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Republicans' Hate-Love Relationship With the Stimulus Package

By Al Kamen
Monday, February 23, 2009

President Obama's stimulus legislation not only provides seemingly limitless money to desperate state governments, but it now seems destined to provide endless opportunities for political wrangling from Washington to Baton Rogue.

The committee responsible for electing House Democrats is compiling a list of Republican House members -- all of whom voted against the stimulus bill -- praising the legislation in their home districts. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a list of statements from Republican politicians hailing the local economic benefits of a bill they railed against in Congress.

The DCCC oppo research includes some choice quotes, including this one from Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) on Twitter: "If you know of someone thinking of buying [a] first home, now may be the time. Stimulus incentive is very generous! Up to 8k! Check it out."

Some Republican governors, however, took a hard stand against the stimulus bill last week, with some saying they may try to refuse some of the federal funds. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said his state would "review the strings attached to the funds coming to Louisiana."

And South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) told us he will use "a fine-toothed comb" to determine which provisions make sense for his state. To which Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) quipped in response that the feds can just send South Carolina's money over to Tennessee.

Family Ties

The $2.5 billion merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation to create an entertainment behemoth has drawn the interest of Justice Department investigators and is poised to become an early test of the young Obama administration's antitrust position.

The deal between the country's biggest ticket seller and its largest live-event promoter, announced last week, is one that Loop Fans should keep an eye on. It seems there are some brotherly ties between Live Nation and the White House. Sitting on the concert promoter's board of directors is none other than Hollywood mega-agent Ari Emanuel, a.k.a. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's little brother.

No Girlie Food

Calling all deep-pocketed donors: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), The Terminator himself, requests your presence for lunch today. Join him at Bobby Van's Steakhouse, just a block or so from K Street.

With the Golden State in dire straits -- California's $41 billion budget deficit dwarfs the entire annual budgets of Maryland and Virginia -- Schwarzenegger is looking to soak up some cash in Washington.

For a mere $25,000, you and a guest can join Schwarzenegger at the head table and take photographs with the governor. For $10,000, you'll get "preferred seating" and photos. For bargain hunters, a single luncheon ticket and photo opportunity is only $2,500. The funds go toward Schwarzenegger's California Dream Team, his political action committee that supports state ballot initiatives.

Of Work and Play

In case you missed it on Saturday's Free for All page, David Hobbs, secretary general of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, writes that our recent column about a wonderful congressional trip to Europe "does serious injustice" to NATO folks and to the 13-member delegation, led by Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.). Only 10 spouses went along.

Hobbs chides us for thinking these are "taxpayer-funded vacations" when in fact "they are serious and substantive events" jampacked with meetings between the lawmakers and top NATO officials so they can mingle and discuss military issues.

Having been to some endless NATO meetings, we sympathize completely with what the delegation confronted in those two grueling days in Brussels. Now, let's turn to the rest of the nine-day jaunt, the stops in Paris, Vienna and the Bavarian Alps, hopping around on a military jet.

To the Private Sector

The Treasury Department's former assistant secretary for international affairs, Clay Lowery, a special assistant to then-Undersecretary Timothy F. Geithner in the late 1990s, has landed at the Glover Park Group, a communications and strategy group. Lowery, who logged 15 years at Treasury and at the National Security Council, will handle clients trying to figure out new domestic and international financial systems reforms.

Leibowitz to Lead FTC?

Buzz is that Jonathan Leibowitz, former chief counsel to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee and more recently member of the Federal Trade Commission, is the leading contender for the FTC chairmanship.

Globally Speaking

On the foreign policy front, Alexander "Sandy" Vershbow, a highly regarded career diplomat who has been ambassador to NATO, Russia and most recently South Korea, is said to be moving to the Pentagon to work for Michele A. Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy (the old Douglas Feith job). At the State Department, Daniel Poneman, a former top National Security Council aide, is expected to take over the nonproliferation portfolio for the undersecretary-in-waiting for nonproliferation, Robert Einhorn, while Rose Gottemoeller, former director of the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow Center, is said to be picking up the other assistant secretaryship for verification and arms control.

With Philip Rucker

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