New NAEP Scores Confirm “F” in Feds

November 18, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

By Neal McCluskey

The recent elections made one thing very clear: Americans want a cheaper, smaller, more effective federal government. Today we have powerful evidence that a terrific place to start giving them that is education. New National Assessment of Educational Progress — so-called “Nation’s Report Card” — scores are out, and despite years of massive increases in federal education spending, as well as nearly a decade of No Child Left Behind “accountability,” stagnation is what we’ve gotten. Reading scores for 12th graders — our schools’ final products — are lower than they were in 1998 and 1992. In math all we have is a slight bump between 2005 and 2009, and no data before that because NAEP changed its math framework, making today’s results essentially meaningless. Looking at other NAEP tests — notably the long-term trends exam that tracks from the early 1970s — overall math achievement is almost certainly as lifeless as reading.

The Constitution gives Washington no authority to govern or fund American education, which is reason enough to get the feds out of our schools. If that doesn’t do it for you, however, that federal meddling has produced nothing but expensive failure should clinch it: It’s time to listen to voters and get Washington out of education.

New NAEP Scores Confirm “F” in Feds is a post from Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute Blog

Cato @ Liberty

Obama appearance, rally confirm Jon Stewart’s reach

October 27, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) - Jon Stewart is not a newsman, but polls show he has the reach of one at the top of his profession. He’s not a politician or an activist, but he’s set to host a rally expected to draw tens of thousands to Washington’s National Mall.

And with President Obama ready to appear on his Comedy Central show Wednesday - less than a week before the midterm elections - Stewart is reconfirming that he’s more than just an entertainer and satirist.

Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to appear on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” when it airs Wednesday night. He’s been on ABC’s “The View,” NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” and other programs as president. But the show Obama picked for an appearance days before the midterms - with Democrats anxious to turn out the voters who helped propel him to the presidency in 2008 - is Stewart’s.

CNN Political Ticker

Virginia Thomas’s Call To Anita Hill Encourages Old Girlfriend to Confirm Hill’s Testimony

October 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

This is why Virginia Thomas would not have asked Anita Hill to apologize for her testimony of almost 20 years ago, if she actually had half a brain.

The Moderate Voice

Fed Nominee Whom Sen. Shelby Deemed Too Unqualified To Confirm Wins Nobel Prize

October 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
Richard Shelby thinks this Nobel laureate is unqualified to set monetary policy.

Richard Shelby thinks this Nobel laureate is unqualified to set monetary policy.

Earlier today, Federal Reserve Board nominee Peter Diamond won the Nobel Prize in Economics along with two of his colleagues. Yet, despite the fact that President Obama nominated this Nobel laureate to the Fed nearly six months ago, his nomination is currently being blocked by just one senator. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) believes that this year’s winner of the highest honor in the economics profession is unqualified to actually set economic policy:

[U]nder an arcane procedural rule, the Senate sent Mr. Diamond’s nomination back to the White House on Thursday night before starting its summer recess. A leading Republican senator, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, said that Mr. Diamond did not have sufficiently broad macroeconomic experience to help run the central bank. [...]

As Mr. Shelby noted, Mr. Diamond is not a specialist in monetary economics — the control of the supply of credit and the setting of interest rates — which is the Fed’s traditional purview. But of the five current governors of the Fed, only two, Mr. Bernanke and the vice chairman, Donald L. Kohn, are academic economists who specialize in monetary economics. The other three include a former community banker, a former Wall Street executive and a legal scholar.

Shelby, of course, has a history of this kind of abuse of the Senate Rules to prevent eminently qualified nominees from being confirmed. Earlier this year, Shelby briefly took over 70 nominees hostage in an attempt to strongarm the administration into awarding a $ 35 billion defense contract to his state — although he later lifted these holds once they became politically embarrassing.

But Shelby, of course, is only able to get away with these kinds of shenanigans because the Senate’s rules are shockingly easy to abuse. Indeed, while it is common wisdom that 60 senators are required to get virtually anything done, the reality is much bleaker — most Senate business now requires all 100 senators to consent.

The reason for this is because dissenting senators can force the Senate to waste hours or even days effectively doing nothing in order to pass a single bill or confirm a single nominee. Indeed, as a recent Center for American Progress white paper explains, there isn’t enough time in two entire presidential terms to confirm all of a new president’s nominees by the time that president leaves office:


In other words, the entire government can be hollowed out by a tiny group of senators with a vendetta. Today, Sen. Shelby thinks that a Nobel laureate doesn’t know enough about economics, so that nominee must languish without an up or down vote.  Tomorrow, another senator could disapprove of a nominee’s haircut, and that alone may be sufficient to spike the nomination.

Think Progress

Dodd Says Senate May Not Bother to Confirm Federal Reserve Board Nominees

September 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


Hard to tell if the problem here is the message or the messenger, but either way it’s not good:

“We’ve got a limited amount of time here, I don’t know if there’s going to be any appetite to deal with these Fed nominees,” Dodd said.

I think I’ve shouted myself hoarse about the importance of these nominees already, but just to underscore it the Federal Reserve controls the economy. And it’s “independent.” But like the Supreme Court, the President gets to pick who sits on the Board of Governors. This is an important power. Appointing good people and getting them confirmed is really important.

Meanwhile, on the “limited amount of time” note how insane the Senate is. A sane legislative body could easily vote on three nominees in twenty minutes if it’s in a rush. If the Senate wants to take more time to actually debate, that would be nice too. But these nominees have been on the table since April and nobody seems to have anything to say about them. So just vote!

Matthew Yglesias

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