‘Line’ Items: Pitching, Polls, and the New Charity of Choice

Making the Pitch – With much of Washington eagerly anticipating the debut of Stephen Strasburg on the mound tomorrow, the return of Congress this week is an afterthought to many. But Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the Congressional rotation will need to have some pretty good stuff when they take the mound on Capitol Hill and face an opposing legislative line-up. They will have to show a lot of range as they pitch both economic stimulus and fiscal responsibility.

Extended Debate Over Extenders Bill – The Senate is expected to take up the “tax extenders” bill (HR 4213) that the House narrowly approved just before adjourning. Getting 60 votes won’t be easy as legislators increasingly concerned about budget deficits are wary of legislation that will add $54 billion to the deficit hole. The New York Times said the recalcitrance among the rank and file that caused the measure to be scaled down significantly was a “turning point” as battling the deficit appears to take precedence over pumping borrowed federal dollars into the economy. CRFB implored lawmakers to find long-term offsets for the costs of the bill as well as the $60 billion war supplemental that the Senate passed just before the break.

More Trouble Down the Line – It won’t get any easier for Congress once it gets beyond the extenders and supplemental. Appropriations bills and action on expiring tax cuts await. An analysis by the Associated Press offers that spending bills may be lumped together into one package for a post-election session of Congress.

New Poll Shows Debt As Top Threat – Concerns in Congress over the federal debt mirror rising anxiety among voters. A new Gallup poll shows that federal government debt is tied with terrorism as the top threat to the future of the U.S., ranking above issues like healthcare costs, unemployment, illegal immigration, Iraq/Afghanistan, and climate change.

Unlucky Number 13 – U.S. debt hit a depressing milestone last week as gross debt (including debt owed by the federal government to itself) exceeded the $13 trillion mark.

Nothing a Good Concert Can’t FixNewsweek reported last week that Americans can now make payments on the federal debt via credit card and that donations from concerned Americans are rising. Move over Haiti, our mounting debt may be the next cause célèbre. Maybe it will even merit a charity concert. We can see it now with a star-studded cast singing the refrain:

We owe the world

We owe the children

Our creditors want us to pay

So let’s start giving