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September 9, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Ballooning Deficit

>Weak revenue growth and accelerated spending – including an economic stimulus package that returned billions to taxpayers – will drive the federal deficit to $407 billion in the fiscal year that ends this month, more than double last year’s $161 billion, congressional budget analysts reported today. -WaPo

More Government Secrecy

>Government secrecy, particularly in the executive branch, continued in 2007 to expand across a broad array of agencies and actions, including new classification decisions, secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders, military procurement, new private inventions, and the scientific and technical advice that the government receives, and an ongoing drop in the percentage of fully and openly competed federal contracts. A further troubling trend is the inability of the Department of Justice to handle cases concerning fraud on the federal government, resulting in a backlog of over 900 cases. -Secrecy Report Card ’08 (pdf)

No Lunch for Lieberman

>Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has decided that Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) — one of Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) top supporters — can no longer attend Democrats’ weekly caucus lunches or the biweekly chairmen’s lunches used to formulate policy, senior Democratic aides said Tuesday. -Roll Call via DailyKos

Mass Transit Funding

>Momentum is building in Congress to increase funding for public transportation as transit agencies struggle to accommodate increased demand from Americans seeking to escape high gas prices. -WSJ

Mulling an Auto Industry Bailout

>The U.S. House of Representatives is discussing an auto industry request to set in motion at least $25 billion in government-backed loans to help beleaguered U.S. manufacturers retool plants to make more efficient cars and trucks, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday. -Reuters

US-India Nuclear Deal

>The Bush administration plans an all-out effort to win approval of a civilian nuclear deal with India before Congress adjourns, although political, procedural and policy issues are blocking the way.
>A congressional sign-off would provide a successful conclusion to more than three years of work by the administration to complete a unique arrangement the White House says would strengthen U.S. ties with the world’s largest democracy, expand India’s energy options and open a growing market for U.S. businesses. -CQ

Mexican Trucks

> Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said he hopes Congress will vote today to close the border to dangerous trucks from Mexico.
>Last year Congress voted overwhelmingly to ban the cross-border trucking pilot program, but the Bush administration ignored the law. Even though there is strong bipartisan support in Congress for closing the border, the Transportation Department announced it is extending the program for another two years. -MarketWatch
>UPDATE: Passed – more info here.

Second Stimulus

>House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer ruled out a second round of taxpayer rebate checks in outlining his ideas for an economic stimulus package he wants the House to address in the next week or so.
>“I don’t think rebates will be part of the package,’’ he said Tuesday, while stressing what he called a need for more infrastructure spending and assistance to unemployed and low-income Americans. -CQ

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