• Taxpayers pay millions to mow lawns of foreclosed homes

    Spinners and Winners

    American taxpayers own close to 200,000 vacant houses, and over the next year they will spend more than $40 million just to mow lawns at these properties. Taxpayers also foot the bills to paint walls, fix cabinets, plant flowers and more -- expenses that just last year, exceeded a half a billion dollars.

    The housing bailout has already cost taxpayers $124 million, now Americans are spending hundreds of millions more fixing up foreclosed homes to try and sell them. It is a bizarre and expensive side effect of the housing market collapse and failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants that went into federal conservatorship in 2008.

    Fannie Mae alone repaired nearly 90,000 homes last year.

    "That is a lot of homes, and it is a lot of materials that need to be purchased," said Jay Ryan, Fannie Mae's vice president of real estate owned homes.

    Ultimately, Ryan said, Fannie Mae pays electricity bills, property taxes, and the costs of general upkeep of

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  • White House Easter Egg Roll: Hopping with history

    Political Punch

    It is a scene of colorful chaos at the White House today, as more than 35,000 kids and parents descend on the south lawn for the annual Easter Egg Roll. The event will  bring in the very latest figures from children's fiction, education, and entertainment -- everyone from Elmo to Julianne Moore --  but it is one of the oldest White House traditions. It was first hosted by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878, though unofficial egg rolling at the White House dates back as far as Abraham Lincoln.

    The public celebration gives presidents a chance to show off their fluffier side, sidling up to life-sized Easter bunnies or crouching down to roll an egg or two. As with so many White House social events, it is often the First Lady who plays a leading role. Eleanor Roosevelt introduced organized games to the egg roll in 1933.  Pat Nixon brought the official White House Easter Bunny to the festivities.

    In 1981, Nancy Reagan put her own stamp on the tradition when her hunt

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  • George's Bottom Line

    After a series of primary losses Sen. John McCain said it's time for Rick Santorum to make a graceful exit from the presidential race. McCain himself set a dignified example when he bowed out in 2000 and then again on election night in 2008 when he acknowledged then President-Elect Obama's perseverance and pledged "to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face."

    Another example of a poised departure Santorum could look to? Al Gore in 2000 after the Supreme Court sided with George W. Bush. Gore accepted the "finality of this outcome" and offered his concession because "disappointment must be overcome by our love of country."

    But I believe Rick Santorum is thinking more along the lines of Ronald Reagan during the 1976 Republican convention. Following a string of victories leading into the convention Reagan finally conceded with a speech that laid the groundwork for his presidential campaign four years later.

    But here's the problem for

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