Capitol Hillbillies

Obama’s huge budget marches through Congress

For now, President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies are endorsing his ambitious budget plan, but general agreements on fighting global warming and boosting health care promise to be severely tested later in the year as details are penciled in.

The Senate Budget Committee was poised to adopt Obama’s budget plan Thursday after approval by a companion House panel on a party-line vote late Wednesday.

Lawmakers are making modest adjustments to Obama’s blueprint as they advance budget plans that lay out a congressional road map for major legislation later this year on health care, energy and education.

Cantor calls Obama’s budget ‘out of the mainstream’

A leading House Republican is charging that President Barack Obama is pushing a federal budget so far out of the mainstream that even congressional Democrats are struggling with it.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor asserted that the $3.6 trillion spending blueprint that Obama will personally push in a visit to Capitol Hill later Wednesday would burden future generations with staggering debts.

Obama’s economic team faces grilling over AIG

The Federal Reserve’s chairman and the secretary of the treasury are making a rare joint appearance at a congressional hearing, ostensibly to take a scolding over the handling of bonuses at AIG, the giant insurance company that has become the symbol of reckless risk-taking on Wall Street.

But after venting their spleen yet again at a House hearing Tuesday, lawmakers also were expected to press Fed boss Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the new risks to taxpayers from their latest effort to save tottering banks and the U.S. economy: a plan to take over up to $1 trillion in dodgy mortgage securities with the help of private investors.

The art of the deal: Buying votes on Capitol Hill

Rep. John Murtha celebrated his 35th anniversary as a congressman by getting an early start on his next campaign, staging an invitation-only fundraising luncheon for dozens of lobbyists and defense contractors at the private Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va.

But last month’s event, with tickets starting at $1,400, was missing one longtime friend: Paul Magliocchetti, the founder of a lobbying firm that over the past two decades has been one of Murtha’s biggest sources of campaign donations.

Chris Dodd faces backlash back home

Democrats may want to start thinking about a bailout for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (left), whose political stock has slipped amid the financial meltdown.

As a five-term Democrat who blew out his last two opponents by 2-1 margins in a blue state that President Barack Obama won handily, Dodd, D-Conn., should be cruising to re-election in 2010. Instead, he’s feeling heat from a Republican challenger eager to make him a poster boy for the tumult in the housing and financial markets.

House votes 90 percent tax on bailout bonuses

Acting swiftly, the Democratic-led House approved a bill Thursday to slap punishing taxes on big employee bonuses at firms bailed out by taxpayers. The bill would impose a 90 percent tax on bonuses given to employees with family incomes above $250,000 at American International Group and other companies that have received at least $5 billion in government bailout money.

"We want our money back now for the taxpayers," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

House to vote on taxing AIG bonuses

Venting their outrage, lawmakers are preparing to slap heavy taxes on employee bonuses at insurance giant AIG and at other companies that have received large bailout packages from the government.

The House was scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill that would levy a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid to employees with family incomes above $250,000 at companies that have received at least $5 billion in government bailout money.

Pork, by any other name, is still pork

 The idea of devoting $1.8 million to research controlling the smell of pig dung stinks to high heaven to opponents of Congress’ proclivity for pork-barrel projects.

"Pigs stink. We know why," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. "We know where they live. So is that a priority right now?"

Rove, Miers will testify…sort of

Armed with an agreement by top Bush administration aides to testify under oath, congressional Democrats may finally learn the answer to a 2-year-old question: What role did George W. Bush’s White House play in politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys?

Karl Rove and Harriet Miers agreed Wednesday to be questioned by the House Judiciary Committee, settling for now a major constitutional dispute that was going to be decided by the courts.

The legal issue was the constitutionality of Bush’s assertion of executive privilege, to order the aides not to testify.