Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Get out of town

Like schoolchildren gazing out the window on a sunny June day, Congress can’t wait for that final bell to ring. But lawmakers still need to hand in a final term paper before they can skip out the door. Instead, they’re asking the teacher for an extension. USA/

Before lawmakers head home on Wednesday or Thursday to campaign for reelection, they must pass a temporary spending bill to make sure the government can keep its lights on for the next several months.

Beyond all the speechifying, the basic job of Congress each year is to pass 12 spending bills that cover government operations for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Each year, pretty much, they get the job done several months late. That plays havoc with federal agencies, which must continue to operate on last year’s budget while implementing this year’s operations.

This year in Congress has been even more dysfunctional than usual. The House has only approved two of the 12 spending bills, and the Senate hasn’t approved any. Lawmakers could roll them all into one unwieldy “omnibus” bill when they return for a lame-duck session in November, but that work could easily slip into the new year.

Lawmakers may get an extension on that term paper, but they’ll have to hand it in eventually. And it won’t be any easier to write it in December than September.

Tit for tat

Deficit commission co-chair Alan Simpson has apologized for remarks to a women’s group that compared Social Security to a “milk cow with 310 million tits.”

ITALYBut that is not good enough for the National Organization for Women (NOW),  which has launched a “Tits for an Ass” campaign to toss the former Republican senator off the panel that was created by President Barack Obama to recommend ways to cut the $1.4 trillion deficit.

NOW says that for every $5 donation to the group, it will deliver a baby-bottle nipple to the White House to pressure the administration into dumping Simpson who has made similar colorful remarks about the retirement program in the past.

Washington Extra – Foot in mouth

alan_simpsonSuggestion of the day. Encourage top officials to undertake some basic training in what to say and write in public. Specifically, try and avoid insulting and tactless remarks in print, on camera, in public or in front of journalists.

Alan Simpson, the Republican co-chairman of the president’s deficit commission, has a reputation for blunt speaking, but obviously was not paying much attention when Gen. Stanley McChrystal lost his job earlier this year. Simpson has already apologized for his email, to the executive director of the Older Women’s League, in which he compared the handing out of government retirement benefits to “milking a cow with 310 million tits.”

“When I make a mistake,” Simpson said, “it’s a doozy.” Which at least got me consulting the online dictionary. Nevertheless, there have already been calls for him to fall on his sword.

Social Security and milking cows

An email by deficit commission co-chair Alan Simpson saying the Social Security retirement program has reached a point “where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits” is prompting calls for his resignation.

Ashley Carson, executive director of OWL which calls itself the voice of midlife and older women, said the email sent to her by Simpson was “insulting.” Other comments about “greedy geezers” by the former Republican senator fail to recognize that many older women rely on less than $12,000 a year in Social Security benefits, she said.ECONOMY/JOBS

“We’re demanding for Mr. Simpson to step down as co-chair,” Carson said, adding that if he won’t go voluntarily, then President Barack Obama, who created the commission, should ask him to leave.

Simpson: Fix the deficit or your grandkids will pick grit with the chickens

Newly minted Republican deficit commissioner Alan Simpson has a message for Americans: if you don’t want your grandkids picking grit with the chickens, better ignore soundbite politics and get lawmakers to find real solutions to the deficit.

President Barack Obama Thursday named Simpson, a former Wyoming senator, and Erskine Bowles, the head of the University of North Carolina, to lead a bipartisan panel searching for ways to cut the deficit.

OBAMA/Obama called Simpson “a flinty Wyoming truth-teller.”

The former lawmaker quickly embarked on some truth-telling.

Appearing with Bowles on “PBS NewsHour,” Simpson was asked about Republicans who believed that tax cuts were needed now, even if they raised the deficit in the short term.