POLITICO's 2011 Policy Report Card
Welcome to POLITICO’s 2011 Policy Report Card.
And if you’re reading this at the Mandarin Oriental, welcome to the first ever POLITICO-POLITICO Pro Policy and Politics Conference and Awards Dinner.
It’s a chance to take stock of a tumultuous year in policy — and of the policymakers who made it happen. We asked readers to nominate Policymakers of the Year in health care, energy and technology, and leaders at POLITICO and POLITICO Pro worked through hundreds of nominees to choose the Policymakers of the Year we’ll be honoring Tuesday:
Health Care: Paul Ryan
When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released his budget plan in April, the Wisconsin Republican instantly changed the conversation about health care in America. It wasn’t always a polite conversation. And it gave way to new Democratic charges that Republicans want to “end Medicare.”
But Ryan got everyone talking about ways to get health care entitlements under control — and he gave Republicans the most detailed illustration to date of how market forces could be used to do that. He has influenced how Republican presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney talk about health care, as they use variations of his Medicare plan in their campaigns. And if Republicans gain power after the 2012 elections, his blueprint is sure to be the starting point for their future health care policies.
Energy: Lisa Jackson
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had her hands full in 2011. The Republican House came full speed after her agency, and her job was to hold the line. She’s been able to do just that, despite constant criticism from the right — The Wall Street Journal editorial page calls her “President Lisa Jackson” — and dramatic rumors of nonexistent EPA plans to hire 230,000 workers and regulate spilled milk and farm dust.
She’s also had to deal with a White House that’s shifted away from its initial regulatory agenda and hasn’t always had EPA’s back. There was talk that Jackson might resign after President Barack Obama shelved EPA’s ozone rule in August, but she has stayed and become a more vocal force for environmental issues.
Technology: Patrick Leahy and Lamar Smith
If politics is truly “the art of the possible,” then Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith made art out of politics this year by shepherding through the first major patent reform law in six decades.
The Vermont Democrat and the Texas Republican faced some steep odds: a bitterly divided Congress, jurisdictional concerns of competing committees and disputes between the pharmaceutical and tech lobbies. But in the end, their America Invents Act became the only major piece of tech legislation passed in 2011 — and offered proof that a bipartisan approach to legislation can still work.
We’ll hear more from Ryan, Jackson, Leahy and Smith Tuesday night. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the 2011 Policy Report Card.