Tales from the Trail

Obama has budget deal “bonus” for Colorado schoolkids; Boehner bashes Democrats at fund-raiser

OBAMA/

President Barack Obama is getting into a habit of surprising tourists. Over the weekend it was a trip to the Lincoln Memorial, and on Monday he turned up to surprise a group of school children at the White House.

“Not only did things work out, but we figured we’d give you a little bonus,” Obama told the 50 students from Altona Middle School in Colorado. Then he posed for pictures with them and answered a few questions behind the White House. (One of his favorite things about being president is that he has no commute because his office is right next to his house).

The mother of one of the students, Shalini Schane, wrote a letter to Obama on April 6 begging him to find some agreement to keep the government open so that her son could make a class trip to Washington for which his class had been raising money all year.

Schane was with the students and stood in the front row — in jeans and a tank top — as they posed for a picture. Obama, who wore a black suit, shook Schane’s hand and kissed her cheek, telling the kids, “She’s responsible for getting you here.”

Obama had used Schane’s letter in a speech he gave shortly before midnight on Friday when he announced the budget deal. “She asked those of us in Washington to get past our petty grievances and make things right,” he said.

Republican Pawlenty hoping he got his money man for 2012

Tim Pawlenty, who is exploring a run for president in 2012 and is sometimes lampooned as somebody nobody knows, has created a buzz in political circles by hiring Nick Ayers as campaign manager for his exploratory committee. USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS

The former Minnesota governor, known to supporters as “T-Paw”, announced the hiring of Ayers, the former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, on his website and on Twitter, where he asked followers to follow his new guy @nick_ayers .

Pawlenty praised Ayers’ fundraising prowess. “In 2010 alone, the RGA shattered all previous fundraising records, and Ayers managed a $112 million budget, deploying $102 million directly into independent expenditures and campaigns.”

At Lincoln Memorial, Obama again makes point that government is open

President Barack Obama has found the monuments of Washington to be quite the picturesque backdrops for making the point that a government shutdown was averted.

Obama surprised visitors at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday not long after signing a short-term bill to keep the government open. A budget deal was reached shortly before Friday’s midnight deadline. USA/

“Because Congress was able to settle its differences, that’s why this place is open today and everybody’s able to enjoy their visit,” Obama told a crowd gathered at the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. “And that’s the kind of future cooperation I hope we have going forward.”

Obama family trip cancelled over budget deadlock

Add another victim to a looming federal government shutdown – a surprise Obama family outing to Williamsburg in Virginia, which was  postponed on Friday after budget negotiations failed to break their deadlock.

OBAMA/The weekend get-away to the historically preserved 18th century colonial town had been kept under wraps, but was almost immediately in doubt after word of the trip trickled out.

Republicans and Democrats made little headway in budget talks, despite successive summons to the White House by President Barack Obama to move things along, and by Friday afternoon a shutdown looked increasingly unavoidable.

Freebies offered for a shutdown budget

No work, no trash pick-up, no Circulator bus trips around town, but at least the “non-essential” federal employee can eat like a teenager in a buffet line if the federal government shuts down after the clock hits 12 tonight.  FASHION/

Federal and Washington D.C. government services not deemed essential will close if Congress fails to reach a budget deal before funds run out at midnight. But local restaurants and bars are offering some compensation — deals and freebies for government workers if Republicans and Democrats fail to reach agreement.

Taylor Gourmet is offering 10 percent off orders at its H St NE location starting at 12:01 a.m. to anyone who presents a government ID and says “Shut it down.” (And check out that photo!)

Who are you calling non-essential? Revelations of a government shutdown

There’s always been a lot of talk about the haves and have-nots.

These days in Washington it’s about the essentials and non-essentials. USA/

The two classes of federal workers would be starkly revealed by a government shutdown if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement on spending by midnight Friday.

Those deemed to be non-essential, an estimated 800,000 federal workers, would be furloughed if the government shuts down as it did 15 years ago.

Here are some comments from “non-essential” workers on CNNMoney.com and the Huffington Post.

Candidate Obama touts working class credentials

obama_phillyEvery political candidate has a tale of his hard-working origins — even sitting presidents with Harvard Law degrees who have made millions by writing best-selling books. And President Barack Obama is no exception, as he showed during a road trip on Wednesday in which he tested out what will likely be themes of his newly launched 2012 re-election campaign.

At a stop at a wind turbine company outside Philadelphia, Obama stood before a giant American flag and pledged to keep fighting for policy priorities like promoting the use of renewable energy. He took off his suit jacket, joked with questioners in the crowd and paced casually on the stage away from the presidential podium.

“Here’s what I said (in 2008). I said I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president, but I can promise you this … . I will be honest with you about the challenges we face and how we can solve these problems and I will take what I hear from you,” he said.

There’s politics happening in Washington, Obama complains

It’s a bit like being surprised there’s gambling in Las Vegas.

Politics in Washington?

OBAMA/President Barack Obama riddled his speech in Pennsylvania with criticism of people (think capital R) who would play politics with important issues like the budget.

“So we’ve agreed to a compromise, but somehow we still don’t have a deal, because some folks are trying to inject politics in what should be a simple debate about how to pay our bills,” Obama said.

“Companies don’t like uncertainty and if they start seeing that suddenly we may have a shutdown of our government, that could halt momentum right when we need to build it up — all because of politics.”

Helloooooo out there…. Senator asks if anyone paying attention to speech

Senators go to the Senate floor and make speeches about issues near and dear to their constituents all day long — but whether anyone is actually listening is another matter. USA-CONGRESS/

Making speeches on the Senate floor gets the words into the official record, but often they are made to a near-empty chamber so it is never quite clear whether the words are heard.

That can be frustrating for politicians used to getting plenty of attention.

Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski got fed up when she was speaking about the budget fight and how a government shutdown would hurt port and airport operations. As she talked, she saw the senator who was presiding over the chamber, another Democrat, apparently checking her BlackBerry.

Washington Extra – Playing ball

The White House was clearly relieved to announce that at 6 a.m. GMT NATO took over the ball for running the military operation on Libya. BASEBALL/

Not a minute too soon for members of Congress concerned that the United States could get bogged down in another war. “I sincerely hope that this is not the start of a third elongated conflict,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon said.

Republicans and Democrats say they want to play ball to prevent a government shutdown, but so far have not reached agreement on spending cuts.