Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Stood up

Welcome to the new bipartisan Washington, where Obama and the Republicans are not only at odds over tax cuts, they can’t even agree when to have dinner. OBAMA/

Republicans apparently pulled out of the November 18 meeting called by President Barack Obama because of “scheduling conflicts.” Which is about as convincing a reason for not going to dinner as “I have to stay in and wash my hair.”  Apparently some Republican aides had been grumbling that Obama had called the meeting without consulting with their bosses.

In this sort of atmosphere, it wasn’t entirely surprising today to learn that Republican Senator Orrin Hatch poured cold water on the Democrats suggested compromise on taxes, a permanent extension for the middle class and a temporary one for wealthier Americans. Still, there is an element of brinksmanship about all of this, and Washington Extra still wouldn’t bet against a deal before year end.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Panel urges renewed U.S. pressure on China on currency

The U.S. should name China a “currency manipulator” and take on trade-distorting Chinese policies in the WTO, a congressional advisory body said. U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Chairman Dan Slane said the report “reflects the commission’s conclusions that China has failed in some notable areas to fulfill the promises it made nine years ago when it joined the World Trade Organization.”

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

Republicans will block tax compromise: Sen. Hatch

A top Republican in the Senate said his party would block any Democratic deal on extending Bush-era tax cuts if rates for the middle class and wealthy are not extended together. “Are you kidding, of course we would,” said Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee. The Utah Republican was responding to a deal floated by the White House and some Democrats in which lower rates would be extended for the first $200,000 of income on a permanent basis, while additional tax cuts for wealthier Americans would be renewed for a shorter period.

To reach Supreme Court, first court the senators

Elena Kagan is making the rounds.

To get a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, a nominee must first wear out a lot of shoe leather on Capitol Hill. And smile, smile, smile.

USA/So that’s precisely what President Barack Obama’s choice for the high court has been doing this week. While Kagan is considered likely to get Senate confirmation, nothing is ever guaranteed in this process – remember President George W. Bush’s nominee Harriet Miers?

The other hard-and-fast rule of these Hill chats is that afterward the senators talk, the Supreme Court nominee doesn’t.

Hillary Clinton for Justice?

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/Would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton trade her globetrotting ways for the distinguished black robe of a Supreme Court Justice?

The Washington parlor game is in full swing over who President Barack Obama will pick to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

In the middle of it all, Clinton’s name was very publicly, and quite intriguingly, thrown into the mix this morning  — by a Republican.

The First Draft: More is Less

The Senate has spoken — for the moment. But it’s definitely not in one voice.

Senator Harry Reid, the leader of Democrats, last night unveiled a healthcare bill cobbled from two Senate versions.  USA/

At 2,074 pages, it is longer than the 1,990-page House bill. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office put the plan’s 10-year cost at $849 billion, which is below President Barack Obama’s $900 billion goal and the House bill which came in at more than $1 trillion.