Washington (CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, whose political career flamed out after he admitted a year-long affair last year with an Argentine woman he called his "soulmate," acknowledged Thursday that he violated state ethics rules on campaign spending and government travel.
Sanford did not go quietly. He said in a statement that he still believed "in the innocence of my actions" and boasted of his record for fiscal responsibility while in office. Sanford said his administration has spent 63 percent less on travel than his predecessor did.
"[I]t's time to move on," Sanford said. "While I believe I would be vindicated on all these matters if there were ever a full airing, the people of South Carolina have moved on from all that unfolded last summer and this administration has moved on as well."
Washington (CNN) – While Congressional Democrats and Republicans threw dirt bombs at one another over health care on Tuesday, two Senate veterans engaged in actual bipartisanship a few blocks away on an issue far from the headlines: Tax reform.
Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire, spoke before a small audience at the Heritage Foundation on a bill they introduced last month to dramatically overhaul federal tax law.
In terms of its scope, Wyden-Gregg is big. For individuals, the bill would halve the number of individual tax rates to three. It would end the Alternative Minimum Tax, which lawmakers have been "temporarily" fixing for years so it doesn't smack middle-income families.
It would consolidate the three different kinds of individual retirement accounts. The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act would also clean up the corporate tax system. It would get rid of the current rate structure and replace it with one flat corporate rate of 24 percent, and eliminate a lot of big corporate tax breaks.
Arlington, Virginia (CNN) – For congressional Democrats, the not-at-all-secret password this year is … jobs. They want to convince voters that they are working tirelessly to create them and thus regain some of the political momentum they have lost.
But the employment hole is deep. Can Democrats climb out of it by November?
Electoral odds maker Charlie Cook on Monday gave a grim assessment of their chances.
The unemployment rate, currently 9.7 percent, would have to fall about 1 percentage point by November for Democrats to proclaim "mission accomplished," he said. Cook, who runs the non-partisan Cook Political Report, spoke at the annual policy conference of the National Association for Business Economics, a leading group of professional economy watchers.
Even a continuation of the year-long stock market rally wouldn't help the Democrats much.
Washington (CNN) – Embattled Rep. Eric Massa, D-New York, said Friday that he will resign from the House on Monday afternoon.
"I [resign] with a profound sense of failure and a deep apology to all those whom, for the past year, I tried to represent as our nation struggles with problems far greater than anyone can possibly imagine," Massa wrote in a statement posted on his House Web site.
On Wednesday, Massa had said he would not seek re-election because of health concerns and denied reports that he had harassed one of his Capitol Hill staffers.
The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it was "investigating and gathering additional information" on allegations against Massa.
Massa, in the statement Friday, said he had already decided to quit because of concerns about cancer before he learned that a staffer had complained to the Ethics panel.
"After I decided not to run again I was told, for the first time, that a member of my staff believed I had made statements that made him feel 'uncomfortable,'" Massa wrote.
(CNN) - The effort to unseat Gov. Deval Patrick is kindling the bipartisan spirit in Massachusetts. Tim Cahill, a former Democrat who became an independent last year, announced Friday that he had signed up four veterans of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential bid.
The McCainites include John Weaver, who was the senator's longtime political adviser, and speechwriter Mark Salter, who the Cahill campaign describes as McCain's "alter ego." Cahill also said he has brought on two other McCain political minds: John Yob and Mike Dennehy. "These guys are the best in the business," Cahill said in a statement.
Washington (CNN) - Polls show that Americans are concerned about federal budget deficits. Now House Minority Leader John Boehner wants them to chew over possible solutions – before they vote in the midterm elections on November 2.
Boehner proposed Wednesday that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, created by President Obama last month, issue its final report on October 1. That's two months earlier than the deadline set by Obama and, of course, a month before the midterms.
The 18-member debt commission has a huge task: It must suggest ways to start closing the gap between what Washington spends and what it collects in taxes. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have agreed to put the panel's recommendations up for votes before new lawmakers take office in early 2011.
So Boehner says it only makes sense that the commission should reveal its proposed fiscal solutions earlier "in order for the electorate to engage elected officials and candidates ... prior to the election." He also proposed that all commission meetings be held in public.
One problem with giving the panel a tighter leash: Time is already short. Only half of the panel members have been selected so far. Boehner, who gets to select three members, said on Wednesday that he isn't ready yet to make his picks.
Washington (CNN) - There's a lot of talk in nation's capital about failure. The failure of Congress to pass health care reform. The failure of the Senate to extend unemployment benefits. The failure of the House to pass bills the Senate supermajority will find palatable.
You get the idea.
Then there's the kind of failure that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer addressed Monday at a Brookings Institution speech on "fiscal responsibility."
Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat serving his 15th term, was warning about failure of a different magnitude entirely: The decline of America's economic dominance because of the growing weight of its debt.
"This, then, is our turning point and our choice: the point at which we join the debt-ridden powers who saw the story of their greatness end in fiscal ruin, or the point at which we as a nation refuse that ending and write a new chapter," Hoyer said.
Washington (CNN) – “End the Fed. End the Fed. End the Fed.”
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, hadn’t even started speaking Friday evening before a fired-up crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference exalted the former presidential candidate by chanting the title of his book blasting the Federal Reserve.
“It sounds to me like the revolution is alive and well,” Paul shouted back.
Though he was inside the Beltway, the libertarian Paul was among friendlies. The 11-term Congressman, who made a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, has been railing against the actions of the central bank for years, even calling for a return to the gold standard.
After the financial crisis and economic meltdown of the past two years, Paul believes the world is catching up to him.
“Debt is the monster,” Paul said, condemning federal borrowing to support government spending. “Debt is what will eat us up, and that’s why our economy is on the brink.”
His book, which was published last year, has sold about 100,000 copies. The CPAC faithful on Friday night greeted Paul with a second chorus of “end the Fed” during the speech.
Paul didn’t just stick to commentary on the money supply. His central theme of limited government also touched on foreign policy and national politics.
More than once he reminded the group that George W. Bush – before he launched American involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, two wars that continue – won election in 2000 after campaigning for a scaled-back view of U.S. involvement in other nation’s affairs.
“The bottom line for all conservatives … will be how are we going to pay for it,” Paul said.
Washington (CNN) - Two conservative candidates for statewide office in California came to the nation's capital on Friday to take aim at their state, which they said is suffocating in taxes and regulation, and to hold themselves out as its saviors.
“We are the laboratory of every horrific government lab experiment in America,” Chuck DeVore thundered before a stirred-up audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day event showcasing hard-right ideas and players.
DeVore, a member of the California Assembly, is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
He conjured Ronald Reagan, who he said was an example of the good that California has produced. DeVore also cited what he termed as the bad – Democratic lawmakers Barbara Boxer, who he wants to unseat, and Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker.
(CNN) - A new push group rallying around the cause of "Constitutional Conservatism" unveiled a political manifesto on Wednesday to advocate for limited government and free enterprise.
The "Mount Vernon Statement" was launched by 18 establishment conservatives such as former Attorney General Ed Meese, movement elder Richard Viguerie and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist.
The group also includes leaders of the Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council and American Conservative Union, among others. It plans a press event on Wednesday afternoon in Alexandria, Va.
The release of the Mount Vernon statement, which is modeled on a conservative call-to-arms issued in 1960, comes ahead of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting – a three-day gathering set to begin on Thursday.