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Congress Eyes 775% Increase on Pipe Tobacco Tax

February 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Manufacturers of roll-your-own tobacco have been dodging an enormous federal tax increase by re-branding as "pipe tobacco." Congress has a plan to fix the loophole -- raise taxes on pipe tobacco by 775% so that it is taxed at the same rate as roll-your-own tobacco.

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Congress Links

February 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Despite being a slow day in Congress, it was a busy day on Capitol Hill. Here's a look at what you might have missed: Sen. John Kerry [D, MA] has joined Sen. Arlen Specter [D, PA] in calling for a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision lifting limits on corporate cash in campaigns. (The Hill) A group of centrist Senate Democrats including Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA], Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA], Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] and Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] ...

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Primary Preview: Illinois And Florida

February 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Election season kicks off today. In Illinois, a number of primary elections will be held statewide, while candidates in Florida will compete for the chance to succeed Rep. Robert Wexler [D, FL-19].

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State of Play: Senate Financial Reform

February 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

It's been almost two months since the House of Representatives passed their bill to overhaul regulations in the financial markets and implement some of the lessons learned from the financial crisis. The Senate, on the other hand, still hasn't taken up the issue. Since November, the Senate Banking Committee has been working to modify a draft version of a financial reform bill that was submitted by Chairman Chris Dodd [D, CT]. The committee has already missed several deadline for completing the bill and forwarding it to the full Senate, and they're now looking at trying to get it done before the President's Day recess, which begins on Feb. 12.

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Gates, Mullen Testify On Gays In The Military

February 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint of Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen are testifying right now before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Pentagon's plan to roll back "don't ask, don't tell." According to Marc Ambinder, Gates will announce a series of steps building up to the eventual end of the policy. According to an administration official, the most visible of those steps will be to revise the rule that allows third parties -- other soldiers or outside accusers -...

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Clues On Health Care In Obama's Budget

February 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

President Obama seems to have bet his budget on health care reform becoming a reality. David Herszenhorn, blogging for the the New York Times, notices that the president's $3.8 trillion budget assumes a $150 billion reduction in the deficit over the next decade from a health care

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Congress Links

February 1, 2010 - by Eric Naing

President Obama's 2011 budget dropped today and grabbed most of the headlines, but it wasn't the only thing happening on Capitol Hill. Here's what you might have missed: The Washington Post chronicles the slow death of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. What once was a key component of President Obama's plan to regulate the financial industry has slowly lost more and more of its teeth as the proposal works its way through the legislative process. The House already passed a version of th...

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Obama Budget Takes on Oil, Hedge Fund Subsidies

February 1, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

President Obama's 2011 budget proposes repealing two corporate subsidies that the Democrats in Congress have been trying to get rid of for years. Will Congress have the will this year to stand up to these powerful industries and enact Obama's proposals?

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The Senate Puts The White House On Hold

February 1, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Plenty of ink has been spilled over the filibuster, but there is another obscure procedure that has ground the Senate to a halt: the hold. As I previously noted, a hold placed by Sen. Mike Enzi [R, WY] on solicitor of the Department of Labor nominee Patricia Smith played a key role in delaying her confirmation by several months. But Smith is far from the only Obama appointee to have their nomination tripped up by a Senate hold. Any Senator can place a hold on a bill or measure, pretty much ...

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The 2011 Obama Budget

February 1, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

President Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget request is now online for your review. Get it here. As I wrote earlier this morning, the total cost of the budget is $3.8 trillion, which is an approximately $250 billion increase over last year's budget, but also an almost 50% decrease in the rate of spending growth last year's budget contained.

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Business as Usual

February 1, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

"Twelve Democratic Senators spent last weekend in Miami Beach raising money from top lobbyists for oil, drug, and other corporate interests that they often decry," Politico's Ben Smith is reporting. The 12 Democrats, most of whom are specifically named in the piece, mingled in Miami with what Smith calls "a who's who of 108 senior Washington lobbyists." ...

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Ms. Smith Goes To Washington

February 1, 2010 - by Eric Naing

After nearly ten months of waiting, the Senate this evening will finally vote to advance the nomination of Patricia Smith as solicitor of the Department of Labor – the top lawyer at the department. Smith was nominated to the position in April of last year, but since then has joined a number of Obama appointees that have been nominated but can not start working because the Senate has not confirmed them. Other notable members of this club include Dawn Johnsen, nominated to head the Department of...

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The Week Ahead in Congress

January 31, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

President Obama will kick off the 2011 budgeting process this week by submitting a $3.8 trillion budget plan, which is $250 billion more than last year's budget, but also represents an almost 50% decrease in last year's level of spending growth. Later in the week, the House will take up controversial cybersecurity legislation.

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