Capitol Hillbillies

So much for reform from Democrats

Last fall, the newly ascendant congressional Democrats promised a thorough reform of earmarks or, failing that, a one-year moratorium on them. That was then and this is now, and now is an election year.

Chuck Hagel: Time for a new political party

U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel writes in a new book that the United States needs independent leadership and possibly another political party, while suggesting the Iraq war might be remembered as one of the five biggest blunders in history.

“In the current impasse, an independent candidate for the presidency, or a bipartisan unity ticket … could be appealing to Americans,” Hagel writes in “America: Our Next Chapter,” due in stores Tuesday. The Associated Press obtained an advance copy.

Another fine mess we’ve gotten into

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Sens. John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are preoccupied with running for president because if they were involved in the budget debate back in Washington they might decide they don’t want the job.

McCain advisers lobbied for Airbus

Top current advisers to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign last year lobbied for a European plane maker that beat Boeing to a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, taking sides in a bidding fight that McCain has tried to referee for more than five years.

Two of the advisers gave up their lobbying work when they joined McCain’s campaign. A third, former Texas Rep. Tom Loeffler, lobbied for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. while serving as McCain’s national finance chairman.

King stands by his Obama slurs

An Iowa Republican congressman on Monday defended his prediction that terrorists would celebrate if Democrat Barack Obama were elected president, despite a rebuke from aides to John McCain, the GOP’s apparent presidential nominee.

“(Obama will) certainly be viewed as a savior for them,” Rep. Steve King told The Associated Press. “That’s why you will see them supporting him, encouraging him.”

National security must be a priority at budget time

Over the coming months, Congress will continue to debate President Bush’s record $3.1 trillion budget request. Although the Democrats and Republicans do not see eye to eye on many issues, they are in total agreement that national security should receive the highest budgetary priority.

Next President will have a nice ride

Whoever wins the White House this year will be ferried to Camp David and elsewhere by the most advanced presidential helicopters ever developed. The helicopter also will be the most expensive, stung by skyrocketing development costs from the start.