Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – In abeyance

Some say impasse, some say abeyance.

But whatever they call it, debt negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers hit a brick wall.

After two days of meetings this week, Republicans decided it wasn’t worth going to the third session today and walked away.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took the harsher line, saying the talks were at an “impasse.” Dictionary definition: a situation from which there is no escape or a deadlock.

The White House took a gentler line describing the talks as in “abeyance.” Dictionary definition: temporary inactivity or a suspension.

So now they kick it upstairs. President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will take over, according to Reid.

Republicans seek more “skin” to tax

When it comes to reaching a deal to reduce the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt, Republicans say they won’t go along with raising taxes — except maybe for the 50 percent of Americans who they say pay no federal income taxes.

Two senior Republicans said this week that those folks on the lower end of the income scale need to have “skin in the game” and should pay their fair share of federal income taxes.

“I would not impose a significant tax on the lower half or certainly not the lower 10 percent,” explained Senator Jon Kyl in a Senate speech. “But I think it’s important for all Americans to know that we all have a stake in this and that more than half of the people can’t just expect the so-called wealthy to bear all of the burdens of government.”

Washington Extra – 9 below

Don’t underestimate the PoliPsych impact of the unemployment rate falling below 9 percent for the first time in nearly two years.

That number is the one which resonates with the public when candidates talk about jobs on the campaign trail. USA-ECONOMY/JOBS

The economy is still shaking off the doldrums so the White House did not want to be seen as publicly reveling in what must have been a privately gleeful moment after the 8.9 percent February unemployment rate was revealed.

Washington Extra – Cake cutting

Everyone SAYS they want to cut the budget deficit, but when it comes to actually agreeing on a course of action, it’s not exactly a piece of cake.  GERMANY/

President Barack Obama says his budget plan would halve the deficit by 2013. “So what we’ve done here is make a down payment, but there’s going to be more work that needs to be done, and it’s going to require Democrats and Republicans coming together to make it happen,” he said.

But Democrats and Republicans are far from seeing eye-to-eye on how to go about deficit cutting.

Taxes: battle of the shoulds, musts, nots

Political maneuvering is in full bloom as positions are being staked out in the battle over tax cuts to the wealthy and for the hearts and minds of the Middle Class ahead of the November election.

President Barack Obama on Friday had his say: Congress should pass what everyone agrees on — extend Bush-era Middle Class tax relief for families earning up to $250,000.

USA/For higher incomes, Obama said the country can’t afford extending tax cuts, but he is willing to talk about it . “We can have a further conversation about how they want to spend an additional $700 billion to give an average of $100,000 to millionaires. That I think is a bad idea.” 

You take that back, Mr. President!

Republicans are lining up to throw punches at President Barack Obama.

The Democratic president has been trading verbal barbs with House Republican Leader John Boehner over economic and fiscal policy. Obama on Wednesday took several swipes at Boehner and charged that it was the Republicans who took the country into deficit when they were running things in Washington. USA-STIMULUS/

Boehner retorted that Obama should freeze all tax rates and cut “federal spending to where it was before all the bailouts, government takeovers, and ‘stimulus’ spending sprees.” Boehner is in line to become House Speaker if Republicans seize control of Congress in November elections.

Other Republicans also jumped in the fray. Boehner’s House Republican lieutenants Eric Cantor and Mike Pence issued statements backing Boehner, saying non-security spending should be cut to 2008 levels. 

Republican “Young Guns” take aim at Democratic-led Washington

Republican U.S. Representatives Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy are all in their 40′s.

Yet with many of their colleagues far older — in their 60′s, 70′s and 80′s — see themselves as “Young Guns,” part of a new breed of Republicans ready to challenge their Grand Old Party and take on Democratic-led Washington.

“Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders,” is the title of their book.

Republicans want ideas, but stick to Republican tenets

Republicans looking to regain control of Congress say they want to listen to the ideas of Americans to come up with a plan for the country. And so they developed a new web forum to harness those ideas.

But they did make clear that any ideas accepted will have to adhere to basic Republican principles of smaller government and no tax increases. FINANCIAL-BAILOUT/HOUSE-VOTE

So it’s possible that the proposal to legalize marijuana and other drugs and tax them won’t get serious consideration despite the fact that more people gave it a thumbs up than a thumbs down.

When seen from Capitol Hill, Jerusalem looks a bit different

ISRAEL-USA/What’s the U.S. policy toward Israel? It may depend on which branch of government you ask.

On Capitol Hill, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got a warm reception during his Washington visit this week. Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, says Congress is on “a different page” than the Obama administration over Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and the overall U.S. relationship with Israel.

Netanyahu got a less obviously effusive welcome from the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met him at a hotel on Monday and his White House meeting with the president on Tuesday took place behind closed doors, without photographers present.

Republican wants more Massa exposure but Democrat says it’s over

House Republican Eric Cantor thinks Congress should get to the bottom of Eric Massa’s bizarre tale of congressional nudity, satanic White House advisers, the groping of men (or not) and a congressional healthcare putsch by Democrats. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the case is over. 
 

“I know that Steny joins me in hoping that the ethics committee in Congress looks into this adequately and can get to the bottom of all of this,” said Cantor, who appeared along with Hoyer on NBC’s Today show. ”The best place for this to be resolved is in the ethics committee and let’s get to the bottom of it.”

Otherwise, the whole thing seems to make Cantor want to hold his nose. And he is not alone. “I’m a little taken aback and stunned,” the Virginia lawmaker confided. “I don’t know the facts of this at all. I know that the American people are sickened.”