GWB's wish list

Robert Novak
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Posted: Sep 02, 2006 12:01 AM
GWB's wish list

President George W. Bush, in private conversation, is talking about trying to revive his tax and Social Security reform proposals after the 2006 elections.

Bush stressed those two issues after his 2004 re-election victory, but neither made progress. He campaigned nationwide in 2005 for Social Security personal accounts but never proposed a specific bill. His tax reform did not get beyond recommendations of a presidential commission.

If Democrats gain control of the House in this year's elections, Bush's tax and Social Security proposals will face a cold reception in a House Ways and Means Committee headed by Rep. Charles Rangel.

CONGRESSIONAL POLITICS

A proposed heavy workload for the post-Labor Day session of Congress threatens to postpone pre-election adjournment by a week, to the distress of Republican senators facing tough re-election challenges.

The Sept. 29 adjournment date threatens to slip to Oct. 6. That means endangered incumbent Republicans will have less time to campaign and will have to cast more politically dangerous votes. Particularly affected are Sens. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Conrad Burns of Montana and Jim Talent of Missouri.

A footnote: A free trade agreement with Communist Vietnam is included in the Bush administration's must list for the September session. President Bush will visit Vietnam in November after the elections and wants the agreement approved by then.

ALLEN IN TROUBLE

Sen. George Allen, once considered a cinch for re-election in Virginia this year and a leader for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, has been added to the Democratic list of prime targets.

The Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll gives the Democratic nominee, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, a 1.3-point edge over Allen. Other polls show Allen slightly ahead. Allen's double-digit lead disappeared after his widely publicized taunting of a Webb aide at a political event.

A footnote: The GOP's favorite Senate challenger this year is insurance tycoon Mike McGavick, who has pulled within four to five points of Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in the state of Washington. McGavick will be feted by Republican senators when he comes to Washington, D.C., Sept. 20 for a $1,000-a-ticket fund-raiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The event is co-sponsored by 43 of 55 Republican senators.

DISSATISFIED WITH DEAN

Lifetime Democratic contributors have made good on their threat to stop giving money to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) so long as Howard Dean is its chairman.

Some of the party's longtime money men warned that would happen when Dean took over the DNC following the 2004 elections. Lower contributions, combined with Dean's heavy spending, have resulted in the most recent cash-on-hand report by the DNC of $11.3 million, compared with $43.6 million at the Republican National Committee.

Disaffected Democrats keep giving to congressional committees. Current cash figures are $33 million at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $35.1 million at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

HARD TO WRITE-IN

Selection of a consensus candidate with a long, complicated name menaces Republican efforts to hold former Rep. Tom DeLay's Houston-area congressional seat. A write-in was forced by a federal court ruling that the GOP was too late after DeLay's resignation in putting a new name on the ballot to face the Democratic candidate, former Rep. Nick Lampson.

The vast majority of voters in the district for the first time will use eSlate voting machines that will require voters, for a write-in, to dial up one letter at a time and press "enter" after each letter. It will take around two minutes for a voter to dial in the name of the Republican candidate, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (with no option for a hyphen).

Sekula-Gibbs's name will be on the same ballot for a separate election to replace DeLay for the last two months of his term. Republicans pressed for this special election in hopes it would help voters to write in her name for the full term.