Despite a recent CBS/New York Times poll that noted a clear majority of Americans do not wish to be involved in the Syrian conflict, the U.S. has significant interests in the struggle, primarily because of the regional instability caused by the war.
- Syria borders Turkey—a NATO member with which the U.S. has a military alliance and a mutual defense treaty—and Israel. The fighting could easily spill over into those countries, drawing the U.S. into the conflict.
- Syria also borders Lebanon and Jordan, two countries on already shaky political footing. The war is already causing internal security problems in those nations.
The Syrian conflict is creating a humanitarian crisis both inside and outside of the country.
- The UN estimated in April that 70,000 people have been killed in two years of fighting.
- The UN further estimated that the war has created 1.4 million refugees, with over a million of those in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.
The refugees are placing enormous pressure on these nations’ economies and infrastructure, potentially destabilizing them as summer approaches and water, food, and power resources are strained even further.
For more info, read our new policy memo: What is America’s Best Bad Option in Syria?
The politics of immigration are certainly warming, but that does not mean that passing comprehensive reform will be easy.
Polling shows that a solid majority of voters support a path to citizenship for most of those who are here illegally now—just as polls in 2006 showed big margins in favor of citizenship. But a closer look at the middle shows that behind their support is a cloudy layer of doubt and concerns.
This memo outlines the best way to reach the conflicted middle—using the key words tough, fair, and practical.
By Mieke Eoyang & Ed Gerwin
Last week, the Pentagon came out and said it: Cyberintrusions on Defense Department computer systems, as well as economic and defense industrial base sectors are “directly attributable to the Chinese government and military.” China’s cyberintrusions are a serious matter. But why does China’s hacking strike everyone as beyond the pale?
Of course China wants to steal our secrets – after all, espionage is considered the second oldest profession. It’s also hardly surprising that China is cyberspying on America’s defense industrial base to gain military advantage. Governments, no doubt including ours, do this all the time.
By Ryan Fitzpatrick
Energy policy is difficult to move, in part because there’s really no such thing as a “must-pass” energy bill. It doesn’t carry the same urgency or institutionalized process as certain annual taxing and spending bills, and it certainly doesn’t generate the same passion in the electorate as health care, immigration, or other social policy priorities. Let’s face it…energy policy is the stowaway, not the train. You can slip a discrete energy policy into a larger vehicle, as we saw with the PTC’s inclusion in the fiscal cliff deal. But building a large, comprehensive energy bill in this political era is basically the equivalent of a dozen stowaways standing by the tracks deciding to tie themselves together. Good luck with that, guys.
Recent movement of hydropower and efficiency bills, along with bipartisan support for master limited partnerships and ARPA-E, has shown us the potential for passing targeted energy legislation in this Congress. Perhaps these particular issues are unique in that they tend to gin up relatively little controversy. But an incremental and targeted approach can be effective with contentious policies as well. Returning to our earlier example, the PTC for wind has become a target of hyper-conservative groups in recent years. Yet a significant block of Republican lawmakers, including tea party favorites like Steve King and freshman class president Kristi Noem supported the extension. To be precise, they actually FOUGHT for it, pressuring their leadership and colleagues to move the provision. Focusing solely on the PTC for wind allowed geography to trump partisanship. This prioritizing of parochial issues over political ideology is a well-known phenomenon in energy policy, and it has often provided opportunities for compromise and progress in Congress. But the influence of the “geography effect” is diminished once the policy in question is merged with others that are of less interest or that present a conflict for lawmakers.
For the House and Senate, the strategy that seems to be showing the most promise is to keep it simple (and practical), stupid. Smart policy initiatives will minimize variables that give lawmakers a reason (or an excuse) to vote against clean energy interests that matter to folks back home. And they will take advantage of unique coalitions that each individual issue can bring to the table based on geography, local economies, etc. Legislators can also encourage the Administration to continue its use of executive orders to increase efficiency and clean energy procurement within federal agencies, and to pursue collaborations with industry to iron-out regulatory hurdles that could slow the adoption of clean technologies.
The bottom line is, there is plenty to be done. It just can’t be done all at once. So pick your spot on the apple and start taking a bite.
Will Minn. lawmakers face retribution for gay marriage vote?
As Minnesota lawmakers voted to support gay marriage, some knew it was a vote that could cost them their jobs.
One lawmaker feeling heat is Rep. Joe Radinovich, a Democrat from Crosby, who called his support of gay marriage, “the right thing to do.”
Radinovich represents a district that supported a constitutional ban on gay marriage last November and a recall effort is now underway.
In his speech on the Senate floor Tuesday before voting to support gay marriage, Sen. Branden Petersen, a Republican from Andover, openly wondered what impact the vote would have on his political future.
“You’re going to see a few races where it might make a difference,” says Hamline University professor David Schultz.
While Schultz believes a handful of lawmakers could be at risk for their votes on gay marriage, he cautions that the next elections are far off.
The Minnesota Senate isn’t up for re-election until November 2016. House members are up for re-election in November 2014.
“As they always say, in politics a week is an eternity. Eighteen months is more than an eternity,” says Schultz.
Lawmakers in other states that have approved gay marriage have not seen a backlash.
Third Way, a national think tank, studied Washington state and New York where a whopping 97 percent of lawmakers who voted for gay marriage and ran for re-election, won.
“It gets back to the fact that once something is law, once people get used to it, then they are less likely to take it against people in terms of how they are going to vote,” says Schultz.
Schultz believes the lawmakers most at-risk for their marriage vote, are lawmakers who would have been at-risk anyway for a variety of other issues.
“I think it’s going to be the bread and butter issues about taxes, the budget and the economy,” says Schultz.
The bipartisan Gang of 8 immigration reform bill renews America’s commitment to welcome the world’s huddled masses but also sets new priorities for skills-based immigration, eliminates arbitrary country caps, puts the students we’ve educated to work in our economy, and establishes a sustainable path for the agricultural and guest workers on which our society depends.
To read more about how the Gang of 8 bill reforms our outdated immigration system to fit America’s modern needs, read: The Gang of 8: Making America a Magnet for Global Talent.
Ideology won’t solve our debt problem. It will require practical policies that can give the nation the vibrant economic growth, middle class living standards, and secure safety net for the aged and vulnerable that we have come to expect. Read more in: Growth, Not Greece: A Growth-Focused Deficit Reduction Agenda.
By Amanda Palmer, POLITICO
The Senate voted down a gun control measure last month, but the fight is just beginning.
The National Rifle Association and new pro-gun control groups headed by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and Michael Bloomberg are in an arms race since a background check bill narrowly failed in the Senate last month – ramping up their fundraising, airing attack ads and revving up their grassroots machines.
There was a time when a failed gun bill might have quietly slipped off the stage. But the dynamics have shifted, since the NRA is no longer the only group in the gun debate with money, power and some signs of staying power.
By Woei Ling Leow and Ryan Fitzpatrick
The tragic losses of Apollo 1 did not petrify the U.S. and derail the Moon Shot program. The collapse of Henry Ford’s first car company did not mean that the world would never want his product. And the demise of Fisker does not condemn the electric vehicle (EV) to certain failure.