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Archive: Crisis leadership

Mark Warner to the budget rescue

Virginia's Democratic Senator Mark Warner has emerged over the past week as the most important referee in the budget battle between House Republicans and President Barack Obama. As a rising star on the Senate Budget Committee, Warner actually believes Congress and the president should take on big programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, taxes and defense spending.

By Paul Light | February 24, 2011; 03:52 PM ET | Comments (29)

What the next round of federal cuts should look like

Under this more nuanced approach, federal employment just might remain at its current 2.1 million mark, and could even go higher. However, headcount is not the key measure of success. Not only would the personnel budget almost certainly fall, the public would receive much better service. Backlogs would fall, regulations would be enforced, inspections would rise and the public would regain a measure of confidence that the federal government is spending its money wisely to honor the promises it makes.

By Paul Light | December 14, 2010; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (40)

The 'polargeists' are coming--now what?

Washington is set for the arrival of a vast new class of Democratic and Republican "polargeists" who will create even more of the clanking disruption of recent political polarization. They're not so much "baaaack," as the little girl said in Poltergeist II, but they're going to invade Washington en masse. The polargeist cause will be big and bad. The midterm election may yet swing a bit back toward the Democrats, but Republicans are poised to retake the House and will almost certainly occupy a majority of the governorships that will play such a significant role in the congressional redistricting based on the 2010 census. Polarization will reign supreme on issue after issue as the two parties prepare for a electoral cage match in 2012.

By Paul Light | October 28, 2010; 02:03 PM ET | Comments (4)

The silver lining in a partisan hurricane

Democrats are reeling these days as they confront an electoral disaster. Republicans clearly have what former President George H.W. Bush called "big mo" and are poised to retake the House and capture the overwhelming majority of governorships. With redistricting on the agenda across the country next year, the governorships may give Republicans a lock on the House for the next decade. Democrats have yet to find a theme that might help them close what the so-called "enthusiasm gap." They have been easily branded as the protectors of big, bad government. Armed with unprecedented amounts of hidden money, Republicans have turned the election into a referendum on the federal bureaucracy. And they are winning.

By Paul Light | October 21, 2010; 01:32 PM ET | Comments (13)

What a real 'pledge to America' would look like

Republicans clearly understand that Americans don't trust the federal government, but have misread the underlying cause. Americans are not saying they want to slash government at all. They are saying make government work. Americans want more of virtually everything the federal government delivers, but are convinced the bureaucracy is rife with inefficiency. They want government to raise the bar on performance, not eviscerate the workforce or jettison programs that protect the public from the abuses that sparked the economic catastrophe in the first place.

By Paul Light | September 23, 2010; 07:36 PM ET | Comments (24)

Obama's oil-spill opportunity

Obama cannot plug the hole in the Gulf, but he most certainly can plug the hole in the federal government's capacity to take charge.

By Paul Light | June 3, 2010; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

A cup short on robustness

The federal government is a cup short on robustness these days. Much of its capacity to anticipate the future is buried in the weight of the past, including needless layering, a sluggish hiring process, and a persistent inability to 'connect the dots.'

By Paul Light | May 12, 2010; 09:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

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