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. ”

Washington Extra – Whose bipartisanship?

The feeling appeared mutual when President Barack Obama shook hands with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell after signing the tax cut bill. It looked like the picture of what Obama called a “bipartisan effort.”  OBAMA/TAXES-SIGNS

McConnell tried not to grin too much over the Republicans winning the war in their efforts to extend tax cuts to the wealthy.

But when it came to Capitol Hill Democrats, there wasn’t much display of unity with even Obama, let alone bipartisanship with the Republicans. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were no-shows at the bill signing.

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.”

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.

Democrats, Meet Mr. Hobson

RTR1H4KV_Comp-150x150Democrats don’t like President Barack Obama’s tax compromise. They’re disappointed. Some may vote against it. But the package still seems destined to pass.

“If the idea is that this is a take-it-or-leave-it deal, I think the president’s going to realize there are going to be a lot of Democrats who are going to be voting ‘no’,” House Democrat Anthony Weiner tells ABC.

The tough-talking New Yorker, one of Obama’s more ferocious critics on the tax issue, has likened the tax discussion Vice President Joe Biden had with House Democrats on Wednesday to a prison brawl.

Washington Extra – Imagine

To look ahead, sometimes it’s necessary to look back.

OBAMA/In January, President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC News: “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” At that time, his signature domestic issue, healthcare reform, had been dealt a setback with the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate seat long held by the late Edward Kennedy, and some senators were balking at approving Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for a second term.

Bernanke got confirmed in late January and healthcare reform passed in March.

An outsider looking at the current hand-wringing on Capitol Hill over extending tax cuts could be forgiven for thinking the issue is on a razor’s edge, when in fact it is highly likely that Obama’s compromise with the Republicans will pass in some form. Vice President Joe Biden, the president’s arm-twister on this issue, has been up on the Hill talking to reluctant Democrats and in the end will likely have the votes.

“I expect everybody to examine it carefully. When they do, I think they’re going to feel confident that, in fact, this is the right course — while understanding that for the next two years we’re going to have a big debate about taxes and we’re going to have a big debate about the budget and we’re going to have a big debate about deficits,” Obama said.

Washington Extra – Cold shoulder

It’s a chilly day in Washington, and we’re not just talking about the weather.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are giving President Barack Obama the cold shoulder after he blinked first in the stand-off with Republicans over extending tax cuts. USA/

“We will continue discussions with the President and our Caucus in the days ahead,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. (Translation – House Democrats are not on board with this yet.)

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama steady, Republicans get higher marks on economy

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating held steady at 45 percent since late October despite last month’s “shellacking” of Democrats in the midterm elections, a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Dec. 2-5 showed.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scored the highest favorability rating on a list of prominent officials and politicians, followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a potential Republican presidential contender, and General David Petraeus. USA-TAXES/

At the bottom of the list were conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh with the lowest favorability rating, followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

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.