Opinion & Analysis

Opinion: The Obama Effect — Pros and Cons for Republicans and Democrats
Former president could unite a party in distress

Former President Barack Obama’s influence could unite a Democratic Party that showed togetherness after President Donald Trump’s win but is already breaking apart on issues such as abortion rights, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Barack Obama, the charismatic former president, can cause a scene just by walking into a coffee shop, as the rapturous crowds in usually blase New York City demonstrated at one of his cameos. So as he gently re-entered the public and policy eye this week, it’s no surprise that he could throw both Democrats and Republicans off balance — though of course for very different reasons.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave President Donald Trump possibly his most important first-100-day achievement by spearheading the maneuver to transform Obama’s Supreme Court pick to replace Antonin Scalia into the conservative Neil Gorsuch, whose first significant vote allowed an Arkansas execution to proceed. McConnell’s obstruction and subsequent “nuclear option” may have played a part in breaking the democratic process, but isn’t that a small price to pay for a win —  at least I’m sure the president feels that way.

Opinion: A Disturbing Trend Against Women’s Health
President Donald Trump is undermining access to critical services

President Donald Trump has attacked women’s access to critical health care services, New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite the fact that most Americans want their leaders focused on creating jobs and boosting the economy, in his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump has spent significant time and effort attacking women’s access to critical health care services and it is clear that women should expect even more harmful policies in the future.

On January 23, 2017, just two days after millions across the country and the world came together for the historic Women’s March, President Trump signed an executive order taking away rights from millions of women. He reinstated and expanded the global gag rule, a policy that bars both foreign nongovernmental and multilateral organizations from receiving U.S. family planning funds if — with other, non-U.S. funds — they provide abortion counseling, referrals, or even advocacy efforts.

Capitol Ink | Tax Cut and Run

Opinion: Congress Can Work — If Trump Gets Out of the Way
Lawmakers can make a deal and avoid a shutdown

President Donald Trump should heed Gen. George S. Patton’s advice: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way” — so Congress can function, Patricia Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

First the bad news about negotiations over the 2017 spending bill that Congress needs to pass before midnight on Friday or face a government shutdown: The last several days have been a mess of mixed messages about what should get funded, last-minute demands that cannot be met, and disagreement at the highest levels about how to proceed.

But the good news for Republicans, and really for all of us exhausted by the thought of yet another standoff over basic funding levels, is that nearly all of the bad habits of negotiating and governance on this issue have been confined to the White House.

Capitol Ink | Grade Inflation

Opinion: Scorecard — America After 100 Days of Trump
The good news is maybe the nation will endure the next four years

The good news is  despite President Donald Trump, the nation may weather the next four years, Walter Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

It may be news to Donald Trump that the original One Hundred Days ended with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. In fact, if Trump learned about Napoleon from “Fox & Friends,” he would probably snarl, “I like my conquerors of Europe not to end up exiled to an island so remote you can’t even build a world-class hotel on it.”

The news media may be reeling in an era of fake news, but nothing halts the journalistic passion for predictable rituals like toting up presidential accomplishments after 14 weeks and 2 days in office. Trump himself would admit that he is no Franklin Roosevelt. After all, the 45th president would have spurned marrying a woman like Eleanor Roosevelt — who was never mistaken for an international fashion model when she was touring coal mines on behalf of FDR.

Capitol Ink | Trumpty Dumpty

Opinion: Figure It Out, Mr. President
Congress isn’t built to just do what Donald Trump says

President Donald Trump must choose if he wants to be a hardcore anti-establishment president or a smart deal-maker, Allen writes. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

If it were up to President Donald Trump — and a lot of Americans — Congress might not exist. After all, the legislative branch is the kind of inert obstacle that a disruptor business executive doesn’t have to contend with as he innovates and improvises in the private sector. 

Alas, for Trump, the Founding Fathers believed that wild swings in direction could tear a fragile nation asunder. They made it difficult for a president — any president — to rewrite public policy, push the nation to war or enter into treaties.

Capitol Ink | 115th Congressional Highway

Opinion: Weighing the Costs of War and Diplomacy
Military action is not always the courageous choice

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly could do more listening and learning, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

John F. Kelly is getting a lot of criticism these days, and that’s understandable. As leader of the Department of Homeland Security, the retired Marine general now has to be more sensitive to the politics of any given situation.

So when he publicly said critics of his agency’s policies — whether they come from Congress, civil rights groups or the public — should “shut up,” he came off as what he once was, a military man giving orders. When the administration, Kelly’s department in particular, is challenged on its travel bans and inconsistent immigration enforcement, Kelly could do more listening and learning.

Opinion: How Jon Ossoff Became the Face of the Anti-Trump Fight
Liberal blog Daily Kos led the way in resistance to president

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff’s rise to national prominence happened largely thanks to the efforts of the liberal blog Daily Kos, Patricia Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the days after Donald Trump was inaugurated in January, liberals in America were depressed, despondent, and asking themselves what to do next. David Nir, the political director of the liberal blog Daily Kos, had an answer and that answer was Jon Ossoff.

Nir and the Daily Kos team had been crunching the numbers from Trump’s election since the day after it happened. Which districts did Trump underperform in? Where were the opportunities for Democrats? They quickly noticed that in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which Mitt Romney won by 23 points in 2012, Trump had won by just a point and a half. Could Rep. Tom Price be vulnerable the next time around?

Capitol Ink | Survey Says...!

Opinion: Stifling Competition Reduces Access to Affordable Prescriptions
FAST Generics Act easy way to lower costs for patients and taxpayers

Martin Shkreli, former CEO Turing Pharmaceuticals, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on "methods and reasoning behind recent drug price increases," in February 2016. Turing had raised the price of a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients  from $13.50 to $750 a pill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“We don’t want excessive profiteering. But the key word in profiteering is profit.”

When Martin Shkreli told Business Insider this in 2015 he might not have been trying to make a broad statement about perverse incentives in the regulatory status quo. But the statement did belie real problems that arise from a system far more complex than the heroes and villains of many popular media narratives.

Opinion: Trump Must Resist His Inner MacArthur on Korea
A miscalculation could be very costly

A propaganda mural painting outside the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, North Korea. The country has bedeviled American policymakers for nearly seven decades, Shapiro writes. (Feng Li/Getty Images file photo)

Melissa McCarthy ended her latest impersonation of Sean Spicer — delivered in Easter garb on “Saturday Night Live” — by offhandedly mentioning, “And, by the way, the president's probably going to bomb North Korea tonight.”

Beyond the incongruity of a presidential press secretary announcing impending war while wearing a bunny suit, what made this moment funny was its small glimmer of plausibility.

Opinion: Why Congress Should Value, and Keep, AmeriCorps
The national service program efficiently lifts America’s most needy schoolchildren

Without AmeriCorps, roughly 14.5 million children currently living in families strained by poverty would fall further behind, Dale Erquiaga writes. (Courtesy AmeriCorps Facebook page)

When the new administration’s budget blueprint arrived last month, the math was, to say the least, unsettling. The EPA and State Department would see their budgets slashed by nearly one-third, Agriculture and Labor by 21 percent and the Education Department — which affects my area of work and interest — would take about a 13 percent hit.

The severe proposals sparked an intense and important national debate that continues today. Largely lost in the back and forth, however, has been the proposals affecting AmeriCorps, a program that since its inception has been a model for how to efficiently and effectively improve millions of lives. The Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, which has administered AmeriCorps and other volunteer service programs for a quarter-century, has undoubtedly changed America for the better. But in the proposed budget, CNCS, and with it AmeriCorps, would be eliminated.