• What Washington could learn from President Calvin Coolidge

    Top Line

    President Calvin Coolidge isn’t typically remembered as one of the great American presidents, but as Congress moves to consider the president’s budget released Wednesday, biographer Amity Shlaes makes the case that Washington could learn a thing or two from the 30th president.

    “When he left office, the federal budget was lower than when he came in real terms, nominal, with vanilla on top,” Shlaes says of the former president, pointing to this as his great legacy.

    “He actually cut the budget."

    In her new biography Coolidge, Shlaes lays out how that the former president led a successful battle to rein in the government and cut taxes.

    "The big drama of his life was holding the government back, and he did that when he was president by vetoing and by cutting taxes and it wasn't an easy campaign,” Shlaes tells Top Line.

    Coolidge is more commonly remembered as “silent Cal” rather than an “economic general,” as Shlaes characterizes him. But Shlaes asserts that his silence was a

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    Congress returned from a two week recess this week and since then there has been a lot of action in Washington. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia came together on a compromise to expand background checks on gun sales. President Obama released his budget proposal for the 2014 fiscal year, and the so-called Gang of 8 continued their work towards comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

    All of this action provoked all kinds of questions.

    Ann Gaddis Allen wrote in on Facebook: It's still like nursery school! Will they ever grow up and get along?

    Douglas Hill asked: What are the honest odds that, though these bills are drawn by bipartisan groups, they will pass either house?

    Jeffrey Howlett tweeted: Why is banning assault weapons and high capacity clips not even up for debate?

    And Carol Kinner Kay had a question about the proposals in the president’s budget, saying: I want to know how they think cutting SS

    Read More »from Now that Congress is getting along, will it make any difference?
  • Paul Ryan: Won’t hand out voting card to get deal on guns

    Power Players

    With the Senate poised to start voting on its first gun measures of the year, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) says he is carefully watching the legislation, particularly the compromise reached on background checks with Senators Pat Toomey (R- Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D -W.Va.).

    Ryan and Toomey were elected to Congress at the same time and were roommates on Capitol Hill, but Ryan tells Power Players he would not automatically follow his lead on guns.

    “I don’t give my voting card based on someone’s name. I vote for something if I think it’s the right thing to do,” Ryan said.

    Ryan said he’s concerned that Congress will rush to legislate on guns and miss an opportunity to address related issues like mental illness.

    “We need to look at the root cause of these problems, and I hope that we can do that. I am worried that we won't,” Ryan said.

    On the president’s budget, Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, was skeptical that the president has presented a true compromise that

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