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Chat With The Eye!

By Ed O'Keefe

The Eye took questions earlier today during the daily Post Politics Hour. Highlights appear below:

St. Paul, Minn.: Hi Ed -- Thanks for taking questions today. Here we are again, another presidential vacation, though this time with someone new in office. I've always been curious -- how much vacationing do presidents really do? For instance, today Pres. Obama had to take time out to announce his renomination of Bernanke. Are there set times for relaxation, followed by set times for work, or do the two blend together?

Ed O'Keefe: Though the president can slip away to Martha's Vineyard or his Ranch (Bush II, LBJ), or his beach home (Bush I) or his family's Florida or Massachusetts compounds (JFK), it's always assumed that he's got at least half an Eye on his day job.

The motivation behind today's announcement -- the vacation from the vacation -- is that the Office of Management and Budget announced this morning that the $787 billion economic stimulus package is likely to cost "tens of billions of dollars" more than expected, helping to drive projections for next year's budget deficit to $1.5 trillion.

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Fairfax, Va.: To extend the Bush tax cuts that will expire in the next year or two, would the Senate need 60 votes or could it do it with just 51 as was needed when they were originally passed in 2001 since they used the reconciliation process.

Ed O'Keefe: From The Post's Congressional reporter -- and unrivaled Congressional historian/expert -- Paul Kane:

The tax cuts, by law, are sun-setting.

They are expiring. It takes an affirmative action by the Congress, and a presidential signature, to extend those tax cuts. Meaning, an actual piece of legislation to pass extending, so any member of the Senate could filibuster such action, meaning it would take 60 affirmative votes to EXTEND the tax cuts.

Note: Obama and Congress expect to deal with this next year, when the cuts are set to expire; the expectation is an extension of all the tax cuts except for the richest folks.

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Princeton, NJ: I am a mathematician, and I do not understand why people put so much faith in economic projections. While the projections of the CBO and the SSA are mathematically sound, since they are projections, not predictions, they are based on assumptions that are just wild guesses. Because of this, they have been pretty consistently wrong in the past. In 1998, the CBO projected that we would have at least ten years of surpluses.

I think we would do better if we consulted a witch doctor with a goat and a sharp knife.

Ed O'Keefe: Now THAT is a great idea!

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Do We Have to Be So Stupid?: I was listening to NPR last night, and they were treating the "VA Death Book" accusation seriously. The people who throw this stuff up aren't serious about it, why do the journalists who cover it have to take them seriously?

Ed O'Keefe: (My colleague Steve Vogel wrote about this for today's print editions and I made mention of it in my blog's Eye Opener item today.)

It's an interesting issue that comes about amid all the health care reform conversations about end-of-life planning. It's also another example of how the Obama administration is forced to address or reconcile with a Bush-era policy decision. In this case, the book won an endorsement from a group back in 2007, and a revision began during the Bush years. Now the Obama folks have to hurry up and finish it.

Remember -- end-of-life planning is common, not just for veterans but for everyday folks.

Read the full Post Politics Hour chat here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 25, 2009; 5:30 PM ET
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Next: Eye Opener: Aug. 26, 2009

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