Inside the Beltway: Editing the Hillary script

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It has been exactly two years since “Greyhound One” first rolled across the American countryside in the name of White House agenda. The nickname was bestowed on the custom, $1.1 million, armor-plated, Canadian-made excursion bus by conservative wags in the summer of 2011 when President Obama embarked upon a three-day “Economic Rural Bus Tour” through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Later that fall, the president went the bus route in North Carolina and Virginia.

In 2012, he toured Ohio and Pennsylvania on the “Betting on America” tour, when he was in heavy campaign mode, and preferred a podium with patriotic bunting and a heartland-style backdrop.

Here we go again.

Mr. Obama will board the bus, or a version of it, for a two-day jaunt through New York and Pennsylvania later this month, “to discuss another cornerstone of his vision for a better bargain for the middle class.” Or words to that effect. Details are very limited. But the tour will likely be a charming photo-op.

THAT PESKY SEQUESTER

Americans do not have a clear case of sequesterphobia, at least for now. “Dire warnings that the sky was falling didn’t pan out. So, little angst outside Washington and no reason for President Obama to squander his political capital on a battle to change or supplant the sequester, especially while GOPers are fighting with themselves over the 2014 budget and the next debt ceiling hike,” points out a lengthy new analysis from the Kiplinger Letter, a weekly forecast of business trends.

There will be $109 billion in cuts next year compared to $80 billion n 2013. Half comes from domestic programs, half from the military; yes, there will be furloughs and funds manipulation.

“Highly visible and critical programs will be spared the ax: U.S. meat inspectors will remain on the job, as will air traffic controllers. Most offices will maintain a semblance of business as usual. National monuments will stay open. Medicare, Social Security and veterans benefits have been exempt from the beginning,” the Kiplinger analysis says.

“Offsetting the limited pain is this fact: The sequester seems to be working. The spending cuts, in combination with tax hikes and an improving economy, will help trim the deficit to $642 billion this year. The red ink totaled $1.1 trillion in 2012.”

WHERE’S THE MONEY, PLANNED PARENTHOOD?

Interesting: the Government Accountability Office plans to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the use of federal taxpayer funds that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have received. More interesting: Texas-based affiliate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to repay $4.3 million to U.S. and Texas taxpayers to settle the fraud claims brought forward by a former Planned Parenthood employee

“The fact that Planned Parenthood received over half a billion dollars in taxpayer money last year is beyond comprehension, especially as there is little federal oversight of the exact use of these funds. They should be held accountable for every dollar they receive, like every other federal contractor and grantee,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life interest group.

“We applaud the GAO for conducting this investigation. After 40 years of lavish federal funding from dozens of programs, a comprehensive audit is long overdue,” she adds.

POLL DU JOUR

72 percent of Americans say it is “essential” that immigrants to the U.S. learn English; 85 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats agree; 58 percent of Hispanics and 59 percent of current U.S. immigrants also agree.

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