Mus­tache story bald-faced fal­lacy; it al­ways pays to check your math

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BYMATTHEW CELLA

When it comes to quirky po­lit­i­cal sto­ries, some­times the best ones are right un­der our noses.

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Mary­land Re­pub­li­can, got into a mi­nor con­tro­versy last week when er­ro­neous re­ports came out that he was plan­ning to pro­pose a bill to make mus­tache groom­ing tax-de­ductible.

The pro­posal was ini­tially put for­ward by the Amer­i­can Mus­tache In­sti­tute, which an­nounced in a news re­lease that Mr. Bartlett was ready to take up the cause. The Stim­u­lus to Al­low Crit­i­cal Hair Ex­penses bill, or the STACHE Act, would al­low mus­ta­chioed tax­pay­ers to claim up to a $250 re­fund for groom­ing ex­penses.

The only prob­lem was that it wasn’t true.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Mr. Bartlett, who has a mus­tache, said the re­lease came as the re­sult of a mixup, af­ter the 85-year-old con­gress­man’s press sec­re­tary re­ferred a let­ter from the mus­tache in­sti­tute to the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee on which Mr. Bartlett serves.

“For the record: Roscoe is prostache, but he does not be­lieve Amer­i­cans should pay for peo­ple’s per­sonal groom­ing de­ci­sions,” said Mr. Bartlett’s chief of staff, Deb­o­rah Bur­rell.

Sec­ond-guess­ing

D.C. Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Nat­war M. Gandhi re­leased a bit of news last week: Re­cent es­ti­mates show an “up­swing” in pro­jected rev­enue for fis­cal years 2012 and 2013.

In turn, Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray shot back with this zinger: Ya’ bet­ter check your math.

“I was dis­ap­pointed that the $36 mil­lion in­crease you now project for FY2013 is so mod­est over your last es­ti­mate in De­cem­ber. . . . I am con­cerned that your rev­enue pro­jec­tions may be un­re­al­is­ti­cally low,” the mayor said via let­ter on Thurs­day.

Mr. Gray noted there is still a fund­ing gap of $115 mil­lion that could prompt spend­ing cuts and ad­di­tional sources of rev­enue to bal­ance the bud­get — not the fun­ni­est thing in the world.

He gave the CFO a few point­ers, too, not­ing his es­ti­mate might not ac­count for the city’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, de­clin­ing un­em­ploy­ment rate and ex­pand­ing econ­omy.

A spokesman for the CFO said they are re­view­ing the mayor’s view­point, which is un­prece­dented since the con­trol board re­lin­quished con­trol of the city’s fi­nances in 2001.

The real prob­lem, of course, is re­cent his­tory. The mayor fur­loughed em­ploy­ees in 2011 and the D.C. Coun­cil in­tro­duced new taxes on city res­i­dents, only to find out the city had $240 mil­lion in its piggy bank. Money isn’t ev­ery­thing, but it’s nice to know how much ya’ got.

Se­na­tor Hank

Tim Kaine, Ge­orge Allen and a host of other can­di­dates seek­ing to re­place re­tir­ing Sen. Jim Webb have some fe­line com­pany: Hank the cat, of Springfield, of­fi­cially en­tered the race last week.

A “proud In­de­pen­dent,” Hank is de­voted to en­sur­ing small-busi­ness growth and fur­ther­ing his fam­ily-cen­tered poli­cies, ac­cord­ing to his web­site.

But his can­di­dacy had barely be­gun be­fore the su­per PAC at­tack ma­chine lurched into gear.

“Hank has never re­leased his birth certificate, his tax re­turns,” a fore­bod­ing voice says in a re­cent on­line ad. “And has never re­sponded to al­le­ga­tions that he used cat­nip. He says he’s gone to the vet, but there is no record of him serv­ing in any mil­i­tary branch.”

“Would Hank force fe­males to un­dergo an ul­tra­sound be­fore be­ing spayed?” it con­tin­ues, skew­er­ing high­pro­file leg­is­la­tion passed by the Virginia Gen­eral Assem­bly that would re­quire women to un­dergo an ul­tra­sound be­fore hav­ing an abor­tion.

The ad was paid for by the “Ca­nines for a fe­line free to­mor­row” su­per PAC. “And not au­tho­rized by any can­di­date or can­di­date’s dog.”

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