- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rev up Air Force One, it’s fundraising time again, along with symbolic moments, showbiz and scenic views. In 48 hours President Obama departs the nation’s capital for points west and an extended stay. Here’s what’s on the big travel agenda, beginning Wednesday:

“Nine years after he announced his candidacy for president, the President will return to the place where his political career began by traveling to Springfield, Illinois. Now in the final year of his second term, the President looks forward to addressing the Illinois General Assembly about what we can do, together, to build better politics,” the White House advises.

Mr. Obama then journeys to scenic San Jose, California, for the night, bound for two Democratic Party fundraisers, then it’s on to Los Angeles to appear on Ellen DeGeneres‘ show and attend a few more fundraisers on Thursday. The morning finds Mr. Obama in Palm Springs — presumably for a long golf weekend.

On Monday and Tuesday he’ll host a summit for Southeast Asian officials in Sunnylands — the 200-acre estate once owned by philanthropist Walter Annenberg — in Rancho Mirage, right at the corner of Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope drives. No, really, that’s where it is.

This is the president’s sixth visit to the swank, picturesque region. “The president is becoming quite a fixture in our valley,” noted The Desert Sun in an editorial Sunday.

Mr. Obama returns to Washington after the summit ends Feb. 16.

‘CROOKED’

Well, that’s simple enough. Rasmussen Reports asked 1,000 likely voters whether they felt that the federal government is corrupt. The response: 81 percent agreed with the idea. “Voters strongly believe the federal government is crooked,” the pollster points out. The survey was released Friday.

AND ABOUT THOSE SPEECHES

Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, combined to earn more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign last spring, a CNN analysis shows,” reports Robert Yoon, a correspondent for the network.

“In total, the two gave 729 speeches from February 2001 until May, receiving an average payday of $210,795 for each address. The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks,” Mr. Yoon adds.

A MINUTE WITH MADELEINE

While campaigning in New Hampshire for the aforementioned Mrs. Clinton, Madeleine Albright advised young female Democrats there was a “special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.” Yes, well. And the candidate? During an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mrs. Clinton herself shrugged off the remark.

“Well, good grief, we’re getting offended about everything these days. Honest to goodness, I mean, people can’t say anything without offending somebody,” she told host Chuck Todd, who suggested that some people had been taken aback by Ms. Albright’s comment.

“I think what she was trying to do, which she has done in every setting I’ve ever seen her in, going back 20-plus years, was to remind young women in particular that this struggle, which many of us have been part of, it’s not over — and don’t be in any way lulled by the progress we’ve made,” Mrs. Clinton noted.

GASEOUS AGENDA

The greater implications are sinking in: President Obama’s upcoming 2017 budget proposal includes a $320 billion tax increase to fund a “clean transportation” plan. The main vehicle for this lavish measure is a $10 tax on each barrel of oil, which translates to higher prices at the gas pump. Among the plan particulars: $200 billion for bullet trains, $100 billion on a “climate smart fund” and $20 billion worth of research that includes self-driving cars.

“Obama’s new tax hike violates the spirit — if not the letter — of the president’s firm pledge against any form of tax increase on any American earning less than $250,000,” says Americans for Tax Reform, noting that Mr. Obama already broke his middle-class tax pledge when he signed Obamacare into law.

“Only President Obama, with his fierce hatred of fossil fuels, would propose a tax on the very industry that is almost entirely responsible for the modest recovery we’ve experienced since the Great Recession,” says H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow for The Heartland Institute.

But never fear, the U.S. House is here. Or appears to be, anyway.

“The good news is this tax is dead on arrival in the people’s House. We’re not going to let President Obama make hardworking Americans pay for his radical climate agenda,” declares House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

POLL DU JOUR

62 percent of Americans say the federal government does not help middle-class people enough; 53 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents agree.

29 percent overall say the federal government helps middle-class people the “right” amount; 35 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents agree.

6 percent overall say the federal government helps middle-class people too much; 9 percent of Republicans, 2 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of independents agree.

32 percent overall say the Democratic Party favors the middle class; 10 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents agree.

26 percent overall say the Republican Party favors the middle class; 56 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,300 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 8-13 and released Friday.

• Chit-chat, salient points to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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