Capital Briefs June 29, 2009

CLIMATE PERJURY: Last Friday, under frantic pressure from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives was set to pass a bill sponsored by Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Edward Markey (Mass.) that would place a cap on carbon emissions via rationing, taxing and eliminating consumer choice. The job-killing measure lacked the votes needed for passage until the supposedly nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a flagrantly misleading cost “analysis.” CBO’s per household cost of only $175 per family in 2020 is based on numerous false assumptions. It also belies CBO’s own previous analyses and ignores the vast economic damage that will be caused by an energy tax (For more on this, see page 15). As Congress moves forward with important debates on energy and health, it is crucial that CBO and other supposedly nonpartisan organizations accurately reflect the full cost of these destructive policies. To this point, they have failed.  

That’s what Republicans were wondering last week about their 2012 presidential field. Days after Nevada Sen. John Ensign admitted an extramarital affair, another Republican who had jetted to Iowa to test the waters for 2012 revealed that he also had had an affair. Following a bizarre, four-day disappearance, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford tearfully told reporters that he had been in Argentina with a mistress. Sanford also announced he was quitting as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which the South Carolinian’s friends had told us he had been using to make nationwide contacts for a presidential bid. Sanford was succeeded at the RGA helm by Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

OBAMA TO STATES: MAKE ‘BEST GUESS’ ON STIMULUS JOBS: That’s what the White House is saying when it comes to the states’ reporting back on jobs created or saved through the stimulus money they received. “All we’re asking them to do is a simple head count [and] tell us how many people you’ve hired,” Rob Nabors, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, told the Wall Street Journal last week, which also quoted Nabors as saying, “recipients won’t be asked to grapple with complicated estimates” and that they may use their “best guess” whether a job would have been created or saved in the absence of a recovery plan. Alarm over this new method of job-counting was set off, with Craig Jennings of the nonpartisan OMB Watch warning that it could lead to state officials using their own definition for the number of hours in a “full-time equivalentjob, thus making it possible to credit stimulus projects for more employment.

GAY MARRIAGE GAINS GROUND AMONG DEMOCRATS: With more state legislatures and courts enacting measures legalizing gay marriage, more and more Democratic office-holders are embracing the issue. Two weeks ago, after the New Hampshire legislature enacted a gay marriage bill and Democratic Gov. John Lynch signed it into law, the state’s Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen came out in favor of same-sex marriage. As governor nine years ago, however, Shaheen not only opposed gay marriage but also a civil union law such as that signed by then-Gov. (later Democratic National Chairman) Howard Dean. “I don’t support Vermont’s law,” Shaheen told the Manchester Union Leader (April 27, 2000), “I believe that marital unions should exist between men and women.” Last week, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said that he, too, had changed from opposition to support of same-sex marriage. Dodd explained that “the fact that I was raised a certain way just isn’t a good enough reason to stand in the way of fairness anymore,” noting that “The Connecticut Supreme Court, of course, has ruled that such a distinction [that marriages are between men and women] holds no merit under the law. And the court is right.”

RNC CHIEF FOR DC VOTE IN CONGRESS: Although virtually all Republican elected and party officials outside the District of Columbia oppose a voting U.S. representative for Washington, D.C., the party’s national chairman is a strong supporter. In an interview with D.C. radio pundit Mark Plotkin, Republican National Chairman Michael Steele called on President Obama to put a D.C. license plate on his limousine that says “Taxation Without Representation.” According to Steele, “It would be a great symbol.” (President Clinton did have the protest plate, but neither George Bush did and Obama so far hasn’t put the slogan on the presidential automobile). “Chairman Steele doesn’t just talk a good game but he enthusiastically believes in D.C. voting rights,” beamed D.C .Republican Chairman Robert Kabel.