National Journal Online

Deficit Politics, Front And Center

National Journal's Richard E. Cohen writes in this week's magazine:

You wouldn't know it from the overheated partisan rhetoric that gets thrown about these days, but it's possible, just possible, that Congress could get serious about tackling the federal budget deficit.

Although it's far too early to take the savings to the bank -- and failure remains a leading option -- some influential members of Congress seem to have a real commitment to act.

Consider the statements below from two House leaders.

Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 - 9:08am

Friday's Starting Lineup

Good Friday morning. Could Lebron James' move to Miami be a good thing for the Tea Party? Our colleague Josh Green at The Atlantic thinks so.

Here's today's Starting Lineup, previewing the people who will drive the discussion this weekend:

Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 - 6:59am

Critics: FCC Can't Be Trusted To Maintain Broadband Light Touch

Critics of the FCC's proposal to reclassify some aspects of broadband as a telecommunications service argued Thursday that while commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has pledged to maintain a light regulatory touch, such promises can't be trusted to be upheld by future members of the agency.

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 7:11pm

Official: Securing Critical Infrastructure From Cyber Attacks Impractical

An Energy Department intelligence official said Thursday that securing the nation's power grid and other computer systems that operate the nation's critical infrastructure against cyber attack is unrealistic, because companies cannot afford to check if suppliers have provided trustworthy products, Nextgov.com reported. "If you give me influence or control of your hardware or software supply chain, I control your systems," said Bruce Held, the Energy Department's director of intelligence and counterintelligence.

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 5:29pm

Panel Releases USF Data

The House Energy and Commerce released FCC data Thursday that shows the biggest recipients of funding from the Universal Service Fund in the last three years include two of the nation's biggest telecommunications firms: AT&T and Verizon. From 2007-2009, AT&T was the largest recipient of funds from the USF, collecting $1.3 billion and was followed closely in second place by Verizon with $1.27 billion over the same period, the data showed.

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 5:18pm

Insiders Predict 5 To 6 Seat GOP Gain

The GOP is poised to post a net gain of 5 to 6 Senate seats this Nov., according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll.

Asked "how many Senate seats will Democrats gain or lose" in the midterms," the average of 100 Dem Insiders who responded to the poll said the party would lose 5 seats, and the average offered up by 103 GOP Insiders was 6. For Dems, the average was the same as it was in March when this question was previously asked. For GOPers, the number actually fell from 7 in March.

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 4:45pm

Manchin Can Call Byrd Special This Year

WV Gov. Joe Manchin (D) may call a special election to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd's seat as soon as this year, WV's attorney general said in an opinion released this afternoon.

On Wednesday, Manchin asked AG Darrell McGraw (D) for an advisory opinion in light of election law that leaves some doubt as to whether Byrd's seat should be filled by temporary appointment for more than 2 years. A day later, McGraw said the election must take place before '12, when Byrd's term would expire. And that election is likely to be held this year.

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 4:12pm

Angle Repeats BP "Slush Fund" Line

Ex-NV Assemb. Sharron Angle (R) handed Dems a new gift today, calling a $20B escrow account set up to pay out victims of the BP oil spill a "slush fund," echoing Rep. Joe Barton's (R-TX) much-ridiculed apology to BP and prompting quick criticism from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).

Speaking on the Alan Stock Show, Angle agreed with a caller to the radio program who criticized the BP account. Angle said, "No, government shouldn't be doing that to a private company. And I think you named it clearly -- it's a slush fund."

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 3:57pm

Insiders: Odds Increase for GOP House Takeover

The prospects of a GOP takeover of the House in upcoming midterm elections continue to rise according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll.

Insiders we asked, "On a scale of zero (no chance) to 10 (virtual certainty), how likely are the Republicans to take over the House this November?" The average rating from 100 Dem Insiders who responded to the poll this week was 4.5, up from a 3.7 rating when the question was last asked in April. The average rating from the 104 GOP Insiders who responded was a very bullish 6.6, up from 5.8 in April.

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 3:30pm

RNC Holds Unreported Debt

The RNC is expected to file a series of amended reports with the FEC this month after an internal review by the treasurer found a number of debts that had not been previously reported.

Sources with knowledge of the RNC's financial situation said the debts will likely amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The debts, owed to several vendors, have not been reported yet because top RNC officials have not acknowledged their existence.

Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 2:42pm