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The Mother of all Bailouts

July 24, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The anomalous Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) gives his two cents on the mortgage market/Fannie and Freddie bailout bill in a seven minute monologue uploaded to YouTube last night

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70 More Cents

July 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Today marks the second of three incremental increases in the minimum wage, from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour. Enjoy it - it's the only things Congress got last May in exchange for handing President Bush $120 billion in war money with no strings attached....

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How the Housing Bill Can Help You

July 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Most of the focus lately on this bill has been on the Fannie and Freddie bailout, but CNN reminds us that its main purpose is to help people who are facing foreclosures. Here's their guide to what homeowners need to know about using the bill to help them keep their houses. ...

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Leaked Email: DeMint's Blocking Your Bailout

July 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) wants to amend the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout bill to ban the companies from lobbying Congress so as to prevent them from currying favor with politicians on the taxpayers' dime. Today, Democratic leaders in the Senate sent an email to their business contacts that Rob Bluey at RedState is calling "a direct appeal to K Street lobbyists for help" in staving off DeMint.

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Congress Bans Burmese Gems

July 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Finally, Congress has taken action against the military Junta of Burma. The Block Burmese Jade Act has been pending in Senate since last October, around the time when the military crackdown of protesters was at its worst. The bill will close a loophole that allows American importers to skirt U.S. sanctions and import regime-funding gems from Burma via third-party countries.

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$300 Oil

July 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Rather than promising $2 Gas, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens went in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee today and warned of $300-a-barrel oil. >Oil prices will hit $300 a barrel in 10 years if the United States fails to reduce its dependence on foreign imports, billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. > >The United States imports nearly 70 percent of its oil and Pickens said the world's top petroleum-consuming nation would import 80 percent in a d...

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Missed the Boat ...err SCHIP

July 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Why did Congress wait so long to introduce this bill to override President Bush's regulations that make it harder for states to insure children under S-CHIP? CQ: >The Senate parliamentarian delivered bad news Tuesday to Democrats hoping to block a Bush administration directive on children’s health insurance: They were too slow. > >Last week, Democrats introduced a “resolution of disapproval” against a directive the administration issued in August 2007. The resolution, had it been introd...

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$25 Billion Bailout

July 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Congressional Budget Office has scored the Bush administration's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout and estimates that it will cost $25 billion over the next two years. But they also said that there is a good chance - "probably better than 50 percent" - that the plan's bazooka effect will be enough and the bailout plan wont't have to be used at all, thus having no costs.

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This Week in Congress

July 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

With three weeks left before the August recess, both parties are scrambling to pass something - anything - addressing the two issues at the fore of everyone's minds and evening newscasts: the housing/mortgage crisis and high gas prices. The former seems to be a broad-based, serious effort that may help the situation, but the latter has devolved into the usual kabuki political theater.

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Speculating

July 21, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Sounds like Senate Republicans are backing off their insistence on drilling and may actually help Democrats pass a bill to crack down on excessive speculation in oil markets. According to The Hill, the Democrats' position on this is that if Republicans don't help them pass the speculation bill, they won't even consider a vote on drilling as part of a larger energy package in the near future. Click here for Harry Reid's rundown of what the oil speculation bill would do....

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Party On!

July 21, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Over at the Sunlight Foundation blog, Paul Blumenthal notes that Congress is already going back on the lobbying disclosure requirements they enacted as part of their big ethics reform bill. Their revisions will make it easy for lobbyists to fund parties for lawmakers without having to disclose any information....

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Coburn's Captives

July 21, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has single-handedly blocked dozens - perhaps as many as 100 - bills from being approved by the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now preparing to hold a vote on a "Coburn Omnibus": legislation that will contain between 40 and 80 of the blocked bills. Here's a very abbreviated list of the blocked bills that will likely be included

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A More Moral Bailout

July 20, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

At TPM Cafe, Dean Baker posted an idea for lawmakers looking to put some conditions on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout plan they are drafting to include in the housing bill: >It would be a very simple matter for Congress to tell Fannie and Freddie that the condition of getting bailed out is that there is an absolute cap on the compensation of any employee of $2 million (that includes salary, bonus, stock options, and anything else of value). Similarly, we can tell the investment banks ...

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Summer Gas Tax <s>Holiday</s> Hike

July 20, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

"Despite calls from the presidential campaign trail for a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day tax freeze, lawmakers quickly concluded _ with a prod from the construction industry _ that having $9 billion less to spend on highways could create a pre-election specter of thousands of lost jobs. Now, lawmakers quietly are talking about raising fuel taxes by a dime from the current 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents on diesel fuel."

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A "Special Contempt" for Miers and Bolton

July 20, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

See that empty chair? That's where former White House counsel Harriet Miers was subpoenaed to sit and testify last July before the House Judiciary Committee about the U.S. Attorney firings. The House has voted to hold Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton in "Contempt of Congress," for not showing up, but Attorney General Michael Mukasey has refused to pursue the contempt citations.

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