illuminate the case they will make against each other. That's not entirely surprising: primary candidates usually wait until more voters are tuned in before delivering their sharpest salvos against their rivals.

    Yet the debate did offer some important previews of how the race may unfold. It suggests that on the big issues, there may be only modest differences between the proposals of the major candidates; all of them are operating in a policy framework shaped by the tea party push to retrench government, as interpreted above all by the House GOP budget resolution authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. On Monday, none of the candidates supported the auto bailout; none (not even Newt Gingrich) directly criticized Ryan's plan to convert Medicare into a

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  • Obama tries to woo back Wall Street

    By Catherine Hollander
    National Journal

    President Obama is seeking to regain support from Wall Street executives following a rough patch in their relationship, The New York Times reported Monday.

    Although the president's top financial industry supporters have said they are confident that Obama will get the backing he needs from Wall Street in the upcoming election, the Obama campaign will have to work hard to overcome the events of the past two and a half years: Wall Street's bust, clashes over policy, and the sometimes bitter personal differences that have developed, the Times reports. The president alienated some top Wall Street supporters when he criticized their bonuses and called them "fat cats."

    How Well Do U.S. Politicians Know Their American History?

    Obama is making the case that his economic policies have helped restore the health of banks and financial markets rather than undercutting those who profit from their success. Members of the White House economics team are

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  • US casualties up as debate over withdrawing troops intensifies

    By Yochi J. Dreazen
    National Journal

    American battlefield casualties in Afghanistan have spiked in recent weeks, offering a grim backdrop to the Obama administration's intensifying debate about how many U.S. troops should begin returning home next month.

    Twenty-three U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan in the first two weeks of June alone, part of a recent pattern in which the monthly American death toll there has been exceeding last year's record-high levels. Fifty-six U.S. troops died in May, for instance, compared to 51 the year before, while 51 other troops lost their lives in April compared to 34 in the comparable period of 2010.

    The war is also becoming significantly bloodier for noncombatants. On Saturday, the United Nations said that last month was the deadliest of the war for Afghan civilians, with 368 killed in May alone. The U.N. said 82 percent of the civilians were killed by the Taliban and other Islamist fighters, with 12 percent dying at the hands of

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  • Permanent Pessimism: Behind Americans’ bleak mood on the economy

    By Reid Wilson
    National Journal

    The economy is recovering, however slowly. Gas prices are easing downward after rocketing skyward earlier this year. And President Obama is considering dramatically drawing down troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those are all reasons for Americans to be optimistic about the direction the country is headed. But instead, survey after survey shows a populace angry with their situation and convinced it's not getting better any time soon.

    A decade of economic turmoil, international conflict, and increasing partisan rancor has left a once-optimistic nation in the grips of a deep and pervasive pessimism. The sense that everything is going wrong has tamped down hopes, dreams, and expectations. And there are few signs that anything will change in the near term, all of which is having a dramatic impact on the political tone.

    It shouldn't be this way. A year ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood just north of 9,800, and the unemployment rate

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  • Why Obama’s top economist is leaving–and what it means for the economy

    By Michael Hirsh
    National Journal

    The oddest thing about the timing is this: Austan Goolsbee, Obama's top economist, had so clearly won the power struggle.

    Marginalized by Larry Summers in the first two years of the Obama administration, Goolsbee had come into his own in the scant eight months since he became chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Summers was gone, as was Goolsbee's predecessor, Christina Romer. Even more than most CEA chairmen do, Goolsbee had emerged as the administration's chief economic voice, appearing regularly on the Sunday talk shows.

    But therein lay a deeper problem: the chief voice of what? Of policies that, frankly, no economist worth his Ph.D. would want to tout, occurring in an intellectual vacuum in which good economic thinking was no longer welcome. [See "Neo-Voodoo Economics," NJ, 5/21/11, p. 20]  During Goolsbee's obscure first two years in Washington—when he mainly served as spokesman for the little-heeded Paul Volcker, the head of

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  • Are seniors safe under GOP Medicare plan?

    By Tim Fernholz
    National Journal

    Republicans are convinced that burnishing the public's view of their unpopular proposal to overhaul Medicare depends on assuring today's seniors that they won't be affected.

    "The retirees are going to be taken care of; there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it," House Speaker John Boehner vowed in an interview with CBS last month. The plan's architect, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has said time and again that the changes wouldn't affect anybody getting close to retirement. "We propose to not change the benefits for people above the age of 55," Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, insisted last week.

    There's only one problem with the strategy: It's not true.

    The policies in the House GOP budget, if enacted, would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing their costs for prescription drugs and probably long-term care. Further, Medicare costs could rise over time if healthier seniors choose to abandon the

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