- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Top producers

Which senators and congressmen are the best at getting legislation moved through Capitol Hill? James Fowler, a professor of political science at the University of California at Davis (his doctorate is from Harvard), has just presented an intriguing paper at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association titled ‘Who is the Best Connected Congressperson’ ‘

‘I show in the paper that my method of determining these rankings is a very good predictor of legislative performance,’ Mr. Fowler tells Inside the Beltway. ‘Specifically, higher-ranked individuals tend to be much more successful at getting their own amendments passed on the floor.’

Here then, in order, is the list of most ‘connected’ legislators in the 108th Congress:

Top 5 senators: Republican John McCain of Arizona; Republican Orrin G. Hatch of Utah; Democrat Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico; Republican Charles E. Grassley of Iowa; and Democrat Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin.

Top 5 congressmen: Republican H. James Saxton of New Jersey; Republican Ron Paul of Texas; Republican Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey; Democrat Juanita Millender-McDonald of California; Democrat Charles B. Rangel of New York.

Returning customers

With tax day approaching fast, what better time for former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti to lead a discussion of his new book, ‘Many Unhappy Returns’

In his upcoming talk hosted by the Partnership for Public Service, Mr. Rossotti will argue that the IRS has made life easier on taxpayers in recent years. During his four-year tenure as the nation’s top tax collector, he was credited for revamping the way the IRS operates and received high marks for improving ‘customer service.’

Customer’s lament

Of my annual earnings, Uncle Sam will extract

Fully two-fifths, as a matter of fact.

That’s quite a large portion, but what’s got me burned:

I’ll never see that much in service returned.

F.R. Duplantier

Hearts and wallets

One congressman wants Americans to increase the amount of their annual charitable giving by one percentage point.

Rep. George P. Radanovich, California Republican, explains that individual charitable-giving rates among Americans have ‘stagnated’ at 1.5 percent to 2.2 percent of aggregate income for the past 50 years.

On the other hand, he says, a one percentage point increase in charitable giving — from 2 percent to 3 percent — would not only generate more than $90 billion for charity, but help reduce the federal deficit and additional need for tax increases.

Double dessert

The official White House pool report of President Bush’s meeting this week with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saw fit to observe that ‘Bush looked trim.’ And then there was ‘Sharon, who did not look trim.’

We’d read in one newspaper this week that Mr. Bush has recently lost eight pounds ‘after eating a lot of doughnuts’ during the 2004 presidential campaign.

The president’s weight loss isn’t surprising. An avid mountain-bike rider, he burned 1,300 calories on Saturday alone on a grueling 18-mile bike trek around his Texas ranch. We’re not sure what the visibly rotund Mr. Sharon does for exercise, but consider the lunch — not dinner, but lunch — that the two leaders shared at the ranch this week, as recalled by White House spokesman Scott McClellan:

‘They had arugula and blood-orange salad, pecan-smoked beef tenderloin … grilled asparagus and roasted seasonal vegetables, some homemade peach sorbet, and then topped it off with some brownies.’

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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