Speaker Boehner: Just a Regular Guy Who Only Backs Millionaires and Billionaires

This morning at the Newseum House Speaker John Boehner was asked by Politico’s Mike Allen if he could produce any small business owner whose lives would face an impact if a millionaire surtax became law.  Allen cited NPR’s Tamara Keith who couldn’t find anyone in America who fit the bill.

Among others, former Playbook colleague and Washington Post star journalist Bob Woodward sat observant and stone faced in the front row with no visible notepad in his hand.

Allen asked Boehner “An objection on your side to the proposal on the millionaire surtax has been that it would hurt small businesses.  NPR went out and they went to the House Republican Leadership, to the Senate Republican Leadership, they went to business groups that were lobbying.  They couldn’t find a small businessman hurt by the surtax.  Have you found one?”

Boehner, in his only real stumble during the 45 minute conversation, first went in to how he had been a small businessman but didn’t say it would have hurt him.  Then Boehner said he “could rattle off  half a dozen names right here and now” —small business owners that he knew but whose tax returns he didn’t have access to.

Allen, to his great credit, pushed.  “Name just a couple,” he said.  But Boehner didn’t or couldn’t name a single person in the country, let alone in Ohio, or his district who might have suffered from a millionaire or billionaire surtax increase.  He just rambled some more about small business owners and they moved on.

The Speaker of the House, whose ornate offices in the U.S. Capitol have been occupied by just 52 others before Boehner in the history of the United States also hit a main talking point twice during the free-wheeling conversation that veered from tough questions to softballs throughout.  “I’m just a regular guy with a regular job,” he said.

Allen also asked Speaker Boehner about the deficit talks he had with the President and asked if he bore any responsibility for the failure of the talks.  Boehner said he told the President “I’ll put revenues on the table only if you’re willing to make serious changes to your entitlement programs and he didn’t.”

When Allen pushed again, Boehner went back to the regular guy shtick and Boehner also said that “Our debt hangs over the economy and hangs over the American people like a wet blanket.”  Allen wouldn’t have had much time, even if he wanted to, to push regular guy John Boehner further under his wet blanky, even though he was a voting member of the body that created massive deficits under President Bush, and now refuses to take any responsibility for them.  Boehner’s claims have also been refuted by the President and the media, who widely reported that “President Obama said he had put $650 billion in reductions over 10 years on the table.”

Boehner also gave advice to the young politicos in the room at the behest of Allen.  He recommended hard work and not to burn any bridges in your career.  Some might say that although Boehner said he’s grown closer to the President, he’s burning bridges by telling blatant lies about their negotiations.

After the Playbook breakfast Mike Allen and Bob Woodward hopped in a taxi outside the Newseum on Pennsylvania Ave. headed in the direction on the Capitol.  They may have had a secret source in a garage near the Capitol who could tell them where to find Boehner meeting with his fellow regular guys and small businessmen who couldn’t tolerate a millionaire’s or billionaire’s surtax.

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The Bracelet

One woman’s story of a long struggle with diabetes leads to a frightening emergency room visit and then vibrant success all while doing battle with the great recession.

by Elizabeth Kalmus

“Elizabeth Kalmus. Type I Diabetic.”

This is what the silver bracelet I wear identifies me as. Such a simple label, and yet it doesn’t begin to describe the ways living as a diabetic has affected every aspect of my life. Continue reading

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Mix Concert Review–The David Wax Museum 9.14 at the 9:30

Suz Slezak with her donkey jawbone and David Wax

The David Wax Museum  brought the 9:30 Club to their knees with joy in Washington on Wednesday, September 15, as Mr. Wax turned 30 at midnight.  Wax and his wandering band of troubadours got off from the stage and walked through the quieted audience without microphones several times throughout their fun, heart-warming show.  The four piece group all sang and did duty on multiple instruments that included a clarinet, acoustic and electric guitars, a saxophone, fiddle, drums, and an actual donkey jawbone.  On their website the band says they “fuse traditional Mexican folk with country, folk and rock,” and though I don’t know if I’d have guessed that, I’ll take a heaping sample of whatever it is they’re serving up any time.  While not pop music, fans who like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The New Pornographers and their iterations of AC Newman and Neko Case, and the Decemberists will feel right at home.  In 2010 they won an award for best Americana band in Boston.

It’s the third time the group has played DC since February and last night Wax mentioned that they’d played in twenty different living rooms in the DC area prior to playing a venue that sold tickets.  Bob Boilen of NPR Music once said that he was shocked how quickly Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros moved from the tiny venue DC 9 to the big stage at the Black Cat within about four months.  The David Wax Museum has gone from people’s living rooms to the 9:30, skipping the well-traveled path of many popular bands through the Black Cat, as Edward Sharpe did, in less than a year.

David Wax and Suz Slezak form the core of the group with Wax on guitar and Jarana, a Mexican instrument that looks like a ukelele.  Slezak plays the fiddle and the aforementioned jawbone.  Their voices, both together and alone, sound remarkable, as if nothing could shake them out of tune.  Slezak and Wax go together so well that when they sang alone for solo songs it never sounds quite as fantastic as when they’re doing their tunes together.

The bands get the audience down on the beery floor of the 9:30

In all their DC shows with sound systems, Wax, Slezak, and ensemble have left their microphones on stage and walked around the venues including Sixth and I, the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage, and now the 9:30 Club, where they walked around the upstairs and Suz stood on top of the bar.  As a special treat, both of the excellent opening bands, The Second String Band and Pearl and the Beard playing instruments and singing, also wandered the 9:30 with the David Wax Museum and quite possibly for the first time ever at the venue, the band convinced almost all of the first floor audience to sit on the beer-spilled glory of the 9:30 club’s floor while they played in the middle.  It was like being wrapped in a warm embrace of musician goodness when everyone sat quietly, adoring all three bands.  A guy behind us in the upstairs section said he felt as if he were witnessing a cult, and he had a point as we witnessed so many plop down on the that floor, covered in years worth of concert fluids.

Though the band’s sound is their own unique one, the David Wax Museum has more than a passing resemblance to another band who started out playing house parties and went on to the big time.  Back in 1994  the Dave Matthews Band opened up in the early day time to some nearly empty venues for Blues Traveler’s HORDE Tour before their album Under the Table and Dreaming propelled them to massive stardom.  Suz Slezak hails from the Charlottesville area, the home of the Dave Matthews Band.  Each time the band have played a venue in DC and at the Newport Folk Festival in 2011, where they went from the small stage last year to the main stage, their lineups have included Slezak’s fiddle, a great sax player and the front man on acoustic guitar, many of the same unique instruments the Dave Matthews Band employs for their popular sound.  And this year the David Wax Museum is playing the Dave Matthew’s Band‘s own festival, the Caravan, on its opening night in New York on the small stage.  How long could it be before The David Wax Museum is playing sold out stadiums and hosting its own festival?  Believe the hype.  It won’t be long at all.

The songs at the 9:30 ran the concert gamut from ballads to foot stomping, clapping, shaking numbers that had most of the audience moving.  A few are made for radio gems like the quick, fun “Yes, Maria, Yes,” “Born With a  Broken Heart,” and “The Persimmon Tree.”  The slower, gorgeous “The Least I Can Do” has a great line as the singer, speaking to someone he may regret he left behind sings “I don’t think of you all that much / Maybe once or twice each afternoon.”  I am listening to the David Wax Museum about once or twice each afternoon right now and you might be too pretty soon.  Don’t leave this band behind in your listening, or you may regret it when your friends tell you about them later.

Here’s their upcoming schedule in case you want to give them a try and join the cult of Wax.

And here’s NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert, where we first heard of Wax in 2010.

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A Deficit Pitch Without Social Security–The Only Chance of Winning

This past Friday night in Washington, a New York Mets pitcher threw the type of pitch President Obama must use in his march to stop any new proposals to cut Social Security if he plans to make it through the game of the deficit talks and his reelection.  In the recent past the President and his teams have pitched a slew of failed curveballs that would cut our Social Security.  The number 43 Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey helped beat the Nationals 7-3 with his slow velocity, highly unpredictable knuckleball.  The 44th President and his multitude of committees have taken an approach to cutting the deficit that replicates a tied baseball game, with no end in sight.  Could knuckle balls from a President battling to win the game, save the economy, and win reelection save the tied ball game called the deficit debate?  Let’s take a look at the tape.

R.A. Dickey has been pitching great this season, and has the best earned run average of the starters on the Mets but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record of 7-11, which reflects injuries on the Mets but also the poorest run support from hitters out of all the Mets starting pitchers.  It’s unclear to Mets fans why Dickey hasn’t gotten the run support he so deserves, just as it’s unclear to the general public why we haven’t gotten the support Social Security deserves from the administration.

If the President throws a Social Security curveball that cuts our benefits to the GOP team trying to beat him, he ought to get ready not to receive any run support, not just from Democrats and the left, but also from the independents and moderate Republicans his advisers are so intent on courting again.  By attempting a pitch that doesn’t appeal to his base, independent voters, and moderate Republicans, he may lose the game, the season, and ultimately his Presidency.

But President Obama can still throw an amazing Dickey-like pitch to the GOP’s deficit, defeat the nonsense, not cut Social Security benefits, and win reelection.  If Obama fights for Social Security, America’s fans will cheer for him and we’ll give him all the run support he needs to win in 2012.

Social Security has remained one of America’s most successful programs for 76 years.  Before it existed and since it’s existed, Wall Street and right-wing conservatives have been telling us how much it stinks, hoping we might one day believe such lies through repetition.  Even popular Republican President Dwight Eisenhower recognized how cutting it would be plain “stupid.”  But that’s exactly what each of the deficit groups have attempted to do, each throwing their own curveball that would lead to Social Security cuts.

The President started his deficit pitching rotation with the grizzled, often irrelevant old-timers Bowles and Simpson, who proposed to cut Social Security with the indifference of players who knew their time had passed.  He then hoped the journeymen Gang of 6 could take on the deficit, but the bipartisan group of men never seemed to materialize on the playing field.  Obama’s team, “America,” never got far in the batting order without loading the bases against the “GOP Deficit” team, which lead up to another call to the bullpen.  An enthusiastic reliever, Vice President Biden came charging on to the field to lead his bipartisan “gang of dudes” with every intention to save the game, and no ability to corral the Republicans who calmly watched every one of his pitches thrown for balls float by and hit every strike for an intentional foul ball, upping the pitch count until Biden’s arm had vanished.

Then came the President himself, rolling up his sleeves and bringing back the long vanished player-coach, determined to get the save for America, but giving the GOP a few hits and intentional walks in the process so he could get the job done.  He’s out on the field and he appears determined to win for America, at any cost to his future as a pitcher and as our President, but the fans are hopeful he’ll win for his future and ours.

The President even told us about his curveball to the GOP, who seem determined to fight against America, 1 minute in to this video, when he acknowledges that he’d offered the Republican Speaker a deal to cut Social Security, which suggests he may throw the same bad curve again if the Supercommittee wants to take it up.

In the next couple of weeks President Obama may let loose with another Social Security curveballl, telling us we need a COLA cut for Social Security.  But America isn’t certain whether player-coach Obama would put the important program on the chopping block again for the Supercommittee and the GOP Deficit.  This pitch to the GOP Deficit leads to one place—a lost game for the President, and a lost future for Democrats.  But a well-placed knuckleball that leaves Social Security out of the ball game and out of the deficit talks would help America and Obama win.  If the President throws a slow, hanging knuckleball that’s tough for Republicans to hit but that his own team can cheer for, he’ll win the hearts of Americans including Democrats, independents and reasonable Republicans, whether the Washington Republicans try to screw over America again or not with attempted cuts to Social Security.

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5k, Breweries, Overnights, Campfires, and Kayaking

After two Washington Post articles, one by Lori Aratani, the other by Maggie Fazeli Fard mentioning Capital Trail Mix’s April Fools Day post saying that the cherry blossoms would be sold to pay down the national debt, unlike the government, the Capital Trail Mix took a brief hiatus.  Below are some new ideas for stuff to do in the area including a 5k in Arlington this weekend that gets you a free technical shirt and helps an amazing place, the Virginia Hospital Center diabetes education program, a bunch of local breweries if you can’t afford the Savour event, and a great Maryland State Park on the Chesapeake Bay we recently stayed at in a cabin just feet from the bay.               Continue reading

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Washington’s Last Ever Cherry Blossoms This Year and Other Spring Doings

It’s Spring!  Cherry blossoms and hordes of tourists invade the DC area this week and next for what experts have said is the last time we’ll ever have cherry blossoms.  So get out and catch them before they’re gone.  Forever.  More details after the jump on how this is expected to be the last National Cherry Blossom Festival of all time.  Hint:  The federal deficit.  We recently headed out to the MarylandPennsylvania border and crossed about 5 miles in to PA without any hassle on the Appalachian Trail.  Below a great hike, some Cherry Blossom to do’s and other outdoor activities to suit your spring fancy.

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Winter Activities Inside and Out

I hope you enjoyed the great weather as much as we did this past weekend.  Will it get cold again before it stays warm?  Not according to the groundhog but you and I just have to wait and see.  In the mean time, it’s been amazing to go hiking and see barely any ice to slip on while still in winter.  Below for your late winter enjoyment include an Appalachian Trail Hike in Northern Virginia, some upcoming outdoor events, and a few indoor activities for the remaining winter weeks and spring rain:

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Social Security Caucus Has True Grit—Who Else Will Join?

This is another in a series of posts for Ourfuture.org.

The Social Security Caucus, who could also be known as the “True Grit” Caucus began meeting yesterday in the U.S. Senate as a new sense of urgency grew on the same day as the Tea Party Caucus met. Continue reading

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Cure for the Winter Blues: Getting Outside and Loving It

We're getting outside s'more this year.

DC hasn’t been bombarded with Snowmageddon again and you’ve decided you don’t really want to be on the Wii, only watching football for the whole weekend, you’ve reached your self-mandated quota of Facebook checking or updates, or you’ve made the classic New Year’s resolution to do more exercise and the gyms are still packed for at least the next several weeks with all the other resolution-makers.  Well bundle up friend, and join all the folks who love the outside all year round.  Here are a several ideas and things going on in the area and a few things we’ve done recently including skiing or snowboarding, hiking, volunteer activities and the widely mentioned free days in our amazing National Parks this year including this weekend. Continue reading

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Bringing You DC Area Hikes, Running Races and Other Outdoor Happenings In the New Year

We're the Newest member of the Washington Post's Local Blog Network

As the season for mass family obligations comes to a wrap, we have been named the latest site to the Washington Post’s Local Blog Directory.  Below find our final hike through Maryland on the AT as we complete the whopping 41 miles of trail through the state, upcoming running race opportunities in the DC area, a booming outdoor winter festival and winter cabins available to rent from the state of Maryland.

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