updated 2/27/2009 11:54:42 AM ET 2009-02-27T16:54:42

Happy Thursday!

Hello everybody and welcome to the Shuster "Daily Briefing" for February 26, 2009. 

"You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation...Today, we have to focus on foundations." – President Barack Obama this morning.

That was one of the key Obama quotes that jumped out at me while watching the President's remarks this morning as he unveiled his $3.55 trillion budget. The plan would push the annual budget deficit to $1.7 trillion.  However, the White House is arguing that the budget is lean, efficient, and honest.

Tonight, we will start by showing you some of the President's remarks today. Then, we will break down the numbers and turn to one of the key players in the Senate negotiations over the budget, West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller. Some Democrats are expressing reservations about how the $634 billion in the budget for health care reform will be offset.

In our second block, we will turn to a key player in the House side budget negotiations, Rep. Alison Schwartz. We are going to ask her specifically about provisions to raise taxes on Americans making more than $250,000 a year. The issue for me is whether it's wise to raise taxes on anybody in the midst of a recession. Also, some charitable organizations are complaining about a provision that would limit charitable deductions for people who make more than $250,000 a year.  

That raises a fundamental question:  Do people give money to charity because of altruism, or because they want to lower the taxes paid to the government? The White House says it's the former, not the latter. Several members of Congress, including Democrats, aren't so sure.

At this hour, we have several options shaping up for tonight's "Hypocrisy Watch."  Approximately 40 percent of the Congressional earmarks that lawmakers are proposing come from Republicans. Some of these Republicans spoke out against "government waste" in the stimulus bill debate the other week. Oops. Another option we are looking at for tonight involves the issue of Congressional pay and how it forced a 10 percent increase in the Congressional budget.  According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republicans wanted to retain previous staff levels despite having lost roughly 20 percent of their ranks in the 2008 elections.  Thus, the budget increase.  Republicans say that's out of context.  I'm not sure their defense is going to fly.  

By the way, what did you think of last night's "Hypocrisy Watch" segment on Bobby Jindal ?

Top conservatives have been gathering all day long at the annual CPAC conference. 

There will be speeches by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. However, I was shocked to learn this morning that "Joe the plumber" was invited to give a formal address.  Yes, the man who didn't have a proper plumbing license and owed back taxes is being held out by CPAC as somebody conservatives should pay attention to.  We will talk about the CPAC conference with a terrific panel:  Michael Smerconish, Michelle Cottle, and Collin Levy.  Also, Rush Limbaugh held a "Women's Summit" yesterday to try and boost his image with female listeners.

I'll let you come up with the proper punch line.

Also, on this "budget day" in Washington, a lot of us keep asking where the deficit spending money will come from?  There is a new film out there about the $11 trillion deficit that is both informative and entertaining.   

Reuters says the film is "to the economy what Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth was to the environment." We will talk with the producers of the film.

Later, we will show you what happened this afternoon when members of the Chicago Bulls basketball team visited their #1 fan at the White House.

Thanks to all of you who are following us on Twitter.

And a reminder, if you want to get show alerts sent to your cell phone, it's easy and fun.  Text PENN  to 622639

Our "Quote of the Day" comes from James Naismith, the inventor of basketball:

"I am sure that no man can derive more pleasure from money or power than I do from seeing a pair of basketball goals in some out of the way place."

Thanks in advance for watching tonight's broadcast!  "1600" airs at 6 p.m. in Washington, D.C.;  5 p.m. in Chicago; 4 p.m. in Denver; and 3 p.m. in San Francisco.

Shuster


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