Even though I have a few (ahem) books still to clean out of the New York office (anyone want five dozen books on child care and marriage policy?), I do work out of NR’s Capitol Hill office now. The three things I seem to hear the most about around town today:
a) They’re really going to do reconciliation, aren’t they? There’s a real surprise, though, that they let that story leak before the summit. Wouldn’t it have been a smarter p.r. move to make that Friday’s story?
b) Leave Jim Bunning alone. Thank goodness for Jim Bunning.
His physical language — and to Jonathan Karl! — was unnecessary. But what he’s doing is what the Dems claim they’re for with their PAYGO talk, which for all their talk, they have a tendency to waive. As the Heritage Foundation’s Brian Darling tells me: “Senator Bunning objected to the $10 billion package including an extension to unemployment benefits and other costly provisions until leaders in the Senate agree to offset this spending with cuts in other programs.” Translation: He’s not simply putting a stop on things, as the convenient conventional story line suggests. Darling continues: “Our nation is carrying approximately $12.4 trillion in debt, yet Members of Congress can’t seem to wean themselves off of their addiction to overspending. Senator Bunning is a hero to the taxpayer for his actions. Maybe Congress can cut some waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid as discussed at the Blair House bipartisan summit last week.”
c) There is an increasing nervousness about Bob Corker and his comfort in a role as business negotiator in the Senate. First, there was cash for clunkers. Now he’s working with Dodd on the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. It’s behind closed doors at the moment, but his colleagues are worried, and conservative-leaning groups even more so.