Tales from the Trail

Deficit not my fault, Obama says

President Barack Obama doesn’t like all this flak from the Republicans who accuse him of running up the budget deficit.

OBAMA/Any why should he? His approval rating has dropped below 50 percent in at least two recent polls and you can assume the poor economy has something to do with it.

At his big speech at the Brookings Institution today, Obama said it was not his fault, that the $787 billion stimulus plan that he and his Democrats pushed through Congress is “only a very small part of our current budget imbalance” and that he inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.

Who did he inherit from? Obama didn’t say, but his implication was clear.

“In reality, the deficit had been building dramatically over the previous eight years,” he said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, interviewed by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, said that under Obama, the deficit has gone way up and said “we don’t need any lectures from them about spending.”

Obama nominates Bush spokeswoman to broadcast board

She represented President George W. Bush before the world’s media and now is a commentator for Fox News. And she’s been quite a vocal critic of the current White House. USA/

But he nominated her anyway.

President Barack Obama nominated his predecessor’s press secretary, Dana Perino, to the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors.

We asked Perino about it, and she told us that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell put her name forward for the position.

House health bill… It’s really big!

It’s really big.

How big is it?

So big that Republican Congressman David Camp was going to take it with him to read on a flight to his Michigan home but it wouldn’t fit in the overhead compartment, an aide quipped.

What is it? The healthcare reform legislation made public on Thursday by Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The 1,990-page document comes in at more pages than an English translation of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” which is just shy of 1,500 pages.

Dust-up over healthcare reform ahead of Senate panel’s vote

The fragile consensus in favor of healthcare reform may be coming apart.

With the Senate Finance Committee due to vote on its reform bill Tuesday, the insurance industry’s trade group released an analysis saying the measure would drive up costs by thousands of dollars over the next decade.

The White House quickly fired back.

“This is a self-serving analysis from the insurance industry, one of the major opponents of health insurance reform,” spokesman Reid Cherlin said.SENATE/HEALTHCARE

“It comes on the eve of a vote that will reduce the industry’s profits. It is hard to take it seriously,” he said.

Poll: U.S. Senate leader has problems in home state

Sure it’s a long way before the November 2010 U.S. congressional election — and a lot can happen between now and then. But at this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada seems to be in jeopardy of becoming the second Senate leader in a half century to be voted out of office.

A poll released on Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that half of Nevada voters had an unfavorable view of Reid, while 38 percent had a favorable view, the newspaper said.

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Reid won reelection in 2004 to a fourth term with 61 percent of the vote. But his approval ratings have since slipped. He became Senate Democratic leader in 2005, and majority leader in 2007.

The First Draft, Friday Jan. 2

The new year begins on a quiet note in Washington, but lawmakers are preparing to hit the ground running next week when the 111th Congress will be seated.

obamaPresident-elect Barack Obama is scheduled to return to Washington this weekend and plans to meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday to discuss the legislative agenda and plans for a nearly $1 trillion economic stimulus package.

Obama also plans to meet Republican leaders Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Republican Senate leader hangs on after close call

WASHINGTON - Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell appears to have eked out a narrow victory for re-election in Kentucky as several of his colleagues fell to Democratic challengers.

Television networks projected that McConnell would win another term despite a fierce challenge by Democratic businessman Bruce Lunsford.

McConnell became a top target in 2008 after Republicans knocked off the Democratic leader Tom Daschle in 2004. President George W. Bush called McConnell this evening to congratulate him on his victory.