- - Monday, October 17, 2011

HOUSE

Sanchez takes steepest hit to campaign

Records show that Democratic Rep. Linda T. Sanchez’s campaign finances took a steep hit from a former treasurer linked to an alleged embezzlement scheme.

Federal prosecutors have accused Kinde Durkee of siphoning nearly $700,000 from a California assemblyman, but the case has expanded to include several clients.

Ms. Sanchez reported to the Federal Election Commission that she lost about $322,000 as a result of an unauthorized withdrawal from her campaign account. That leaves the California congresswoman with about $144,000 in the bank, or little more than half what she started with when the quarter began.

Ms. Sanchez’s sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, reported she lost $125,000. Another California congresswoman, Democrat Susan Davis, reported $160,000 was missing.

TEXAS

Perry slashed environmental enforcement back home

AUSTIN — Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry likes to say the best way to promote economic growth is to reduce regulation. As governor of Texas, he is keeping environmental rules to a minimum.

In the past year, Mr. Perry has cut funding for clean air programs and sued the Environmental Protection Agency to avoid enforcing clean air laws. He routinely blasts the White House for tightening environmental standards, signaling what he would do if elected president.

He cut the budget for Texas’ environmental watchdog by a third. That translates to 11 percent fewer inspections. He also signed a law in June that requires Texas to consider the effect of new regulations on the economy before passing changes.

However, government and business data show little evidence that regulation costs a significant number of jobs.

CAMPAIGNING

Paul: Cut $1 trillion, erase 5 Cabinet posts

LAS VEGAS — Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is calling for $1 trillion in cuts to the federal budget and says he would eliminate five Cabinet departments as soon as he takes office.

In a major policy rollout at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on Monday, the Texas congressman has outlined a sweeping plan to lower spending and reduce the national debt. Mr. Paul also says he would allow young workers to opt out of Social Security.

Mr. Paul’s plan would repeal President Obama’s health care legislation as well as major banking and campaign finance regulations. He would also reduce corporate taxes.

Mr. Paul is a libertarian who ran for president in 2008. He came in second in Nevada’s caucuses that year.

WHITE HOUSE

First lady helps retrofit wounded vet’s home

The first lady and the vice president’s wife have put the finishing touches on a renovated home for a medic wounded in Afghanistan.

Army Sgt. Johnny Agbi suffered brain and spinal cord injuries and uses a wheelchair, but he can walk short distances with the aid of a cane.

His three-story row house in Northwest Washington, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol, underwent a $100,000 renovation under a program called Heroes at Home. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden visited the home Monday to paint the living room.

He’s the 1,000th veteran whose home was renovated since the program began in 2007. Sgt. Agbi said the changes have made a big difference in his life.

IRS

Budget cuts would hurt service, raise deficit

Legislation that would trim hundreds of millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service budget next year would force significant cuts in the services it provides taxpayers and cost the government $4 billion annually in lost revenue, the agency warned Congress on Monday.

In a letter to lawmakers, IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman said the budget cuts “would lead to noticeable degradation of both service and enforcement and would have a serious detrimental impact on voluntary compliance for years to come.”

The House Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that would provide $11.5 billion for the IRS in fiscal 2012, which began Oct. 1. That is $600 million less than it received last year and $1.8 billion less than President Obama requested.

The Senate Appropriations Committee version of the bill would provide $11.7 billion. The cuts are part of an effort by lawmakers to curb spending at a time when annual federal budget deficits have reached $1.3 trillion.

With cuts of that magnitude, IRS answers to taxpayers’ letters would be delayed by up to five months, and about half of those telephoning the agency would not get through, Mr. Shulman wrote. As examples, he said that would mean problems for individuals and small businesses that have fallen behind paying their taxes and want to reach the IRS to work out payment plans before they are penalized.

NEVADA

Bad economy puts Obama in tough spot

HENDERSON — Look no further than Nevada to understand why President Obama may not win re-election next fall.

The Western swing state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 13.4 percent. Nevada also has the highest foreclosure rate and record bankruptcies.

Voters are angry over the lack of jobs, and Republicans are seizing on that to try to prevent another Obama victory here.

The uncertainty helps explain why Nevada is abuzz in national political activity this week.

The GOP presidential candidates will debate Tuesday in Las Vegas, and Republicans and Democrats are hosting competing conferences here to plan their 2012 strategies.

To win, both sides must woo Nevada’s many independent voters in Reno, government-centric Carson City and southeastern Henderson, where voters tend to be conservative and white.