Capitol Hillbillies

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.

Lawmakers start whacking away at Obama’s budget

President Barack Obama’s proposed tax increases are being met with misgivings by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress as he sends his Treasury secretary to Capitol Hill to defend them.

Lawmakers in both parties question Obama’s call to reduce high-income earners’ tax deductions for the interest on their house payments and for charitable contributions. Also drawing fire is his proposal to start taxing industries on their greenhouse gas pollution — a move sure to raise consumers’ electric rates.

Obama and his top aides have been promoting the budget package since unveiling an outline last week, but Tuesday will provide the lawmakers their first opportunity to publicly question top officials about the details.

The best Congress special interest money can buy

Political Action Committees (PACs) spent a record $416 million in the 2008 federal elections — most on candidates for the House and Senate.

As one who once ran the multi-million dollar PAC for the National Association of Realtors — at the time the largest in the nation — I can say as an absolute fact that those who sign the checks don’t do so without expecting something in return.

Republicans look forward to budget battle

Top Republicans charged President Barack Obama with driving the United States toward socialism on Friday, opening an ideological attack on his big spending plans.

While the tough rhetoric was certain to rev up hard-line Republicans — many of whom regard "socialism" as anathema to American life — it was unclear how much it would change the debate in the Democratic-led Congress, which begins hearings next week on Obama’s $3.55 trillion budget proposal.

In Congress, a rare consensus on Iraq

After years of bitterly debating whether to set a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq, Congress has agreed to one.

The general consensus came Friday in the form of statements endorsing President Barack Obama’s plan to bring home roughly two-thirds of the U.S. military force in Iraq by August 2010.