Happy Thursday to you, too:
• “He knows exactly what he’s doing.” — former Defense Secretary Robert Gates,saying he’s amused by headlines
that suggest that Vladimir Putin is out of touch with reality.
Gates said Putin is seeking to “re-establish Russian influence and a measure of control over the former states of the Soviet Union.” The story that Putin is somehow delusional came from comments that German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly made in a phone call to President Obama on Sunday. Gates said Putin is not interested in re-creating the former Soviet Union.
• “I’m fully occupied and very happy with what I’m doing. I’m up for re-election. I’m a candidate for governor of Kansas.” — Gov. Sam Brownback’s responsewhen asked by Yahoo News
if he was open to the possibility of running for president again.
Brownback won’t answer the question directly, which suggests the idea of running again is still a possibility. He’s wise not to address it as he’s embroiled in a tough re-election campaign. In fact, Brownback has refrained from making high-profile trips to early presidential primary states, and he’s not in the lineup for this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Those trips might have distracted from his primary task, which is re-election.
• “This is about basic fairness.” — Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Topeka Republican, on House passage of a bill that would eliminate the individual mandate penalty under the Affordable Care Act for 2014.
The measure passed with bipartisan support and gives Obamacare foes one more chance to rail against the law. The Obama administration opened itself up to a bill like this because it agreed to delay some Obamacare provisions that affect businesses. Republicans looked at that and said it’s only basic fairness to extend a similar delay to individuals. Still, the Democrat-controlled Senate is not expected to pass the measure.
• “Where is the data that this stuff works in a counter insurgency? We started assuming that military doing infrastructure projects was an effective way to fight in a counter insurgency situation, and I don’t know if we can prove it works.” — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill at a hearing Wednesday on what she considers dwindling oversight for taxpayer-funded projects in Afghanistan.
McCaskill has been asking questions about Afghanistan and questioning the lack of oversight over federal spending there for months. On Wednesday, she wanted to know more about how the military brass responded to an inspector general’s report about Afghanistan spending that raised all manner of questions about unrealistic goals and flawed implementation of programs. The Missouri Democrat said she remained unconvinced that building water systems and highways there is a good use of taxpayer dollars.