Tales from the Trail

Boehner says lawmakers should expect to do more reading if he becomes House Speaker

Republican John Boehner wants you to know that if his party wins control of  the House of Representatives and he becomes the chamber’s next Speaker, things will be a lot different.

For starters, Boehner says lawmakers in both parties will get a better opportunity to actually read bills before they vote on them.

USA-HEALTHCARE/“One of the things that the American people are most fed up with is the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to the floor before anyone has had a chance to read them,” Boehner said this week in looking ahead to the November election.

“It’s a culture of garbage in, garbage out,” he said.

“If we are fortunate enough to be in the majority and I were fortunate enough be the speaker of the House, I would run the House differently than it has been run under both Democrats and Republicans,” Boehner said.

For decades — and with varying frequency — bills have been rammed through Congress without lawmakers or the public getting much, if any, chance to read them.

Democrats in a dilemma on Bush tax cuts

Conventional political wisdom says that if you are going to cut taxes, do it before an election. But in a congressional election year when record deficits and a $13 trillion national debt are unnerving voters, that wisdom may not hold.

USA/At least that seems to be the case among Democrats who are facing serious voter concerns about deficits, the fragile economy and lack of job creation going into the November elections when Republicans hope to take control of Congress.

President George W. Bush’s tax cuts expire at the end of the year. Republicans want to extend all of the tax cuts. Democrats want to extend lower tax rates for middle income earners at least through 2011 and allow tax cuts for wealthier taxpayers to expire.

Obama’s Senate savvy is showing

Looks like President Barack Obama hasn’t forgotten his political roots in the Senate.

Presidents over the years have found one sure way to annoy members of Congress: act like you don’t care about them.

OBAMA/So when Obama took the rare step of going to their turf  to meet with just the Senate Republicans — the party that has pretty much stood in his way since he got elected — it showed some political savvy.

Another poll comes out in favor of gays in the military

As Congress mulls “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a new poll finds support for repealing it.

A CNN poll showed that 78 percent, or nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe people who are openly gay should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. MILITARY-GAYS/

The results of the survey of 1,023 adults, conducted May 21-23, were similar to earlier polls — 81 percent in Dec. 19-21, 2008 and 79 percent in May 4-6, 2007.

Mexico’s Calderon admires Second Amendment, but wants U.S. gun control

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has no problem with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the right to bear arms — he just wants the weapons flowing across the border into his country stopped.

MEXICO-USA/That’s what he told a joint session of the U.S. Congress, an honor not given to every foreign leader. And the way Congress received him — lengthy standing ovations — showed that Calderon was not just any foreign leader to speak from that podium but an especially close ally.

And perhaps it was the knowledge of that friendship between the two neighboring countries that allowed the Mexican president to fearlessly enter the lion’s den with red meat in hand.

Senator Kyl: show me the money to modernize U.S. nukes

Where’s the money?

A key senator says the Obama administration needs to commit to more funding for modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons complex if it is to convince him that the new START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia is a good idea. USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR

Republican Senator Jon Kyl said that in any case it’s debatable whether the new START treaty signed recently by President Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev “is in the best interests of the United States.”

The new START treaty, which cuts the arsenals of deployed nuclear warheads in both countries by about 30 percent, must be approved by the Senate as well as the Russian parliament before it can go into force.

Tea Party Express names its election-year ‘heroes,’ ‘targets’

U.S. Representative Joe Wilson — the South Carolina Republican who last year screamed at President Barack Obama, “You lie!” — is on its list of “heroes.”

So is Republican Senator Jim DeMint, also of South Carolina, who’s leading a charge to repeal Obama’s landmark overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

USA-TAX/The Tea Party Express, one of the most prominent groups in the conservative Tea Party movement, on Thursday wrapped up a 20-day nationwide tour with an event in Washington, D.C., where it formally announced its 14 “heroes” as well as 13 “targets.”

Lawmakers question U.S. Postal Service money saving priorities

USA-HOUSING/FORECLOSURESU.S. Postmaster General John Potter says the nation’s mail system faces a “dire” financial future as more people and businesses switch from snail mail to email and electronic funds transfers.

He is asking Congress to give him authority to drop Saturday delivery service and close some post offices.

Those are a couple of money saving possibilities outlined by the Postmaster General at a congressional hearing on Thursday. But the suggested cutback on services did not sit well with a number of members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Latest Washington technique? Bipartisanship by sniping?

If bipartisanship is what they’re after … they’ve got a funny way of showing it.

Financial regulation reform is the latest struggle on Capitol Hill between the forces of Democrats and Republicans. And while everyone seems to be calling for bipartisanship, the words they’re using are quite simply snippy.

President Barack Obama had congressional leaders from both parties over to the White House today to chat about his goal of  financial regulatory reform to prevent another markets meltdown. USA/

U.S. Senate Democratic contender bashes Democratic-led Washington

If there was any question that Democrats were in for a tough election year, go no further than Lee Fisher’s campaign flyer that’s been mailed OBAMA-HEALTHCAREout to Ohio voters.

“Washington is Working Against Ohio Families” it warns in large letters superimposed over a picture of dark storm clouds hovering over the U.S. Capitol.  On the flyer’s backside is the declaration: “Washington is broken and has let us down.”

As he tries to win the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator George Voinovich, Fisher’s campaign seems to be taking on the Democrats who control the White House and both chambers of the U.S. Congress.