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Stephen Dinan

Stephen Dinan

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Articles by Stephen Dinan

President Obama walks from Marine One after returning to the White House on the South Lawn in Washington, Friday, July 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

White House downgrades GDP numbers

President Obama quietly downgraded his own evaluation of the U.S. economy last week, issuing an updated budget that showed slower growth than he'd projected just five months ago — a striking acknowledgment of what he called economic "head winds." Published July 29, 2012

**FILE** A statue of former Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin stands outside the Treasury Building in Washington on Aug. 8, 2011. (Associated Press)

Federal deficit to reach $1 trillion for fifth straight year

The federal government will flirt with its fifth-straight trillion-dollar deficit next year and is still on track to notch $25 billion in debt within a decade, the Obama administration predicted on Friday as it released an update of the country's fiscal picture. Published July 27, 2012

**FILE** Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican (Associated Press)

Democrats fume after Coburn stops spending bill

For years, it's been the budget secret of Washington — the rules allow Congress to spend money in one year and then take 10 years to refill the government's coffers, all the while piling up the national debt because the money has to be borrowed. Published July 26, 2012

President Obama addresses the National Urban League convention at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on July 25, 2012. (Associated Press)

Congress pressures Obama to lay out spending cuts

Senators on Wednesday passed and sent to President Obama a bill that would force him to lay out exactly which federal programs he would cut if the automatic trims put in place by last year’s debt deal go into effect in January. Published July 25, 2012

**FILE** Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, speaks April 5, 2012, in Berkeley, Calif. (Associated Press)

House passes Ron Paul's Fed audit measure

In a move that serves as a capstone to Rep. Ron Paul's colorful career, the House on Wednesday voted to have Congress' chief investigators conduct a full audit of the Federal Reserve's shrouded decision-making process. Published July 25, 2012

**FILE** Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat (Associated Press)

Senate succeeds at something: Futility

In terms of basic legislating, this year's Senate isn't the worst on record — but it is the second-worst, trailing only last year's historic calcification, according to The Washington Times' third semiannual Legislative Futility Index. Published July 24, 2012

Johnson to voters: Give Libertarian a chance

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson said Monday that he won't release his tax returns, joining his voice to that of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who has declined to release more than the two most recent years. Published July 23, 2012

FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2012, Ryan Newman drives his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race in Daytona Beach, Fla. The U.S. Army will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, citing a reallocation of its marketing budget that does not include a presence in NASCAR. SHR said Tuesday, July 10, 2012, it is pursuing a new sponsor. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay, File)

NFL, NBA and NASCAR fight for federal dollars

Fast cars, young — mainly — men and the U.S. military. For years, America's armed forces counted on that combination to boost recruitment, spending tens of millions of dollars to sponsor NASCAR teams to get its brand name in front of the kinds of young men who provide the backbone of the country's fighting forces. Published July 17, 2012

Washoe County Sheriff's Office
This HH-1H Huey helicopter, the jewel of the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit in Washoe County, Nev., failed to act during the Pinehaven wildfire last week because of a tangle of federal rules.

Federal obstacles hamper battle on wildfires

The fire didn't care what kind of federal land it was burning, but for sheriff's deputies hovering over a blaze in northwestern Nevada last week, it made all the difference: If it was Bureau of Land Management property, they could legally drop the water they were carrying, but if it was Forest Service land, they were out of luck. Published July 12, 2012

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, says GAO's letter proves the Obama administration is trying an illegal workaround. (Associated Press)

Bonuses for Medicare stretch law, GAO says

Congress' nonpartisan investigators said Wednesday that President Obama is stretching the law to give bonuses to mediocre private Medicare plans - an $8 billion program the auditors already had urged the administration to cancel. Published July 11, 2012

Both parties set to vote on plans for tax-cut extensions

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate both say they're eager to vote on President Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for most Americans and raise rates on the wealthy - but they can't seem to agree on how or when to hold the vote. Published July 11, 2012

**FILE** President Obama pauses July 4, 2012, during a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members at the White House. (Associated Press)

Auditors: Obama administration is bending health law

Congress's non-partisan investigators said Wednesday President Obama is stretching the law to give bonuses to mediocre private Medicare plans — an $8 billion program the auditors had already urged the administration to cancel. Published July 11, 2012

"They wanted to see how certain pieces of court decisions came out. ... I can tell you that resolving the issue in Cook County is very important for me," said John Morton, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director. (Associated Press)

Sanctuary cities may be facing legal action

After eviscerating most of Arizona's strict immigration law in court last month, the Obama administration is now considering going after the other side by suing sanctuary cities to force them to cooperate with federal deportation efforts, an agency chief told Congress on Monday. Published July 10, 2012

** FILE ** Trays of printed Social Security checks wait to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury's Financial Management Services facility in Philadelphia in 2005. (Associated Press)

Social Security's master list littered with dead people

More than a million dead people are still listed as being alive on Social Security's master list, according to an inspector general's audit released this week that found the agency still recorded hundreds of people as having earned wages — even after they'd been dead for more than a year. Published July 10, 2012

The Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

CBO: The wealthy pay 70 percent of taxes

Wealthy Americans earn about 50 percent of all income but pay nearly 70 percent of the federal tax burden, according to the latest analysis Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office — though the agency said the very richest have seen their share of taxes fall the last few years. Published July 10, 2012

**FILE** An illegal immigrant from El Salvador is searched June 26, 2012, on the tarmac at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz., as the sun rises prior to boarding an MD-80 aircraft for a repatriation flight of 80 immigrants to their home country. (Associated Press)

Majority backs Arizona on immigration crackdown law

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision to uphold Arizona's law allowing police to check the immigration status of those they detain, an overwhelming majority of Americans say they want to see their own states enact the same kinds of laws. Published July 10, 2012

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (Associated Press)

In poll, voters concur with Roberts on 'tax'

Voters tend to agree with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: The individual mandate at the heart of President Obama's health care law is, in fact, a tax. Published July 9, 2012

President Obama speaks before signing the Surface Transportation Bill during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Friday, July 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama loses ground to Romney in key measures of poll

Mitt Romney continues to hold a whisker-thin 1-percentage-point lead over President Obama in a head-to-head election match-up, but the former Massachusetts governor is eating into the president's air of inevitability, according to the latest The Washington Times/JZ Analytics poll released Monday night. Published July 9, 2012

** FILE ** This June 11, 2012, file photo shows Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter, Michigan Republican. (Associated Press)

Michigan Republican McCotter quits Congress

Rep. Thad McCotter, one of Congress's quirkiest members, resigned his seat Friday evening, closing out a dismal chapter that had seen him go from one-time, long-shot presidential hopeful to lame-duck congressman who couldn't even file enough valid signatures to run for re-election. Published July 6, 2012