- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2012

When it comes to quirky political stories, sometimes the best ones are right under our noses.

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, got into a minor controversy last week when erroneous reports came out that he was planning to propose a bill to make mustache grooming tax-deductible.

The proposal was initially put forward by the American Mustache Institute, which announced in a news release that Mr. Bartlett was ready to take up the cause.

The Stimulus to Allow Critical Hair Expenses bill, or the STACHE Act, would allow mustached taxpayers to claim up to a $250 refund for grooming expenses.
The only problem was that it wasn’t true.

Representatives for Mr. Bartlett, who has a mustache, said the release came as the result of a mixup, after the 85-year-old congressman’s press secretary referred a letter from the AMI to the House Ways and Means Committee on which Mr. Bartlett serves.

“For the record: Roscoe is pro-stache, but he does not believe Americans should pay for people’s personal grooming decisions,” said Mr. Bartlett’s chief of staff, Deborah Burrell.

Second guessing

D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi released a bit of news last week: Recent estimates show an “upswing” in projected revenue for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

In turn, Mayor Vincent C. Gray shot back with this zinger: Ya’ better check your math.

“I was disappointed that the $36 million increase you now project for FY2013 is so modest over your last estimate in December. I am concerned that your revenue projections may be unrealistically low,” the mayor said via letter on Thursday.

Mr. Gray noted there is still a funding gap of $115 million that could prompt spending cuts and additional sources of revenue to balance the budget — not the funniest thing in the world.

He gave the CFO a few pointers, too, noting his estimate might not account for the city’s growing population, declining unemployment rate and expanding economy.

A spokesman for the CFO said they are reviewing the mayor’s viewpoint, which is unprecedented since the control board relinquished control of the city’s finances in 2001.

The real problem, of course, is recent history. The mayor furloughed employees in 2011 and the D.C. Council introduced new taxes on city residents, only to find out the city had $240 million in its piggy bank. Money isn’t everything, but it’s nice to know how much ya’ got.

Senator Hank

Tim Kaine, George Allen, and a host of other candidates seeking to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb have some feline company: Hank the cat, of Springfield, officially entered the race last week.

A “proud Independent,” Hank is devoted to ensuring small business growth and furthering his family-centered policies, according to his website.

But his candidacy had barely begun before the Super PAC attack machine ground into gear.

“Hank has never released his birth certificate, his tax returns,” says a foreboding voice in a recent online ad.

“And has never responded to allegations that he used catnip. He says he’s gone to the vet, but there is no record of him serving in any military branch.”

“Would Hank force females to undergo an ultrasound before being spayed?” it continues, skewering high-profile legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion.

The ad was paid for by the “Canines for a feline free tomorrow” Super PAC.

“And not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s dog.”

• David Hill, Tom Howell Jr. and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.