>Coffee and the Papers: Ensign Emails and other matters

>*** New details are emerging about Senator John Ensign’s (R-NV) attempts to find clients for former aide Doug Hampton’s lobbying efforts [TPM] “The messages are the first written records from Mr. Ensign documenting his efforts to find clients for Mr. Hampton, a top aide and close friend, after the senator had an affair with his wife, Cynthia Hampton. They appear to undercut the senator’s assertion that he did not know the work might involve Congressional lobbying, which could violate a federal ban on such activities by staff members for a year after leaving government.” [NYT] See also Las Vegas Sun.

*** The Republican strategy for defeating health care reform appears to have devolved into bombast about Democratic congressional incumbents losing seats because of supporting reform; [TPL] Senate Republicans threatening to filibuster on points of order during reconciliation votes; [TPL] and, carrying tales about Senatorial duplicity on health care reform votes. [TWM] There’s an old saw in politics: When you’ve lost the policy argument, attack the process.

*** The Senate voted to extend unemployment benefits and tax cuts for middle class Americans included in H.R. 4213 yesterday on a 62-38 vote. Senator John Ensign (R-NV) voted against the bill. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) voted in favor. And who’s supporting Medicare? “The bill also extends the current rate of Medicare payments to doctors, who are scheduled to see a 21 percent rate cut, and extends several tax breaks, including ones for homeowners who don’t itemize deductions, for states with sales taxes but no income tax and for companies’ research-and-development costs.” [The Hill]

*** Representative Dean Heller (R-NV2) on public lands: “It is no secret that the federal government has a large presence in our state,” … “At any time, any president can close access to our own backyard for any reason.” [SJMN] The Congressman opposes any additions to the list of national monuments. Opponents are fearful of the impact on recreation, commercial development, and mining. Local detractors might want to take a look at the Hardner & Gullison LLC report on the economic benefits of the national park service. The National Park System generates more than $4.00 for every tax dollar invested by the federal government, supports $13.3 billion in local private sector economic activity, and approximately 267,000 private sector jobs. Economic growth in areas near parks increases an average of 1% per year. [NPCA]

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