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This week’s Ask a Hill Staffer we discuss Trayvon Martin, Recess, Budget Votes and more. Check it out!


Simpson-Bowles got 38 votes — is tax reform and budget reform dead?

Until next year, yes. What incentive do Democrats have to cede reform of the tax code and budget to Republicans right now, even if it’s the right and necessary thing to do?

They’ll just use it as a campaign issue, as will Republicans, to make the other side look bad (tax breaks for big bad evil companies, welfare for drug addicted child molesters and lottery winners).

If President Obama gets re-elected, I’m not sure this will be his first priority of a second term. He’ll probably use that to renege on the promises he made Congress about missile defense and modernization. Call me crazy, but I have it on good authority from Vladimir that’s what he’ll do.

And I’m equally unsure that Romney would do the same. (Sorry Paul, Santorum and Gingrich supporters, this campaign is over.) What first term President would immediately jump on a complicated and divisive task like this one?

What does recess mean to people outside the beltway?

Recess is when the bell rings and we let the politicians go out into the yard to play. The yard, of course, is a metaphor for the real America. Where most people live.

What does recess mean for them? They can inspect one of these politicians up close, like a petting zoo (I don’t advise touching them, feeding them, etc). Most often it’s when our bosses can get out and talk to people, and also get yelled at by angry people.

Recess isn’t much different for Congressman than it was when you were in school. Bullies, little cliques, awkwardness, and private time for reflection.

Oh, and they use it to campaign.

What do all of these budget votes mean?

Similar to my recess analogy, these budget votes are when each of Congress’s cliques determine how they want to run the playground. The African American group (Congressional Black Caucus) has their budget, the crunchies (Progressive Caucus) has their proposal, as does the Order of Balls and Shaft (Republican Study Committee) and then there are the party proposals (Majority/Minority). The reasonable solution to fixing things in a way most people should be able to agree on (Simpson-Bowles/Cooper-LaTourette) of course gets a few more votes than the popular kid’s (President’s) budget.

Ask a hill staffer - Trayvon martin, Budget Votes and More

Why was Rep. Bobby Rush escorted from the House Floor for wearing a hoodie?

Um, because he broke the House rules and dressed down to make a point. Rules are rules.

Shouldn’t there be an exception for Trayvon Martin?

No. We’re finally enforcing the rules of dress in these chambers. I don’t want to give an inch, because if we do, John Ensign will be casting votes in running attire from the cloakroom door, and female members will get into their favorite sports attire during morning business and poke fun at each other.

Further, while I respect Rep. Rush, he is not a judge nor a jury in the case of Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman. Elected officials who pretend to know all the facts of the case (not all of which are public) are being stupid. Sure, it is a tragedy, but we elect them to do their jobs. Last time I checked, the Feds stepped in because they didn’t think the system was working correctly in Florida. This means that the system (as a whole) is working reasonably well, and Rep. Rush, et al. can get to doing more productive things. Only if the system at the federal level is broken do I care what Rep. Rush thinks about this.

Does Partisan rhetoric affect your job or is it only the perception by party politics?

Everyone knows they have to engage in rhetoric as part of their job. It all depends on where you work in Congress and at what level. Deep down, most staffers know when their boss, they, or their party is spouting bullshit. Take the “Ends Medicare as we know it” line from Democrats. They know that if they retain power for another few terms, they’re going to have to do very similar stuff, but they don’t want to. They want Republicans to get power, do the dirty work, and they can attack them for it, win, and not do much about it.

That’s how this place works. It’s a meat factory. You either eat the meat or become a vegan like Kucinich’s wife.

Got a question?

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