Ed Whelan vs. Simon Lazarus: “How Should the Senate Respond to the Nomination of Neil Gorsuch?”

A conservative and a progressive debate what the Senate response to Neil Gorusch should look like. Following Republican refusal to hold a confirmation hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, some Democratic leaders are looking to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination while only 23 per cent of the Democratic base wants to see Gorsuch confirmed. Additionally, with pervasive concerns about presidential overreach, many are looking for the Senate confirmation process to assess carefully Gorsuch’s qualifications, as well as his independence from the executive office. 
Ed Whelan, the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and contributor to the National Review’s “Bench Memos” Blog, argues that Senate Democrats need to figure out how gracefully they want to lose the Gorsuch battle and whether they want to trigger an abolition of the filibuster. 
Simon Lazarus, Senior Counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center who previously served as Associate Director of Jimmy Carter’s White House Domestic Policy Staff, makes the case for a careful review of Judge Gorsuch with an eye on ensuring he will stand strong for an independent judiciary against the authoritarian inclinations of Donald Trump. 

Alice Rivlin vs. Joe Antos: “How Should Obamacare be Replaced and Repaired?”

Two moderates who think compromise on healthcare is desirable debate whether Obamacare has failed, what really needs to be fixed, and how Republicans can reach agreement with themselves, their base, and Democrats.

Alice Rivlin is a senior fellow in Economic Studies and the Center for Health Policy at the Brookings Institution. She formerly served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the first Clinton administration and as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board.

Joe Antos is a resident scholar and the Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute where his research focuses on the economics of health policy including the impact of health care expenditures on federal budget policy.

David Luban vs. Daniel Byman: “Is There a Duty to Serve in Trump’s America?”

In this episode, Middle East expert Dan Byman and national security legal philosopher David Luban debate whether people should go into a Trump administration or whether they should run and hide.

Dan Byman is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution as well as a professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and foreign policy editor at Lawfare. Following conversations with students concerned by the prospect of pursuing government careers when so much about a Trump presidency provokes fear and uncertainty, Byman wrote a piece in Slate arguing that reasonable, seasoned experts and especially aspiring young professionals should not shy away from government work in a Trump administration.

David Luban, a Professor in Law and Philosophy at Georgetown University and a regular contributor to the national security blog Just Security recently wrote “The Case Against Serving.” Luban wonders whether a government employee serving in a Trump administration can sustain a “sense of outrage” when “the abnormal becomes routine.” He writes that in an administration without a commitment to the rule of law, “you are deluding yourself to think you can turn the train, or even slow it down.”

During the debate, Luban argued it will prove extremely difficult for a civil servant to reasonably serve as an apolitical expert given what we know about the white nationalist orientation of the Trump campaign and his first administrative appointments. Luban questioned whether it is even possible for civil servants to enter the administration as oppositional figures without eventually compromising their moral compasses. Byman, on the other hand, emphasized that having moral, serious individuals serving in a Trump administration will ensure that the bureaucracy will not be made up of individuals indifferent to Trump’s rhetoric of fear and his illiberal proposals. If such individuals serve over the coming four years, it will also guarantee that future presidential administrations will have a skilled civil service from which to draw.

Episode #8: Rishabh Bhandari v. Quinta Jurecic, “Is the Student Left a Big Problem on College Campuses and Beyond?”

IMG_2738Two recent college graduates spar over how alarmed we should be over the new student left activism. Rishabh Bhandari, a recent Yale College graduate, argues that we should be afraid of what the uncivilized new generation of student protests portends for American democratic discourse 20 years down the line. Quinta Jurecic, who graduated in 2015 from Wesleyan University, counters that we shouldn’t take 18-year-olds too seriously, that the student left has some legitimate points to make, and that we should not dismiss a movement as illiberal when it is actually a conscious rejection of liberalism.

Philip Wallach vs. Romina Boccia: “Should Congress Junk the Debt Ceiling?”

Two fiscal conservatives take on the question of the debt ceiling: Junk it, says Philip Wallach of the Brookings Institution. Keep it and use it as an instrument to force fiscal discipline, responds the Heritage Foundation’s Romina Boccia.

Philip A. Wallach is a fellow in Governance Studies whose research focuses on institutional aspects of fiscal policy and regulation.  He is the author of To the Edge: Legality, Legitimacy, and the Responses to the Financial Crisis of 2008 (Brookings Institution Press, 2015).

Romina Boccia is Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and Grover M. Hermann Research Fellow at the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, The Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation.

Jonathan Rauch vs. Norm Eisen: “Political Machines Should Be Stronger and Government Should be Less Transparent”

Norm Eisen
Jonathan Rauch

Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution recently authored a new ebook entitled, “Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy,” which argued for strengthening political parties and against the reform instinct of trying to make politics ever-more transparent. In this debate, Rauch takes on Norm Eisen, a former White House official and ambassador to the Czech Republic, on whether we’ve gone too far with political reform. Roll it back, says Rauch, while Eisen argues we’ve done well and could do even better with more transparency. The resolution is “Political Machines Should Be Stronger and Government Should Be Less Transparent.” Rauch argues for it. Eisen argues against.

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The Chess Clock Debates, Episode #5: Kori Schake v. Ryan Evans on “Should the United States Arm Ukraine?”

Kori Schake

Should the United States arm Ukraine in its fight against Vladimir Putin’s Russia? Kori Schake—a former National Security Council, Defense Department, and State Department staffer, a veteran of the John McCain campaign, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution—argues that we should. Ryan Evans, founder of the War on the Rocks web site, says we should not.

War on the Rocks, by the way, is having a fundraising drive. You can contribute to the site’s growth here.

Ryan Evans

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The Chess Clock Debates, Episode #4: Natan Sachs v. David Hazony on “Is Obama or Netanyahu to Blame for the US-Israel Mess?”

Natan Sachs

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu spoke before the U.S. Congress against the will of the White House and to objection of many Democrats. Whose fault is the faltering relationship between the United States and its closest Middle Eastern ally? Natan Sachs of the Brookings Institution argues that Bibi is to blame. David Hazony of the Israel Project puts the blame on Barack Obama.

David Hazony

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The Chess Clock Debates, Episode #3: Suzanne v. Doran on Iran: “Does Obama Have a Secret Iran Strategy?”

Suzanne Maloney and Michael Doran with the Only Moderator they Need.
Suzanne Maloney and Michael Doran with the only moderator they need.

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Suzanne Maloney takes on Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Michael Doran over Doran’s recent article in Mosaic magazine, “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy.”

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The Chess Clock Debates, Episode #2: “Should Reporters Have to Testify About Their Anonymous Sources?”

Two Daily Beast journalists duke it out over whether journalists should have a privilege against testifying about their confidential sources. Shane Harris argues that they should. James Kirchick says they should not. Subscribe to the Chess Clock Debates though our RSS feed, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

Shane Harris
James Kirchick