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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2011

FIGHTIN' FRIGHT

Who's buying into White House scare tactics? Not Republicans, and not tea partyers either, says a new Pew Research Center poll gauging public reaction to President Obama's predictions that certain doom looms if the debt ceiling isn't raised by Aug. 2. Oh, the drama. Even Reuters points out that the "language of Armageddon"and "biblical rhetoric" has surfaced during the protracted political stalemate.

The method is not working with the intended audience, however: 65 percent of tea party supporters say the deadline is no major problem and the nation can sail past it; 53 percent of Republicans, 39 percent of the overall public and 28 percent of Democrats agree. But the Dems are supporting the company line: 56 percent also say it is "absolutely essential to meet that deadline to avoid an economic crisis." Twenty percent of tea partyers and 30 percent of Republicans would agree with that.

SAVAGE FICTION

"Hardened former war correspondent Jack Hatfield rose to national prominence for his provocative commentary. But after a vicious left-wing smear campaign, he finds himself toiling in obscurity. When a routine San Francisco Police Dept. ride-along turns deadly, Hatfield is set on the trail of a vicious terrorist group — and before it's over, he'll uncover a plot that echoes through the highest corridors of power. In the spirit of Vince Flynn, Brad Thor and Glenn Beck comes this lightning-fast, high intensity thriller debut."

(Publisher's description of "Abuse of Power," a new novel from talk radio host Michael Savage — and his first fiction — to be released by St. Martin's Press on Sept. 13.)

GAY STRATEGY?

Gay-rights groups are circling Rep. Michele Bachmann over her views about homosexuality, particularly after an advocacy group posted an expose-style video online, citing a counselor at a Bachmann family-owned clinic advising a gay patient he could be "cured" of his sexual preferences. But the Minnesota Republican has gotten an offer of help from strategic insiders.

"The gay conservative group GOProud is requesting a meeting with the Republican presidential candidate to possibly lend a hand," says Yahoo political reporter Chris Moody, who adds that the "confab is not as unlikely as it seems." But it is a process, perhaps, as therapists like to say.

"No updates yet," the group's founder, Jimmy La Salvia , tells the Beltway.

STRONG TEA

Critics have wondered if the tea party has lost interest, packed up their star-spangled clothes and gone home. Not likely. An uber-tea party movement appears to be brewing, spurred by the debt-ceiling debate and predictions from the Congressional Budget Office that federal spending will be 24 percent of economic output each year, for the rest of this decade.

"Our organizations represent millions of tea party and limited government activists and scholars from around America. We are all united in one opinion about the on-going debt-limit negotiations — tax increases need to be 'off the table,' since Washington has an over-spending problem, not an under-taxing problem," says a letter sent to Republican congressional leadership from 30 center-right organizations.

Among the many signers: Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, Richard Viguerie of Conservative HQ, Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research, and Gary Marx of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

"Grand compromises to cut spending and hike taxes have failed in the past," the letter says, later concluding, "Putting tax increases on the table now will only result in real tax hikes on American employers and families, and phony spending cut promises that never get realized. The focus must be on spending, and spending alone."

DOGGED DETERMINATION

A presence of note on Capitol Hill come Tuesday morning: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, joins Democratic Reps. Betty Sutton, of Ohio and James P. Moran of Virginia, plus Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, to announce support of H.R. 2492, a bill that makes it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and imposes additional penalties for taking minors along.

The legislation was introduced July 12 by Ms. Sutton and Rep. Tom Marino, Pennsylvania Republican, who notes, "We try to protect our kids from criminal violence, and yet there are no consequences for those adults who take impressionable children to animal fights."

EXPOSING MEDICAID

First it was an expose of ACORN. Now Medicaid comes under the lens. Undercover videographer James O'Keefe has emerged once again to train his cameras on "rampant corruption in the Medicaid system," he says. Mr. O'Keefe sent costumed reporters posing as drug dealers to seek Medicaid assistance. The faux druggies found "bureaucrats all too willing to help" their cause, and none eager to notify authorities.

"In this time of economic uncertainty, the American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are being wasted. This is hardly an isolated incident," Mr. O'Keefe observes.

See his work at www.projectveritas.com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 66 percent of Americans say President Obama and congressional Republicans "probably will" reach an agreement on the debt ceiling by Aug. 2.

• 65 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Democrats agree.

• 40 percent overall say the Obama administration is "describing things accurately" when it comes to the debt ceiling.

• 21 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

• 36 percent overall say the Obama administration is "making things sound worse."

• 51 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

• 14 percent say the administration is "making things sound better."

• 19 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CBS News poll of 810 U.S. adults conducted July 15 to 17.

Catcalls and doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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