News Before the Storm:
Thunderstorms have become a daily occurence here in DC over the past week. It looks like we’re about to get another one. Here’s a look at the news before Pennsylvania Ave. turns into a river and my power goes out:
- Jack Abramoff and former Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) chief of staff Ed Buckham "orchestrated a series of multimillion-dollar maneuvers with several charities he or Buckham exerted control over. These charities became a primary tool in his criminal conspiracy," according to Roll Call. The noose continues to tighten around the now retired DeLay.
- Congress doesn’t care about cleaning itself up by reforming their ethics or the practice of lobbying. According to the Washington Post, lobbying and ethics reform "has slowed to a crawl. Along the way, proposals such as Hastert’s that would sharply limit commonplace behavior on Capitol Hill have been cast aside." Congress, playing the role of a baby, has soiled itself and is incapable of changing it’s diapers, let alone become potty trained. It smells.
- USA Today reports that some lawmakers are questioning the annual cost-of-living adjustment to their salary claiming that they do not deserve to make more money so long as the minimum wage remains at $5.15 an hour or the government does not run a balanced budget. The rank and file member of Congress currently makes $165,200 with leadership earning more. Members today are earning $710 less than they did in 2001 due to inflation. If the raise were to go into effect members would make $168,500 next year. In 2005 the daily salary of members of Congress — when calculating the days Congress was in session — was $1149.65.
- According to Newsweek, "White House staffers have accepted nearly $135,000 in free trips since November 2004." Those offering the trips have included conservative organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers, he Southern Baptist Convention, Focus on the Family and the Federalist Society.
- Is the 109th Congress a "Do Nothing Congress?" Are all major actions expected to be political ploys with no expectation of serious action on the serious issues of the day?