- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BRACING FOR 1040

Forget about civility. Let’s go for maturity. Republicans are ready for an “adult conversation,” not a “Hail Mary speech,” on the nation’s economy. So says National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in the aftermath of President Obama’s “remarks on fiscal policy,” as his speech was billed by the White House.

“It’s rare for a president to attempt a budget do-over, but after failing to make any of the tough decisions on his first budget, the president needs a mulligan. It’s become clear the White House is losing the spending argument to Republicans in Congress, and now the president is on defense with another Hail Mary speech,” Mr. Priebus observes.

“Unfortunately, this president’s answer for every problem is more tax hikes while ignoring Washington’s addiction to spending. The simple truth is our current rate of spending is unsustainable and inhibits job growth. Republicans have already begun this adult conversation with the American people. It’s time for the president to join.”

Republicans will demonstrate their adultlike prowess at high noon Thursday during the Americans for Tax Reform’s annual “Tax Day Eve” news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Manning the podium: Sens. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, plus Reps. Dave Camp of Michigan, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tom Price of Georgia, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of Washington, Kevin Brady of Texas and Wally Herger of California.

Grover Norquist, president of the nonpartisan group, will host the briefing. Its latest analysis - “Top Ten Tax Hikes in Obama’s Simpson-Bowles/Gang of Six Plan” - is here: www.atr.org.

STOCKMAN REVISITED

“As Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said, there’s nothing serious or courageous about this plan,” President Obama said Wednesday in review of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2012 fiscal policy.

Hmm. Observers say Mr. Obama was referring to David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan administration, 1976 to 1981. These days, Mr. Stockman has been cast as the “GOP defector du jour” by Reason magazine for his past criticism of Reagan-era fiscal policy and his more recent public opposition to former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

Obama is a poor student of history if he is quoting David Stockman as an authority on anything other than getting indicted,” author Craig Shirley, a Reagan historian, tells Inside the Beltway.

HAIRBALL

“Sounds to me like Conan O’Brien has hair envy.” (Mitt Romney in a Tweet, responding to the late-night host’s commentary on the Romney hairdo.)

“Hey, Mitt Romney busted me for having hair envy. Imagine how jealous I’ll be if Trump runs.” (Mr. Conan in a Tweet, responding to Mr. Romney)

CANTOR NIXES TRUMP

President Donald Trump? Don’t count on it, says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“Would you support a Donald Trump candidacy, especially with all this birther talk?” CNN anchor Kiran Chetry asked the Virginia Republican.

“No, I don’t think he is really serious when we see a campaign launched on the birther issue,” Mr. Cantor replied, dismissing the idea that Mr. Trump was the “best hope” to defeat President Obama in 2012.

“I think that there are some very weighty issues that we’re going to have to tackle,” Mr. Cantor observed, adding that the ideal candidate should be “honest with the American people and face facts as far as the debt problem is concerned - and lay out there what we’re trying to do as Republicans in Congress.”

ENTER HERE

In the era of cheerful transparency, the White House visitor’s log is “riddled with holes,” says an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, which examined the official million-entry database of names.

“Logs routinely omit or cloud key details about the identity of visitors, who they met with, the nature of the visit, and even includes the names of people who never showed up,” say Fred Schulte and Viveca Novak, who pored through the details. (See their findings here: www.iwatchnews.org.)

“These are critical gaps that raise doubts about their historical accuracy and utility in helping the public understand White House operations from social events to meetings on key policy debates,” the pair adds.

“If this is transparency, who needs it?” observes Steven Aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. He called the White House visitor logs “very thin gruel.”

SINISE AT THE READY

He’s a stalwart among those rare Hollywood conservatives eager to back the American military. Actor Gary Sinise hosts Got Heart, Give Hope on Thursday evening; the black-tie gala organized by Hope for the Warriors, a charity, honors wounded service members and their families and families of the fallen at Union Station in Washington.

The audience, already glinting with brass and much mettle, includes: Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, Rep. Allen B. West, Florida Republican, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Minnesota Republican, former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, plus Medal of Honor recipients retired Marine Col. H.C. Barnum Jr., retired Army Maj. Drew Dix and Kenneth Fisher, chairman of the Fisher House Foundation.

POLL DU JOUR

• 87 percent of U.S. voters are following press coverage about federal budget issues.

• 65 percent say it is “unlikely” that President Obama and congressional Republicans will agree on federal budget issues before the 2012 elections.

• 61 percent say Republicans are unlikely to propose a serious plan for the budget that is “fair to all Americans.”

• 74 percent of Democrats agree; 58 percent of Republicans say their party will deliver the plan.

• 56 percent overall say Mr. Obama is unlikely to propose a serious budget plan.

• 80 percent of Republicans agree; 70 percent of Democrats say the president will produce the plan.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted April 11-12

Tales, wails, fails and hails to jharper@washingtontimes.com