Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Bayh’s departure: Moderates, exit stage center

The moderate middle is disappearing from Congress. Evan Bayh is just the latest senator to forgo a re-election bid, joining a growing line of pragmatic, find-a-way politicians who are abandoning Washington. Still here: ever-more-polarized colleagues locked in gridlock — exactly what voters say they don’t like about politics in the nation’s capital. Politics runs in cycles, and the Senate has seen flights of self-styled centrists before. In 1996, for example, 10 senators who could boast strong bipartisan credentials chose to retire rather than re-up. Many of them complained how lonely a place the middle ground of American politics had become.
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Bitter partisanship drives Evan Bayh from Senate

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh says he's had enough of the bitter partisanship that defines government in Washington so he's quitting his Senate seat after just two terms.

"My passion for helping people is not highly valued in Congress," said in announcing his decision Monday He added that he would prefer to be in an environment that thrives on "solutions not slogans, progress not politics."

Bayh's announcement stunned fellow Democrats and added more problems to a party that is losing ground in Congress just four years after gaining control of both the House and Senate.
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McCain faces a tough re-election challenge

Defeated just two years ago as the Republican presidential candidate and with his bonafides as a true conservative again being challenged, John McCain finds himself in a struggle to get even his party's nomination for another term in the Senate.

Many conservatives and Tea Party activists are lining up behind Republican challenger and former talk radio host J.D. Hayworth, reflecting a rising tide of voter frustration with incumbent politicians. Only 40 percent of Arizonans have a favorable view of McCain's job performance.
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Democrats ax pork-bloated, lobbyist-crafted jobs bill

Senate Democrats pulled the plug Thursday on a so-called "bipartisan" jobs bill packed with pork and favors to lobbyists and replaced it with a leaner bill with just one goal -- putting Americans back to work.

The stripped-down proposal came in response to critics who said the original bill didn't really create jobs but did generate favors to and donations from special interests.

Republicans, outraged that their special interests would be ignored, yelped loudly, complaining that Democrats reneged on a deal.

Democrats responded by all but daring Republicans to vote against the new bill.
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Jobs bill: Long on promises, short on jobs

There's a problem with the bipartisan jobs bill emerging in the Senate: It won't create many jobs.

The bill includes tax cuts to please Republicans and its passage would hand President Barack Obama a badly needed political victory. But even the Obama administration acknowledges the legislation's centerpiece — a tax cut for businesses that hire unemployed workers — would work only on the margins.

Tax experts and business leaders said companies are unlikely to hire workers just to receive a tax break. Before businesses start hiring, they need increased demand for their products, more work for their employees and more revenue to pay those workers.
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‘Good Time Charlie’ Wilson dies at 76

"Good Time Charlie" Wilson, 76, the fun-loving, controversial former congressman from Texas whose clandestine funding of Afghanistan's resistance to the Soviet Union became famous in the movie and book "Charlie Wilson's War," died Wednesday.

Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin in Texas spokeswoman Yana Ogletree said Wilson started having difficulty breathing while attending a meeting in the eastern Texas town where he lived and was pronounced dead on arrival.

The preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest, she said.

Wilson, who represented the 2nd District in east Texas in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1996, was known in Washington as "Good Time Charlie" for his reputation as a hard-drinking womanizer with a staff of beautiful young women known as "Charlie's Angels." He called former congresswoman Pat Schroeder "Babycakes," and tried -- and failed -- to take a beauty queen with him on a government trip to Afghanistan.

Wilson's efforts to arm Afghan mujahedeen during Afghanistan's war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s became a legend in Washington. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Wilson secured money for weapons, plunging the U.S. into a risky venture against the world's other superpower.
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Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha dead at 77

Rep. John Murtha, the 77-year-old Pennsylvania Congressman who spoke out for veterans but opposed the Iraq war, died Monday of complications from gall bladder surgery.

Elected to Congress in 1974, Murtha was the first Vietnam war veteran elected to Congress and was known as a rare Democratic hawk when it came to military issues.

He also skated around ethical issues through much of his Congressional career, escaping indictment in the Abscam scandal and was recently under srutiny for intervening in the defense department contract process on behalf of campaign contributors, a role he could play as the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that overseas Pentagon spending.
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Scott Brown: Independent or lock-step Republican?

Scott BrownIs Scott Brown a "different kind of Republican" as he claims or will his Senate service be just another lockstep member of his political party?

That's the question the junior Senator from Massachusetts faces as the Republican takes the seat long occupied by Democratic political icon Ted Kennedy.

Vioe President Joe Biden issued the oath of office to Brown Thursday, giving Republicans 41 votes in the Senate and ending the veto-proof Democratic lock.

Brown says he is an independent but his first comments after officially becoming a Senator was standard Republican rhetoric, reciting party line attacks against the economic stimulus program.
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