Tales from the Trail

from Summit Notebook:

Five weeks: It’s an eternity in the world of politics

By Christopher Doering carper

Five weeks:  It may not be a lot of time for many people, but with the pivotal mid-term elections looming on Nov. 2 Delaware Senator Tom Carper said five weeks is an eternity for Democrats to use to turn the tide in their favor.

"Today, five weeks a lot happens. A lot of minds change in five weeks," Carper, a self-proclaimed "optimist", told the Reuters Washington Summit.

"What we have to do is to be able to remind people if there is some good news here in the next five weeks of what that is and get people to focus on the future."

Carper, a former Delaware governor, said there is a slew of economic data coming out between now and the election that Democrats could embrace. He pointed to another unemployment report next week, and several more weekly jobless claims.

"If the election were held today we'd lose seats in the House, I don't know if we'd lose the house," the Democrat said. "We'd lose seats in the Senate. That usually happens in the off year election."

from Summit Notebook:

With end of TARP, investigations into fraud take center stage

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/BAROFSKYWhile the much maligned $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has officially ended, not everything has wrapped up -- auditors are just starting to hit their stride investigating scores of cases of possible malfeasance.

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the program, nicknamed SIGTARP, said his office has more than 120 criminal investigations underway. They are looking into whether the money loaned to financial institutions and automakers was used properly or not, if there was fraud in applications for TARP financial backing and other wrongdoing.

"Our focus on investigations is growing and that's an area where we are definitely in a ramp-up phase," Barofsky told the Reuters Washington Summit. "The crimes that have been committed were committed in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The most common statute of limitation for fraud is five years and there's a reason for that, it takes a while for these type of sophisticated while collar investigations ... to hit, for fraud to be discovered and it takes a while to investigate them."

from Summit Notebook:

If Democrats hold US House, Pelosi seen concentrating power-lobbyist

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/JOSTENIf Democrats are able to hang on to the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely be able to concentrate her power because there will be fewer conservative Democrats giving her a hard time on critical votes, according to top senior lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Political prognosticators have said that Republicans are within striking distance of taking control of the House in November, with Republicans needing a net gain of 40 seats and polls showing them closing in on that target.

"She'll have a much more cohesive conference than she has now because it's the middle that's anticipated to get cratered in this election," Bruce Josten told the Reuters Washington Summit.  "Most of the seat losses anticipated come from the people that are the hardest votes to get on party-line unity votes."

from Summit Notebook:

Berman: House may be “lame” after elections but won’t be paralyzed

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs hasn't lost his sense of humor...yet.

USA/Representative Howard Berman said he has been struggling for 24 years to get Congress to ease up on travel restrictions for Americans who want to go to Cuba. He's determined to get it through his committee this year, even if it doesn't happen until after the November election when the lawmakers are in "lame duck" session.

"We're lame but we're not paralyzed," he told the Reuters Washington Summit when asked if it was possible to still get bills out of committee and to the full House for a vote during the time between the November election and the beginning of the new session in January.