Inside the Beltway: Lawmakers watch over the A-10

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The reliable, maneuverable, and yes, quite fabulous A-10 Thunderbolt has protected many in its close-air support role since it was introduced in 1975. Now the formidable Air Force gunship is getting a little protection of its own on Capitol Hill. Behold, now in flight, it’s the unofficial A-10 Caucus, composed of squadron of Republicans and a single Democrat.

“There is a group — small, so far — that opposes an Air Force plan to retire its aging A-10 attack planes later this decade to help its budget fit within spending caps. It includes some influential senators and at least one who has some sway on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee,” said John T. Bennett, an analyst for Defense News.

“It might be easy to dismiss the emerging A-10 caucus as too small and powerless. But there are reasons to think this group might be able to find a way to offset the price of keeping the A-10s flying — and twist just enough arms to get its plan passed in both 2015 defense bills,” he said.

The Thunderbolt guardians: Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, Jim Risch of Idaho plus Reps. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, Jack Kingston and Austin Scott, both of Georgia. The Democrat is Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona. Mr. Graham in particular has a strong reason to keep the A-10 “Warthog” flying until the F-35A comes along.

“The Taliban hates the A-10. That’s good enough for me,” the lawmaker notes.

The Air Force has essentially pulled the plug on future A-10 operations beginning October 1. Mrs. Ayotte and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, now say the plan is “illegal,” citing the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which bars the Air Force from retiring the aircraft during the 2014 calendar year.

A TALE OF LOST TAX REFORM

“Too complex, too confusing, too costly.” Those are the three main problems with the U.S. tax code according to House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. David Camp. The Michigan Republican introduced the Tax Reform Act of 2014 in late February, and conducted more than 30 congressional hearings on the subject. But the legislation appears to have come and gone without much hubbub, accompanied by a few press reports that Republicans were not keen on the act, which was three years in the making. So is it gone, as in poof? No. For the curious, the legislation can be found here: Tax.house.gov

The lawmaker himself, meanwhile, is currently in Afghanistan visiting U.S. troops, as part of a Republican delegation that includes House Speaker John Boehner, Reps. John Kline of Minnesota, and five other congressmen. Mr. Camp is not seeking re-election; his chairmanship will likely go to Wisconsin colleague Rep. Paul Ryan, currently in profile-boosting mode, as are other potential GOP White House hopefuls.

“Unfortunately, the recent release of a comprehensive tax reform plan by Dave Camp has received a lukewarm welcome from both sides of the aisle, largely due to a lack of political appetite in an election year,” observes Pinar Cebi Wilber, a senior economist for the American Council for Capital Formation and an analyst for the Financial Advisor.

“Rightly, Camp’s tax reform proposal aims to simplify the tax code and grow the economy. So this unapologetically detailed and comprehensive plan may be the launching pad for any serious tax reform discussion in the coming years,” she observes.

THE ATTKISSON TRAJECTORY

She resigned from CBS News on March 10 with a five-word tweet. That would be one Sharyl Attkisson, who cited liberal bias at the network and has now put the finishing touches on a new book entitled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington” — which will be published on November 4, Election Day.

Because it is an election year, logic dictates that the Emmy-winning investigative journalist is going to surface on another network sooner rather than later. But which one?

“Given the resume, the rare objectivity, the reputation, and the trophy shelf, she won’t be a free agent for very long,” says Mediaite columnist Joe Concha, who suggests four likely options.

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