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Their Views

The art of the deal

It has been a tumultuous November for the American political system. The Republican party swept to victory in the midterm elections, ousting the Democrats from control of the Senate in a result widely interpreted as voter repudiation of President Obama.

A nonpartisan director: Elmendorf is the type of CBO leader Congress needs

By its nature, the legislative process in Washington is political and partisan, and hence prone to error, bias and outright propaganda. The antidote is a common set of facts and objective analysis, provided by a source that everyone in Congress recognizes as an honest broker of information. For the past 40 years, that honest broker has been the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is required by law to provide lawmakers with cost estimates and forecasts of government programs. The CBO’s budgetary impact “scores” are the gold standard against which politicians’ fiscal promises are measured.

Air bag safety delays

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is widening its crackdown on air bags at risk of exploding — potentially killing or maiming the people they are supposed to protect. This is another case in which it has taken years for the government and car companies to come to grips with the full scale of a deadly automotive defect, demonstrating again that the nation’s vehicle safety monitors aren’t doing a good enough job.

Bigger than immigration

Don’t let yourself get lost in the weeds. Don’t allow yourself to believe that opposition to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration is only about that issue, the president’s tactics, or his lack of obsequiousness to his detractors.

Misnamed ‘Freedom’ legislation

The proposed USA Freedom Act was billed in some quarters as “sweeping” reform of controversial data collection practices by the National Security Agency that were publicly disclosed 18 months ago by Edward Snowden, who was then an intelligence contractor with the spy agency.

Recalling Nelson Rockefeller

WASHINGTON — Seen through the prism of subsequent national experience, Nelson Rockefeller resembles a swollen post-war automobile — a land yacht with tail fins, a period piece, bemusing and embarrassing. He remains, however, instructive.

Net neutrality and the Internet balancing act

Everyone from giant Internet service providers to lone “Twilight” fan-fiction writers seems to love “net neutrality.” But few who genuflect toward the phrase can make real sense of the bureaucratic battle raging in and around the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its frequently maligned chairman, Thomas Wheeler.

Pope calls for family resurrection

WASHINGTON — News that Pope Francis will visit the U.S. next year for the triennial World Meeting of Families brings elation to Catholics, excitement to pope watchers — and perhaps a little chagrin to some who too soon interpreted Francis’ broad compassion as a precursor to doctrinal changes related to marriage.

Islamic State fight calls for new congressional authorization

When President Barack Obama declared in September the United States would be part of an international effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, he said vaguely that he welcomed congressional support but insisted he already had the necessary legal authority to act. It soon emerged that the administration was relying for that authority on two extremely thin legal reeds: the 2001 resolution in which Congress authorized the use of force against the architects of 9/11 and a 2002 resolution authorizing force to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” — the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, that is.