- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2005

Shine ye spurs

Who isn’t having a ball — an inaugural ball, that is — as George W. Bush prepares to begin his second term as president?

Like the much-ballyhooed Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball, sponsored by the Texas State Society. The Marriott Wardman Park Hotel is site of this Jan .19 barn dance (pre-scalper ticket prices were running as high as $1,495).

Then there is the South Carolina Inaugural Ball at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History; the George Washington University Inaugural Ball at the Omni Shoreham; the red-white-and-blue Heritage Inaugural Ball; and the Lawyers Inaugural Ball (this gathering of legal minds surprisingly affordable at $495 per ticket).

Atop the Washington Wizards basketball court at MCI Center will be the Presidential Inaugural Gala (courtside seats run $1,295); the Hyatt Regency is hosting a ball for New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania residents; and inaugural-ball goers from countless other states will fill the D.C. Armory, Washington Convention Center, Washington Hilton, Ronald Reagan Building and the National Building Museum.

Don’t have ball tickets? There’s plenty to be had, but they will cost you.

For example, an EBay seller yesterday was peddling four tickets to the Black Tie & Boots Ball for the bargain-basement price of $3,399.

As the scalper writes: “Everyone is going to be at this ball, including Dubya, Laura and the twins! Shouldn’t you be too? So what are y’all waitin’ fer? This event sold-out in less than 40 minutes on-line and many people are selling their tix for over $1200 each!

“So at this low buy-it now price … you can have your tix in hand and spend yer time shinin’ ye ol’ spurs and boots, pull out yer cowboy hat and you are ready to go! It starts at 7 p.m. and lasts until 2 a.m. and there will be some hootin’ and a hollerin’ entertainment there too including Yolanda Adams (that girls got some major pipes) and Lyle Lovett with so many more! There is even a Texas Fair where you can buy everything from George W. Bush playing cards to Cowboy pajamas.”

Inside the Beltway spoke yesterday with Tracey Schmitt, spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, who says she is “thrilled by the enthusiasm we’ve seen from thousands of people across the country wanting to not only attend the inauguration but volunteer for festivities.”

“We are putting the finishing touches on each event to ensure that they represent the great spirit and diversity of America,” she says. “With less than two weeks to go, our staff is working around-the-clock to ensure that as many people as possible are able to enjoy the weeklong celebration, and that each event is open, inclusive and spiritual.”

Legal challenge

James C. Miller III, former director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, tells Inside the Beltway the Washington law firm of Howrey Simon Arnold & White, of which he is associated, has donated $1 million to the tsunami relief effort.

“And we issue a challenge to other law firms to pony up as well,” says Mr. Miller.

All eyes on Jerry

As incoming chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, American taxpayers — and their watchdogs — are waiting to see whether Rep. Jerry Lewis, California Republican, will follow through on his pledge to rein in federal spending.

“Over the years, the chairmanship has morphed into a position more suited for stovepiping federal pork to the chairman’s home district than stopping the explosion of federal spending,” says Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz.

He recalls that the last appropriations chairman “to take his role as fiscal disciplinarian halfway seriously was former Rep. Bob Livingston [Louisiana Republican], who brought an ax to his first meeting.”

Meanwhile, Inside the Beltway spoke with John Berthoud, president of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), who says “from a taxpayers’ point of view, Mr. Lewis has a very disappointing record.”

“Republicans claim they are finally going to start reining in spending,” Mr. Berthoud says. “If so, the war against bloated spending probably won’t be led by Mr. Lewis.”

He examined Mr. Lewis’ record by using NTU’s “Annual Rating of Congress,” based on every roll-call vote affecting fiscal policy. (In 2003, NTU included 287 House and 269 Senate votes that dealt with reducing or controlling federal spending, taxes, debt and regulation.)

In 2003, he scored a 58 percent (letter grade of C), ranking him 183rd in the House and placing him in the bottom 20 percent of House Republicans. In fact, from 1992 to 2003, he was never once in the top half of House Republicans.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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