Washington Prowler

Financial Arrangements

Bill Clinton's heavy Labour. Paul O'Neill's new code. John Edwards' big move.

By 9.30.02

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THE BILL COMES DUE AGAIN
British Prime Minister Tony Blair made much of the fact that his great pal former president Bill Clinton waived his speaking fee to present his views on the world to Labour Party loyalists in Blackpool, England.

But Clinton, as always seems to be the case, never comes cheap. While it's true that he isn't charging the Labour Party his usual European rate of $125,000 (he charges less in the U.S. to get gigs), Clinton is traveling with a security staff and entourage that requires a full floor of the luxurious Imperial Hotel, and given the threat of terrorism, the rooms Clinton, the Secret Service and Clinton's staff and hangers-on occupied were paid for and blocked off from other users for a week of security checks and daily inspections.

"We're looking at well over a hundred thousand dollars in expenses," says a British journalist covering the event. "And that isn't even taking into account the $35,000 in extra police security for Clinton that the British people are paying out of pocket. Apparently being a Friend of Bill is a pricey matter."

Like Americans hadn't already figured that out.

As always, Bill's expenses, beyond the lodging, involve food, drink, entertainment and transportation, all of which are being covered by the Labour Party. And also as always seems to be the case, Bill's fun is limiting the pleasure of others. Labour had to cut back on the brands of booze and the per-plate cost of some meals because the cost of having Clinton's crew attend Blackpool had pushed the budget for the event past its $2.8 million limit.

MR. NO NEW TAX CUTS
If nothing else, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is a focused guy. While everyone else is worrying about Homeland Security and Iraq, the former corporate CEO is busy trying the simplify the tax code.

O'Neill plans on presenting President Bush with a wide-ranging and specific set of recommendations on how best to simplify the tax code for both individuals and businesses, part of the Treasury Secretary's pledge more than a year and a half ago to cut the tax laws down a bit in size.

As part of O'Neill's proposal, there would be no cuts in tax rates, and no "fairness" issues addresses, such as the marriage penalty or elimination of the so-called Death Tax.

"This is just about making the tax laws understandable and more commonsense-like for everyday people," says a Treasury policy staffer. "It shouldn't be an overly controversial set of rules changes, but in this environment, who knows? We're ready to fight if we have to."

PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
Sen. John Edwards likes to call himself "The People's Senator" when he's down-home in North Carolina. And he likes to play the part, hiring traditional bluegrass bands to entertain at parties, and really hamming it up with his corn pone accent when speaking to the crowds.

Well, darn if the Sen. Edwards done bought hisself a big ol' house for his kin and extended kin to visit when they come to the big city.

Edwards has just signed a contract to purchase a $3.8 million Georgetown home. Apparently the house he and his family had been living in, a $2.2 million four-story red-brick mansion that backed up to the home of Clinton golfing buddy Vernon Jordan, lacked something. But the Edwards's new 8-bedroom, 6,672-square- foot abode is said to come with a see-ment pond nearby for the children. So next time you find yourself without a place to put your feet up, come on by now, ya hear?

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