The Note: Membership Has Its Privileges, Part III

Robert Novak throws cold water all over the recommendations made to the President by his tax reform panel this week. Novak declares the recommendations in their current form as dead on arrival in Congress should they get there and urges the President to scrap these plans and start from scratch. LINK

Peggy Noonan Notes Dean Broder's most recent column with respect and graciousness, while simultaneously trashing him in the most genteel of manners, ripping him a new one the way it is done in places near Park Avenue and 75th Street. LINK

A lukewarm reaction from both sides of the aisle greeted the Bush flu plan on Wednesday, reports the New York Times. LINK

The insistence on keeping ANWR drilling in the budget legislation may prevent passage of the entire bill. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers and Brody Mullins report that by courting "restive conservatives" with budget cuts, House Republican leaders are risking a "backlash" from moderates that could endanger the extension of President Bush's lower 15% rate for dividends and capital gains.

"The House Budget Committee takes up the $53.9 billion five-year deficit-reduction package today amid growing discomfort with provisions opening up the Arctic for oil drilling and requiring scaled-back funding for child care, Medicaid and nutrition benefits for the working poor."

The indispensable Jonathan Weisman reports for the Washington Post's front page that House Republicans are pushing to cut "tens of thousands" of legal immigrants off food stamps, "partially reversing President Bush's efforts to win Latino voters by restoring similar cuts made in the 1990s." LINK

Weisman Notes: "Such issues have created deep divisions between the conservatives pushing the cuts and Republican moderates, who fear the measure is going too far."

Republicans in the House are split over proposed spending cuts. Some feel it is unlikely to pass the Senate causing them to take a tough vote for naught, reports the Washington Times' Amy Fagan. LINK

The politics of national security:

Per the Washington Post's Dana Priest and Josh White, House Democrats are planning to introduce a motion as early as today to endorse language in the defense spending package written by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), which would bar cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody, including those in CIA hands. The motion would instruct House conferees to accept McCain's precise measure. LINK


On Capitol Hill yesterday, two former top officials at the Interior Department openly clashed over whether J. Stephen Griles, the former deputy secretary, had tried to intervene with Secretary Gale Norton on behalf of one of Jack Abramoff's tribal clients.

McCain called the Abramoff saga "a complex and tangled web . . . a story alarming in its depth and breadth of potential wrongdoing. It is breathtaking in its reach." LINK

Jack Abramoff offered a job to J. Steven Griles, a top official at the Interior Department, Griles testified yesterday, but Griles insists he did not intervene on behalf of Abramoff or his clients -- a claim "met with skepticism" by Senators, reports the New York Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times brings you a play-by-play of yesterday's Abramoff-induced Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing. LINK

John Solomon and Sharon Theimer of the Associated Press exclusively got a hold of some emails showing DeLay staffers attempting to help Abramoff gain access to Norton. LINK

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