- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Promises, promises
"Not everyone who attended the House Democrats' retreat in Pennsylvania last week is applauding Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi for her presentation on 'customizing campaign messages,'" according to the Prowler column at www.americanprowler.org.
"'Basically, she told us how to lie to our constituents at election time,' said a conservative Democratic House member who attended the session. 'It's easy for her; she comes from the goofiest district in America [San Francisco and parts of Marin County]. Some of us actually have to answer for our campaign promises.'
"Pelosi's remarks were pegged to a controversial survey commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which showed Democrats badly behind in some of the most highly contested congressional districts for the 2002 election. 'Worst-case scenario?' says a Democratic staffer who attended the briefing on the survey. 'Republicans gain enough seats to ensure control of the House for the next decade. It's that bad.'
"Pelosi's solution, and that of several political consultants at the retreat: run for election or re-election as a Republican. Pelosi is said to have pointed to the example of Mark Warner, who won the Virginia governor's race by recasting himself as a pro-gun, pro-smaller-government conservative. 'She told us many Democrats will be running away from the national party, its issues, and its leaders in order to win,' says the staffer. 'I guess if that is what it takes, so be it. But it's a lousy way to run.'
"No one, at least who's a Democrat and who attended the retreat, believes it will be that bad. 'We're not going to win back the House if things hold the way they are,' says the conservative Democratic congressman. 'But you never know. One smoking-gun memo from the Enron investigation that nail Bush and DeLay to the wall, and suddenly we're looking pretty good in those contested districts.'"

The Bush budget
"A very good thing happened when President Bush unveiled his $2.13 trillion fiscal year 2003 budget [Monday]: Washington howled in pain. This can only mean that Mr. Bush's proposal did what a budget is supposed to do, which is to force every politician to decide among spending priorities," the Wall Street Journal said.
"There hasn't been any of that lately in Fat City, which used booming federal revenues over the past few years to spend like a 1990s dot-com. Federal 'discretionary' spending, which is the part the pols control each year, has grown by 28 percent from 1998 to fiscal 2002; most of that growth was in non-defense areas, such as education, health care and highways. This meant everyone in Washington could get just about everything he or she wanted, and more," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"This year, all of that is changing. As a result of the recession, plus the Bush tax cuts, government is going to have to pick and choose among programs precisely the way average American taxpayers do. Mr. Bush is only adding to this useful pressure with his own wartime proposals to stress military spending and homeland defense. He's lifting the first by $48 billion, or 12 percent, and the latter from almost nothing to $10 billion. In short, and in contrast to LBJ's infamous 'guns-and-butter' budgets, Mr. Bush is choosing mainly guns."

Standoff on 'reform'
Massachusetts' highest court will hear arguments tomorrow on how to resolve an impasse over the state's Clean Election Law, a case that could have an effect on the drive for campaign-finance reform across the United States.
The law was overwhelmingly approved by voters in a 1998 ballot initiative, but the state's legislature has never appropriated the money to pay for it. It would provide public financing for all candidates in state elections who forgo large private donations and agree to strict spending limits.
The standoff between the lawmakers, many of whom say giving tax dollars to candidates is a waste of money, and the initiative's backers, who say the legislature is flouting the will of the people, is being closely watched as an indicator of how important campaign-finance reform is to voters, Reuters news agency reports.
In a move seen by many as an attempt to force lawmakers to act, the Supreme Judicial Court last month ruled the legislature's failure to either fund or repeal the law violated the state's constitution.
But the legislature did nothing. Now the court has asked for arguments on how to break the impasse.
The court could order the legislature to fund the law, find another source of money or rule that it does not have the authority to tell lawmakers how to finance it, said Harvard law professor Heather Gerken.

No tax? No earmark
First, liberals complained bitterly that people who pay no income taxes failed to receive a tax-rebate check last year. Now, a liberal group says it is unfair that people who pay no income taxes are not allowed to earmark $3 for the presidential campaign fund.
The Greenlining Institute, in a prepared statement yesterday, said those most affected are the poor and some full-time college students.
"This is an issue of equality," said John Gamboa, executive director of the San Francisco-based organization. "If we're going to have this program, everyone should be able to designate this money."
The group say anyone who paid Social Security taxes should be allowed to check off funds for the presidential-campaign fund.
In addition, Greenlining wants Congress to consider increasing the amounts from $3 to $5 for individual filers and from $6 to $10 for joint filers.
The group will outline this and its other campaign-reform proposals during a press conference Tuesday at the National Press Club.

Dear old Dad
"In a televised debate last week, each of the candidates for governor of Pennsylvania was asked to name his hero the moderator stressed that the hero must be a living person in public life," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
"Attorney General Mike Fisher, the Republican, gave a solid and predictable answer: President Bush. Democrat Edward G. Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia, said he most admired his wife, Midge, a federal judge," the newspaper said.
"Then Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr., the other Democrat in the race, veered from the premise of the question to invoke his father, the former governor."
"'He was someone who cared about people, who had compassion, who was a person of integrity,' Casey said. 'All of us who seek public office have to measure up to that standard.'"
Mr. Rendell and Mr. Fisher then rushed to amend their answers, lavishing praise on their own fathers, the newspaper said.

Not going anywhere
"Cornered by reporters at a Bush event in Florida on Thursday, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card changed his tune about his future political plans namely, whether he'll quit as White House chief of staff to run for office back in Massachusetts," the Boston Globe reports.
"Card, a Holbrook native, who served in the state legislature and ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for governor in 1982, has over the years expressed interest in running," the newspaper said.
"'Everyone wants me to run for governor except the people of Massachusetts,' Card admitted."
"He has repeatedly said the average shelf life for a chief of staff is 18 months, fueling speculation that he'd leave by this summer. Now, he's toning that down. 'I love serving this president,' Card said. 'Everyone keeps saying I'm leaving. I'm not leaving. As long as I can devote 100 percent of my effort and keep 100 percent of the president's confidence, I will stay. I have no preoccupations.'

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