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Inside the Beltway: Hail to the shoes

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fifteen senators have a message for President Obama: The Defense Department spends $150 million a year on athletic shoes for our armed forces. Please makes sure that footwear is made in America, huh?

Indeed. The bipartisan group — which includes Republican Sens. Susan M. Collins of Maine, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — note in their recent letter to the president: "We can increase American footwear manufacturing jobs at no cost to the federal government simply by your directing the Department of Defense to align its athletic footwear procurement policies to those it has already adopted for other footwear, such as combat boots, service shoes, and other uniform items."

The group cites the Berry Amendment, a law enacted in 1941 to ensure American soldiers wore American-made materials whenever possible. Policies in recent years, however, relaxed the acquisition process; military personnel now receive a cash allowance to buy the footwear of their choice, regardless of its origin.

Naturally, Maine-based New Balance, a major American athletic footwear manufacturer, is pleased. "We are hopeful that the administration will correct this inequity and support domestic manufacturers," a spokesman notes.

The idea has friends on the House side, too. In October, Reps. Michael H. Michaud, Maine Democrat, and Duncan Hunter, California Republican, sent a bipartisan letter signed by 50 members of Congress to the Defense Department, also asking that athletic footwear be included under the Berry Amendment.

FLIGHT PLAN

Flight delays have become "political strategy," proclaims a Wall Street Journal editorial, citing the latest sequester-born inconveniences that include furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration employees, and yes, delays in major airline hubs. And now, it's all the fault of the Grand Old Party.

"These delays are a result of the sequester that Republicans insisted take place," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, adding, "We did everything we could to avert the sequester and, unfortunately, Republicans decided as a political matter that it was a home run for them to inflict this upon the American people."

The Obama administration likely will follow suit on every sequester tweak that emerges. The blame game continues, with gusto.

"And you thought canceled kiddie tours of the White House was spiteful," observes Lucianne Goldberg, founder of the news site Lucianne.com.

BIG BLOWUP

"AP Twitter hacked, bogus reports of explosions at White House. I figured it was just Joe Biden after a lunch of Senate Bean Soup."

Pajamas Media "Instapundit" Glenn Reynolds, reacting to news that hackers had compromised The Associated Press account and sent a false tweet about an attack at the White House, with injuries.

HILLARY'S REVENGE

"Though currently she is — at least temporarily — out of political life, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to enjoy a strong favorability rating, now 64 percent of Americans view Clinton more favorably than the president and vice president, as well as Clinton's successor, Secretary of State John Kerry," reports Gallup analyst Andrew Dugan.

President Obama now enjoys a 55 percent approval rating, Vice President Joseph R. Biden stands at 45 percent, Mr. Kerry at 44 percent. It was not always thus, however. As a junior senator from New York, Mrs. Clinton drew 49 percent.

"At a time when many political analysts [are calling her] name as a potential contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, her favorability rating outshines those of current Obama administration officials, including the president himself," observes Mr. Dugan. "But as the past trajectory of Clinton's favorability ratings shows, this could easily change."

ANTI-BAUCUS CAUCUS

With news that Sen. Max Baucus will not seek re-election in 2014, the tea party has emerged to claim it as their own victory. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Montana Democrat was a key author of President Obama's health care reform, yet Mr. Baucus called the implementation of the law a "huge train wreck."

The nation's largest tea party umbrella group is amused.

"Yes, Obamacare is a 'train wreck' and unfortunately Sen. Baucus realized it after authoring and promoting this terrible law," says Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, which represents 3,200 local groups.

"The message of our very first rally on February 27, 2009, was, 'repeal the pork or we will retire you.' We have made good on that promise as former senators like Saxby Chambliss, Tom Harkin, Arlen Specter and others have succumbed to the will of the American people," continues Mrs. Martin, adding that the Patriots have opposed Obamacare on principle, framing it as a "one-size-doesn't-fit-all big-government disaster cooked up by Washington politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats."

Mrs. Martin adds that "K Street is literally littered with former Baucus staffers," 28 of them in lobbying.

"We will watch carefully to see what crony deals Sen. Baucus has for himself as he nears retirement," she says. "We do not elect our representatives to go to Washington to create more bureaucracy and build power for themselves at the expense of our freedom and rights."

POLL DU JOUR

• 47 percent of Americans approve of the way George W. Bush handled his job as president; 84 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of conservatives, 25 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of liberals agree.

• 43 percent overall approve of the way Mr. Bush handled the economy when in office; 76 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of conservatives, 22 percent of Democrats and 18 percent of liberals agree.

• 40 percent of Americans overall approve of Mr. Bush's decision to invade Iraq; 70 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of conservatives, 25 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted April 17 to 21.

Chatter, murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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