- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Mean and nasty

"The House Democrats' collapse in the last election has virtually ended the gracious political minuet of the liberal and moderate wings of the Caucus, replacing it with a battle of words and ideas that is perhaps the most vigorous the party has seen in a generation," Roll Call reports.
"The moderates, represented chiefly by the centrist New Democrat Coalition, see the battle as a choice between a return to majority status or a retrenchment in what they view as discredited Great Society idealism. The liberal Progressive Caucus has cast it as a contest between democracy and corporate oligarchy," reporter Ethan Wallison writes.
"The conflict has unfolded against a backdrop of long-simmering resentments among Caucus factions that were mostly kept in check while Democrats occupied the White House.
"The loss of that unifying force last November left an ideological vacuum that the different groups have rushed to fill, often with unharmonious results.
"The New Democrats, in particular, have taken great offense at the frequency with which the Progressives suggest they are shills for 'monied interests' and at the equally frequent suggestion that they are disloyal to the party's heritage."
Said one anonymous senior aide in the centrist camp: "They are always looking for ways to trash the New Democrats. They even name members" in their e-mails. "Some of these things have been downright mean and nasty."

Budget theme song

Along with a tall stack of budget documents, a White House official yesterday gave a handful of reporters a copy of their unofficial theme song: the 1969 Rolling Stones classic "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
The song's refrain "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need," has become a mantra for President Bush's budget writers as they have tried to balance the many interests vying for a piece of the $1.96 trillion U.S. federal budget, Reuters reports.
"It's been kind of our internal battle cry for the last several months," said Office of Management and Budget spokesman Chris Ullman, saying he had given the song to four reporters partly to show "we do have a witty side here in budget land."
"When you are a budgeteer you are at the center of a spending vortex. You have a lot of competing interests. It's very challenging to try to satisfy them all," he added. "This song has provided us comfort at times when the competing interests were causing us angst."

The spending senators

"The Senate voted Friday to slash President Bush's tax cut by about 20 percent, and we thought you might like to know the reasons. Their names are Senators Jim Jeffords, Lincoln Chafee and Ben Nelson, and what they all want is a lot more of your money to spend," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Cutting through all of the smoke about 'bipartisanship' and 'debt reduction,' this is the real meaning of the Senate's vote. The senators agreed to trim the size of the president's $1.6 trillion proposal to keep $311 billion more for themselves. If voters end up receiving a smaller tax cut than they now expect, we hope they'll give these fellows full credit," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"We highlight these three politicians because Mr. Bush would have passed his budget intact had he been able to win over any one of them. The president had 49 other votes lined up, including Democratic freshman Zell Miller of Georgia. These were also the three senators that Mr. Bush could most reasonably expect to get."
The newspaper said that Mr. Jeffords and Mr. Chafee, both Republicans, wanted considerably more spending than Mr. Bush proposes, as does Mr. Nelson, a Democrat.
"If nothing else, all of this certainly proves Mr. Bush's point that without a tax cut the surplus is going to be spent. The spending senators don't give a rip about the debt or the faltering economy, only about passing out more cash to buy more votes… ."

A fighting liberal

"Paul Wellstone thinks you need professional help teaching your children to identify colors," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at nationalreview.com.
" 'Our national goal must be to ensure that every child, by kindergarten, knows the alphabet, colors, shapes, and sizes, and how to spell his or her name,' writes the Democratic senator from Minnesota. 'This will require well-paid professional teachers, assisted by skillful and well-paid teaching assistants.'
"Because it's that hard to tell orange from green," Mr. Miller and Mr. Ponnuru said.
"Wellstone has just completed one of those books politicians write when they're thinking about running for president something Wellstone has considered doing before and may ponder again. In 'Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda,' Wellstone makes the case for unreconstructed liberalism. And spending billions to make sure you don't have to tell your kids the difference between circles and squares is only part of his agenda. He also wants to nationalize health care, unreform welfare, turn the minimum wage into a 'livable wage,' and beat up Alfonse D'Amato.
"That's right: Paul Wellstone wants to do physical violence to the former Republican senator from New York. Or at least he did a few years ago, when D'Amato ran the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which sponsored an 'outrageous' ad against Wellstone. Writes the good liberal from Minnesota: 'Right after I had been shown this ad for the first time, we had a vote scheduled in the Senate. Alfonse D'Amato was in the train car going to the Senate right in front of me. When the train reached the Senate chamber, I jumped out and lunged forward, intending to catch D'Amato and deck him. My body was shaking with uncontrollable rage. Harry Reid grabbed me and held me back just long enough from D'Amato to get into the Senate chamber safely.' "

All in the family

"HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson may be in the Bush Cabinet thanks to his family and a fishing trip to Mexico," United Press International reports.
"Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor who admittedly loves to talk, regaled the Federation of American Hospitals conference in Washington [last] week with stories. He said after Bush offered Health and Human Services to him, because of his groundbreaking work in welfare reform, he joined his family on a Christmas vacation in Mexico to think things over. Out in the boat fishing, he pondered why he would want to give up a great job as Wisconsin governor to go to what he's always referred to as 'Disneyland East' and decided against taking the job.
"He said his wife, Sue Ann, and kids he has three called a family meeting, and he took it seriously because it was the first in 30 years. His kids told him he had to take the job because they couldn't stand him complaining about every decision made over the next four years. Sue Ann Thompson said he had to take it because she couldn't put up with 10 years of 'what ifs.' So he accepted the job."

Pataki's polls

New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican up for re-election next year, appears vulnerable.
"All the polls taken since last fall's Republican disaster when out-of-state Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton buried New York GOP homeboy Rick Lazio and Al Gore left George Bush eating dust have shown Pataki at or below 50 percent against potential Democratic opponents, a warning sign for any incumbent," New York Post columnist Fredric U. Dicker writes.
"But last Thursday's Marist survey showing Pataki at 45 percent in a match-up with Andrew Cuomo who was at an impressive 42 percent was nothing short of a Red Alert," Mr. Dicker said.
"Within minutes of the poll's release, I received e-mails from two Republican operatives, who said they feared the new poll meant Pataki would lose next year."

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