Tales from the Trail

Senator Coburn’s waste line — $11.5 billion in 2010 spending

Republican Senator Tom Coburn has released his “Wastebook 2010″ report, a list of government spending that adds up to over $11.5 billion which he considers wasteful.

It includes burping cows, Vidalia onions, a 2,500-year-old mummy, and finding love on the Internet. USA-TAXES/

“Even those lucky enough to have jobs have had to tighten their belts.  Yet, Congress continues to find new and extravagant ways to waste tax dollars,” Coburn said in a statement.

Report highlights include:

– “The National Science Foundation provided more than to $200,000 to study of why political candidates make vague statements.”

– “This year, taxpayers forked over $60,000 for the ‘first-of-its kind’ promotion of the Vidalia onion in conjunction with the movie, Shrek Forever After. ”

On the 8th day before Christmas, Congress…

‘Twas eight days before Christmas and all through the Hill, lots of legislative stirring…

A nuclear arms treaty with Russia, gays in the military, avoiding a government shutdown, and even loosening immigration law. All these weighty issues are enough to make any politician on Capitol Hill reach for something easier to decide. 
 
So, it’s official. Mark Twain is one of America’s most famous literary icons.

RTRFGEU_CompIt says so in House Resolution 1733. Congress, with its hands full trying to jam a year’s worth of legislative activity through the days before Christmas, managed to squeeze out the Twain bill giving the writer of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” recognition on the 175th anniversary of his birth and the 100th anniversary of his death.

Washington Extra – Making nice (or not)

It was President Obama’s day for showing the business community he cares. He invited CEOs to Blair House across the street from the White House to discuss ideas for creating jobs and revving up the economy.

USARepublicans tried to turn the olive branch into an inconsequential twig. House Speaker-to-be John Boehner (who wasn’t invited) tweeted while the meeting was underway that it amounted to a “nothingburger.”

Honeywell CEO David Cote, who attended the meeting, had some sympathy for Obama: “We avoided a depression largely because of the actions of the president … I think he gets zero credit for it in the business or political community, because it seems like you get zero credit for the problem you avoid, even though that may be the biggest thing that you do.”

A Senate Christmas tale

(UPDATES with new Reid comments).

Christmas bells are ringing. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t seem to be listening. Much to the chagrin of staffers and more than a few senators, Reid is threatening to keep the Senate in session until Christmas Eve and beyond to finish all the legislative work that Congress failed to complete before the November elections.USA/

That amounts to just about a whole year’s worth of lawmaking. Congress never got around to passing any of the 12 spending bills that fund the government. So the Senate is expected to take up a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill after senators voted to extend Bush-era tax cuts by two years and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for a year.

Reid earlier this week said “…we are going to complete our work, no matter how long it takes, in this Congress.”

Congress hits new low in public opinion

USA-HEALTHCARE/PELOSIThe American public’s opinion of Congress has hit a new low, with only 13 percent of adults saying they approve of the job the national legislature is doing.

That’s according to a new Gallup survey, which finds an 83 percent disapproval rating for Congress — the worst the polling organization has seen in more than 30 years of congressional performance tracking.

The ‘good’ news is that Congress’ rating slipped only 1 percentage point  from last time.

Jury still out on Republicans, despite election victory – poll

congress1Despite winning control of the House of Representatives and making gains in the Senate, Republicans still have a way to go to truly win the hearts of Americans, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Just 41 percent of respondents said the Republican takeover of the House is a “good thing,” 27 percent said it was a “bad thing,” and 30 percent said it won’t make any difference, the poll found.

Although voters gave President Barack Obama (and his Democrats) a “shellacking” on election day, the public still has a little more faith in the president than in Republican lawmakers, according to the survey results.

Washington Extra – jumpSTART

There are 11 days to Christmas, time for Congress to do the end-of-session roll in which proposals that grew cobwebs for months and months are now heading through the chambers at breakneck speed.

Tax cuts are closing in on the finish line — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer signaled that resistance was waning among Democrats when he said there were “compelling reasons” to back the measure.

USA/Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today is holding out the possibility that the START treaty will be ratified before lawmakers wrap up the lame duck session. Debate could start as early as Wednesday, and Reid says he’s got the votes.

Rising above politics … in Washington

RTXVGWL_Comp1-150x150President Barack Obama seems to want to rise above politics in the tax debate. Good luck with that.

When Obama announced the White House’s tentative tax deal with congressional Republicans, he said he had agreed to compromise rather than “play politics” at a time when Americans want problems solved.

The president gave every impression of bowing to the verdict that voters delivered on Nov. 2, when they evicted so many Democrats from their lodgings in the House of Representatives and handed the time-share keys to the Republicans.

Congress playing chicken in lame duck session

What’s going to fly?

That’s the question on Capitol Hill where Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a game of chicken over what legislation gets approved in  the final stretch for this Congress.  PANAMA/

Everyone wants to extend middle class tax cuts, but when it comes to extending tax cuts for wealthier Americans feathers get ruffled. Republicans are demanding all of the Bush tax-cuts be extended, but Democrats cry fowl, saying the tax cuts for the wealthy are too expensive to continue.

The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats until the new Congress with a Republican majority is seated in January, will vote Thursday to extend only the middle-class tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year.

Trump sees China from the White House

RTR2EFAB_Comp-150x150Billionaire developer Donald Trump might like to be president. And if he were, he’d bring a hard view of China to the White House.

“I’d tax China,” he tells ABC News in an interview. “They laugh at us. They feel we’re fools. You know, they’re getting away with absolute murder. The products we used to make in this country, they’re making them in China. We’re rebuilding China.”

Trump, who set up an exploratory presidential committee in 1999, said he’ll decide on a 2012 White House run by June.