Opinion & Analysis

You have 48 hours to become a tech expert. If only this office could help
Gingrich slashed the Office of Technology Assessment. It’s time to bring it back

When Newt Gingrich wanted to cut the budget back in the 1990s, the lowest-hanging fruit was the Office of Technology Assessment, Moss writes.

OPINION — Silicon Valley loves picking on Washington, D.C., for being inept and slow. But what our friends in the Valley do not acknowledge is that while they can indulge in the “move fast and break things” mantra, when D.C. moves fast and breaks things, precedent is set and Americans suffer for generations.

This is the problem at hand: How do we ensure that our lawmakers — the ones policing Silicon Valley — do so in a measured, thoughtful way instead of crippling emerging industry giants just because Congress can’t keep up with them? As a former staffer who now works at a think tank that focuses on technology policy and capacity issues in Congress, I struggle with this question every day.

A reporter’s homage to government auditors — unsung heroes of transparency
America needs information that presents an objective version of reality

Michael Horowitz, inspector general of the Justice Department, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Building in 2017. Government institutions such as inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office toil in obscurity but their work is critical for America, John Donnelly writes.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Whistle-blowers and internal documents are the lifeblood of journalism.

Without such sources, the full story of what’s happening in our country can’t come out.

What did the president do and when did he do it?
Russia investigation outcome approaches

President Donald Trump at the Capitol on the night of his State of the Union address earlier this month. Is Trump the political equivalent of Harry Houdini? Shapiro is skeptical. (Doug Mills/The New York Times POOL PHOTO)

OPINION — Both CNN and The Washington Post ran stories Wednesday stating that Robert Mueller will deliver his secret report to the Justice Department next week or soon thereafter. While prior predictions of Mueller’s schedule have had the accuracy of a Revolutionary War blunderbuss, the latest timetable makes intuitive sense.

Mueller must be keenly aware of the errors that James Comey made with his interventions during the 2016 campaign — and March 2019 is far from the 2020 Democratic primaries, let alone the presidential election. William Barr, whose work with Mueller dates back to the late 1980s, is now installed as attorney general. And, of course, Democrats are wielding the gavels in all House committees.

Why politicians, and everyone, need to think about legacy
Anti-lynching bill should be a reminder of how history will judge the present

Visitors at the National Memorial For Peace And Justice in Montgomery, Ala., on April 26, 2018. The memorial includes over 800 hanging steel columns, each representing a county where people were lynched. (Bob Miller/Getty Images)

OPINION — At least the bill was approved on a voice vote. That was the bill that would make lynching a federal crime, passed in the Senate late last week — in 2019.

Let that sink in. The legislation still must be approved by the Democrat-controlled House, which is expected to happen with no problem, and be signed into law by President Donald Trump. But it would be unwise to take anything for granted since similar legislation has stalled for more than 100 years, held up by elected public servants who felt that taking a stand would be too politically risky.

New York City’s progressive elites gambled and lost over Amazon
Democrats’ unforced error on HQ2 deal delivered a gift to Republicans

Amazon pulling out of its second-headquarters deal with New York City represents a big loss for Democrats, Winston writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — “I think it’s a bluff, first and foremost.”

Those were the words of New York City Council deputy leader Jimmy Van Bramer to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Feb. 11. Cavuto had asked Van Bramer about the possibility of Amazon walking away from its historic deal to locate one of its second headquarters in Queens because of anti-deal efforts stirred up by Van Bramer and others, most notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Michael Gianaris.

There was just one thing missing from this voter reform hearing — a Republican
In a state like Georgia, the GOP will have to both acknowledge voter suppression and lead the effort to end it

When Stacey Abrams described a “systemic breakdown” in the electoral process, there were no Republicans around to hear her, Murphy writes. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — What are the chances that Republican lawmakers will work with Democrats to make changes to restrictive voting systems in the United States that have benefited Republicans in recent elections, either deliberately or accidentally?

That’s going to be the question going forward for the House Administration Elections Subcommittee, which is holding a series of field hearings around the country to examine the 2018 elections and the fundamental question of whether all U.S. citizens have equal and unfettered access to the right to vote, no matter their income or ethnicity.

Capitol Ink | Emperor Trump

Sam Ervin took down Nixon. We’re still waiting for his heir
Maybe Nancy Pelosi needs to appoint a small select committee modeled after Watergate

Folksy North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin, center, chaired the committee that destroyed Nixon’s strongest claim to power — his political popularity, Shapiro writes. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is easy to imagine an undiscovered Samuel Beckett play entitled “Waiting for Mueller.” On stage, faithful Democrats vacillate between stubborn hope (“He should be here”) and fatalistic despair (“He didn’t say for sure that he would come”). In the end, they just wait, day after day.

Whatever Robert Mueller’s internal timetable (seers like Rudy Giuliani have so far been comically wrong in trying to predict it), the investigation will face new pressures with the virtually certain Senate confirmation this week of William Barr. For the first time, Mueller will be supervised by a legitimate attorney general — rather than an acting Donald Trump factotum — who has avoided any promises about releasing the full report.

Capitol Ink | Cupid on ICE

How Ralph Northam is spending his Black History Month
The African-Americans of his state have done a whole lot of forgiving since the first enslaved people were brought there centuries ago

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been doing a lot of learning this month — about blackface, apologies and redemption. African-Americans who believe he should stay in his post are used to making political compromises to survive, Curtis writes. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

OPINION — The lessons of this February’s Black History Month commemorations have already veered far beyond the usual ones that begin and end by quoting a snippet of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the part about judging folks not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A new curriculum is being written in real time, affecting real-life politicians and their constituents. And Virginia is hardly the only state not ready for the big exam.

Of course, the politician in question, Gov. Ralph Northam, has been learning as he goes — about blackface, about apologies and about redemption.

Note to Ocasio-Cortez and Green New Dealers: The economy is not the government
Like old New Deal, plan promises much and will produce little

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey, center, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others hold a press conference on the Green New Deal outside the Capitol on Feb. 7. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — In the final debate of the 2010 British general election, Conservative Party leader David Cameron told his Labour Party rival, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, that “Labour seem to confuse the economy with the government.” A month later, Cameron had Brown’s job. 

Given the proposals in the Democrats’ Green New Deal — whose bungled release last week made for some sorely needed comic moments in an otherwise grim Washington — their leading economist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, could learn something important from Cameron’s spot-on observation about what drives a successful economy. A hint: It isn’t government.

Hillary Clinton is running again, sort of
Another double bind for women in 2020? The more of them there are, the less they’ll stand out

It’s not fair to compare female candidates exclusively to one another, Murphy writes. But Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren haven’t exactly distanced themselves from the last woman to run for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Democrats have four qualified, tough, smart, female senators running for president. And that might be a problem, because they just tried that against Donald Trump and it didn’t work in 2016.

It’s not that Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand wouldn’t each make an excellent president. Like Hillary Clinton, it’s clear that they have all put a great deal of thought into how they’ll run and how they would lead.

What the shutdown taught us about paid family leave
What those government employees endured is a sobering reality for many low-wage workers every day

Federal workers and contractors, along with their unions, stage a protest calling for an end to the government shutdown in January. With the fight fresh in the nation’s mind, it’s time to talk about paid family leave. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — The recent government shutdown opened the nation’s eyes to what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. Many federal workers and contractors had to make difficult choices between putting food on the table or paying their bills. What these government employees endured is, unfortunately, a sobering reality for many low-wage workers every day.

When you add to this mix a new baby, a seriously ill parent, or a cancer diagnosis requiring time away from work for tests and treatment, you have a recipe for disaster for low-wage workers. Taking time off without pay just isn’t an option — it means no rent, no heat, or no medications.

Capitol Ink | Government shutdown clock