March 6, 2013
House Republicans often complain that Senate Democrats have been lax on fiscal matters because they haven't approved a budget resolution since 2009. But those resolutions are largely symbolic; the real spending decisions are made in the dozen appropriations bills that Congress is supposed to pass by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. And on that score, the House GOP leadership failed miserably last year, and is about to do so again. This week the leadership plans to bring up a bill to fund the federal government's operations for the final six months of fiscal 2013.
March 4, 2013
Los Angeles on Tuesday begins a far-reaching overhaul of its city government, voting for a new mayor and controller, and voting as well for city attorney and to fill more than half the City Council and nearly half the school board and Community College District board of trustees. Nonpartisan city and school elections differ from California legislative and congressional elections, in which runoffs between the two highest vote-getters are now guaranteed. In Tuesday's election, a candidate can avoid a runoff by winning more than 50% of the vote.
February 28, 2013
At a forum held by the Univision broadcasting network in September, President Obama said the most important lesson he'd learned in his first term was that "you can't change Washington from the inside; you can only change it from the outside. " That helps explain why he has issued a barrage of public statements and made a slew of appearances in the past week aimed at persuading congressional Republicans to cancel looming across-the-board cuts in federal spending, rather than meeting with congressional leaders to hammer out a deal.
February 14, 2013
U.S. secretaries of the Interior have seldom been renowned for being … well, renowned. Typically affable former members of Congress who reliably see things according to the president's point of view, they are nearly always Western conservationists, though their agreement on the extent to which natural resources should be exploited can wary widely. Sally Jewell, President Obama's recent nominee for the post, fits that description pretty well, while bringing some additional attributes that suit the president's agenda beautifully.
January 22, 2013
The House GOP seems to have extricated itself from a bind that could have damaged both the American economy and its own political future. Frustrated by Democrats' opposition, many House Republicans wanted to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force the Senate and the White House to accept deeper spending cuts. But after three days at an annual retreat, party leaders said Friday that they're willing to move the fight over spending to more appropriate times - including the looming debate over funding the federal government after March 27, when the money for most operations runs out. That's a good decision for everyone involved.
January 17, 2013
Gov. Jerry Brown has thrown his support behind expanding Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for impoverished Californians, to the full extent authorized by the 2010 federal healthcare reform law. It was the right choice, and Brown deserves credit for recognizing that the benefits to public health and the economy outweigh the potential costs. But his budget proposal left state lawmakers to decide whether to keep responsibility for the expanded program in Sacramento or hand it off to the counties.
January 3, 2013
'You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Rahm Emanuel famously told a group of corporate executives a little more than four years ago, when he was President-elect Obama's chief of staff. Emanuel's words apparently have been forgotten in the nation's capital, where lawmakers manufactured a potentially serious crisis by timing billions of dollars of tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012, days before huge across-the-board spending cuts were set to take effect. The deal that the Obama administration struck this week with Congress to avoid sending the country over this so-called fiscal cliff did little more than push the tough bargaining off for another day, when the stakes may actually be higher.
December 27, 2012
The prospect of recovery-killing across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of the year hasn't been enough to spur lawmakers to craft a plan to avert those changes. The onus for Congress' inaction falls squarely on House Republicans, whose refusal last week to follow their own leadership has quashed just about any hope of a "grand bargain" with President Obama to address the federal government's long-term fiscal woes. The main hope now is that lawmakers will find a way out of the impasse before the damage to the economy gets much worse.
December 23, 2012
In yet another tussle between the teachers union and the school reform movement, the Los Angeles Unified school board decreed last week that district administrators must obtain board approval before applying for any grants of more than $1 million, in order to ensure that they don't seek out grants that come with problematic strings. The idea is reasonable enough, but the way the new policy is written, it unnecessarily ties the hands of staff without necessarily protecting the district.