Tales from the Trail

Maine governor draws ire with new IRS “Gestapo” comments

Maine’s Republican governor ignited a fresh firestorm on Thursday when, for the second time in a week, he compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s murderous secret police.

Democrats suggested that Governor Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite elected in 2010, was unfit to hold office.

LePage had already been called out by Democrats, Jewish groups and others in the northeast U.S. state for linking the federal tax agency and the Gestapo in his weekly radio address on Saturday.

At that point LePage termed the IRS “the new Gestapo” in comments opposing national healthcare reforms upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

After the remarks were picked up by national media, LePage said in a statement that he had not intended to insult anyone. “Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message,” he said.

Washington Extra – Happy Thanksgiving

dinnerHappy Thanksgiving! Washington Extra will return on Monday.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

U.S. vows unified response to North Korea, eyes restraint

The U.S. urged restraint following a North Korean artillery attack on South Korea and vowed to forge a “measured and unified” response with major powers including China.

For more of this story by Phil Stewart and Andrew Quinn, read here.

N.Korea pulls U.S. back to a “land of lousy options”

North Korea‘s artillery attack on South Korea poses the second test in three days of Washington’s vow that it will not reward what it deems bad behavior with diplomatic gestures, and underscores that options are limited without serious help from China.

For more of this analysis by Paul Eckert, read here.

Bernanke’s plea for fiscal help goes unanswered

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s unusually blunt plea for fiscal help will probably go unanswered, leaving the economy too limp to put people back to work any time soon. Bernanke has warned that the country is on an economic trajectory that will leave millions unemployed or underemployed for many years, and he said there were limits to what the central bank alone could do to help.

Feds unlikely to launch campaign finance probe anytime soon

For weeks, leading Democrats have castigated pro-Republican special interest groups involved in the current election campaign for what they describe as secretive fundraising practices. USA/

In an effort to call further attention to the activities of groups like American Crossroads GPS, a political fundraising committee which GOP guru Karl Rove helped to set up, some prominent Democrats and non-partisan election watchdogs have written law enforcement agencies demanding official investigations.

But there is little indication that any relevant agency is going to launch an  in-depth probe anytime soon.

Obama wants YOU … to buy a car

AUTOS-OBAMA/President Barack Obama is now America’s car salesman.

Obama made his sales pitch on Monday as he laid out White House plans for restructuring the struggling auto giants General Motors and Chrysler. Buy a car, he said, and you might qualify for a tax deduction.

“The IRS is launching a campaign to alert consumers of a new tax benefit for auto purchases made between February 16th and the end of this year — if you buy a car anytime this year, you may be able to deduct the cost of any sales and excise taxes. And this provision could save families hundreds of dollars and lead to as many as 100,000 new car sales,” Obama said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs followed up on this theme a bit at his daily briefing saying Obama “absolutely” would prefer for Americans to buy U.S.-made cars.

Tax issues a symbol of America’s divide

It is said that death and taxes are the two things in life that one cannot avoid.

So when not one, not two, but three of President Barack Obama’s picks for his new administration turned up with tax problems, it raised questions about how people in the higher echelon of government managed to make such a mess of their annual obligations.

Some non-profit citizens groups say it’s the classic case of different standards for the “haves” and the “have nots”. OBAMA/DASCHLE