UPI's Capital Comment for June 14, 2002

By United Press International  |  June 14, 2002 at 8:44 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Provide for the common defense -- On Thursday House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., jointly announced that agreement had been reached upon the procedure to bring President Bush's proposal for a Homeland Security Department to the House floor.

According to a joint statement, the president's bill will be referred simultaneously to the House Government Reform Committee and, in part, to other relevant standing committees of jurisdiction once it is introduced. Each committee will be instructed to report their recommendations with respect to the legislation to an ad hoc Select Committee to be established by the House during the week of June 17.

The ad hoc committee will mark up the legislation, drawing upon the recommendations submitted from the various standing committees. "The American people expect us to move expeditiously on the president's proposal to create a Homeland Security Department. This procedure will allow all members of the House to have input, while making certain that the proposal moves through the process. At the end of the day, we hope to create a department that will make the American people more secure in the American homeland," Hastert said.

At your service -- Former President Bill Clinton will lead a call for the expansion of national service opportunities on June 20, which the Democratic Leadership Council has designated as "National Service Day." According to the DLC, Clinton will participate in several service projects in New York City to mark the occasion. DLC Chairman Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., will join with other members of Congress in Washington to lead a roundtable discussion about the meaning of community service. Also participating in the discussion will be AmeriCorps students from around the United States.

Flip-flop -- The National Taxpayers Union, a 335,000-member citizen lobby group, is criticizing seven members of the Senate for abandoning their opposition to the federal death tax by voting Wednesday against a measure to make its temporary repeal -- a part of President Bush's 2001 tax cut package -- permanent. The bill had strong support in the Senate but fell six votes short of the 60 needed for passage under chamber rules. "Last year 58 Senators agreed that it was time to finally get rid of this unfair tax burden," NTU President John Berthoud said. "Yesterday seven of those members demonstrated that they are more loyal to Washington special interests seeking more taxpayer dollars than to their own constituents." Seven of the senators who voted for the repeal contained in the Bush plan -- Democrats John Breaux of Louisiana, Jean Carnahan of Missouri, Dianne Feinstein of California, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Robert Torricelli of New Jersey and Independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont -- voted against Wednesday's measure.

Hey big spender -- According to an ongoing study of political television advertising by Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, candidates in gubernatorial primaries in Texas, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania alone accounted for more than $64 million of the $107 million spent so far in 2002 on political television advertising. The project is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and uses Campaign Media Analysis Group data about political and issue advertising in the nation's top 100 media markets.

The project has also uncovered some interesting trends in interest group campaigning. Goldstein notes that "We are seeing interest groups utilize what they think is the most salient issue in a race -- one often having nothing to do with their declared focus of interest" on a more frequent basis. As one example he cites Emily's List, the organization that supports pro-choice women candidates, who spent more than $300,000 in losing efforts in Democratic House primaries in Illinois and West Virginia on ads that had nothing to do with abortion-rights. In Illinois, their ads criticized former Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel's support of NAFTA while their ads in West Virginia criticized trial lawyer and challenger Jim Humphrey over personal tax issues.

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