Capital Briefs: Oct. 15-19

RUDY STILL ON TOP: Right before the Republican presidential debate in Dearborn, Mich., last week, a just-completed Gallup Poll showed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and first-time debate participant former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson still one-two among likely Republican voters nationwide. According to Gallup, Giuliani tops the field among GOP voters with 32%, followed by Thompson with 20%. Arizona Sen. John McCain has 16%, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 9%, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 7%. Gallup also found that Huckabee has gained the most of any candidate in its survey, going from 1% in May to 7% last week.

SCHIP VETO VOTE: The left is pulling out all the stops, spending more than $10 million on TV ads trying to get voters to pressure House members to vote to override President Bush’s veto of the Democrat-enlarged State Children’s Insurance Health Program (SCHIP) in the House rollcall vote that has been scheduled for October 18. The liberals emotionally portray a vote to uphold the veto as anti-child, ignoring the fact that, in a large step towards national health insurance, the bill would allow upper-income families to participate in a program that is ostensibly for the poor. (See Sen. Trent Lott’s Human Events cover story last week.)

BLUNT TALK ON SCHIP: Noting the pressure being put on
Republican House members by liberal labor unions and lobbying groups that even have “churches praying the veto is overturned,” (See list of the left wing’s targets on page 7.), House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) predicted last week that “this battle is opening the door to the fight we [House Republicans] are going to have all fall” over spending. But Blunt went on to tell Human Events Political Editor John Gizzi that that coming fight on Capitol Hill over spending might be good for Republicans, because “we haven’t gotten courage points in a while.” Blunt told Gizzi: “There are two interpretations of the stand we are taking on SCHIP spending: David Broder’s, which is that we’re idiots, or Bob Novak’s, which is that we are taking the first step toward getting our credibility back as protectors of the taxpayers.” Conservatives who are constituents of any of the left-targeted members listed on page 7 should call their congressman (202-224-3121) and urge him to stand firm on voting to uphold the President’s SCHIP veto.

NO WHITE HOUSE SPENDING CEILING: Despite its renewed interest in thwarting high-dollar spending measures passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress, the White House is so far unwilling to set a total budget ceiling that Congress must stay below this year to avoid a presidential veto. At a recent White House briefing, Human Events’ John Gizzi recalled to Press Secretary Dana Perino how, when the highway bill dispute arose during President Bush’s first term, he set a ceiling on what he would sign, threatening a veto if Congress appropriated more and asked Perino whether he would do the same this year with the overall budget or individual appropriations bills. “Well, we have veto threats out on many of the appropriations bills,” Perino told Gizzi. “What we don’t want to see is a large omnibus bill at the end of the year where all sorts of mischief can occur. And so I don’t think we’re at a point yet where I could anticipate whether we’re going to set a limit or not, because we don’t want that to happen.” Following up on her remark about an end-of-the-year bill with “all sorts of mischief,” Gizzi asked whether the President “would veto an omnibus bill then?” Replied Perino: “I’m not going to speculate.”

‘THE OTHER BREYER’ STRIKES DOWN IMMIGRATION MEASURE:  A Bush Administration measure designed to curb illegal immigration has been struck down by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco, the even more liberal younger brother of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Last week, Charles Breyer, a Clinton appointee who has been overruled frequently by higher courts, ordered an indefinite delay on new rules that would have forced employers to fire workers if their Social Security numbers could not be verified in three months. The rule had been issued by the Department of Homeland Security to counter the widespread practice by illegal immigrants of using false Social Security numbers on job applications.

CARTER ON THE ATTACK: Jimmy Carter showed very clearly last week why so many Americans wish he would just stick to building houses for Habitat for Humanity rather than engaging in political discussion. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the 83-year-old former President said that the Republican candidates for President are “competing with each other to appeal to the ultra-right wing, warmongering element in our country.” As to which candidate scares Carter the most, he replied, “If I condemn one of them, it might escalate him to the top position in the Republican ranks.” But he did single out former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his recent statement that the U.S. “has to be willing to use a military option to stop Iran from becoming nuclear.” Giuliani, in Carter’s words “is foolish. I hope that he doesn’t become President and tries to impose on the American people a conviction that we need to go to war with Iran when we are still at war with Iraq.” As to whether he believes Iran is working on a nuclear bomb, Carter told Blitzer, “I don’t know. I think, if they are, some people surmise that they are, they are—several years in the future.” Asked about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney, the 39th President said: “Well, without knowing the subject, if somebody asked me, do you agree with Condoleezza Rice or the Vice President, I would just automatically say I agree with Condoleezza Rice, not even knowing what the subject is.” When Blitzer asked whether the Bush Administration has used torture, Carter told him: “I don’t think it—I know it, certainly.” As to whether those engaged in the alleged torturing are in violation of international or other laws, Carter said “Yes, I think so.” He even went on to voice disagreement with his party’s presidential front-runners, Senators Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), over troop withdrawal from Iraq. “We ought to get out earlier than 2013,” said Carter, adding that “over an 18-month period, we could be totally out, if that’s our desire.”