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Archive for February 12th, 2009

  • A day after launching her campaign for governor, former EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman on Tuesday unveiled a sharply conservative approach to California's fiscal crisis and offered a fusillade of positions on other issues that are likely to complicate her run for office in 2010.

    In a wide-ranging interview, the first-time Republican candidate's demeanor vacillated between that of a confident, take-charge chief executive officer delivering a PowerPoint presentation to that of an ill-at-ease novice who has studied stacks of policy binders, but has yet to master the art of political maneuvering.
    Sorry but Flap cannot support Whitman in the GOP primary election

    (tags: Meg_Whitman)
  • When "Hardball," guest and former John McCain adviser Mark McKinnon suggested Barack Obama, in his first few days in office, is discovering what George W. Bush found out, that being President is "a hard job," Chris Matthews, on Wednesday night's show, vehemently disagreed, saying Obama "doesn't look he's having a hard time…he's Fred Astaire out there…he still moves around with incredible alacrity."
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played a little high-stakes chicken with each other at the tail end of Wednesday’s shotgun stimulus talks.

    It’s not clear who won – or who blinked.

    According to a half dozen Congressional aides and members, Reid went before the cameras Wednesday to announce a stimulus deal before Pelosi had agreed on all the details of school construction financing.

    “It’s ruffled feathers, big time,” said a House Democrat speaking on condition of anonymity. “The speaker went through the roof.”

    Added one House Democratic aide: “He tried to roll her and she knew it.”

  • In a throwback to the 1930s and 1970s, Demo­cratic lawmakers are betting that America's economic ills can be cured by an extraordinary expansion of government. This tired approach has already failed repeatedly in the past year, in which Congress and the President:

    1. Increased total federal spending by 11 percent to nearly $3 trillion;

    2. Enacted $333 billion in "emergency" spending;

    3. Enacted $105 billion in tax rebates; and

    4. Pushed the budget deficit to $455 billion in the name of "stimulus."

  • Proponents of smaller government have the oppo­site view. They explain that government is too big and that higher spending undermines economic growth by transferring additional resources from the productive sector of the economy to government, which uses them less efficiently. They also warn that an expanding public sector complicates efforts to implement pro-growth policies—such as fundamen­tal tax reform and personal retirement accounts— because critics can use the existence of budget defi­cits as a reason to oppose policies that would strengthen the economy.
  • Now that there's a tentative agreement on the economic stimulus plan that President Barack Obama and other supporters hope will provide a considerable jolt to the economy, how long will it take to get infrastructure and other projects moving? And do economists think the plan is big enough to create millions of jobs?

    Here are some questions and answers about the latest version of the stimulus initiative.

  • The comment did not go unnoticed in Sin City: Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (D) asked for an apology in an interview yesterday with local KLAS-TV. Goodman wrote a letter to Obama today asking the president to say that his comments were harmf

    Reid sought to smooth things over on the Senate floor, noting that he has received an assurance from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that the comment was not directed at Las Vegas as a travel destination.

    "I've spoken at length with president Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and will speak to the president when I have the opportunity. But Mr. Emanuel, Congressman Emanuel, made it clear to me — and I know this is the case — that President Obama's criticism was aimed at taxpayer funds for junkets. We gave a lot of money to the banks and they should in the use that money for junkets whether it is to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or New York. Las Vegas is a place that people look on as a good place to go for timeout. I repeat that president Ob

  • From WashPost's The Fix poll of a handful of wise Democratic Hill operatives on which Republicans might switch their "no" votes to "yes" on the stimulus:

    1. Ohio Sen. George Voinovich

    2. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski

    3. Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar

    4. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton

    5. Delaware Rep. Mike Castle

    6. Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach

  • “Bipartisan”: What Democrats want to do.

    “Partisan”: What Republicans want to do.

    For many years in Washington, the above has been the practical definition of those words and not what you'll find in the dictionary. The idea that President Obama or anyone else among the Democratic leadership is the least bit interested in anything resembling Webster's rendering of these terms is simply absurd.

  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have settled on the framework of a bipartisan spending plan that would scale back the state's investment in schools, higher education, public transportation and other programs in addition to imposing some temporary tax increases.

    The plan, aimed at closing a $42-billion budget gap projected by the middle of next year, was cobbled together in private talks by legislative leaders and is being presented to rank-and-file lawmakers this afternoon, according to participants in the negotiations. Floor votes in the Assembly and state Senate are planned for Friday.

  • Collins told reporters she hoped fellow GOP lawmakers would reconsider when the final compromise comes to a vote "rather than just reflexively oppose this."

    She said the negotiators had "tightened and scrubbed it" to eliminate wasteful spending.

  • House Dem leaders are in with Reid and Schiliro right now. They're balking on a final point – so the deal announcement may have been premature. The point: $10 billion in funding that was added to the state stabilization fund. The House Dems want to ensure these monies are routed specifically through Title I for school construction and not left — as Collins, Snowe et al have said they would prefer — to be spent at governors' discretion. Yesterday Collins said school construction would be a deal breaker for her. Pelosi's spokesman is dialing back rheotic. "We're moving very rapidly towards making an announcement on a deal," said Nadeam Elshami, a Pelosi spokesman, but refusing to say that there is a deal.
  • The Bush-Obama big government, big bureaucracy, politician-empowering, high-tax, high-inflation and high-interest-rate system continues to grow and to place the country in greater and greater danger from inflation, bureaucratic control of the economy, political interference in every aspect of our lives and massive debt.

    The first job of the conservative movement is simply to tell the truth about how bad these Bush-Obama proposals are. The 2008 $180 billion stimulus program in the spring failed. The 2008 summer $345 billion housing bailout failed. The 2008 fall $700 billion Wall Street bailout failed. That was the first $1.2 trillion, and it was on former President George W. Bush's watch, but all three passed with then Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s "yes" vote.

  • Sarah Palin is pulling back from her post-election media spree by withdrawing from CPAC, a move that can only help her if she wants a national political role.

    Palin's pull out CPAC is striking because it represents a break in her media modus operandi, which has been to make waves every month since the election. In November she attacking backbiting staffers from the presidential campaign; in December she campaigned for Saxby Chambliss in Georgia; in January she attacked the press for allegedly calling her daughter a high school dropout, slammed election coverage in a conservative film and even responded to an attack from Ashley Judd.

    By pulling out of CPAC she guarantees February will be relatively quiet. With continual attention from August to January, Palin courted overexposure, but looks to be avoiding it this month. She's facing criticism in her own state for paying too much attention to her national image, and she wants to rectify that.

    (tags: sarah_palin)
  • When Pennsylvania voters were asked in a new Quinnipiac survey if Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) deserves re-election in 2010, 40% said yes while 43% said no.
    (tags: ArlenSpecter)
  • Republicans have caught the Democrats in a midnight “stimulus” power play that seeks to cut Republican conferees out of the House-Senate negotiations to resolve a final version of the Obama “stimulus” package. Staff members from the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met last night to put together the “stimulus” conference report.

    They intend to attempt to shove this $1.3 trillion spending bill through in the dead of the night without Republican input so floor action can take place in both chambers on Thursday.

    I spoke with House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) moments ago about this latest version of Democratic “bipartisanship.” Pence told me, “I think the American people deserve to know that legislation that would comprise an amount equal to the entire discretionary budget of the United States of America is being crafted without a single House Republican in the room.”

  • House and Senate leaders have struck a tentative deal on a stimulus package with a top-line figure of $789.5 billion, Democratic aides said this morning. The overall mix of funding and tax provisions remains to be hashed out.
  • This morning, a very senior contact within the House GOP informed me that Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) met at length last night to put together the House/Senate conference report on the “stimulus” package. Only Democratic conference committee members were informed of the meeting and permitted to attend.

    The purpose behind the meeting was apparently to produce a conference report on the over $800 billion borrow-and-spend bill that was entirely free of Republican input, and that could be presented no later than this afternoon in preparation for House and Senate floor action tomorrow.

  • In the long history of Joe Biden gaffes, this is pretty small potatoes, and it's possible that he was exaggerating for effect. But discussing his meeting with Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ivanov, Biden attributed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's changed attitude to "all of a sudden, oil is no longer $190 a barrel," cutting deeply into Russia's foreign earnings.

    Indeed it is not; it never reached that, or within 40 dollars of that. Oil topped out at $147 a barrel briefly in July of last year.

    (tags: joe_biden)
  • On the bottom of page A6, the Washington Post reports that President Obama is, well, lying:

    "There seems to be a set of folks who—I don't doubt their sincerity—who just believe that we should do nothing," he said.

    But in truth, few of those involved in the stimulus debate are suggesting that the government should not take action to aid the cratering economy.

    Many of the president's fiercest congressional critics support a stimulus package of similar size but think it should be built around a much higher proportion of tax cuts than new spending. Others have called for a plan that is half the size of the one headed for a House-Senate conference—still massive by historical standards.

    Say, fellows . . . when the central argument that the president uses to defend $838 billion or so in new spending is a lie, isn't that news? Shouldn't that be something of a big deal?
    Uh NO…

  • An influential conservative political action committee is pledging to support primary challenges to any Republican senator who backs the economic stimulus package — the latest public show of dissatisfaction from the right over the massive measure before Congress.
    Three GOP senators voted for the $838 billion compromise version of the package that the Senate approved Tuesday, but all three have said they might not vote for the final version.

    "The American people don't want this trillion-dollar political payoff that will just line the pockets of non-governmental organizations who supported [President Barack] Obama in the election," said Scott Wheeler, the executive director of The National Republican Trust PAC, an organization that calls for less government spending and lower taxes.

    "Republican senators are on notice," he said. "If they support the stimulus package, we will make sure every voter in their state knows how they tried to further bankrupt voters in an already bad economy."

  • House Dems aren't ikely to revolt on the stimulus — but there's a brewing sentiment that Senate Democrats ought to call the Republicans on their bluff — and let 'em filibuster President Obama's big bills, 60 be damned.

    A revealing moment from Tuesday’s Democratic powwow, courtesy of a member in attendance:

    “There was an outcry within the caucus that was, like, we’d actually like to see them [Senate Republicans] go ahead and filibuster. Let ’em follow through on their threats. … I don’t think the speaker disagreed.”

  • Federal prosecutors are looking into the possibility that a prominent lobbyist may have funneled bogus campaign contributions to his mentor, Representative John P. Murtha, as well as other lawmakers, two people familiar with the investigator’s questions said Tuesday.
  • Las Vegas tourism officials worry that increased scrutiny on business travel will discourage meetings and conventions _ business that would be crucial for the city already suffering economically. The number of visitors to Las Vegas was down 4.4 percent in 2008 compared with a year earlier, and visits in December alone declined nearly 11 percent.

    Late Monday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it had moved a three-day conference from the Las Vegas Strip to San Francisco amid what the bank called a broad review of its activities. Goldman Sachs has accepted $10 billion in federal bailout funds.

    Last week, Wells Fargo & Co., which received a $25 billion infusion, canceled a planned employee recognition conference in Las Vegas after an AP story reported on the trip and the bank received criticism from Capitol Hill that it was misusing the funds.
    Why is Obama talking DOWN the economy?

  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding that her job description is dissolving under her feet, leaving her with only a vestige of the power she must have thought she acquired when she signed on to be President Obama’s chief Cabinet officer.
    The power of the secretary of State flows directly from the president. But Hillary does not have the inside track with Obama. Rice and Powers, close advisers in the campaign, and Gen. Jones — whose office is in the White House — all may have superior access. Holbrooke and Mitchell will have more immediate information about the world’s trouble spots.

    So what is Hillary’s mandate? Of what is she secretary of State? If you take the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan out of the equation, what is left? One would have to assume that the old North Korea hands in the government would monopolize that theater of action. What, precisely, is it that Hillary is to do? The question lingers.

    And for this she gave up a Senate seat?


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Flap is taking a little health break by having some surgery today (Thursday morning).

I promise to be back soon – probably within a few days.


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