Tales from the Trail

Budget and bipartisanship don’t mix on Valentine’s Day

Where’s the love?

Despite all the (whining?) and dining at the White House in the hopes of  bipartisanship and civility, Republicans got out the trash-talk for  President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposal.

USA-BUDGET /Since Republicans control the House, and Democrats the Senate and White House, bipartisan action will be needed if any progress is to be made. Congressional Correspondent Richard Cowan takes a look at how the budget process works here.

Obama released a $3.7 trillion proposal as the first salvo in the annual budget wars. Republicans immediately marched out their disapproval.

Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: “The president’s budget accelerates our country down the path to bankruptcy.”

Senator Jeff Sessions, senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee: “Today he submitted a budget to Congress that accelerates our dangerous trajectory. His budget increases spending every single year, eventually doubling the size of  the entire government from what it was the day he took office.”

from Summit Notebook:

Lady Gaga may not be the only one singing a new tune in November

USA/
The 2010 Reuters Washington Summit included 4 days of on-the-record interviews with policymakers, congressmen and Obama Administration officials here in the DC bureau. The interviews covered a wide range of topics…from the impact of the mid-term elections to the importance of the Lady Gaga vote.

With less than six weeks to go before the mid-term elections the focus was on what a potential shift in power to a Republican-controlled Congress could mean for policy priorities in the coming year. We heard from Senators’ McCain, Dodd, Gregg and Bingaman. On the House side we spoke with the man responsible for getting Democrats elected…Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He called this election season a “tough and challenging environment,’ but predicted Democrats would retain control of the House.

From the Obama Administration, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opened his comments by admitting that early on the administration did not have a “real understanding of the depth of what we were in.” News of Larry Summers’ departure as White House advisor came on the eve of our interview with a man who has worked with Summers, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Goolsbee said he expected that Mr. Summers’ replacement wouldn’t be part of “a dramatic change in direction.” On the economy, Goolsbee noted that he does not see a double dip on the horizon and that “pulling back on current spending programs could spook the markets.”

from Summit Notebook:

Rumors of our demise exaggerated, Van Hollen says

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/VAN HOLLENRepresentative Chris Van Hollen likes to paraphrase Mark Twain when talking about the Democratic chances in the November mid-term election.

"News of the Democratic demise is greatly exaggerated," the man in charge of the House Democrats' election effort told the Reuters Washington Summit. "I think the pundits have been wrong before and they'll be wrong again. Democrats will retain a majority in the Congress. I'm very confident of that."

Of course it's Van Hollen's job to be confident or at least project an image of confidence six weeks ahead of the election where Republicans and the conservative Tea Party movement are trying to convince Americans to vote Democrats out of office and take back Republican control of the Congress.

Company dispenses with lobbyists and launches bid for Congressional seat

USA/

Murray Hill is running for Congress to rid Washington of lobbyists and weak-kneed politicians once and for all. And there may be no better candidate, for Murray Hill is not a frail human being but a company.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves,” the public relations firm from Silver Spring, Maryland, says in a statement.

It’s referring to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has drawn a torrent of criticism from officials including President Barack Obama by treating corporations as human beings when it comes to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. Critics claim the decision will unleash a new flood of corporate money into U.S. election campaigns, including money from foreign companies.

from Summit Notebook:

Democrat: believers of 2010 Republican majority in “la la land”

Congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says the November 2010 midterm elections will be difficult, but anyone who believes Republicans will wrest majority control of the House of Representatives is living in "la la land."

The midterm elections will be viewed by many as a referendum on the policies of Democratic President Barack Obama.

"It is going to be a very volatile, political environment," Van Hollen said at the Reuters Washington Summit.

Democrats see post-election pressure to produce

rtr20gfs.jpgWASHINGTON – Democrats seem well positioned to increase their control of the U.S. Congress and win the White House in the November elections. But with such success will come pressure.  

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says his victorious party would have to quickly resolve concerns of the American people — ranging from bringing down record gas prices and expanding health care to resolving the housing crisis and withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

“If we get in 2009 and we don’t solve people’s problems, they will kick us out as quickly as they put us in,” Schumer, head of the Senate Democratic campaign committee, told reporters on Wednesday.