Tales from the Trail

Republican YouCut seeks to shear Mohair from budget

It’s worth about $1 million a year.

For most people that’s a lot of money. But in the context of a $3.7 trillion federal budget and a $1.5 trillion deficit, it’s small potatoes. Except in this case it’s a federal subsidy for mohair and it has more lives than an Angora cat.

Federal subsidies for mohair, which is produced from the hair of Angora goats, began in 1947 because the military was worried that there was not enough domestic wool production to supply its need for uniforms.

The development of synthetic fabrics has long made that concern irrelevant, yet apparently the government still writes checks to mohair producers despite repeated attempts by some lawmakers over the last two decades to get rid of it.

The program is once again being targeted as unnecessary spending. This time by House Republicans on their new YouCut web site, http://republicanwhip.house.gov/YouCut/, that features budget items they think are wasteful spending.

The mohair item is one of five being featured this week and the public is invited to vote on which one they think should be tossed out of the federal budget. The top vote getter will be brought to the House floor by Republicans for a possible vote. Folks are also being asked to submit their own ideas.

Even Congress gets weary of Congress…

It’s not just voters who get tired of Congress – members of Congress get tired of Congress.

USA-POLITICS/OBEY“I am bone tired,” David Obey said in announcing his retirement after 21 terms (that would be 42 years) as a Democratic congressman from Wisconsin.

Public opinion polls show that anti-incumbent sentiment is high going into the November congressional elections in which every House seat and one-third of the Senate are up for grabs. There’s also history to contend with – in the mid-term election during a new presidency the party of the president usually loses seats — that would be Democrats this year.

Gingrich once again at head of Republican pack

Once, a first-term Democratic president failed to deliver on healthcare reform and found his party USA-POLITICS/swept from office by a wave of voter anger that brought Republican Newt Gingrich to the forefront of American politics. Could this history lesson from the Clinton era be repeated?

Healthcare reform is stalled, voters are angry and Gingrich — who rose to prominence as House speaker after Republicans won Congress in 1994 — is again leading the pack, this time among  potential White House hopefuls for 2012.

The Washington-based political news outlet, Politico, says Gingrich’s political action committee is raising money far faster than those of 2008 campaign veterans including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Another House Democrat not running for re-election in November

One more Democrat retiring who won’t run for re-election in November.

FINANCIAL-REGULATION/HOUSE-PASSAGE(It would be tempting to say they’re dropping like flies, but then the Democrats would point out that some Republicans also won’t seeking re-election).

Arkansas Congressman Marion Berry (no, sounds like, but definitely not the former D.C. mayor) was expected to announce his retirement on Monday, The Washington Post’s blogger Chris Cillizza reports.

He would be the second congressman from Arkansas not to seek re-election, with Democrat Vic Snyder also retiring.

Most Americans want Republican input on healthcare – poll

Most Americans want President Obama and the Democrats to jettison the healthcare bill they almost got together before USA-HEALTHCARE/WELLNESSthis week’s political earthquake in Massachusetts and instead look for something Republicans can support.

That’s according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll which says 55 percent of Americans want work stopped on a House-Senate compromise between Democrats, while 39 percent want the Democrats to press on.

In fact, a sizable minority — 46 percent of the 1,010 adults surveyed — say healthcare reform is important but should not be Obama’s top legislative priority. Nineteen percent say healthcare shouldn’t be a major priority at all.
The poll was conducted the day after Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s dyed-in-the-wool-Democratic-blue Senate seat in Massachusetts. The findings have a 4 percentage point margin of error.

Gingrich to Obama: keep word on televising healthcare talks

USA-POLITICS/Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wants President Barack Obama to keep a promise he made on the campaign trail: televise the final talks on healthcare reform on C-SPAN.

Eight times during the campaign, Obama said he planned to put the talks on healthcare reform on television, Gingrich said — and he even has links to YouTube clips to prove it.

Now that the talks have reached the stage of reconciling separate House and Senate bills, it is the time to deliver on that promise, he said.

Republicans savoring election prospects after Democrats drop out

Let the countdown begin.

USA/The 2010 election year has officially started and Republicans can barely contain their glee after two senior Senate Democrats announced they would not run again and a House Democrat switched to the Republican Party.

Right out of the New Year’s gate, Senate Democrats Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said they would not seek re-election in November.

Democrats control the Senate 60-40 which is just enough to overcome procedural hurdles and pass legislation without a single Republican vote. Republicans are expected to pick up seats, but not enough to win back control.

Tweets to Tackle Health Care

Public anger boiled over at some highly publicized town hall meetings during the summer as U.S. lawmakers weighed health reform plans — but what happens when the debate moves online?

New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone will find out Monday.
He’s holding a three-hour online Town Hall meeting to discuss healthcare reform on Twitter, the micro-blogging website known for its short 140-character text messages.

Pallone, a Democrat and one of the authors of the House of Representatives health bill that passed Nov. 7, will use the time to help answer questions about the roughly 2,000-page measure.

Dems see silver lining for healthcare in election results

Republican victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governors’ races may send shivers through Democratic circles, but what does it mean for President Barack Obama’s ambitious proposal to overhaul the $2.5 trillion healthcare system?

pelosiNot much, say Democrats. They are looking beyond the state issues that dominated the governor’s races and instead are focusing on two congressional races won by Democrats where national issues like healthcare reform were in play. 

“From my perspective we won last night,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters when asked about Tuesday’s elections. “This was a victory for healthcare reform. From my standpoint we picked up votes last night — one in California and one in New York.”

Pelosi dances away from resolution to salute ‘King of Pop’

Call it political stage fright.

Or perhaps fear of igniting a political firestorm over Michael Jackson, the fallen “King of Pop.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday she saw no need to vote on a resolution honoring the musical icon, who had been dogged by unproven allegations of child sexual abuse and acquitted of such charges in 2005.

“Michael Jackson was a great, great performer,” Pelosi told her weekly news conference. CHINA