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Jobless Hill Democrats twisting slowly, slowly . . .

By Al Kamen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 6:40 PM

Some of the 2,000 or so Democratic staffers on Capitol Hill who are losing their jobs in the coming weeks as a result of November's "Great Shellacking" are angry at President Obama's White House for not helping them find new jobs.

Worse, they remember that in 2006, when the Republicans lost the Hill and GOP aides were in the same fix, the George W. Bush White House tried hard to place them in administration positions.

One Republican, a displaced House aide who found a fine administration job in 2006, recalled that a week or two after the election, "we got sent a link to submit resumes to White House office of presidential personnel."

And Liza Wright, the head of that office at the time, said Thursday that "we set up a series of job fairs at the Republican National Committee for all staffers" looking for work and even had some agency officials there to talk with them about possibilities.

But that's not happening this time. Two senior Democratic House aides - neither of whom is in danger of pounding the pavement - said they have been calling the White House trying to find jobs for their less fortunate junior colleagues but are not having much luck.

"They have not called us," one of them said. And both Democrats ruefully concluded that "Republicans have always been better at taking care of their people."

In all fairness, the Bush administration, six years into its tenure, was "starved for people," the former GOP House aide said, because many of the first group of workers - and even many of the second-round hires - had moved on. Still, there must be - or might soon be - some political job openings amongst the several thousand such jobs in the government.

Asked about any efforts to help those soon to be on the bread lines, an Obama spokesman e-mailed: "The White House receives resumes from people across the country who are interested in working in the Obama administration.

"Yes, it is fair to say that there has been increased interest since the mid-terms," he added, "and we're pleased about that because we are always looking for the best and brightest to serve in this Administration."

Congressional Democrats have long been unhappy with the Obama White House, feeling it cares little about their well-being. Now, as a Bill Clinton-style triangulation era begins, they're furious about Obama's tax deal with the R's to continue tax cuts for the hideously wealthy.

They will doubtless be heartened by White House's attitude toward the Hill jobless.

Reminder!

Don't forget to enter the Loop Who Gets It First Contest, to guess which federal agency or individual will get the honor of receiving the first subpoena from incoming House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.

To win, simply predict which agency or person will get the first Issa subpoena and over what issue. As a tiebreaker, guess the date he will issue it.

Send your entry to firstsubpoena@washpost.com. As always, Hill and administration officials may submit entries on background. Those coveted In the Loop T-shirts will be awarded to the first 10 entrants with the correct answer. Please include a phone number. Deadline for entries is next Wednesday, so don't delay.

Something to stew about

The usual criticism of this country's foreign aid program is that lots of money is being spent but there are precious few development success stories - much less any love for Washington from recipients of our largess.

Turns out there's criticism even when the Agency for International Development is successful. Take, for example, AID's five-year, $25.8 million program to help Serbia's agriculture sector. AID's Web site hails the effort, noting that "230 agribusiness firms" have been helped and they've signed contracts to sell "$55 million of products."

But the program also caught the attention of the U.S. "dried plum" folks - we're talking prunes here - especially the agency's support for what the AID Web site called "the first Serbian-Russian conference dedicated to prune production and exporting."

Seems this country's biggest Russian buyers were invited to attend the conference where the Serbian prune producers boasted they would soon be the largest prune producers in the world. You could hear the alarm bells going off at Sunsweet headquarters in Yuba City, Calif.

Russia and the European Union, what with their aging populations and all, are a growing market for U.S. prune producers, we're told, so this is serious business.

Asked about this, AID said that only $10,000 had been provided to Serbian prune producers: $5,000 in 2008 to advise a company on marketing in Russia and Europe, and another $5,000 last year for that conference. But there's been no assistance to the Serbian prune producers this year.

"Only four percent of Serbian plums are processed into prunes," AID says, which is about 6,000 tons of prunes a year. In contrast, the United States produces about 150,000 tons a year.

The domestic prune producers aren't mollified, noting what one executive called the irony of the Agriculture Department's "pushing for expansion of U.S. exports in specialty crops like prunes" while AID helps potential foreign competition.

And remember, Henry Ford started small.

Let them lead the way

And now, from the Web site of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations:

21 or Younger? Now is your Chance to Be Heard

Young people have the greatest stake in a peaceful, more secure future. The United States Mission is now accepting video and written responses to the following question: what is the most vital challenge to international peace and security facing your generation? On December 21, the United Nations Security Council will hear and discuss selected submissions at an interactive event.

Maybe improving iPhone battery life? Does this mean Darfur has been resolved?

Clarification

Wednesday's column referred to the suspect currently held in a military brig in Virginia as "the actual leaker" of the WikiLeaks cables.

Got the "A" right, but it should have said "alleged" leaker. No, we were not trying to channel the immortal observation of former attorney general Edwin Meese III, who said in 1985: "But the thing is, you don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect."

Our apologies to the alleged leaker.

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